Over the last ten years, webinars (web conferences) have proven extremely valuable as a lead generation tool. In fact, it's hard to think of a tech company that is not using them to demonstrate their software/solution, and eventually converting that attention into free-trials and paid customers.
On the other hand, most (non-tech) small businesses and startups haven't taken advantage of this excellent marketing tool. For the most part, this simply comes down to a lack of understanding - how simple webinar technology is. In today's world, where your 80-year-old grandma is comfortable using Zoom, no customer demographic is out of reach.
Why Should You Consider Webinars For Your Business?
The SaaS (software-as-a-service) industry is utilizing webinars to demonstrate product features and customer use cases. Also, they are often used to educate users and ultimately create a passionate community around their product/company/brand.
Since most small businesses and startups are not in the tech space, let's look at some other examples where webinars could be used. Examples you can hopefully relate to.
- Hospitality - if you are a restaurant owner/chef, why don't you organize monthly cooking lessons?
- Real Estate - you probably get asked 'market' related questions every day, why don't you organize 'market update' webinars once a quarter?
- Construction - why is that new roof so expensive? Use webinars to educate your potential customers on different options and the work that goes into replacing a roof.
- Retail - do you have a new line of clothing from a designer in Spain? Why don't you get your customers (email list) excited and tell them all about it in a webinar?
- Professional services - lawyers usually get a bad rap, because we only need them when things go sour. Why don't you organize webinars to show your other side - community involvement, helpful advice for everyday legal questions, and so on?
- Agriculture - most consumers would love to know where their food comes from. Why not organize webinars to show how your food gets from 'farm to table'?
The possibilities are truly endless, and considering how much easier webinars are to organize than in-person events, the business case for them is hard to ignore.
Significant Advantages Of Webinars Vs. Traditional In-Person Events
- More affordable to organize and attend
- Reach (anyone in the world can attend)
- Can be attended from a place of employment (e.g., Office)
- Small attendance numbers can still be financially viable
- The event can easily be recorded and shared online
How Much Does It Cost To Host A Webinar?
The software itself is extremely affordable. For example, most webinar software solutions start around $50/mo, and as is the case with most software solutions these days, you pay for what you need. For example, $50 typically includes up to 100 participants. If you need over 1,000 participants, then the cost is usually $300+/mo.
If you've ever organized in-person events, you will understand how affordable webinar prices are, compared to hosting in-person events. For example, hosting 1,000 people online (Webinar) will cost approximately $300. Hosting a 1,000 in-person event can cost 10 to 100 times more.
Most webinar platforms offer a free version or a free trial, so you should try a few. Create test webinars and assess how easy it is to use. Because most webinar platforms have similar features and similar pricing options, focus on usability. At the end of the day, you are far more likely to get excited about hosting a webinar if it's easy to organize.
A few popular webinar platforms:
- Zoom Video Webinar
- Cisco Webinar
How To Organize A Great Webinar?
Mastering the webinar platform is relatively easy and quick. However, the actual preparation and planning for the event will take time. There is no doubt, the more time you spend preparing, the better your webinar will be. With that in mind, here is the list of to-dos you should follow to make sure your webinar is as successful as possible.
For most businesses, webinars are a tool to attract and convert customers or to increase customer loyalty. In general, we recommend they do both. For example, one track should be "lead generation" and one "customer loyalty."
Lead Generation track (examples):
- Product/Service demonstration
- Product Launches
- Industry Trends
Customer loyalty track (examples):
- Product/Service updates
- User groups / Meet-ups
- "How-To," "Tips," and "Guides"
If you are new to webinars, start small. Set yourself a single goal, and organize at least 3 webinars around it. For example, your goal may be to generate more leads. With that goal in mind, create 3 topics (webinar ideas) that your potential customers will be interested in.
Before we dive into webinar ideas and topics, let's step back and think who your audience is and what kinds of topics are they interested in? Also, is your webinar for existing customers, new customers, or potential customers?
In general, don't mix prospective customers with existing customers because they have very different needs and wants. Also, naturally, your webinar goals will be very different. For example, webinars aimed at potential customers should be driven by your marketing and sales teams. However, webinars for existing customers are typically driven by product, support, and account management teams.
Webinars are no different from other digital marketing channels; your campaign's success or failure is frequently predetermined by your ability to target the right audience at the right time.
3. Topic (and Title)
Your audience should drive your topic, so make sure you discuss them in unison. For example, a law firm may organize a webinar explaining different business entities (types) to local college students interested in entrepreneurship.
With webinars, a good topic is important, but a great title is essential. Your webinar title can make or break your event, so you should think long and hard about your title. Ideally, it should be catchy.
For example, which webinar are you more likely to attend? "Choose the right type of entity for starting your new company," or "Ready to start your dream business? Take the first step (choose the right entity)!"
4. Registration Page (Website)
Every webinar should have a registration page. More specifically, a page on your website with the following information:
- Date and time of the webinar
- Who the event is for
- Topic & Key concepts
- Registration form (name, email, company, etc.)
