Webinars are a fantastic lead generation tool or webinars can be a huge waste of time. If you prefer the lead generating webinars, this 8 step framework designed to teach you how to do a webinar that is highly engaging and generates high quality leads for your sales pipeline.
Step 1: Get together with your key stakeholders to agree on these foundational concepts:
- Define the objective for the webinar. It could be leads, closed business, awareness, or something else supporting the business goals.
- Identify the target audience and where they can be reached.
- Select the topic for the webinar. The first ideas you hear will be to promote your wonderful product. RESIST! Product-based webinars will fail. The webinar topic should be of an educational nature. Educate the target audience about something that matters to them. Your firm should have unique expertise on this topic. See Chapters 3 and 17 for more information about choosing a topic with the sweet spot of engagement and the audience-facing mission statement.
- Agree on the metrics you will use to determine success or failure: number of registrants, attendees, or fulfillment of some other call to action.
- Agree with the sales team on their role in promoting and/or following up on the webinar.
- Gain agreement on budget and personnel resources. Personnel resources are especially important if your subject matter experts will be contributing their expertise and knowledge on top of their regular duties and responsibilities.
Step 2: Create the concept and agree on the theme you will present to the prospective audience.
- Create a compelling name for the webinar or the webinar series. The name doesn’t need to be extraordinary or clever, but it should clearly explain what the webinar is about and/or the value proposition.
- If you choose to create a series, create compelling titles for each webinar in the series.
- Create 100-word descriptions to be used widely in the promotion of the webinar. Descriptions should include the value the attendees will realize from the webinar.
- You may or may not want to create a brand around the webinar. A separate brand could include a logo, colors, look and feel of the promotion and the webinar itself. Creating a new brand for the webinar series requires resources and extra time.
- Create uniformly branded templates for emails, registration materials, and webinar presentation materials.
Step 3: Identify the players. You will need this group to be willing, available, and committed.
- Appoint a webinar manager or chairperson to make sure everything comes together. The webinar manager will own the webinar checklist and make it all happen on time and with the expected quality. The webinar manager is the project manager.
- Identify potential speakers and solicit them to volunteer and commit to the webinar. You might also need to talk to their managers to make sure they will have support to participate as needed. The speakers must be subject matter experts. It is very important that the speakers have the authority to speak about the topic. If the company and the speaker are not real authorities on the selected subject, the firm will lose credibility with the target audience.
- Identify a moderator. A professional moderator can go a long way toward improving the quality of the event. The moderator makes the introduction, moderates the Q&A sessions, and makes sure the webinar flows evenly and on time. You may choose to use a co-presenter format instead of a moderator format, but one of the co-presenters must take on the responsibilities of a moderator. Regardless of the format you choose, it is strongly recommended to have at least two speakers because it makes for a much more interesting listening experience. Using just one speaker works for a very short webinar (less than fifteen minutes), but any longer will be boring with just one speaker.
- Ideally, the chat moderators should also be subject matter experts, but you could get by with chat moderators who are not experts. I suggest one chat moderator for each 500 registrants.
- Assign a member of the marketing team to be the promotion manager. The promotion manager owns the promotion of the webinar or webinar series. It is up to the promotion manager to ensure that the target audience is aware of the webinar and that as many as possible register and attend.
- Assign a member of the marketing team to be the post-webinar manager. Activity after the live broadcast is critical for converting registrants and attendees into the sales funnel and ultimately into more sales. This person is responsible for post-webinar activity and conversion of the attendees to sales. The post-webinar manager should be involved with all interactions involving the sales team.
Step 4: Acquire or identify the tools necessary to create, produce, promote, and broadcast the webinar.
- You must procure a proper webinar platform to execute a strong webinar project. Don’t try to use your virtual meeting provider or Google Hangouts as the webinar platform. Use a tool designed for broadcasting a webinar. There are a lot of options out there with different price points and features. Some well-known providers include ReadyTalk, Adobe Connect, ON24, WebEx, or GoToWebinar. They all have pros and cons that bear analysis before you make your choice.
- A marketing automation platform (MAP) is ideal for promoting, managing, and measuring your webinar. However, you can still produce a webinar without one of the MAP tools.
- If you do not have a MAP, you will need an email service provider for invitations, reminders, and follow-up emails. Some webinar platforms include email options.
