Webinars have become an essential part of marketing strategies, especially in today's digital age where customers are more educated than ever. With all sorts of information available at their fingertips, it is necessary to work hard to win customers' trust. One of the most effective ways to do this is by showing that you are an expert in your field.
A webinar gives you the chance to show off your expertise, demonstrate how your products offer real value to customers, and answer any questions they may have about you and your company. It provides a platform for building relationships with potential clients while showcasing what sets you apart from competitors. My first experience with webinars was during my time at CARTO. There, one of my main responsibilities was to take the brand and the webinar program to the next level to help position CARTO as a thought leader in the geospatial industry. I keep seeing that most B2B SaaS companies use webinars for demand generation purposes. I don’t like to treat webinars for pure lead generation - webinars should always be treated for brand building.
The goal of a webinar should be purely educational and meant for positioning yourself in the industry as an expert in your subject matter.
Of course, webinars can also generate leads but I don’t like to treat webinar results solely based on them.
Now let’s jump in. Here are my lessons, tips, and best practices on webinar strategy, planning, marketing, and presentation that hopefully will make you succeed!
Planning the webinar.
First of all, you need to either pick or have a topic in mind. Make sure you picked an interesting topic if your goal is to demonstrate authority as an information source.
If your goal is to position yourself as a thought leader, you need to show as if you know what you are talking about and you know the space and everything that is going on. The more specific the topic the better. Your audience will find more value in it.
If you have no idea where to start on the topic. Look from inside. Ask your sales and customer success team. What are the topics they most often hear from prospects and customers? Ask your customers. Look at the competitors.
Know your audience
Who are you targeting?
What are their challenges?
What are their goals?
Try to clearly address and speak to your audience pain points in the webinar landing page copy and promotion. Come up with a strong title for the webinar that can trigger your audience’s interest so they register for the webinar. Next, decide on the webinar format. One of the best things about webinars is that they are very flexible in regard to the format. Some of the most popular are:
Having a single expert presenter (or two) speaking about a topic you want your audience to know about.
A great way to boost attendance and build authority is to interview a guest speaker that everyone is dying to learn from.
If the goal is to promote a product, a tutorial or a product demonstration format works best for you.
To reach new audiences, a panel discussion with a set of speakers discussing a specific topic is a great plan.
You don’t have to stick to just one format, mix them up and see what works best for you and your audience.
Lastly, choose the right speaker. Whether they are internal or external (a customer or a partner), make sure the speaker has the knowledge and expertise to talk about the topic at hand. Bonus points if they are a highly polished presenter.
Setting up the webinar
First, you have to choose the platform that fits your budget and needs. I’ve personally used GoToWebinar and Zoom. Both work great, although more pricey, I prefer GoToWebinar because of their UI and the ease of setting up a webinar campaign.
When assessing the right platform and plan for you, look for how many attendees it allows, whether you can record the session, and if it has the ability to launch in-flight live surveys.
Next, create a high-converting webinar landing page. At CARTO, I was using Hubspot. Use this page to provide information and drive webinar registrations. Optimize the headers, including images, speakers' photos and information, date and time, a sign-up form to collect all entries, a strong copy, and a call-to-action.
Pay attention to time zones and holidays; if you are operating in North America, but half of your customers are based in Europe, hosting a webinar at 11:00 am PST will leave out all your European customers.
So keep time zones and holidays in mind and always test different hours to see what works best for you.
Marketing your webinar
Yes, times have changed. That doesn’t mean that because everyone is at home everyone is constantly ON. So please, if you still care about your brand image and the health of your marketing lists, avoid spamming people every 3 days with new webinars. A typical webinar promotion strategy includes an email to a targeted list from your database, social media promotion, and lastly paid ads (if you have the budget).
Webinars need a minimum of 2-3 promotion weeks in order to reach a decent registration number. If it so happens that you're running a joint webinar with a partner, you can also use their communication channels for an extra promotional boost to promote the webinar.
Presentation: Visuals come first
As a marketer, I am a big fan of consistent brand messaging and visual representation in all marketing and sales enablement materials. Since webinars are “live” and part of the visual expression of a brand, it is important that they are brand compliant, follow the design standards, and are executed with a high level of professionalism.
