As a small business owner, you’ve probably considered hosting a webinar. After all, webinars have some great benefits for small businesses. If you haven’t hosted one yet, it’s probably because all these webinar horror stories are freaking you out and you’re afraid of failing. Don’t worry, it’s not a you thing. Everyone goes through it.
The one thing you should know about webinars, is that they are not as hard as you might think. As with all marketing tactics, the right planning goes a long way, and the benefits far exceed any potential issues you might have.
So let’s not waste any more time. Here are the things you should keep in mind to make your webinar run as smoothly as possible.
Before the Webinar
1. Have a backup for everything
It’s really easy to overestimate the power of technology. Until the power goes. Right in the middle of your webinar. Then you’re left scrambling to avoid losing the audience you worked so hard at getting.
Don’t leave anything up to chance when planning your webinar, especially when it comes to technology. Here are a few backups you consider putting in place:
– A tech-savvy person to manage the webinar while someone else does the hosting
– Your slides and notes on paper so you can reference them if you can’t view your screen
– A secondary computer or device logged in as an administrator
– A secondary Internet source, if possible
– The phone number to call into the webinar if your computer or internet goes down
Along with backups, you should definitely try to do a test run up to 24 hours with all your main participants. If something does go wrong (and it probably will because…Murphy’s Law), don’t panic. Webinar audiences are usually pretty understanding of temporary glitches – but too much downtime and they’ll start leaving.
2. Add some décor
You wouldn’t invite over guests without tidying up and breaking out the good stuff. You wouldn’t have an event without décor either. So don’t host a plain old webinar. Spruce up the place!
A webinar is a prime opportunity for branding – you’ll have a captive audience staring at their screen for 30-60 minutes – so you should make use of it!
For instance, this webinar tool allows you to customize your ‘waiting room’ and webinar background. Make sure to have your logo on all your slides, and use one slide to showcase a brand message that’s relevant to the audience. This can be the slide that shows while they wait for webinar to begin and during your Q&A segment. You can even go one step further and use a plugin like PrettyLink to change your long sign-up or login link to something that better reflects your brand, like www.yourwebsite.com/titleofyourwebinar.
Setting up a Pretty Link (Source)
During the Webinar
3. Start on time
Funny thing about webinars, if you say you’re starting at 10 am, but it reaches 10:02 am but no one has said a word, people will start leaving. With an in-person seminar, you’d have a lot more leniency. It took a lot of energy to get there, they probably paid money to attend and it takes a lot more effort to leave. For your free webinar which only takes a click of a button to close? Don’t even think about it.
To ensure you get started on time, have your host and guest speakers sign in at least 15 minutes before the webinar starts. Trick them into coming earlier if you must. This way you can ensure everyone’s equipment is sufficient, the audio is clear for all parties and everyone is briefed on what will happen next.
If the main host is usually one that’s tardy to the party, be sure to have someone who can stand in their place and get the webinar started.
4. Tease something to make them stick around
Even before doing your introductions, you want to give your audience a reason to keep glued to their seats for the next hour. Your teaser doesn’t have to be a freebie, but it’s important to make an offer or promise that will be appealing enough for them to stick around.
Here are some ideas for teasers that work brilliantly:
– A free product or free subscription to your product
– A special bundle of limited products that they won’t get elsewhere (only for webinars with existing buyers or those that are ready to purchase)
– A freebie or offer from a partner brand with a similar audience
– More relevant content they can access for a limited time after the webinar
5. Put your best stuff at the top
It may sound counter-intuitive to start with your most valuable content, but the new age of short attention spans says differently. Studies show that some of the top reasons attendees leave webinars are because the content is not as advertised, the presenter is boring or the presenter begins without ‘about our company’ information.
How likely would you be to leave a webinar early? (Source)
Make sure your first few minutes are effective in captivating the audience by providing them valuable content from the outset, which will motivate them to want to hear more. You could start by offering some desirable statistics that persons will get from watching the webinar, or even an outline of the details you plan to cover so they know what they are in for. The less ambiguity, the more likely they are to be satisfied with the content you provide.
If they leave after you’ve shown them your plans, they probably aren’t part of your ideal audience.
6. Sell in the middle, not at the end
Another common webinar practice is to make your product pitch or offer at the end of your session. However, since you’ll inevitably have people leaving during the webinar for various reasons, the best time to make your pitch is around that halfway mark, then put a reminder at the end.
