What better way to learn about webinars than by watching an actual webinar?

Bethany Bledsoe, the Customer Education Manager at Demio and ActiveCampaign Content Marketer Ernie Santeralli hosted a webinar all about webinars – specifically, the 8 critical ingredients you need to host a successful digital event.

Watch the recording above or read the recap below to learn the 8 critical ingredients to webinar success.

Why run webinars for your business?

“Webinars are literally magic. There’s a reason why we say wizardry. You can do so much with them,” says Bethany.

As a host, you can be anywhere. Your attendees can come from anywhere. All you need is a computer – or even a phone (if you use Demio). The flexibility is amazing. When in-person meetings are off the table, or you want to reach a diverse group of people across different geographic locations, webinars can be the connector.

Webinars also help to:

  • Drive interaction & engagement. Webinars are a way to show that there’s a real human on the other end of that business communication.
  • Target business goals. The flexibility of webinars lets you build them for any purpose – sales demos, marketing webinars, accelerated onboarding webinars, anything.
  • Receive instant feedback. Live chat lets people ask questions and make observations that can spur discussions and offer helpful answers in real-time. You can also send recordings, save them for reuse, or repurpose them for other content.
  • Opportunity to create a positive experience. People like interacting with like-minded people.

You can use webinars for multiple goals, including:

  • Lead generation
  • Demand generation
  • Sales
  • Onboarding
  • Education
  • Partnerships
  • Thought leadership

“The lead generation, demand generation, and sales types are probably the most popular, and are what people think of when they hear the word ‘webinar.’ But those last 4 types are where you can unlock the power of webinars because then you can use it throughout your whole business strategy,” says Bethany.

“There’s always new and creative uses if you think outside the box a little bit. Demio has this great feature, polls. If you’ve got a list or a group of people in a webinar, and you want to figure out what’s the most important thing to them right now, you can put it into a poll. You can conduct research within a webinar while providing a positive experience and an education,” says Ernie.

8 critical ingredients for a successful webinar

A good webinar is well-prepared and made to appeal to a specific audience – not to you. But knowing your customer audience is only one part of creating a successful webinar. Here are 8 ingredients to success that you cannot skip.

  1. Know your customer
  2. Have an amazing headline
  3. Write captivating copy
  4. Include interesting content
  5. Use engagement tools
  6. Promote your webinar
  7. Replay your webinar
  8. Practice, and practice…and practice

1. Know your customer

“I like to start with this one first. Anytime someone asks me, ‘How do I host a webinar, where do I even begin,’ I start with knowing your customer, because that’s the foundation to anything that you’re going to do with your webinar event,” says Bethany.

There are 3 steps to knowing your customer:

  1. Find your customer avatar: You want to understand their goals, aspirations, and challenges.
  2. Research your customer avatar
  3. Identify their pain points

“When we talk about knowing your customer, it’s getting to know your customer avatar. And you just need to focus on a few things. You’ll know all of the demographic stuff, and but really knowing their goals and their aspirations and their challenges – that’s what’s going to help you build amazing content and a really great webinar that’s going to speak to your customer,” says Bethany.

If you pay attention to what your customers are already saying, they’ll tell you what they want to know about.

“The deeper you go, the more specific that you can nail that pain point on the head. It’s going to help you one write the copy for the webinar to create and for the webinar, and it’s really just going to help you know every aspect of what you’re trying to do,” says Ernie.

What they tell you:

  • “I don’t have enough time.”

What they mean:

  • “I don’t know where to start.”
  • “I’m not tech-savvy.”

2. Have an amazing headline

There’s a crazy amount of content in the world, and a lot of it is easy to scroll right past. To prevent that and get people to attend your webinars, you need a killer, attention-grabbing headline.

There are 3 ways to do this:

  1. Keep your headline clear and concise
  2. Use real numbers when you can
  3. Make the benefit of attending clear – what do they get for their time?

“Numbers are going to jump out at you more than any word ever would. So that’s going to grab attention and convey that benefit. The more that you can use numbers, you’re killing two birds with one stone,” says Ernie.

Great headlines also build curiosity.

According to behavioral economist George Loewenstein’s paper The Psychology of Curiosity, there are 5 ways you can build curiosity:

  1. Ask a curiosity-inducing question
  2. Start a sequence of events, but don’t finish (e.g. an unfinished story)
  3. Do something unexpected
  4. Imply you have info they don’t
  5. Imply they used to know something that they’ve since forgotten

Creating a headline can make you nervous. It’s the first impression, and you want to get it right. To help you create your own headlines, there are some fast formulas to follow:

Lists: 10 Little Known Ways to __________
How To: How to [do something awesome] like [someone awesome]
Educational: [Interesting Topic] 101: Learn How to [something great] like a Pro
Trainings/Workshops: Master [something interesting] workshop
New/Innovative: New Data Reveals How [awesome people] Should be Doing [awesome things]
Trends: The New Trend in [interesting topic] that [famous person] Swears By

Examples of good headlines using curiosity levers. (Source 1, Source 2)

3. Write captivating copy

What makes copy captivating?

