Learn how to host a successful webinar.
Webinars (also called web conferences) are used to conduct live training or presentations via the Internet. They have also become a very popular lead generation tool for sales and marketing.
How to Host a Webinar
1. Choose the webinar hosting service
There are lots of tools and services that are specifically designed for webinars. Review the options based on the technology you have available and choose a webinar hosting service.
2. Plan your webinar
Just like with a live seminar, you’ll need to make sure your webinar will be a good ROI (return on investment) for your sales/marketing budget. That means figuring out what your objectives are, what topic(s) you will cover, who your speaker(s) will be, how you will get people to attend, and how you’ll follow-up afterwards.
- How to Determine ROI for a Trade Show – You can use these same principles to determine the ROI of your webinar
- How to Collect and Save Customer Information – think this through NOW when you are planning your webinar! You want the names and permission to contact all the people who attend your webinar.
TIP: Check out etouches.com, a company that offers software designed by event planners to manage events and trade shows. Many large companies use them for managing RSVPs. They offer software to help manage every step of the process.
3. Create your marketing for the webinar
Promote the webinar ahead of time with:
- Email Marketing
- Direct Mail Postcards
- Direct Mail Letters
- Mailing Lists
- CRM (customer relationship marketing)
- See also How to Develop a Customer Contact Plan
- Create buzz through Social Media Marketing
TIP: You’ll look bigger and like a “safer buy” if all your marketing and sales materials are part of an integrated marketing campaign and present a consistent message.
4. Prepare your webinar presentation
People on webinars want to be edu-tained. That’s a combination of educated + entertained. On a webinar, you are competing against Facebook, checking email and all kinds of other distractions to gain someone’s attention. You have to keep it lively!
There will be people with a wide variety of knowledge about the company and the topic most likely on your webinar. You may want to target your webinar to people with different levels of expertise and instead of hosting one webinar, host several. One for people who’ve never done something before; another webinar for people who have tried and failed; another webinar for people who want advanced tips. You’ll have fewer people that attend each webinar but it will be much more relevant and they’ll be much more engaged.
5. Do a dry run, don’t wing it!
Do a dry run of your webinar to make sure you are comfortable operating the technology and everyone knows their role.
Some tips on things to think and talk through before your webinar
Ensure everyone is delivering a consistent message and understands the financial ROI required to make the webinar worthwhile. Fortunately, the financial stakes are lower with a webinar than they would be with a seminar, but nevertheless it’s critical to put your best foot forward.
Be sure to think through who will manage the time if you have multiple speakers. Someone needs to act as a friendly but firm moderator to keep things moving along and to keep the energy level high.
How will you promote yourself or your company in an appropriate way during the webinar? A webinar is an educational event so it can’t come off as a pushy sales message or people will drop off the webinar. Instead, think of sound bites (short messages) you want the moderator or host to use throughout the webinar to promote your company, products or services.
Figure out what tone and personality you want to convey for your webinar. Like NPR? Or more action-packed and quirky?
How will you handle questions and comments made on chat from the audience? Will you choose a few questions to answer and take the rest of the questions “off air”? Or have someone responding to chat?
From our experience: People attending webinars are easily distracted by emails, people around them, Facebook, Twitter… They may be like people with ADD (attention deficit disorder) – keep it moving! Edu-tainment is the combination of education + entertainment. Successful webinars achieve this balance of educating (selling) and doing so in an entertaining, engaging way.
6. Follow-up after the webinar! You’ve paid a big price in time to get these leads!
TIP: Make sure everyone working the webinar understands how much revenue must be generated to cover costs. That will help people focus on qualifying people and spending their time with following up with the prospective customers, not the tire kickers.
Extend the reach of the people who benefit from your webinar
- Post the webinar on your website.
- Post the webinar on YouTube.
- Post the slides on SlideShare, a free site that showcases slide presentations.
- Create an eBook of the slides and promote that on Facebook, Twitter and on your website and email newsletter. Also include a link to the webinar video replay. That gives people an option of how they want to learn – by reading something or by viewing the webinar video.
- Write a summary of the key insights from the webinar and send that out as a press release.
7. Measure the Return-on-Investment for your webinar
Know this: Most people attend webinars to learn what’s new and to learn from experts. It’s critical to follow-up after the webinar to nurture the leads and better qualify the people you collected information about.