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First, let’s discuss what a webinar is. A webinar is any online event where a speaker, or group of speakers, can deliver a presentation to a receptive audience. Typically, they are a one-to-many lead generation tactic that marketers can use to promote, explain and contextualize brand messaging and products.
A good webinar is engaging and interactive for attendees. It is also a data-rich opportunity for marketers. Done well, webinars can accelerate purchasing decisions with interested prospects and nurture attendees as necessary.
Webinar marketing, specifically, is any marketing activity organized and facilitated through a webinar. These can include top-of-funnel thought leadership events, live and on-demand demos, customer advocacy studies, deep-dive panel events, sales pitches and more.
Webinar marketing stands apart from other channels because of its interactive nature with audiences. Attendees can ask questions of a presenter, respond to polls and surveys, download resources and send strong digital signals of how interested they are in your services and when they’re ready for a talk with sales.
For marketers, webinars are particularly powerful tools thanks to the in-depth analytics they provide. Sufficiently advanced webinar platforms can also empower sales teams and directly contribute to closed-won deals.
How Do You Market A Webinar?
Generally, marketing a webinar — nurturing audiences to attend an event — isn’t purely an organic play. To drive registrants and attendees, you’ll need a joint paid and organic marketing campaign to promote your event. This can include everything from paid social, banner ads and content syndication to organic social posts, sales promotion, newsletter inclusion and much, much more.
But convincing professionals to spend up to an hour of their working day with you isn’t an easy proposition. You’re going to need a convincing reason for would-be registrants to attend the event married to an organized promotional strategy. So, how do you market your webinar?
Well, here are a few ways you can kickstart your webinar campaign:
Use email marketing to drive sign-ups
Emails are a marketer’s best friend — and the same is true for webinar programs. Email marketing can be targeted and selected or draw in a high number of conversions through a massive send. Regardless, you’ll need an email program to get your webinar promotions noticed.
To promote webinars using emails, it’s best to prepare three emails to go out to your database at least two weeks in advance. Your first email should be sent at the beginning of that two-week period with your second follow-up email the next week. Your final email should be the day of the event to encourage hesitant registrants to commit.
Don’t be afraid to humanize your emails; encourage your presenters to write the final email and provide a personal note. Each email ought to highlight a different aspect of your webinar and (if you have the time) include different messaging for different segments. If you have an expert guest speaker on call for the event, for example, highlight their presence to the segment that would be most interested in their opinion.
Get Partners Involved
Webinars are data-rich resources and excellent lead generation tools. As such, inviting a strategic partner to your event is an excellent way to add some extra oomph to your webinar promotions.
Identify friendly businesses with similar customers to yours and offer to share some of your webinar’s leads for their promotional efforts and the attendance of one of their subject matter experts. Doing so can significantly extend your reach, introduce your product to new audiences and build up alliances that can pay dividends down the road.
Keep an eye out for organizations that compliment your company’s strengths and weaknesses and vice versa. For example, if a partner is great at content, then have them take the lead on creating assets for the campaign, while your company focuses on paid promotions.
Align with Your Sales Team
When you have a webinar to promote, it’s got to be all hands on deck. And that means including your sales team in promotional efforts.
While your sales team will have a natural understanding of which prospect may be interested in an upcoming webinar, they’ll need to be prepared with the right material at the right time. This is where having promotional packages — including images for social media, landing pages, ad banners and relevant copy — comes in handy. Prep these items and share them with sales well before your event.
Sometimes, however, sales teams need some encouragement to drive registrations. Consider using a portion of your marketing budget towards sales bonuses for driving webinar registrations. That way, they will have even more of a reason to reach out and work closely with the marketing team.
Additionally, you’ll want to promote your event on your own website and owned channels. Preview videos summarizing what your webinar will be about, for example, is an excellent play along with promoting it in blog posts, organic social media, podcasts and, even, other webinars (for example, a programmatic series is an excellent channel to promote events).
Paid Social Promotions
When time is of the essence, it may be necessary to pay for registrations. Often, that means turning to social media and targeting your posts. First, identify the key forums where you know where your customers like to hang out. Are they a LinkedIn or Twitter crowd? What about technical forums like Spiceworks?
Take a look at your organic social media posts — particularly those promoting events — and identify those that have performed well and use similar language to promote your webinar. If you have in-depth knowledge of the persona you want to engage, then take advantage of platform tools that allow you to target ads to specific audiences.
Paid promotions cost you money, so you should do everything you can to make it easy for a would-be registrant to say “yes,” to your event. For example, if you promote your webinar on LinkedIn, consider taking advantage of lead gen forms so when a user clicks the call to action on an ad or sponsored post, the form they need to register for the webinar has already been filled with information from their LinkedIn profile.
Facebook offers lead ads and also lets marketers build custom audiences so you can target ads to prospects who, say, may have attended past webinars, or have visited a few pages on your website about the webinar topic.
Reach Across the Web with Display Networks
For access to the biggest audience the web can offer, turn to ad networks. For example, Google Display Network reaches more than 90% of people on the internet. Any display network you work with should allow you to serve relevant ads to prospects while they’re browsing websites or generally browsing the internet. For example, YouTube can be a very useful promotional source for your webinar.
