Globalization and technological advances have contributed to the rise of webinars in numerous industries. But what exactly is a webinar? A webinar is simply an online event hosted by an organization. Frequently, webinars have an educational purpose, featuring one or more experts who share their knowledge about a particular topic.
The main benefit of webinars is their accessibility. Participants have the advantage of joining these sessions remotely from the comfort of their homes and usually have the opportunity to interact with the speaker to resolve their questions. Webinars are also cost-effective!
You might be wondering why you need to host a webinar if you are already hosting multiple events throughout the year. Well, this tool can be a crucial part of your event program and can give you a competitive advantage.
In fact, webinars can be used for many purposes, not only educational:
- eLearning: This is the main reason why webinars increased in popularity, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic forced education to pivot to a virtual environment. Think of your webinar as something similar to the sessions during the events you organize. Experts focus on one topic and present their knowledge to attendees, who can interact with them at the end of the presentation. The only difference with traditional events is both speakers and participants are joining remotely, and a webinar is usually shorter than a normal session, the ideal duration being between 39 and 60 minutes.
- Employee training: You may want to start using a new software for a specific part of event planning. Or there is a process that is changing within your organization. Whatever the reason, ensuring your employees are constantly being trained and made aware of all the changes is essential to effective teamwork. A webinar can be a good way to quickly make sure all employees get the desired training and have a space to voice questions and doubts. Furthermore, the content can be offered on-demand for those individuals who couldn’t join on time or want to revisit it later.
- Lead nurturing: The main objective of a webinar should be to acquire leads. Position yourself as an expert in the field and share relevant content with your prospects so they turn into leads.
The Importance of Hosting Webinars
You shouldn’t miss the chance to get more leads. Hosting webinars that perfectly align with your attendees’ interests and preferences will help you get quality leads and enhance your brand image. Here are just a few ways webinars can help you:
- Drive conversions: Delivering interesting content about your events and organization can help potential participants become actual attendees.
- Position yourself as an expert: When you share insights, knowledge, and relevant content with your participants, you establish yourself as an expert. This is important to enhance your reputation and increase your following.
- Communicate with large groups: Webinars are a great tool because of their accessibility. They eliminate geographical barriers and allow you to reach a much larger audience compared to onsite events. Webinars are often free, allowing individuals with financial constraints to attend as well.
- Engage attendees: Engagement tools like polls, live chats, or Q&A can be embedded in the webinar, encouraging participation. These tools help connect with your audience and keep them engaged during the whole presentation, providing an enriching and dynamic experience for attendees.
Setting Clear Objectives and Goals
The first thing you have to ask yourself when planning a webinar is what you want to achieve. Do you want to acquire leads? Educate your audience on a specific topic? Or maybe build your brand awareness and position yourself as an expert?
Once you have defined the purpose of the webinar, it is time to set clear goals. Otherwise, there is no way to check whether it was successful or not! If you have hosted webinars before, you might already have an idea of how many registrations to expect. Also compare the number of registrations to the final number of attendants. Don’t forget to take into account their view time and post-webinar survey results as well; it’s crucial that attendees are actively interacting with your content and benefitting from it.
Always try to improve these numbers in your future webinars; even a 10% increase in registrations is a win. Past data is a powerful source of knowledge, and definitely helps you set specific and relevant goals. But the most important aspect is focusing on what matters to you. Do you want a lot of registrations, or do you care more about the quality of the leads? Do you prefer to have a large number of participants or prefer fewer of them that can be converted easily? Review what you and your organization need to make sure these goals are aligned with your overall goals.
Selecting the Right Topic and Speakers
Now that you know about the many benefits of hosting a webinar relevant to your organization, it is time to choose a topic that will interest your participants. People come for interesting content, so it makes sense that the chosen topic will determine the success of your webinar. You need a relevant topic that sparks interest in your audience and can engage them while also aligning with the objectives you set previously.
Once you have decided on a topic, you need to select your speaker. Look for one or multiple experts or thought leaders in the subject that feel comfortable engaging with an online audience. These can be internal experts from your organization, an external expert in the subject, or a mix of both. It is a plus if they are familiar with the webinar structure and technology already!
Defining Your Target Audience
You need to have an audience in mind when choosing your webinar topic. Who is interested in this subject? What are their pain points or interests? How will this webinar help them in solving their questions and gaining more knowledge about the topic?
Planning the webinar with a clear audience in mind will make it easier to decide on how the content is going to be communicated, which interactive elements to include, and how to promote it to reach the right audience.
Determine the Right Date and Time
Also consider your target audience’s time zone. The online nature of webinars allows participants from all around the world to join, but in order to do it live, the time must work for everyone.
As a general rule, avoid scheduling your webinar on holidays, weekends, or peak working hours. According to research by ON24, webinars with the highest attendance rate are scheduled on Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 10 am or from 2 pm to 3 pm.
However, this is not a rule of thumb, so make sure to research your audience beforehand to determine the right date and time for them. If you are not sure, you can always send out a survey to ask about their availability and preferred date and time for the webinar. This will help you select the date and time that works for most of your participants and increase attendance.
Technical Setup and Platform Selection
There are multiple webinar tools nowadays, but not all of them will meet your expectations. Choosing the right platform is essential, as the whole event will take place through this software. The right platform looks different for every organization, depending on your needs or objectives. But in general, consider these factors when choosing your webinar platform:
- Easy to use: Select a platform with a user-friendly interface to avoid technical issues and guarantee a smooth experience for your attendees.
