Meet the Deminar: Live Product Demonstration Webinars

For most marketers, when you think about a webinar, you think about a platform primarily used for top-of-funnel lead generation. And let’s face it, for that purpose, webinars are awesome! Forrester lists webinars as the number one method to generate new leads. But webinars can be so much more. Really savvy marketers today are using webinars to drive the entire buying cycle, from generating the lead to closing the deal.

We are firmly in the age of the self-educated buyer. Forrester says that 70% of buyers would rather do their own research than talk to a salesperson. For many companies, that kind of buying behavior can be a pretty scary statistic. So as a prospect becomes interested in your product or service, how do you convince them to become a customer without direct sales engagement? Yup, the answer is webinars. What other marketing tool do you have that allows you to get in front of your audience for up to an hour at a time? And there is a lot you can accomplish in an hour.

And where webinars can really the heavy lifting is at the bottom of the funnel. Let’s analyze the problem. When a prospect is strongly considering making a purchase, what do they need to make a decision? They probably want to see how your product or service works and they want to have their questions answered. And if they are not talking to a salesperson, then they are probably checking out your website, watching some videos, or maybe watching a demo. But none of those activities are interactive and none directly engage the prospect. Meaning you may not close the deal.

Bottom-of-the-funnel webinars are built to give the prospect the information and comfort they need to make that final purchase decision.

So what happens to the self-educating prospect at the bottom of the funnel? Maybe they sign up for your canned demo or watch a video or read a data sheet. But that content is often boring and they don’t allow the prospect ask specific questions or direct the conversation. Enter The Deminar. This is the modern version of a demo, given in a webinar format. It enables you to demonstrate your product or service while having a real-time conversation with your prospects.

Here are some keys to building effective deminars:

Show, don’t tell

Many demos have a tendency to do more talking about products then showing how they actually work. With a webinar, you can deliver a live or on-demand demonstration using various tools including screenshare, integrated videos clips, or an actual on-camera demonstration. Mix up the media. If you have great video clips explaining your products or highlighting key features, integrate them into your deminar. Whatever you need to help your prospects see themselves using your company.

Selling — without the salesperson

If you can’t get our prospects to a sales call, then you need another way of getting their questions answered. Make your deminars interactive, and give your audience a chance to get their questions answered and direct the demonstration. This works best when the presenter is knowledgeable and able to answer every question. Product Managers are often the right choice for this role. Consider having them take questions throughout the demo and not just at the end.

Move them to close

After someone attends your wonderful demo webinar, you want to strike while the opportunity is hot. Don’t let them leave without taking the next step. If there is additional content that they might need to see, link to it right from the webinar. This can come in the form of links to product pages, additional demo videos, or written resources. Further, you may want to provide links to free trials or even an offer to speak to an expert to help them get up and running.

The digital world may have created some space between us and our customers, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still engage with them at those critical decision making moments. And webinars are the best way to drive that engagement. So think about how you can build your own bottom of the funnel webinars, or deminars. It can be your best way to turn a decent prospect into a good customer.

Your Webinars Are Really Not That Interactive

What makes webinars one of the most valuable marketing tools we have today is the ability to directly engage an audience in ways that most marketing tools simply can’t. But most webinars today still fall into the “we present and you listen” model. At this point, you are probably saying to yourself, “Not us! We do Q&A at the end of every webinar.” Well, that’s great, but it’s not enough.

According to the 2017 ON24 Webinar Benchmarks Report, 82% of webinars have Q&A during the webinar, most of the time at the very end of the presentation. The problem is that if you save Q&A for the end of your presentations, your audience is in passive listen-only mode for a majority of the webinar. But this is easy to change.

There are many interactive tools available, including Q&A, to make your webinars more engaging. And how you use these tools is just as important as using them in the first place. Here are some ideas to quickly add energy and engagement to your webinars:

Polling

Polling is one of my favorite engagement tools. I love to add at least 2–3 polls to every webinar. They keep the audience active and involved, and they get to have a voice in the conversation. Polls are great because the force the listener to take an action, which keeps them mentally dialed-in to the presentation. I usually start every webinar with a poll, just to get the interact

Group chat

Group chat can be a fun way of keeping your audience connected to the content and the webinar. Your audience has an opinion and would love the chance to comment on what is happening in the webinar. The key is to make sure that you have someone (not the presenter) managing the discussion to keep the discussion positive and on track.

