How to host a killer webinar for your businessBlog, 02/02/18
It is not a secret that webinars can make a killing for any business, particularly service businesses like yours.
Webinars allow you to host online seminars without the hassle of traveling and booking a venue; it’s easier for you and your audience. Here’s an excerpt from one of the top marketers in the digital marketing niche, Brian Dean:
“Webinars are the most underutilised lead generation strategy for new business owners.”
That’s right – many business owners do not fully utilise the power of webinars. It’s not just to provide information, it can also generate leads and make sales. Think of it this way, a webinar is simply an effective sales pitch that influences your audience as well as generating trust and authority in your business.
In today’s post, we’ll cover everything that you need to know about webinars and more importantly, how to grow your business with webinars.
What are webinars?
Webinars (web-based seminars) are an ideal way for you to improve your business skills without leaving your desk. A webinar is a presentation, workshop or seminar that is broadcast over the internet.
A key feature of a webinar is its interactivity – the ability to give, receive and discuss information. Frankly speaking, most business webinars are downright terrible.
In fact, most webinars aren’t even actual webinars – they are fake!
Literally, seminars are events that occur at the same time which involves some sort of engagement or interactions such as video or training or discussions. Most “webinars” nowadays are people who talk along a slide deck instead of actually interacting with the audience.
The worse webinars (that actually happen) are pre-recorded audio and video narration clips that are marketed as webinars with live chat. Yes – live chats are not the best way to determine if a webinar is pre-recorded or not; you could just be talking to yourself!
So, what are webinars actually?
A webinar is a LIVE and INTERACTIVE seminar that is done online (as we’ve mentioned above). It’s a way for you to interact with your audience to boost engagement and trust.
It is also a place for you to gain valuable insights from your audience or help them to overcome certain problems or questions that they are having with their business.
Surprisingly, webinars are an awesome way to capture leads for your business. With a proper webinar, you are also able to increase sales as well as providing an additional revenue stream to your business.
When it comes to content marketing, there are not too many options that are as low cost and as effective as webinars. It works well even if you are not looking to generate leads specifically – it builds relationships extremely well with your audience or clients.
However, webinars are simple but not easy to execute. They require some amount of time and effort to set up. The key is here is to stay organised and have an effective strategy on hand. With a poorly run webinar, you may not be seeing worthwhile results even if you have an amazing core offer.
Luckily for you, we’ll be covering the strategies to run a successful webinar in the later sections.
Why are webinars so valued by top marketing experts?
You’ll quickly learn that timing is crucial in running a business. Educational business webinars will attract individuals who are curious about a certain topic, individuals who have needs that are not currently being met, or individuals who are actively searching for solutions to their problems.
It is very, very rare to have an individual who attends a webinar even though they are content with their current situation. These people might be looking for new information, however, webinars are usually magnets for prospects who are literally one step away to becoming your clients.
You have to remember that while webinars can sell, they are not all about selling; it has to stimulate your audience’s curiosities as well as teaching them something new or important which can benefit them. It also has to inspire them to have a conversation with you.
Just in case you need a refresher, here are reasons why webinars are so damn effective.
1) Everyone values their time and traveling may be expensive.
Think about it, do you want to travel 100 miles and spend money along the way, or bask in the comforts of your own home to listen to a webinar?
Some of you may like the idea of going to a physical venue to learn, but I can guarantee that the vast majority of you and your audiences will prefer the stay-at-home method – it’s just too convenient and cost-effective.
Webinars also reduce the risks and doubts of your audience. What do we mean by risks and doubts?
Physical seminars are usually very costly when you factor in the costs of traveling, accommodations, and the price of the seminar itself. That’s just the cost of money; what about their time?
For webinars, it’s usually free or for a one-time fee. The webinars can also be saved and accessed at any time. This means that your audience not only saves money, they also save their time as they can view the webinar
Surely, it’s a no-brainer to see which one would present the least risks and doubts to your audience.
2) You can present your webinars and information in real time across different locations and time zones.
Here’s another aspect of webinars that physical seminars can’t compete with. Webinars are able to engage with audiences from all around the world in real time.