- Give them a great reason to register (call-to-action)
For more information on creating an excellent registration page, see our blog posts on landing pages and CTAs.
From our experience, 60-90 minutes is ideal. Mental fatigue starts around 90 minutes. Also, your webinar attendees are probably sitting down, so after 90 minutes, they are ready to get up and move.
Assuming you have an email list to work with, sending an email(s) about your new webinar should be your first step. The second step is to promote it on social media, and the third step is to buy some advertisement - assuming you are targeting potential customers.
For most businesses, we recommend they allocate some funds to promote their webinar on social media. For example, to buy Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google Ads.
You don't have to spend thousands, but some advertising is typically necessary, especially if your attendee numbers are lower than expected (the week of the webinar).
Your goal is to get as many people to register for your webinar, so make sure all promotional materials have a link to your registration page.
7. Send Reminders
Not every one that registers for your webinar will attend. However, your goal is to get as many as possible. From analyzing client data, we found a high correlation between attendee numbers and the number of reminders (emails, or text messages) sent.
With that in mind, we recommend you send at least 4 reminders. For example:
- First reminder: The week before the webinar
- Second reminder: The day before the webinar
- Third reminder: The morning of the webinar
- Fourth reminder: 2 hours before the webinar
In many cases, we also recommend you send a final reminder 15 minutes before the event starts.
Sending 4 or 5 reminders may feel spammy/annoying, but it's only annoying if it's generic. To avoid this problem, every reminder should look and feel different, and most importantly, it should build excitement.
8. Internet Connection
There is nothing more annoying in a webinar than a speaker with a terrible internet connection. You will lose attendees quickly if whoever is trying to speak is cutting in and out.
Simply put, the faster your internet connection is, the better the webinar quality will be. Therefore, we recommend you hardwire your internet connection (instead of Wi-Fi). Also, turn off all programs, browsers, and tabs that you don't need.
Finally, run a quick speed test. For example, Google "Speed Test" and then click "Run speed test." For webinars, upload speed is more important than download speed. With that in mind, we recommend at least 3 Mbps of upload speed.
Most computers and laptops have in-built microphones, but we recommend taking the next step and investing in a good quality microphone. You spent all this time preparing and planning for a webinar, so make sure your attendees can hear you well.
The same advice applies to video. Even though most computers/laptops have an in-built camera, you should invest in an external webcam. It's much easier to position and catch a good angle and light, and the quality will typically be higher.
11. Sharing Your Screen
If you plan to share your screen during the webinar, then turn off reminders or anything that will interrupt you. For example, incoming emails, incoming Skype or Slack messages, calendar reminders, etc.
12. Deck (Slides)
The length of your presentation deck will depend on your goal, audience, and topic. However, at a minimum, you should have 4 slides:
- Slide #1: Intro - to be displayed while everyone is still joining your webinar.
- Slide #2: A slide highlighting the speaker, topic, and agenda.
- Slide #3: Summary and Next Steps (close).
- Slide #4: Q&A
Also, avoid creating too many slides. In most cases, anything over 20 slides is too many. Especially, if you stick to our recommended webinar duration 60-90 minutes.
13. Keep The Energy High
Unsurprisingly, webinars with higher energy speakers tend to do better. Getting people excited about your webinar and keeping that excitement going is an art in itself. According to our client data, the first 10 minutes are critical, because this is when a lot of attendees decide if they should stick around.
Therefore, get them excited about the topic, speaker, and the value they will get out of your webinar. In general, avoid sounding monotone at all costs, and don't try to squeeze too much information into your webinar.
Also, ask some simple questions that your attendees can answer in their minds - to keep them engaged.
You should probably leave all the questions until the very end - to avoid interruptions and to give you the best chance of finishing the webinar on time.
At a minimum, leave 5 minutes for questions and answers. Ideally, 15-30 minutes. Also, it's ok to answer staged/prepared questions, but live questions are typically better. They will give you better insights into your attendees and what they are thinking.
15. Don't Forget To Close
If you are not in sales, you probably feel uncomfortable selling your company's product/service. That's understandable, but it's not a reason to shy away from it.
Think about your original goal, and how do you get your attendees one step closer to that goal? Simply put, you have to ask them to take the next step (during or after the webinar) if you don't, they will not.
The next step might be:
- Buy a product online
- Register for a free trial
- Meet with your representative
- Advocate for your brand
Closing is a topic in itself that we will not cover in this post, but the takeaway should be clear. For your webinar to be successful, a good percentage of your attendees should take the next step. What is a good percentage? It depends on what the next step is, and the level of commitment you are asking for. However, if less than 10% of your attendees take the next step, then you have a lot of room for improvement.
The secret to organizing a great webinar is the same as hosting any other event - invite the right people, get them excited about it, and then deliver on your promise. Of course, the tactics themselves (discussed in the blog) will ensure you hit all those points.
Organizing a webinar may feel intimidating, but there are considerable upsides. They are a significant source of leads for many companies, so why can't they be for you? Take the next step and test one of the webinar platforms we mentioned in this post.
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