- Depending on the interaction of the sales team, you may want to use your CRM as a means to manage leads and campaigns. If you are able to integrate your MAP to your CRM, you will be able to attribute sales opportunities to the webinar activities.
Step 5: Promote the webinar.
Promotion or lack thereof can make or break the success of your webinar. Promotion of the webinar should be accomplished via multiple inbound and outbound channels. All promotional activities must make it easy for someone to learn more about the webinar and presenters as well as make it easy to register. If it’s not straightforward, intuitive, and easy, you will lose people during the registration process.
- Your internal email list will be your best channel for promotion. I recommend sending an invitation email two to three weeks ahead of the broadcast date. As mentioned above, a marketing automation platform is ideal for managing the process. It’s okay to send two or even three invitation emails to each of the contacts in your database. The recipients will not see the email invitations as spam as long as the topic is relevant and useful. Give them something they can use.
- Consider sending a press release announcing the webinar series.
- If you have social media followers or contacts on the various channels, be sure to push out information on a regular basis to tell followers about the webinar series.
- Advertise in venues where your target audience resides. Industry associations are excellent places to advertise educational webinars.
- Make sure you don’t forget your own web properties. Place ads on your home page and all other relevant pages your target audience visits.
- Engage your sales team to tell their customers, prospects, and contacts about the webinar. Provide them with a custom email signature. Make up an email template they can easily forward to their contacts. Ask them to promote the webinar on their personal social channels.
- Create a custom landing page where you will funnel all traffic. Again, as mentioned above, make it super easy for people to learn more about the content, topics, speakers, and how to register. The landing page should tell a curious visitor what they should expect to get out of the webinar, details about time and date, and speakers’ credentials.
Step 6: Broadcast the live webinar.
Some organizations prefer to record the webinar only for on-demand viewing and not to broadcast it live. There are some vendors that offer a hybrid, where you record the webinar but promote it as a live event in which the presentation recording is played but the chat feature is live. A live broadcast usually performs better than on-demand viewing, simply because it is an event.
- Try to use at least two speakers. Two or more voices and personalities makes for a more interesting event and keeps listeners more engaged.
- Use the interactive features of the webinar platform such as polls, surveys, quizzes, questions, and the chat feature.
- I do not recommend opening phone lines (or VOIP) for live questions. The sound quality is just too unreliable.
- Be sure to send automatic reminders as the broadcast day approaches. I recommend sending three reminder emails: one at seven days, one day, and two hours prior to the broadcast.
- Don’t be disappointed when everyone who registered does not attend. Typically, you will get 20 percent to 30 percent of the registrants to attend the live event. If you get 50 percent or more, that is an outstanding attendance rate.
- PRACTICE, PRACTICE, AND PRACTICE! The key to your speakers sounding natural and confident is to practice.
Step 7: Follow up with both attendees and those who registered but did not attend the live event.
Post webinar activity is where they webinar gold is mined. If you want to see good ROI from all your work, make sure you follow up with attendees and, especially, those who registered but were not able to attend.
- Send a follow-up email as soon as possible after the broadcast, but no later than twenty-four hours after the live broadcast. Send one email to the attendees and a different email to the registrants who did not attend. Both emails must include links to the recorded webinar and to the slide deck.
- Some companies contact each registrant via telephone after the webinar. It is a great practice to call each attendee, ask for feedback, and offer another related high-value asset.
- Another great practice is to offer the high-value asset via a separate email one week after the initial follow-up.
- If you are executing a webinar series, make sure everyone who registered for the prior webinar gets invited to the next one.
- The key to converting registrants and attendees into customers is to continue to engage them with high-value content.
- Make sure to have a debriefing meeting with all those involved with the production and broadcasting of the webinar. Show special appreciation for your speakers, as it is likely they have volunteered to participate on top of their regular day job. Talk about lessons learned. Ask each person to offer ideas about what went well, what should be done differently, and what should not be repeated. Above all, let everyone know how much you appreciate their participation.
Final Step: Measure and report the results.
- Compare the results to your objectives and goals.
- Report return on investment if you were able to tie the webinar activity to opportunities.
- Report on revenue-based metrics such as new opportunities and influenced won opportunities.
- Shout your success from the hilltops! See Chapter 15 for more on this.
- Get ready for the next one!