If you are a local business, this may not be an issue. However, sooner or later, you’re going to have to scale your business and scaling is not just a national thing – it will reach a point where international growth is necessary.
Are you going to host physical seminars that will cost your audience thousands of dollars just to attend?
Unless you’re Tony Robbins, probably not.
Once again, this saves a lot of time and money as well as allowing greater accessibility for your international audiences.
Don’t make the mistake of only targeting locally when international audiences can give you more revenue for your business.
3) Webinars allow you to build authority and confidence in your business.
You don’t have to be a mega corporation to host excellent webinars. Actually, even the big businesses don’t run webinars successfully!
When you run a webinar, you exude a sense of trust and authority for your business. Many business owners can write about what they can do, but to speak in front of a camera and broadcast it to potentially thousands of viewers?
That takes confidence – the type of confidence that can instill trust in your audience to work with you. Running a successful webinar will also put you in an authoritative state which will help in negotiating deals in the future.
4) You fully utilise the potential of your target audience by connecting with them
Just like how people have different tastes for food, there are going to people in your target audience who do not respond well to the bread and butter articles or e-mail campaigns.
Some people respond better to actual talking; it can be phone calls, face-to-face meetings, and of course, webinars.
This allows you to fully maximise the potential of your target audience. Hosting webinars allow you to capture a part of your target audience that you’ve been neglecting before which can make a huge impact on your business.
5) Webinars allow you to revitalise your existing content and materials
A major aspect of content marketing is to repurpose your existing content and website materials.
What is repurposing?
Repurposing is the act of literally recycling our current content to another type of media. So, if you have blog posts on how to get more clients, you can repurpose that into podcasts or videos instead of just written posts.
With webinars, you can recycle the content that you have on your website to attract more visitors. You don’t really have to worry about not having enough content to host a webinar – just re-use your old content and add some new stuff to it!
6) Webinars help you begin the sales process to convert prospects into customers
Webinars are actually a great way to qualify customers for your business.
By taking action on attending your webinar, you know that the individual is someone who is also very likely to take action on your offer.
By planning your webinar effectively, you can convert leads who attend your webinars into paying customers by using sales funnels or other marketing strategies that you have up on your sleeve.
Remember, people don’t attend webinars for fun so don’t waste the opportunity by not converting your webinar attendees to paying customers.
The important questions to ask yourself before hosting a webinar
Compared with other mediums, the most obvious difference is that a webinar is guided by a host or ‘teacher.’ It may also include extras like demos, real-time chats, or workshop lessons.
It’s true that webinars require some technical prowess to create and stream. But if you have an eBook or white paper or blog post, you’ve already got your curriculum (or the basis for it). Now you just need someone to deliver that content in web conferencing format.
Doesn’t seem totally insurmountable at this stage, right? Now let’s pose some questions you can ask yourself to determine if you can pull this off.
1) Is a webinar the right solution for my needs?
The first thing to figure out is how the webinar fits in your business goals and needs. While webinars are great, not all content are suitable for webinars.
A webinar can be a powerful training and outreach tool, but the decision to use a particular tool should be based on your goals and the needs of your audience.
When determining whether a webinar is the best medium for your needs, consider
- Your audience.
- The subject matter.
- The time you’ll need to cover your topic. Most online audiences tend to lose interest after about two hours (or less!).
While webinars work well for some topics, they’re not suited to every training need.
You may also wish to solicit the feedback of subject matter experts, other nonprofits that have conducted their own webinars, and even the audience you plan to address.
An easy way to research this is by researching your customer personas.
Informal conversations, formal interviews, and surveys can all help you assess whether a webinar is right for you and your audience.
Some content that is better suited for webinars would include:
- A detailed breakdown or analysis of a niche topic from a new perspective.
For instance, if you are an expert at driving sales with Twitter DM’s, talk about that in detail. Make it niche based and try not to cover topics that are already covered extensively by other people.
- A discussion(s) of the latest update or news in your industry.
So, if Facebook comes up with a new algorithm that changes how Facebook ads work, talk about that. If you are in marketing for instance, new trends are popping up every minute so you can talk about that.
