How to Plan a Successful Webinar

Host a webinar

A webinar is another one of those clever internet portmanteaus like blog (combining “web” and “log”). When people say “webinar,” they’re smashing together “web” and “seminar.” It’s exactly what it sounds like: A seminar for the web. It allows the host to broadcast over the internet, so that attendees can view it from anywhere, while also enabling interaction between the speaker and audience members.

It’s pretty simple really. However, if you’re planning on hosting a webinar, things are a bit more complex. There are a lot of moving parts and quite a bit of work needed to be done if you want to run a successful one. So, to help you out, we’re going to run through how to create a webinar.

Why host a webinar

There are a number of reasons you may want to host a webinar. Perhaps you want to increase engagement among existing customers, grow your brand, or generate leads. While there are more reasons still, these three reasons are likely the most popular.

Increase Engagement

If you have a SaaS business, having engaged customers is key to the success of your business. Customers who haven’t fully adopted your product or service are more likely to churn come the end of their contract.

Often times, lack of engagement comes down to education. If users don’t know how to properly use your product, they won’t get the most out of it, and therefore, won’t be compelled to continue using it.

If you want to use a webinar to boost engagement, focus on education. If your webinar effectively provides tactics for your customers to increase their return on investment, you’ll see a correlation between webinar attendees and engaged users.

Grow Your Brand

If you are using a webinar to grow your brand, you will want to use the time to educate your attendees. But unlike a webinar used to increase engagement, you’ll need to educate of the benefits your business provides.

So a brand-focused webinar should not be concerned with how to use your product or service, but rather why somebody should use your product or service. Here the audience should be mostly non-customers and ideally influencers who can take what they learn about your business and prosthelytize your message to their network.

Get leads

A webinar used to get leads and one used to grow your brand will look quite similar. In fact, it’s more than reasonable that a webinar host would have the goal to accomplish both over the course of a webinar.

The approach to getting leads from a webinar is a similar approach to that of content marketing. Frame your webinar as a talk that addresses solving a particular business problem. Your hope here is to attract an audience that’s suffering from this business problem, who you can then inform hw your business can act as a solution.

You shouldn’t look at this type of webinar as an opportunity to make sales (though good on you if you do), but instead as an opportunity to initiate contact with prospects. This is certainly a top-of-the-funnel action.

Establishing goals for your webinar

It’s a good idea to put down tangible goals for your webinar. You’ve answered why you’re running the webinar, now establish the conditions for which you can call it a success. If you’re out to get leads, put a number down. If it’s your first webinar, this will likely be guesswork, but it will help you establish a baseline.

By writing down concrete goals, and tracking your performance, you can fine-tune your webinar tactics going forward. Did you come up short? If so, was it because you didn’t attract enough attendees? Or was it that you didn’t convert at a high enough rate?

Once you’ve analyzed the reasons for both your successes and shortcomings, you’ll be able to take actionable steps to optimize your next webinar.

How to create a webinar: The logistics

The host

Every webinar needs a host. Sometimes, this person will be the only one who speaks—they’re the host and the subject matter expert.

On the other hand, there are plenty of webinars that have multiple speakers covering different topics or use cases. In this case, you still need a host to make sure things run smoothly.

Selecting a host should be pretty straightforward. It needs to be somebody associated with your brand and (hopefully) somebody who’s comfortable talking in front of a group of people—yes, even if it is on the internet.

More often than not, your host will be somebody from your marketing department; this is certainly the case with more general webinars.

However, if your webinar is covering a very specific area of your business, it might make more sense to have the host be an expert on the subject. So if it’s a product-focused webinar, a product manager might make more sense than a marketer.

Setting up your webinar

You’re going to need to use a webinar service to actually run your webinar. This is the software that enables it all. It will let you stream your webinar and let attendees watch, listen and participate.

The most popular option available is probably either GoToWebinar or Adobe Connect. While there are plenty of other options out there, there’s probably not much a need to look beyond these too. They’ll both provide you with everything you need to run your webinar smoothly.

Another logistical consideration is the time you set your webinar. Think about who you plan on having attend the event and where they are going to be. If you’re based in LA, but expect a lot of European attendees, start your webinar in the morning.

Audience interaction is a huge value for webinars, so make sure your audience is going to be awake when you run it.

Promoting your webinar

There are a number of strategies for promoting your webinar, but there are a few must-haves that every webinar needs.

First thing’s first: create a landing page. If people want to sign up for your webinar, you need to give them a place to do it. This page should include all the relevant information like who’s speaking what the subject will be and when it will take place. Use this landing page when spreading the word. The link to this page is the one you’re going to be sharing with people.

Once you’ve created your landing page, you can get started on actual tactics to get people to sign up.

One great tactic is to use call to actions in your existing content marketing. People who are reading your content marketing material are likely the same ones that would be interested in attending a webinar. They’re interested in solving business problems, and that’s just what you are going to do with your webinar.

As is the case with almost everything these days, you should use social to promote it. People that follow your business on social are already invested in your company. They follow you because they want to hear what you have to say.

Additionally, look to use your existing list of contacts to find attendees. Announce your webinar in your weekly newsletter. Like with social, people who subscribe to your list do so because they want to hear what you have to say. If someone is reading your weekly newsletter, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll want to hear you speak about a related subject as well.

Once you’ve attracted the crowd, there’s not much left to do aside from going ahead and running the thing. Remember, if you’re just creating your first webinar, you might have some hiccups. Don’t let this discourage you. Webinars can be a great boon to business, and the more you do, the better they’ll get.

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