Social Media

Getting your audience engaged socially is another great way to connect and interact with your audience. Twitter can be a really effective way of extending the conversation beyond the webinar. With a pre-set hashtag, your audience can comment on your content and highlight what they think are the most important parts. After the webinar is over, you can favorite and retweet those comments to continue the conversation.

Gamification

Why not have some fun with your audience? Use polls or the Q&A feature to quiz your audience or do raffles or give-aways. It’s another way to let the audience get involved and feel more connected to the webinar. Also, when they know there is going to be a give-away, they will pay more attention.

More Q&A!

But even if you are just doing Q&A, why not consider taking questions throughout the webinar instead of just at the end? If your presentation is broken into a few different topic areas, pause after each section to take a few questions. It’s a great way to keep your audience engaged.

The modern webinar is much more of a conversation than a presentation. Don’t talk at your audience, talk with them. Increased interactivity and engagement will lead to longer attendance times, more content retention, and ultimately, better leads. So don’t make your audience wait for their chance to speak, get interactive right from the start.

How Long Should I Spend Planning My Webinar?

Is it possible to deliver a webinar overnight? Of course! Sometimes you have to respond to events in real time, and webinars can be a great way to get that message out to a large, distributed audience. But unless you’re reacting to an emergency, we wouldn’t recommend rushing your webinars.

It takes time to plan and execute a successful marketing campaign, and webinars are no exception. At ON24, we like to give ourselves around eight weeks to bring a webinar from concept to event. That gives us plenty of time to brainstorm creative ideas for webinar content, connect with internal and external subject matter experts, and execute on our webinar promotional plan.

Let’s walk through those eight weeks:

Week 1: Planning

What are the goals for your webinar? What will the topic be? Who is on your webinar action team, and what are their responsibilities? By outlining all of these details early in the process, you will save yourself a lot of frustration and confusion closer to the live webinar, when the stakes are so much higher.

If you have a long-running webinar series or an established webinar program with a specialist team, you may have most of these details locked down already. Even so, it’s worth taking a few minutes to check in with your webinar team to make sure everyone’s still on the same page.

Week 2: Messaging

You’ve already nailed down the topic of your webinar. Now it’s time to hammer out the fine details. Come up with a compelling title for the webinar. Sketch out the key benefits that will attract attendees to your event. Draft the webinar abstract. Pick the creative direction for the imagery you’ll be using in your landing page, promotional assets, and webinar console.

Again, if you have an established webinar series, you may already have this content. In that case, use this time to evaluate the things you’ve used in the past and see if there’s an opportunity to improve.

Week 3: Marketing deliverables

Before you do anything else, you need to have the key marketing assets in place. For most webinars, that includes the registration page, promotional emails, confirmation emails, display and banner ads, and a design for the webinar console.

Ideally, all these pieces should share a similar look and feel, including the messaging you developed the week before, so that people get a consistent, engaging experience from your webinar promotions.

Week 4: Infrastructure setup

Start building out your webinar console. If you’re planning to have a video presenter (and you should!), test your studio equipment or webcam setup. Make sure you’re using the correct tracking codes in all your marketing materials. Double-check your landing page and email flow. Test, test, and test again so there are no surprises on the big day.

Week 5: Launching external promotions

It’s time to launch that carefully orchestrated promotional plan. Your landing page should be live. Your display ads should be serving. Your first email should go out, to give people plenty of time to put your event on their calendars.

This is the week your webinar promotions start, but it’s not the only week to think about webinar promotions. Until the webinar goes live, you’ll want to monitor and tweak your promotional plan to make sure you get the highest registration and conversion possible.

Week 6: First dry run

Even if your presentation slides aren’t final, you should still have enough pieces in place to do a “dress rehearsal” for your webinar. Run through the whole webinar, beginning to end. If possible, execute your dry run in the same location and with the same equipment you’ll be using for the live webinar. This will give you a chance to catch any technical problems or correct any issues with the flow of your content while the stakes are low.

Week 7: Internal promotion

Turn your coworkers into an army of advocates for your event. Make sure they all have the link to the landing page and emails to share with their contacts. Arm them with tweets so they can promote the webinar on their own social channels. Encourage them to sign up and attend the webinar themselves.