- A how-to or guide that is detailed, interesting and actionable
The keywords detailed and actionable here are important. No one wants another guide on how to use Facebook ads as everybody knows that already. Instead, do something like a tutorial on how to use parameters in Facebook ads – now that’s interesting.
As for actionable steps, make sure that what you preach in your webinar can actually be done by your audience. Don’t tell them what’s so great about Facebook, show them how to do it.
- An interview with someone influential in the niche
Your webinars don’t have to be by you every time. You can interview someone from your industry that has a lot of influence – something like what Andrew Warner from Mixergy
Speaking to someone influential is not only going to open new perspectives to your audience, it can also build authority in your business.
On the other hand, some of the things that you probably wouldn’t want to have in a webinar would include:
- A minor product release or update
A blog post or e-mail outreach would be more than enough for those. You don’t need to host a webinar just to update your audience about something minor.
If you need to do a video, just make a short 2-3 minutes clip instead of having a full on webinar.
- A general, “content thin” webinar on a general topic
If your content is too general or lacks substance, hosting a webinar is not only going to waste your time, it’s also going to waste your audience’s time and you don’t want that.
A good rule of thumb to remember is that if you won’t pay or listen to your own webinar, it’s probably not going to be a good idea for your visitors too. Make it valuable.
- A webinar focusing on a tired idea or concept (e.g. “content is king”)
How many times have you heard the phrase “content is king”?
Exactly – plenty of times. Stop regurgitating old concepts and introduce something new and effective instead. So, instead of talking about how “content is king”, teach your visitors on how to promote that content instead.
- An intentional sales deck/product pitch
This has to be by far the worst thing that you can do especially if it’s your first time hosting a webinar. People are going to get annoyed when they find out that your webinar is nothing but a sales pitch.
If you’re going to sell something, make sure that your audience knows about it. Don’t lead them through a 1-hour webinar just to sell something that your target audience does not need.
Selling something through a webinar is fine, but when the main point of your webinar is just to sell instead of educate, that’s going to cost your business negatively UNLESS you’ve specifically stated that the webinar is a product demo instead of an educational one.
2) What is the direction of my webinar?
Think of the direction of your webinar as a theme around the whole session. Do you want it to be an educational webinar or is it a more technical one?
Your direction will depend on your content’s theme, your audience, and your call-to-action. Some of the directions that you may aim for are:
Thought leadership: Industry experts sharing their expertise or internal experts sharing case studies or best practices. Ideal for brand awareness
Educational: Educating your audience on a product or service that solves a problem
Solution: Generate awareness around one or more solutions that your product offers that your target audience is not yet aware of
Training: Provides training your audience needs on a product, service or process
3) What is the format of your webinar?
Think of the format as the general style of your webinars. It’s pretty similar to the direction mentioned above but the format is more of a structure of the webinar.
- Will the webinar be hosted by a single presenter or a panel?
- Will the webinar be presented via a slide deck, a video call, or a discussion with several industry experts?
- Will the webinar allow input from the viewers?
- Are there Q&A sessions and how long will it be?
4) Who’s your speaker?
The “talent” of the webinar is something that is often neglected by business owners. Who will be the voice or the face of our webinar? Almost always, it will be you, but it can also be someone from your team who is better at speaking.
You don’t have to find the best-looking person to run a webinar; you need someone who is a very confident speaker and who has the authority to speak to the topic at hand.
You may prefer to bring in a guest speaker or a co-host who can offer fresh perspectives on your niche, for example. If you have two hosts, you can work on your dynamics to further improve the success rate of your webinars.
5) What’s your platform?
You may have heard of webinar platforms such as Adobe Connect or WebinarJam. If you want to try to fit in with the latest trends, you may also try Periscope or Facebook’s Live function. As always, you can also use the ever-reliable and free Google Hangouts, YouTube or Vimeo among others.
Consider whether these platforms give all the functionality you need – like real-time chat or polling, or analytics.
- Do you envision a live or on-demand webinar? Is your speaker comfortable talking live, or are they better recorded (with the bonus of post-production/editing)?
