2020 has seen a shift towards virtual events and meetings, and has inspired many consumers to want to expand their knowledge and get involved with new experiences – so what better time for your business to start hosting webinars? They are a really effective way to engage and educate your audience, and can help you to build stronger relationships with your existing customers and generate new leads.
- Understanding your audience and choosing your topic
- Marketing your webinar
- Planning and preparing
- Final impressions count
When it comes to choosing a topic for your webinar, there are two things to consider: is it relevant and is it specific. Firstly, let’s discuss ‘relevance’. This means you will want to make sure that your webinar is focused on something that your audience is actually interested in hearing about – if it’s not relevant to them, you will find yourself speaking to an awfully low number of people, because after all, why would they attend a webinar that offers no value to them?
If you are struggling to come up with a topic for your webinar, why not ask the people whose opinions matter the most: your audience. You can start by looking at FAQs to understand some of the most common challenges your audience faces, or use Google Analytics to help identify the most popular topics on your website. You could also choose to take a more direct approach and simply ask your audience what they want to see – many webinars will include this as one of their post-event feedback questions. Alternatively, you may feel that there is an unaddressed topic that you think your audience would benefit from learning more about.
Once you’ve decided on your topic, you will want to ensure that you have made it specific. For example, a webinar on content marketing would be far too broad and vague to offer any substantial value to your audience. Instead, you should focus on a specific area within this topic such as social media or blog content marketing.
Part of the planning process for your webinar should be to consider which day of the week will help you get the most from your webinar. Whilst every audience will be different, research has shown that generally, you will want to avoid Friday – Monday as these days will typically see the lowest attendance levels. Statistically speaking, Tuesdays and Thursdays are the most popular days overall, but this may not be true for your audience. If you have the time and resources, you may wish to put out a quick poll (or something of a similar nature) to determine which day will suit your audience best and bring the most attendees to your webinar.
The marketing of your webinar is arguably one of the most critical elements to success. It’s all very well planning and hosting an amazing webinar, but if no one is going to see it, what’s the point?
Start by coming up with a name for your webinar; make it catchy but informative so to let your audience know what they can expect. You will then want to consider doing things such as creating a landing page for your webinar, writing related blog posts and emails, and advertising the event on your social media channels. Your marketing should remain consistent and cohesive across all channels to help reinforce your message and increase awareness.
There is a lot of planning and preparation involved in the hosting of a successful webinar. As many of us know all too well, technology has a tendency to underperform when we are relying on it most. For this reason, it’s essential to perform tech checks and practice runs prior to your webinar to ensure your platform and equipment are functioning correctly.
Along with testing the technical elements of your webinar, it’s fundamental that everything else is planned and prepared for too. A big part of this is creating a script to ensure your webinar remains on topic and makes the most of the time allocated, as this will help increase audience satisfaction and make your host feel more at ease. Think about it, there’s nothing worse than being put on the spot and your mind going completely blank – that is of course unless this happens in front of a big audience, such as that of a webinar – so by preparing a script and rehearsing the webinar, your host(s) will feel more comfortable and confident in what they are saying, and your audience will trust them more.
How and what information is delivered at your webinar will be key to establishing your brand as an industry leader and will help to build credibility and trust, so it’s fundamental to get it right – which is why practice is key.
As people, we like to stay informed and be aware of exactly where our time is going – we don’t like surprises or unexpected turns. For this reason, it is important to start your webinar by introducing the topic and setting expectations for your audience. Naturally, at the beginning of your webinar, you will also want your host (or hosts) to introduce themselves and really get your audience engaged from the get-go.
Choosing the right host(s) can really impact the success of your webinar. You will want them to have a genuine interest and passion about what they are speaking about, as this can really affect the engagement of your audience, with 32% of attendees saying they feel the most engaged when their webinar host is passionate and energetic. A further way your host(s) can help to increase audience engagement is by sharing personal experiences, as this is likely to encourage questions from the audience as it’s not something they can go away and research themselves. Equally, having two presenters can help to make your webinar more engaging as it allows for different perspectives and experiences to be communicated.
More ways to get your audience engaged include live chats, Q&As and polls; all of which can help break up your content and ensure your audience remains focused and interested in your webinar.
Another key consideration is the visual elements of your webinar. Your audience is unlikely to want to see hundreds of slides stuffed with nothing but text. Your webinar slides should compliment everything your host is saying and help to make your event more engaging and memorable. Think about using bright colours and eye-catching visuals for your opening slides to capture the attention of your audience and get them engaged. Also consider using a mix of text, image and videos to help break up heavy content and make your webinar more interesting. Whilst visuals are important, you need to remember your slides should be there to simply help draw attention to important information without distracting your audience or taking engagement away from your host.
The end of your webinar is what will resonate most with your audience. You want their last impression to be a good one, so don’t make the mistake of fading your performance as you progress.
Make the most of having your audience’s attention by ending with a clear call to action that’s easy for them to act upon: if you want them to sign-up for something, provide them with a link to do so. You should also get a recording of your webinar distributed to the attendees as soon as possible to avoid allowing warm leads to go cold. Equally, you may want to distribute the recording to (or at least follow up with) non-attendees, as if they registered, it’s likely they have an interest in your topic and could be a valuable lead for your business. Lastly, you will want to consider how you are going to obtain audience feedback, as this is really useful for identifying any areas for improvement along with potential topics for future webinars.
Of course, we can’t forget about evaluating the performance of your webinar. As with most things in business, you will want to compare performance statistics with targets to see how well each of your key metrics performed. Some examples of metrics you may wish to consider include the number of registrations, number of attendees and the average viewing time.
Webinars are a fantastic way to provide value to your audience and can really help to set your business apart from your competitors. Whilst this year has presented many challenges for businesses, it’s important that you adapt to the situation, remain resilient and don’t let the lockdown shut down your business.