Week 8: The big day

Get plenty of sleep and show up relaxed and ready to go. Get everyone in place at least 30 minutes prior to the event so you can to a final run-through and equipment test. If you’re presenting, keep a glass of water on hand and take a sip whenever you need it. If you’re helping out behind the scenes, make sure your team has an agreement in place for how to route attendee questions, push polls, monitor chats, and so on.

Most importantly, be yourself and have fun! Every webinar is an amazing opportunity to connect with people who really care about what you have to say. Just keep that in mind, and your event is sure to be a success.

Catastrophe… or Opportunity? How to Deal with the Unexpected

It’s funny, one of the biggest fears I hear from people that deliver webinars is their concern that something will go wrong, especially during live webinars. I feel completely the opposite. I love live webinars because of that “anything can happen” reality. It makes them exciting and fun.

Now before you call me crazy, hear me out. First, if you do enough webinars — and I give literally hundreds every year — something will eventually happen. My list of unexpected webinar moments is long. I remember presenting once and the phone trunk in the entire building went down, effectively eliminating my ability to present… for five minutes. I have had laptops die, power go out, guest speakers drop off, and in one case, I almost lost my voice in the middle of a presentation.

Things will happen, it’s how you deal with them that matters. Here are some of my tips for avoiding danger and preparing for anything:

Build in as much redundancy as possible

Never present on a cell phone, but have yours close by in case your landline goes down. Make sure you have a power cord for your laptop. Have another computer close by, so if yours goes down, you can do a quick switch and continue presenting. Have a printed copy of your slides so, in case your computer freezes, you can continue the conversation.

Practice Your webinar

I can’t tell you how many times I have built a webinar deck only to find out live that the animations, order, or transitions I built didn’t work right. I learned my lessons the hard way. Once you have built your deck, go through the entire thing in show mode and confirm that everything works as it should. A few hours later, do it again. I guarantee that you will find at least one other mistake.

Don’t wait till the last minute

There are a lot of little things that can go wrong if you don’t allow yourself the time to discover and fix them. Make sure that every presenter is on the webinar thirty minutes in advance. Check sound levels and quality. If someone’s phone or video line isn’t working well, you will have time to change.

Don’t panic!

Even with all of the preparation in the world, the unexpected will happen. I actually love those moments. Yes, they will often vault your heart into your throat, but how you deal with them is what matters most. My advice? Grace and humor. Don’t freak out, don’t panic. Be honest with your audience about what is happening; people love human moments. Have fun with it. If you handle that moment with grace, your audience will like you even more. They will relate and it will make you, or your speaker, more relatable.

It’s just real life, and people like real a lot better than canned. So, do what you can to avoid the tiny mistakes, but when something happens, just roll with it. Your audience will stick with you and you may find that a potential disaster turns into your best webinar ever.

The Art of Crafting the Perfect Promo Email Subject Line

How can you get more engagement from your webinars? Learn the tips, tricks and tactics that make webinars work at Webinar World 2019.

There are a lot of critical moments in the life of your webinar, but none more important than the very first time your target audience sees your email in their inbox. And, in fact, all they really see is the subject line. One small line of copy that can result in hundreds of happy webinar attendees, or your presenters talking to a whole lot of nobody.

One of the biggest mistakes that marketers make is not taking that single line of copy more seriously. There is a real art to creating a subject line compelling enough to get someone to click on an email and read on. Simply putting the title of your webinar (no matter how good) is not enough.

So what makes a great subject line? Well, the key is writing something that will create a strong enough emotional response that the reader will want to click to read more. There are several methods to accomplish this response.

Address a specific pain-point of need

Your audience has concerns that keep them up at night. If your webinar is going to address one of those issues, you can highlight that concern in your subject line. Subject lines that capture the essence of a major concern will elicit an almost Pavlovian click on that email.

Example: “Do your webinars put your audience to sleep?”

Disrupt

Another great strategy for creating an effective subject line is threatening the status quo. If you can write a line of copy that will make your audience feel uncomfortable or disrupt their current way of thinking, you will probably get a lot of clicks.

Example: “You are writing subject lines all wrong”

Promise change

People naturally are looking for anything that will make their lives better. This approach is similar to the first method of addressing a pain-point or need, except that instead of focusing on the pain, you are going to promise the gain. The secret here is to make the change feel transformative enough for them to absolutely HAVE to click.

Example: “This webinar will double your pipeline”

The Tease

Some crafty content writers have had great success by creating subject lines that titillate the audience into wanted to click, just to see what this is all about. You can make a funny reference or tease them with some fun wordplay.