- What’s the visual look for your webcast? Options include talking heads, how-tos or even Q&A sessions.
- What’s your budget?
6) What are you going to teach?
Now that we’ve got the preparation and technical side out of the way, it’s time to consider your curriculum and what you’re trying to present. What is the goal of your webinar?
You may want to sell your product at first – after all, you want to grow your business with webinars, right? Hang in there for a second. Successful webinars are mostly about establishing yourself as an authoritative or educational figure rather than selling.
Here are some tips and tricks to get you thinking about webinar ideas:
- If your business were to speak at a very reputable industry conference, what would you talk want to about the most?
- What specific problems can you solve with your knowledge or skills? How did you come up with your products and how can they address these challenges?
- Similar to the point above – people love and want to learn how to do something which explains the rise in tutorial and how-to videos. Use a webinar to break your guides down, step by step, and give people the same tools and knowledge that you have to bring them to the next level.
- You have to also consider what your audience wants. Use your blog, social media, or e-mail list to ask your audience what they want to learn next.
7) Determining the ROI of your webinar
Webinars can be inexpensive since there’s not really much that you need other than a platform and audio or video equipment. Of course, if you want to have a more polished webinar, you’re going to have spend more on your equipment and webinar software.
However, you’ll still have to decide what your goals are to make sure that your webinar is justified. Even if it’s inexpensive, that’s still money spent that could have been reinvested into the business.
It’s a good idea to set useful goals, such as a number of leads or number of paying customers generated. Your webinar costs should also be counted as part of the acquisition costs of gaining new customers – don’t forget that.
Steps to running a successful webinar
1) Planning & Choosing the (Right) Topic
Just like everything that you do in your business, you need a plan. The first step to hosting a successful webinar is having a solid plan with realistic timelines and goals.
The three most important things to plan for your webinar are: understanding your goals, setting realistic expectations and choosing a topic that is good for you and your audience.
Every successful marketing story does not come luck; they come from a great amount of thought and planning which also applies to webinars.
Ask yourself, why do you need this webinar? Webinars can be used for various purposes and each one demands a different strategy but what is your main goal? Determining why you want to do it is the first step that you should do in planning your webinar.
For instance, you may want to generate more leads or strengthen your relationship with your existing clients. You may also want to launch or promote a new product or service; you may also want to establish yourself as an authority in your niche.
Set Realistic Expectations
You cannot expect your webinar to attract 10,000 visitors and make you a millionaire overnight. Covering a controversial or hot topic may bring in plenty of registrations and visitors for your webinar.
However, you have to understand that more is not always better. Do you want 500 registrations from people who are slightly interested in your product or do you want 50 registrations from people who are literally one step away from being paying customers?
Choose the Right Topic
Now, it’s time for you to choose a topic that aligns with your goals. Remember, it’s about choosing the right topic, not just any topic. A good way to do that is by understanding your audience.
Head to where your audiences usually hangout (Reddit, Facebook groups, etc.) and take notice of the types of questions the people are asking. This way, you can uncover the pain points and upcoming trends of your niche easily.
A quick note before we head on to the next section; webinars are usually about an hour long. In most cases, it shouldn’t last that long. People are busy and if you’re targeting business owners, expect them to be busier than your usual person.
Getting someone to commit an hour of their life for something that may or may not provide value to them is tough. Consider cutting your webinar length down to 30 or 40 minutes and remove filler content from your webinars.
People love the quick and informative format of modern webinars and if you do it right, people will demand for a second webinar that allows you to convert your leads into paying customers more efficiently.
2) Pick a reputable webinar platform
It’s important to choose a webinar hosting platform you can trust. You want a platform that can provide stable video performances, stellar server performances, and a top-notch user interface.
Reputable webinar platforms make it very easy for people to attend your webinar. For instance, over 50% of online users are on mobile in 2017. If your webinar platform does not support mobile devices, that’s going to limit your visitors by at least half.
In addition, some webinar platforms are filled with annoying advertisements and have a maximum number of attendees. These are all the things to consider when choosing a webinar platform for your business.
