Make the Most of Your Webinars

By Sandra Jean-Louis September 12, 2014

Webinars have become an important sales acceleration tool in the B2B marketing world. They help IT marketers explain complex technologies by serving up bite-size material that their audiences can easily digest.

B2B marketers rank webinars in their top five most effective marketing tactics, according to a recent Content Marketing Institute benchmarking report. Webinars are low-cost, easy to set up and can attract a wide audience in a matter of minutes. Best of all, because attendees pre-qualify themselves, much of the nurturing is done by the time attendees enter the marketer’s sales funnel.

If you’re thinking about adding webinars to your lead nurturing efforts, the following tips will help you reap the greatest benefits.


Before the webinar


Choose the right topic

To ensure a successful webinar, address a timely, relevant topic that matters to your audience and then demonstrate how your solutions fit their needs.

To find out what keeps your audience up at night:

  • Send a simple survey to your opt-in list asking what they’re most curious about.
  • Use Google Trends to uncover industry themes that may be on your prospects’ minds.
  • Consider your Google Analytics stats. High traffic areas are often the basis for insightful webinar discussions.
  • Review your webmaster feedback. Are any clues or recurring themes worthy of an online event?
  • Ask internal subject matter experts and chat representatives for their input.


Promote like a pro

The event’s core message should focus on the benefits of attending. Introducing a product or solution should be secondary. As you prepare to promote your event, here are some things to consider:

  • Assign individual URLs to each marketing channel for separate tracking and evaluation.
  • Promote the webinar using the same social media platforms your prospects use. Include instructions on how to join the call. If you use Twitter, link to more detailed information.
  • Make the registration button the only call-to-action on your landing page to minimize distractions.
  • Maximize landing page sign-ups by using as few fields as possible.
  • Test two or three landing pages and optimize the best performers based on clickthrough rates.
  • Create an autoresponder email to thank people for signing up. Reiterate what they’ll learn and ask them to whitelist your address.


Anatomy of a successful invitation follow-up

Convincing prospects to sign up is only half the promotional battle. The other half is to craft a message that persuades subscribers to actually attend the webinar. You’ll increase your odds of success by using some key email techniques.

Here are some other things to remember as you craft your message to prospects who’ve signed up:

  • Use bullets to list learning outcomes on the landing page and in the email invitation. Readers tend to remember the first and last bullets so list the top two outcomes in those spaces.
  • Include an email address in the invitation so that attendees can submit questions in advance. This will help streamline things and reduce the odds that your team will be bombarded by questions during the event.
  • Provide multiple audio options allowing users to listen in with their chosen device.
  • Send email invites at least seven days before the event and reminders 24 hours before and a few hours before the webinar to increase attendance.
  • Segment your email list to reach only the most qualified leads.

Once you’ve ironed out your promotion, run through the presentation with all participants. If you don’t have an in-house designer, online templates can help in crafting your webinar.


During the webinar


Make it all about them

Ever wasted your time on a presentation that didn’t hit the mark? We all have.  Once you have a prospect’s attention, do everything necessary to keep that attention:

  • Be early. Prospects value their time and so should you.
  • Before starting, ask if everyone can hear you clearly.
  • Introduce everyone on the panel to avoid confusion.
  • Have a conversation. Rather than lecture your audience, engage them from the start with images, survey results or polls.
  • Stay on topic. Time flies when you’re online and one seemingly short diversion can quickly turn into a long-winded tangent. Stay the course and your audience will stick with you.
  • Take a pulse halfway through and ask listeners if you are meeting their expectations.
  • Make a clear and compelling call to action. Ensure your listeners know which step to take next.

Share the spotlight with your listeners

I recently attended a webinar where the marketer provided so much information that by the time he’d finished talking there was no time for Q&A. To make matters worse, the session started at noon, so many attendees had to rush back to work and couldn’t stay late to ask questions.

It’s important to schedule time carefully to include 10 to 15 minutes for questions.  This demonstrates that you’re not online merely to sell. It also offers prospects a glimpse of what to expect from a relationship with you. Lastly, it can spark new ideas for future webinars, content marketing or other promotions.


Post-webinar

With the event behind you, it’s time to wrap things up with follow-up techniques that help keep your brand top of mind:

  • Post the webinar as a download on your website. This will help grow your opt-in list.
  • Share your webinar on popular B2B channels such as Slideshare.
  • Send attendees a thank-you email within 24 hours that includes a link to the archived webinar. 
  • Send a separate email with a link to those who registered but did not attend so they can watch it on their own time.
  • Send a short survey to get immediate feedback on attendees’ experiences and possible ideas for future webinars. Ask if they’d like someone from your organization to contact them.
  • Measure your performance. How many people attended compared to those who registered? How did your landing pages perform? What did polls say about the audience’s experience? How many new leads and customers did the event generate?
  • Repurpose the content. Stretch your marketing budget by turning your presentation into a series of blog posts, an eBook to pass out at industry events or download, or use a white paper to follow up with attendees.

Webinars are excellent tools for sharing valuable information while positioning your company as an industry leader. A carefully planned webinar will help generate new leads for your company and speed up the sales cycle.

Sandra Jean-Louis

Sandra Jean-Louis

Sandra Jean-Louis is a B2B and Certified SEO Copywriter at Word Central. She’s a seasoned online marketer who helps information technology, software and professional service firms generate more leads and sales with targeted content and marketing copy. Connect with Sandra on LinkedIn or contact her at Sandra@WordCentral.ca.

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