- Features: Screen sharing, recording options, polls, chats, Q&A sessions… Compare all the features offered by platforms and choose one that will ensure an engaging experience.
- Budget: Choose the platform that best meets all the requirements you need to host a successful webinar while staying within your budget.
- Technical support: Ensure that your chosen platform offers technical support to address any issues during the webinar.
Promotion and Registration
In order to inform people about your webinar and achieve high registration numbers, you need to promote your webinar effectively. There are several ways you can do this:
- Build a landing page: Design a page within your website aimed exclusively at your webinar, including the title, a brief summary of the topic covered, name of the speakers, time and date. Don’t forget to design it according to your brand and add a stand-out CTA button to register at the bottom.
- Use social media: Research which social media platforms your target audience uses most frequently to promote your webinar. Create several posts highlighting the benefits of learning more about the topic, the background of the speakers, and share content related to the webinar to build up excitement.
- Paid ads: Another great way to reach a large audience is by conducting paid ad campaigns. Doing this on social media will give you more freedom to choose the target you want to display your ads to.
- Email campaigns: Send out emails to your contacts, including information about the webinar and a clear CTA to register. The frequency of sending these emails will vary according to your objectives, but at least try to send an initial announcement, a follow-up email, and a reminder before the day of the webinar. It’s also a good practice to send a post-webinar email to thank attendees for their participation.
- Website pop-ups: You can also include a small pop-up leading to registration on your website. However, be aware that not everyone who visits your website might be in your target audience, and don’t overdo it, otherwise, you risk people leaving your website because they are annoyed by the pop-ups.
Content Creation and Delivery
Now that you have chosen the topic, you have to build the content around it to address your audience’s questions and pain points. Prepare a video presentation or slides to support the speaker’s talk during the webinar. If there are multiple speakers, make sure there is coherence and cohesion in the design of the content to keep attendees engaged. This is also a great opportunity to add your corporate colors, banners, and other elements redirecting to your website.
The presentation should act as a support for the speaker’s script. Only include bullet points or very short sentences in the slides, and write a more extensive script to read out loud. There is no need to memorize everything; speakers can keep the script close to the camera and read from it. However, it is always important to convey the feeling that the speech is natural, and leave space for more spontaneous comments and remarks.
Even though content is the most important thing, there are other elements to take into consideration. Check camera angles and lighting, and be aware of the outfits and colors used, as some patterns are not flattering on camera. The key is to avoid attendees getting distracted by small things and keep them focused on the content.
Rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse again to see what works and what doesn’t. After a few tries, you should be able to pinpoint what needs to be changed and improved before the actual webinar to ensure a seamless experience.
Audience Engagement and Interaction
Your audience is coming to your webinar for the topic; that’s a fact. Now it’s your job to make them stay. It is really hard to maintain attention in a virtual setting, so make sure you are following these best practices to keep your audience engaged throughout the webinar:
- Keep it short: If your webinar is longer than 60 minutes, you increase the risk of participants disengaging, maybe even leaving the webinar early. Keep it short and concise, and make sure you allow questions or introduce interactive elements during the talks.
- Engage with your attendees: Having a live Q&A section at the end of the webinar is a must. You can also answer questions during the presentation or include polls to keep your audience’s attention.
- Offer your content on-demand: Unfortunately, the time and date chosen for your webinar might not work for all your participants to attend live. However, you can offer on-demand access to the webinar once it’s over. This will help you increase the reach and impact of your webinar.
Your job is not over once the webinar is finished! There are so many ways you can enhance the reach of your webinar and use it to get even more leads. One easy way, offer the content on-demand. Individuals can register as they would with a normal webinar, and they will get a link to watch the recording immediately.
You can also repurpose your webinar content as a blog post, infographics, social media posts, write an eBook, share speaker quotes, etc. Recycle your webinar lessons to produce more content for your organization while enhancing the impact of your webinar.
This is all optional and you should only do whatever makes sense for your organization. However, you absolutely must follow up with your attendees after the webinar. Send them a thank you email including a quick survey to gather feedback and improve future webinars.
Measuring Success with KPIs
Lastly, review your webinar data and statistics to check whether you met your objectives or not. Gather as much data as you can and analyze it with your team:
- How many registrations did you have?
- How many attendees?
- How long did your attendees watch on average?
- How engaged were your attendees? (Check chat comments, questions asked, poll answers, etc.)
- What feedback did you get from the post-webinar survey?
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t meet your objectives. Analyze and learn why this happened. Maybe you didn’t get as many attendees as you expected. Or perhaps the audience didn’t engage with the content as much as you expected.
Try to come up with different reasons why these situations happened. You can test different fixes in future webinars and see what works best. You might not know for sure why things happened the way they did, but you can always do something to try to improve the next webinar. Trial and error is the way to go.
There is no doubt that hosting a successful webinar can bring many benefits to your organization, including quality leads, at a very low cost. Research the topics your target is interested in and prepare an interesting and interactive presentation to provide an enjoyable experience for your participants. Also, don’t forget to repurpose your webinar content to expand its impact!
If you want help setting up a successful webinar, check out our website to see our webinar solutions. Benefit from our extensive experience facilitating impactful webinars for scientific organizations.