3) Choose the right day and time
The timing and date of your webinar also make a difference when hosting one.
The best time for your business depends on your target demographic which are usually on weekends when people have more free time. Mondays or Tuesdays, however, may not be the best time to host webinars as it is the start of the week where people usually have the most work to do.
Tools like Google Analytics allow you to determine which regions of the world most of your traffic come from. With this information, you can select a time that works best for those time zones. For example, if most of your website traffic comes from Australia, you don’t want to host it at midnight Australian time.
You can always experiment with hosting your webinar on different days and times to find out the best combination for you. Remember, if you can’t find one that works best – no worries. Most webinar platforms nowadays allow your visitors to save and view it a later time.
4) Promoting your webinar
While your webinar may have the best content in the world, it will not work if your promotion is subpar. Promotion is the single most important thing to do when it comes to hosting a webinar.
There’s no one size fits all solution for promotions. It really depends on what works for you. However, there are some things that you can do which works well for most webinars.
- Adding call-to-actions to your website or social media channels
- Sending e-mails or newsletters to your mailing list
- Posting your webinar in social media such as Facebook groups or tweets
- Posting in communities such as Reddit or Hacker News
- Partner with companies or businesses who are affiliated with your business
- Interview someone or get interviewed to build exposure for your webinar as well as improving SEO
In addition to that, you may also indulge in paid opportunities such as:
- Facebook or Google ads
- Sponsored articles or newsletters
- Paying for spots on websites or online news portals
As always, the key to promotion is to direct it at the relevant audience as well as including a compelling CTA.
5) Practice a lot
Practicing your webinar ensures that everything goes off smoothly on the day of the webinar.
Some things that you can do include rehearsing your presentation several days before the event. This also encompasses the inspection of your webinar equipment to make sure that they are working correctly.
This will help you identify and eliminate potential issues before the big day as well as instilling confidence in yourself when presenting the webinar.
Some other things that you can do include:
Recording a mock webinar
It’s dangerous to assume that everything will go smoothly during the live webinar. Always remember to test your equipment first and do at least one run-through a day or two before the live event to make sure everything goes well.
Use the right microphone and audio equipment
Use a headset or external microphone because poor-quality audio will ruin your webinar quickly. Don’t rely on the built-in mic in your laptop as the audio may be distorted. It can also be very faint sometimes so always have an external microphone at hand.
Enlist a technical assistant/moderator
During the webinar, you need to be focused on delivering a great presentation. To make things easier, you can enlist an assistant who can handle technical issues in real time, moderate visitor comments and do other tasks such as regulating the chat.
Don’t leave your audience hanging. When the webinar is at 8pm, be there at 7.45 pm. Be prepared and ready to go at least 15 minutes before the scheduled start time so you can get things going promptly and you’ll feel more relaxed when it’s time to start. No one likes a person who is not punctual, by the way.
6) The day of the webinar
When the big day arrives, you should be prepared if you’ve done the points that were mentioned above. As a rule of thumb, you should run a final mock webinar 30 minutes before the event to make sure everyone’s on the same page and there are no audio or connectivity issues.
However, it is wise to know that no matter how prepared you are for the webinar, there is the slight chance of issues that are out of your control occurring. If something like that happens, keep a cool head and take your time in fixing the situation.
If it’s a free webinar and the issue cannot be fixed, delay the webinar and apologise to your viewers honestly. If it’s a paid webinar, you can offer a refund or push the webinar further back.
7) Follow up with your viewers
Now that your webinar is over, it’s important to follow up with your attendees and non-attendees. Always remember to thank them for their time. It’s also good to include download links to viewers who did not manage to catch the webinar in time.
As a best practice, you should follow up with your viewers at most 2 days after the webinar. You don’t want to drag it for too long as the attention of your viewers may have worn off by then.
Most webinar providers have the ability to add a survey after the end of the webinar. Use this opportunity to get feedback on the webinar and gather ideas for future topics or things that you could tweak and improve.
As always, you can contact us if you need help with your business. You can also head over to our blog to read up on more articles like this.
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