  • Break lists into bullet points (like this one)
  • Use white space
  • Short, clear sentences
  • Ask interesting and curiosity-driven questions
  • “You” not “I” or “We”
  • Address the pain points

An example of copy that uses “you.”

Whether it’s a headline, a description, or your sign-up form, make sure that your copy makes the person the hero.

On your registration form (which you can integrate with Demio and ActiveCampaign!) is to only capture the data that you definitely need. Keep the copy short and concise, and make your form easy to find quickly.

4. Include interesting content

The content you create depends on the type of webinar you have.

  • Interview – content should create authority, trust, excitement
  • Discussion – focus on education, on-boarding, retention
  • Q&A – content design for demand generation, education (very flexible)
  • Presentation – educational content to overcome misconceptions, lack of knowledge

The structure of your webinar, like any good story, should take the construct of a beginning, middle, and end.

In the beginning…

  • Your attendees should understand your big promise early.
  • Demand attention with content that deserves it
  • Connect with your attendees
  • Get a micro-commitment

“Getting that micro-commitment, in the beginning, is a great way to just grab their attention. So when you’re doing your research and your customer avatar, step number one going back to that, you can use some of that research like pain points in their goals.”

“To get micro-commitments from them, remind them that you know why they are here and X is the value that they’re going to get today. And especially if your end goal is related to some type of offer or action at the end, you can talk about staying until the end to ensure the commitment,” says Bethany.

In the middle…

  • Don’t over-teach, review your content to make sure it furthers your goal.
  • Your content should give you a chance to show proof and address a pain point(s) of your customer.
  • Keep your attendees engaged! Add valuable resources like polls and handouts.

And finally in the home stretch…

  • Make a smooth transition to goal
  • Proof, Proof, PROOF – make sure they get what they signed up for
  • Tie it all together
  • Offer a Q&A – give people a chance to engage back with you. It’s the difference between a straight video and a webinar.

5. Use engagement tools

“Webinars are actually a tool of engagement. But within webinars, you’ve got a few different tools,” says Ernie.

  • Polls
  • Handouts
  • Calls-to-Action (CTAs)
  • Chatbox engagement

“These things can be used for any type of webinar. So any purpose you can use a poll, any purpose, you can use handouts, your CTA. A lot of times people think a CTA is a call to action for an offer, but it may not that may not be your goal. Maybe it’s because you want them to engage with you outside of the webinar. It doesn’t have to be an offer if you don’t have a sales offer,” says Bethany

6. Promote your webinar

Focus on your attendees — the webinar is not about you, it’s about them. It’s up to you to showcase the value that they’ll receive by attending.

When you promote your webinar, ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s in it for them?
  • Who should register?
  • Why should they register?

“I like to ask those 3 questions with literally any type of promotion that I’m doing. When I’m talking about my webinar, these are the 3 questions that I’m answering no matter who I’m talking to,” says Bethany.

How can you get the word out?

  • Friends & colleagues – they may not be your audience but could know people who are!
  • Your email list
  • Current customer list
  • Social media groups
  • Registration on your website
  • Paid advertising

“Often when people hear promotion, they immediately think of paid advertisement. And by all means, if you have the budget, do your paid advertising. The key thing is just to keep your avatar in mind. So you’re targeting the right people and so your budget is going your dollars are going towards your customer. But the other ways are all free. So don’t forget about your free ways to get the word out,” notes Bethany.

7. Replay your webinar

After your webinar is over, it’s not really over. Some people may not have been able to attend at the last minute or found out about it too late. Or, some might just want to relive the glorious experience over and over for future reference.

To make sure that every person’s needs are covered, put these steps in place after your webinar:

  • Set up your email campaign before the event
  • Send the replay link
  • Include your handouts and CTA
  • Add the registration link for your next webinar

“In Demio, you are able to see when people join and when people leave. And so you can see that not everybody joins at the beginning and not everyone stays until the end. So they might have missed your offer, handout or CTA. Including it in your post-event email campaign is important because you want to make sure that they get the full value of your webinar,” says Bethany.

The email sequence you send should be based on activity – like attendees vs. no-shows.

An attendee replay webinar follow-up email sequence

A no-show email sequence.

Here are a few webinar replay pro tips to follow:

  1. Provide scarcity around your offer
  2. Use your Replay as an automated event!
  3. Keep your landing page live and distribute the recorded event as evergreen content

8. Practice, practice…and practice

When in doubt, over-prepare – and not just your webinar materials. You need to prepare yourself and any other people involved with your webinar.

“When I talk about practicing, you’re not just practicing the content that you have. You need to actually get in the webinar platform and practice like it’s the real event. It’s really easy to forget to share engaging tools like polls and handouts when we get caught up in our own content. So practice, and then the day of you don’t forget to do those things,” says Bethany.