Example: “Then your boss said…”

It’s all about getting that emotional response. Can you capture their imagination? Hit them where it hurts? Get them excited about a better way? You are not asking much, just a simple mouse click. But sometimes that can be the hardest part.

Building Your Webinar Dream Team

It sounds like a setup to a punchline: “How many marketers does it take…?” But building your webinar team is no joke. Without the right team, delivering a webinar can be a serious headache. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to put together your very own webinar dream team. In fact, it all starts with just three people:

1. The Presenter

What makes a good presenter? In a word, energy. Since the presenter is the face of your webinar, it’s their job to keep your audience excited and engaged. A good presenter is also prepared, polished, and good at thinking on their feet — after all, you never know exactly what will pop up in a live Q&A!

The presenter’s primary job is to deliver the webinar, but that’s not their only job. In fact, the biggest responsibility for the presenter may be building and preparing the presentation itself. But that doesn’t mean that they have to be the ultimate subject matter expert. A good presenter combines their own knowledge with deep expertise from all around the company to craft killer webinar content and wow the audience.

2. The Promoter

When it comes to delivering a successful webinar, people consistently list driving registration and attendance as the #1 challenge they face. That’s why it’s so important to assign someone the specific job of promoting your webinar. The promoter makes sure that the landing page looks good and works correctly, that the emails go out on time, and that everyone else on the webinar team is constantly up-to-date on where the registration numbers stand.

A good promoter is organized and detail-oriented. After all, webinar promotions have a lot of moving pieces: at least two or three promotional emails, event confirmations and calendaring tools, on-demand archiving of the webinar, and post-event follow-up, just to name a few.

3. The Producer

Every webinar needs someone behind the scenes to make sure everything looks and sounds great. That person is the producer, who is responsible for the webinar’s technical infrastructure. They will set up the console before the event to make sure that it matches the presenter’s plan. On the day of the webinar, the producer (along with the presenter) checks in at least 30 minutes early to test the equipment and troubleshoot any technical issues that may have come up.

During the webinar, the producer may lend a hand with managing live Q&A, pushing polls, or anything else where the presenter needs a little extra assistance.

With the right team in your corner, you’re in the perfect place to execute a great webinar. Stick around the ON24 blog for more great webinar tips!

Webcams: From Weird to Approachable Webinars

Nothing spices up a webinar more than adding video. Not that audio-only webinars are bad (I do lots of them), but there is something especially engaging about seeing the face of the person who is speaking to you. Now, most of the time when we think of video in webinars, we imaging nice stage sets, with professional-quality video production. But it’s time to reconsider the webcam. When webcams first arrived, nobody like using them. I hated them; it was awkward and weird. Where was I supposed to look? Why was I speaking into my laptop? It just didn’t feel comfortable. And so I, and most of you, just stopped using them.

And then something happened. Skype and FaceTime had us talking into our laptops, phones, and tablets non-stop. It was no longer weird; in fact, now, it’s quite normal. Not only are we used to talking into our devices, we are also used to seeing each other in this format too. Staring at someone talking into a webcam now feels personal and approachable.

Video webinars using webcams are great because they are cheap and easy to produce. Webcams provide you a few advantages that even studio video doesn’t, as they enable you to be agile and put together webinars very quickly to react to news, market conditions, or current events. Being the first to comment on what’s going on in your marketplace is a great way to establish your company as the thought leader and trusted advisor.

I also love webcams because they give you an easy way to brand your key presenters and help them connect to your target audience. Webcams have an intimacy that even studio video doesn’t, and they are a great way to create a bond between your presenters and your audience. What’s more, since you can webcam from just about anywhere, it’s easy to bring in presenters, no matter where they are in the world. This greatly expands your presenter pool.

Here are some helpful tips for webcam presenters:

  1. Never webcast from your desk — always go to a quiet room.
  2. Think carefully about your background. A glass conference room can look nice.
  3. Rehearse your presentation well, so you don’t have to keep staring down at your slides.
  4. Set your computer or laptop at eye level so you are not looking down at the camera.
  5. If you need a reminder of where to look, tape something above the camera. And remember, you are talking to a person.

Webcams can help you increase your number of webinars, and increase the level of engagement that you have with your audience. It’s fast, easy… and, yes, fun. So, open up that laptop and say hello to your audience.