Display networks also empower you to target existing customers or find new ones by placing ads on sites that you have chosen and that are relevant to the customer (an industry forum or news source, for example). It also lets you retarget customers who might have expressed an interest in the webinar by visiting its landing page, but not signing up.
How Far In Advance Can I Promote My Webinar?
Three to four weeks is the optimal length of time it takes to promote a typical webinar. However, the amount of lead time you’ll need for your event depends on the nature and purpose of your event. For example, big-ticket items like virtual conferences and partner summits should have a longer promotional cycle — a minimum of 60 days.
Promoting Typical Webinars
Promotions for typical webinars, such as a webinar series, quarterly events or communications, should start about two to three weeks in advance. Promotions should include sales outreach, email updates, blog posts, social media promotions and more.
Stagger your promotions for maximum effect. At ON24, we generally start with emails (as discussed above), introduce social media a week later and ask sales to promote more actively as the event date grows closer.
If you are promoting an event with partners, ask them to promote as early as you do. Here, sharing a promotional brief for coordination — containing everything from email send dates to UTM codes and more — is handy.
Promoting Big-Ticket Webinars
The key to promoting big-ticket webinars is knowing how your audience interacts with your event. You don’t want to exhaust and overwhelm them with messaging early on. Still, you want to keep your audience excited and interested. To do this, we suggest a staggered approach.
Let’s say, for example, you want to promote a two-day virtual conference with webinars acting as your main medium. Before you even begin promoting your virtual conference, you should have two things in order. First, you ought to have speakers, tracks and agendas lined up and locked in. Second, you should have promotional materials created in advance, including speaker bios, social cards and a range of email banners.
Once those elements are organized (with some sessions pre-recorded as a contingency plan), start your promotions through a sizable email send, a blog post and ads. Over the course of the next few weeks, phase in additional details about your event throughout your social media promotions and your blog. For example, you can have one week dedicated to keynote speakers while the next highlights a talk track.
Regardless of whether you’re promoting a typical webinar or a big-ticket event, your promotions should crescendo the morning of the event.
What Is The Best Day Of The Week To Do A Webinar?
According to our 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report, Wednesdays and Thursdays are typically the best days of the week for webinar attendance. However, webinar attendance shouldn’t be the sole deciding factor for when you host your event.
Consider what you’re using your webinar for, what sort of emotions you want to stoke (is it formal and buttoned up or relaxed and casual, for example) and when your audience is most interested in listening to your message. A casual webinar answering customer and audience questions, for example, could be a relaxing way to end the week on a Friday. A formal panel event, by contrast, might perform best on a Wednesday.
Aside from the day of the week, consider what time you’ll host your event. According to our 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report, the best time to run a webinar is earlier in the morning, preferably at 11 a.m. PST ( 2 p.m. EST). Again, the ideal time for your webinars depends on where your audience resides and when they’re most active for you.
How Long Should A Webinar Last?
In 2019, the average viewing time for webinars, including a 10 to 15-minute Q&A session, was 56 minutes. But 56 minutes may be too long for your event. Identifying the ideal length of your webinar takes a bit of experimentation, knowing your audience and having a clear goal for your program.
There are a few additional elements you ought to consider when timing out your webinar. Evaluate the topic for discussions, what stage of the funnel your audience is and what the ultimate goal of your webinar is. Early-stage demos, for example, should be relatively short. By contrast, thought leadership and panel webinars should last upwards of an hour. If you’re running a longer, thought leadership event, be sure to budget 10 to 15 minutes to answer any questions your audience may have.
If you’re wondering how long a webinar should last as a holistic piece of content, then the answer is: it depends. If the event is time or topic-sensitive, then it’ll have a relatively short shelf life. If, however, it’s a thought leadership presentation or customer advocacy event, then your webinar can have a long shelf life.
But webinars don’t have to be one-and-done efforts. After an event ends, pick out the choicest quotes or most critical explanations and re-use them. These segments can inspire e-books, create great social promotional material via video or feed into other webinars as well. Don’t be afraid to recycle!
Tools For Webinar Marketing
A successful webinar program works in tandem with other marketing tools. Here’s a list of the types of tools to consider:
Emails — All webinars run off some level of email promotion. Fortunately, most organizations already have an email solution in place, like Marketo, HubSpot and Mailchimp.
Social Calendaring — Your audiences reside everywhere online, especially on social media. Use a social calendaring tool like Oktopost, CoSchedule and others to organize your social campaigns and align them with your campaign.
Content Calendar — Knowing which promotions are sending to what channels is critical. Use a content calendar, like a spreadsheet or a tool like Asana to visualize when your messages are going out, to which audiences and what channels.
Collaboration Manager — Mature webinar programs often require a lot of planning and coordination with partners. To simplify collaboration, use a collaboration management tool like Trello, Asana or even a simple Google Doc to organize your efforts.
CRM — Webinars work their best when they’re fully integrated with your marketing and sales tech stacks. So, one essential tool to integrate is your organization’s customer relationship management solution, like Salesforce, Zoho, Oracle and others.
Marketing Automation — Being able to manage, send and analyze marketing performance is essential, especially when a webinar program is involved. Consider investing in or integrating your webinar solution with automation software like Marketo, Pardot, Hubspot, Act-On and others.
Analytics — Finally, no marketing program would be complete without an analytics platform to assess email and paid and organic performance. There are a variety of solutions you can use here, including Tableau, Google Analytics, Domo and more.