It goes without saying that content is king. But good design can take you a long way. Well-crafted visuals will ensure you better keep your hold audience rapt apart from sending a positive message about your brand. My advice is to make sure you spend some extra time and resources on design if you can afford it.
Designing the webinar template and content can be hard. It’s crucial for speakers to lay out their content and ideas in a way that is easy for the attendees to follow during the presentation.
A typical webinar presentation includes the following:
Title & intro - this is your first slide with the webinar title and any additional important information you would like your attendees to know. For example, you could add your Twitter handle, mention that the webinar recording will be emailed within 1-3 business days after the webinar, or that attendees can use the control panel for questions, comments, or feedback.
Speakers - this is your second slide where you add the speaker (s) picture and job title. I would avoid adding more info such as bio. You can explain this with words no need for more text.
Context - always provide context in 1-2 slides about your company or any relevant information to introduce the audience to the webinar topic.
What you’ll learn - give an overview of 3-4 things your audience will learn that day.
Poll - you may consider launching a poll right at the beginning to perhaps get some insights into who is attending the webinar such as the type of personas, what industry they come from, or what are some of their challenges.
Content - the presentation must follow a logical sequence to make sure the audience can follow the main point of discussion and webinar topics.
Poll (optional) - You may consider launching a second poll closely related to your webinar topic.
Key takeaways - Sum up some important highlights from the webinar.
Q&A - Answer any questions your audience may have in regard to the webinar topic and content presented.
Thank you - Don’t forget to include a last ‘thank you’ slide, where you can remind the audience of how they can contact you, and/or promote any other upcoming marketing campaign.
In regards to the content of the presentation, there are many ways in which to structure a presentation. However, I recommend two options to work with:
OPTION A - TIMELINE
This structure is particularly useful when the webinar is about any trending topics or changes that are taking place, or if the underlying environment has changed and the audience doesn’t realize it. The structure would look like this:
How were things done in the past?
What is the current situation?
What are you proposing for the future?
OPTION B - PROBLEM TO SOLUTION
For some use cases, it’s useful to explain the problem and then describe the solution. In
between these two, also describe the cause and effect. So the structure looks like this:
Problem: What problem is your audience facing? (List pain points, and highlight an unexpected real problem)
Cause: What is the underlying cause of that problem?
Effect: How much is this costing them?
Solution: What are you suggesting to fix the problem?
Including some of this narrative (1–10) in your slides will ensure your story flows naturally and you only have to focus on presenting.
Now that you have the presentation ready, it is time to prep for webinar day!
Presenting, especially if you are new to the webinar world, can be nerve-wracking. A best practice to ensure everything is going to work on the webinar day is to do some sort of dry run before the webinar day. I recommend 24 or 48h before to ensure you have enough time to address changes if needed.
A dry run allows the speaker(s) to get comfortable with the platform and its functionalities. Run through the demo as if it was a live webinar to ensure that everything displays correctly.
Make sure you choose a suitable and quiet room for hosting the webinar. Here are some tactical Do’s & Don’ts for the presenter:
If you use a MacBook, hide the Apple Dock (the app tiles) from the bottom of your screen. You don’t want these to pop up, distracting everyone unnecessarily.
Use full-screen and presentation mode for all content. The audience should never see any desktop or other background content that is not part of the webinar.
If there is a product demo, after the demo, go back to branded slides; vs the generic webinar program backdrop.
Same during the Q&A.
When doing Q&A, show the branded slides at that time.
Use your laptop as a microphone. Get a headset mic or high-quality earbuds.
Start the presentation at exactly the webinar start time. Give people 2–3 minutes to sign in and download the webinar tool.
In regards to timing. The broadcast of the webinar should always start on time. This means if the webinar is set to start at 1 pm, start at 1 pm sharp. At this time a branded presentation slide should always be visible. This doesn’t mean content delivery, just the “splash screen”/first slide to be up. At this point, welcome everyone, thank everyone for attending, and give 3–5 min to join.
After the courtesy time, welcome everyone again, introduce yourself, and let everyone know of any housekeeping items that would happen during the webinar. For example, if there would be a poll or if you are answering questions along the way or at the end of the webinar.
All right, this blog post ended up being longer than I expected. I hope it was an easy read and that you find all these tips useful. In an upcoming blog post, I’ll cover recorded webinars and how to repurpose webinars into great content.
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or want to discuss webinar strategy!