Why webinars should be part of your marketing plan (and how to use them effectively)

Webinars have evolved dramatically over the last 15 years. Who remembers managing a webinar and praying that the cable wouldn’t accidentally be removed from your laptop which would immediately close the session for everyone?!

Despite all of the new and innovative ways to connect with your audiences is there still a place for webinars in professional services marketing?

It’s a simple answer, yes! I sometimes hear people question their effectiveness, but, done well (and that’s the important factor!) they still offer a great way to communicate with audiences from anywhere in the country/world. In fact, According to InsideSales.com, 73% of marketing and sales leaders say webinars are one of the most efficient ways to generate high calibre leads.

However, one of the continuing issues with webinars is the attendee rates. Only 37% of registrants actually attend, does that sound familiar? Hosting a successful webinar can be a tough task.

So, below are a few of our best tips on how to create and promote a successful webinar with an above average attendance rate:

When to host your webinar:

We’ve found the most successful days to host a live webinar in professionals services is on a Tuesday or Wednesday. But remember, you’re never going to get 100% attendance so always offer an ‘on-demand’ version afterwards. This way you can still capture those registrants who do not attend. Also, it gives you content that you can promote on an ongoing basis. Timing? According to webinarninja.com, for a European and UK audience the sweet spot for timing is between 8am and 11am for a live webinar, although if you’re catering for both a UK/European and US market you’ll need to do it at around 4pm. We have also had success at lunchtimes, but at lunchtimes, it’s important to keep them short, to 30 minutes, allowing listeners time to still head out and grab a sandwich.

When to promote your webinar:

You should try to maximise registrations by promoting the webinar early, around 4 weeks before and then all the way up until 1 hour before start times. Research has shown that around 70% of webinar registrations occur up to 1 week prior to the webinar, and that 33% of this 70% registration occurs on the actual day. Make sure your webinar platform allows registrants to create a calendar entry to ‘hold’ the timeslot. Also, make sure you have reminders set-up to go out at least 24 hours before and then 1 hour before the start-time.

How to promote your webinar:

We always recommend using webinars in two ways.

  • As part of a wider campaign. If you have just released a white paper, report or e-book, use a webinar as part of the campaign. This allows you to maximise attendance as people will be intrigued by reading the report that they want to hear more.
  • As part of a regular series. One-off ad-hoc webinars (which aren’t part of a campaign) rarely work. The alternative to the campaign is to hold an ongoing webinar series, with webinars held at consistent points. For example, on the 1st Wednesday of every month or the last Tuesday of every second month. This way you build up a consistency. Your audience know when the webinars will be and you have a better chance of maximising attendees.

For either approach, integrated promotion is key. Of course, you must send invitation emails to your database and promote directly on your social media channels organically, but you can do more. Place promotional banners at the bottom of popular blogs and email signatures. Make sure the webinar is clearly promoted using banners on high traffic pages of your website. Ensure your team members are promoting on their personal Linkedin accounts. Promote in relevant Linkedin groups. Run targeted social media ads on LinkedIn. There are a whole host of ways. Be as creative as you can.

How to choose your webinar topic:

You can do all of the promotion in the world, but if you’re topic isn’t right you won’t get the registrants. Don’t underestimate how important the topic is. Make sure it will really resonate with your audience. Obviously if the webinar is part of a wider thought leadership campaign, this is straightforward, but if it’s part of an ongoing series, make sure it’s a topic that people will want to listen to.

Once you’ve got your topic and content nailed, you then need to decide on the webinar format. Most webinars are around 60 minutes long, broken down into 45 minutes for your presentation and 15 minutes for attendees to ask questions at the end. However, this can also be dependent on timing. If, as I mentioned earlier, you host a lunchtime webinar you should limit the session to 30 minutes. You must also decide style. I always recommend avoiding ‘presentations’ as you would typically get at a seminar or conference. Discussions/interviews can be engaging. Try and get guest speakers, particularly clients. Your target audience will always like to hear from their peers.

How to host your webinar:

There are many webinar services that exist in this market such as popular platforms like GotoWebinar, Zoom, Adobe Connect, WebEx and ClickMeeting. Before deciding which webinar tool to use, you should check how user-friendly and reliable the service is, as well as its price. Don’t just go for the cheapest option, reliability is the most important factor.

What else should be included:

Remember to make your webinars as engaging as possible. Listeners will have constant distractions, such as emails dropping into their inbox or calls coming through on their phone, so involve your audience as much as possible. Ask them questions using polls/surveys. These can be great for driving engagement. Finally, reward your attendees with relevant follow-up content such as an e-book or a write-up of the session afterwards. Make your attendees feel valued and want to return for future webinars.

Post webinar:

Your desire post-webinar will naturally be to follow-up with attendees straight away. Absolutely you need to do this, but please don’t go for the hard sell. Ask them what they thought, you’d love to hear any improvements you could make. Do the challenges that were discussed resonate? A soft sell approach is key, otherwise they won’t return for future webinars because of the fear of being sold to straight afterwards. Use webinars as another part of your nurture flow.

Although webinars take planning, the ROI that can come as a result makes them a worthwhile investment. To find out more about how you can incorporate webinars into your marketing strategy, contact us here.

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