It’s important to do three things in your webinar pitch:
a. Keep your selling short and simple. Remember, people came here for the valuable content, not to hear you drone on about your company and its products.
b. Use the webinar content itself to segue into your product pitch. For example, if you’re hosting a webinar on productivity for work-at-home moms and you sell a generic project management tool like Trello, show and discuss ways moms can use Trello – like having a board for each child’s tasks, or one for their DIY projects. Don’t just talk about general features; make your offer as relevant as possible to your current audience.
c. Include an urgent call-to-action. For every presentation you make, ensure that people walk away with a clear idea of what to do next and why they need to do it now. This is so important that it deserves its own point on this list. See below.
7. Don’t let them leave without a call-to-action (CTA)
A call-to-action is your way of saying, ‘you’ve seen how great this is, now here is how to be a part of it or get these amazing benefits’.
For your CTA to work, it has to be something that persons can start immediately. They don’t have to complete the whole process immediately, but you have to give them a way to commit to starting the process as soon as possible, or else you risk losing them once the offer you’ve sold them on wears off in their mind.
Your CTA doesn’t have to be limited to your pitch, you have many more opportunities to show it to your audience. Here’s how you do this. Create a special, easy-to-remember link for a landing page with the information presented in your pitch, then add this link to:
– Your webinar background
– Your chat window in your webinar, and
– At the bottom of all presentation slides
This way, even if your webinar audience doesn’t see your pitch, they might visit this link and see the details of your offer.
After the Webinar
8. Follow up with attendees as soon as possible
Out of sight, out of mind. If you give your webinar attendees too much time after your webinar, chances are they will forget much of the information presented and are less likely to act on your offer. Try to get your follow up email out within 24 hours after your webinar.
Don’t follow up just to pitch them again. Show genuine interest in their needs. Ask for feedback on your webinar and offer a channel for them to ask any questions they didn’t get answered during your webinar Q&A. Give them a summary of the information covered in the webinar and a link to re-watch.
Remind them of your offer and its relevance to them, but don’t be pushy about it. Remember, no one likes a pushy salesperson, especially in their emails.
9. Capture the latecomers
No matter how long you promote your webinar, there will always be a few people who only learn about it after it has started, or worse, after it ends.
Here’s what happens. When your current attendees post on social media during the webinar, they attract the attention of their friends and followers. Therefore, it’s highly likely that these people are qualified leads worth capturing, but since the time for the webinar has passed, you’ll want to ensure they can still benefit from your content, and possibly take advantage of your offer.
The best way to do this is to redirect your webinar’s promotional link to a new landing page dedicated to these visitors. (This is where that PrettyLink, mentioned above, comes in handy. You just log into your website and change the target URL.)
Indicate that the webinar has already passed but those who sign up will get a link to recording and special access to your offer, and ensure that signups from this page are added to a separate list so you can be more personalized in future emails, for example, ‘You didn’t get to catch our last webinar live but here’s your chance to catch this one!’
10. Tweak your approach for the next one
If you are hosting several live sessions of the same webinar or having a series of different webinars, be sure to dedicate some time to reviewing the first one to see how you can improve.
It’s very important to continuously tweak your approach and act on feedback from your audience. Those who take the time to tell you what you did wrong, or what you could do better, are doing you a favor, learn from it.
Additionally, if you plan to release a recording of your webinar, have a video editor review it to take out any unnecessary sections and lengthy pauses before sending it out.
11. Convert to other forms of content
Not everyone will have an hour to dedicate to watching your webinar, but that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from the information you provided. To truly maximize the impact of your webinar, here are some of the ways you can use the content provided to capture even more attention:
– Short 2-3 minute video snippets with each strategies or idea you presented
– An FAQ blog post with the questions from your Q&A section
– Infographics with webinar poll results
– An audio of the recording for those who prefer podcasts to videos
– A SlideShare presentation using your webinar slide deck
– Tweets with the best quotables, snippets and questions from your webinar
The possibilities for repurposing webinar content are numerous. The best part is, you can link all these back to your webinar or your offer. That’s a win all around.
It’s your time to create that kickass webinar to promote your business! Just remember the key points: have a backup plan, maximize your real estate, organize your content to keep your audience hooked, and don’t forget about those who can still benefit from your webinar when it’s over.
If you’re still wondering whether webinars are for your business, check out some of these not-so-obvious benefits you might have missed.