Webinars continue to serve as a powerful tool for today’s marketers. Their staying power is undeniable.
When done right, they serve as an excellent lead generator and a valuable vehicle for nurturing prospects through the sales process. Webinars are also relatively easy to implement.
Unfortunately, too many businesses miss out on the full ROI potential because their approach comes across as either too focused on the host or vendor, too salesy, or offering too little value to be worth the participant’s time.
To get full value out of your webinars (and avoid common pitfalls), here are six best practices I’ve learned for ensuring success:
- Take a consultative approach: Webinars present an opportunity to gather a group of interested professionals with a common problem. Demonstrate your understanding of their challenge and provide the pros and cons of alternatives for how the problem might be solved, with honest guidance for your recommended solution. Offer real-world example of how other people – your customers – have solved their challenge with your solution. Be careful not to make your webinar a simple commercial for your product, or a boring demo of your product’s features and benefits. Focus your webinar on the participants and their challenge, and take an open, consultative approach, providing proven alternatives.
- Consider their calendars: You’ll want to pick a day and time that will gather the most participants. Typically it’s best to avoid Mondays and Fridays as well as the end of the month. Also avoid major holidays, including immediately before and after the holiday. And don’t schedule your webinar during a major event in your industry. The time should be one that works for all your prospects’ or customers’ time zones and is not too early or late in the day. Your webinar should be succinct – between 30 to 60 minutes, tops.
- Cover your promotional email bases: Send three or four webinar promotions via email in advance of the event: one about two weeks ahead to grab the planners, one a week before, one the day before, and another one hour before -- to catch the last-minute attendees. Convey the value of what participants will learn and how the presenters are experts in their field. Make your registration button easy to find within your message (especially on mobile devices) and ensure that your registration page works perfectly by testing it first.
- Practice and prepare: Don’t assume your expert will show up and be the best webinar presenter of all time. Many experts (especially engineers, scientists, economists, analysts, or academics) may be authorities in their fields, but lack presentation skills. Procure and review their content in advance, make sure it is engaging and not all text, and double-check that it will be understandable and genuinely helpful to your audience. Conduct practice sessions on the actual webinar platform you plan to use and be sure your presenter customizes her presentation to your audience.
- Engage with your audience: Avoid death by PowerPoint: highlight or circle key points, animate or share videos, use polling tools to query your audience and view the results in real time. Answer participant questions as they come in (and at the end of the webinar.) Don’t rely on a single speaker – even the best of voices can get stale after a while. And mix up your speakers’ skillsets. Offering perspectives from a variety of roles adds value and variety to the discussion. Lastly, pick a webinar host who can easily tee up topics, challenges and questions.
- Follow up: If done right, your webinar will have conveyed a lot of good ideas to your audience and they’ll be thinking about next steps. Plan an immediate follow-up, thanking them for their attention and providing the webinar content and any cited materials (e.g. videos, articles, or whitepapers.) Consider offering a coupon or invite for a free consultation with your in-house experts to discuss their specific challenge and how it might get solved.
Like email, webinars have stood the test of time as a valuable contributor to business growth goals.
Got a webinar tip that works for you? Let us know!
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