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of marketers use webinars to power virtual event experiences
Webinars are one of the most effective channels for driving demand and proving marketing results. But before you can realize your potential, you’ll need to optimize your webinar program.
We’re here to help. Join us each month for our Webinar Best Practices Series with Mark Bornstein, ON24 Chief Webinerd Officer and VP of Content Strategy, to learn the latest webinar best practices that’ll help you build successful webinars from the ground up.
Kickstart your next webinar optimization program with our step-by-step guide. In a rush? Check out our resources hub at the bottom of the page.
From lead generation to product demos, webinars can serve a lot of functions. Before you start creating, decide what you want your webinar to be. Ask yourself where your audience is in the buying cycle. If they’re top of funnel, your webinar should focus on thought leadership and lead generation. For a mid-funnel audience, think positioning and influencing. The bottom of funnel is all about demonstrating and closing.
Now that you’ve set your goals, it’s time to focus on audience personas and tailor your content to resonate with the right people. Think about who you’re trying to reach. Is your target audience a prospect, a customer or a partner? Are they executives or practitioners? Do you want to target specific industries? Write it all down, along with any other key demographics. Once you know who you’re creating your webinar for, you’ll have a better picture of what your content should be.
Now the fun part begins: brainstorming topics and content ideas! Then, review existing content and see what already performs well. Start by focusing on your audience’s pain points and business challenges. Then, review the performance of your existing content to see what’s already performing well. Look at industry trends, hot topics, the latest innovations and new regulations. Get insights directly from your audiences by conducting pre- and post-webinar surveys, live chats, webinar Q&A and social listening.
Brainstorming works better with multiple brains. The size of your team will vary depending on the scale of your webinar, but at the very least, you’ll want to assign three key roles: a producer to make sure the technical components run smoothly, a promoter to spread the word through all relevant channels and a presenter to build the presentation deck and deliver the webinar.
What difference does a week make? A lot. Our benchmark data shows you can increase registration by 40% when you promote it more than seven days in advance of your event. To avoid overwhelming a prospect’s inbox, we recommend emailing the first invitation 14 days ahead of the webinar, a second invitation seven days in advance and a third invitation either the day before or the day of the event.
While other marketing tools help widen your reach, up to 80% of webinar registration is generated by email promotions. Send your first invite two weeks in advance, the second invite one week ahead and the third the day before or the day of your live webinar. Experiment and test by mixing up your email formats: HTML will deliver a consistent brand experience, but a plain text email can feel more personal.
You’ve caught your audience’s attention enough to get them to click through to your landing page and register for your event. This is no time to scare them off with a cumbersome registration form asking for a ton of information. Ask only for the basics: name, company, title, company size and email address. You should be able to gather plenty of additional details about each of your attendees through their interactivity with engagement tools inside the webinar. Polls, for example, are a great way to get more in-depth information about your prospects and customers, without having to ask for it inside a form.
Your webinar is going to generate a lot of data. Make sure you’re set up to quickly and easily spread those data-rich insights across your company by integrating your webinars with your marketing automation, CRM platform, social media channels and more. Direct access to your data will help you understand what your audience wants so you can optimize future webinars.
First impressions count—so don’t put your audience off with cluttered presentation slides filled to the brim with dull stock imagery and cheesy clip art. Keep your slides clean, with no more than three bullet points per slide. If you are going to use imagery, choose eye-catching photography that adds value to your talking points and beware of low-res images that look grainy or pixelated.
Nothing ruins a great webinar faster than lousy video or audio. Equip your team with the technology they need to create a captivating webinar. For audio-only webinars, invest in a good-quality headset and do your best to dial in from a landline or use the microphone on your computer. Even better, use your webcam to present by video during your webinars. A video presentation puts an energetic subject matter expert in front of your audience, humanizing your brand and making an emotional connection with your audience. Make sure you’re using a good quality camera with a built-in mic, and test it before you deliver a live event.
People are busy and getting busier every day. Asking someone to give up an hour of their time in the middle of a hectic workday can be a big ask. That’s why scheduling your webinar at a convenient time can make a big difference. Avoid times when your audience is likely to be away from their desks, such as commute times and the lunch hour. Don’t ask your audience to start their days early or stay late. Avoid weekends at all costs.
You’ve got your killer content, your presentation is knock-it-out-of-the-park gorgeous and registrations are rolling in. Now you need to make sure you’ve got a well-rehearsed, energetic and engaging presenter that can bring it all to life. Your presenter can be someone internal or a third-party speaker, but they must be an expert on your chosen topic and a well-rehearsed public speaker. If you’re using a first-timer, informal formats like roundtables or coffee chats can help take the pressure off. Once you have everything and everyone in place, practice. Then, practice some more. When it’s showtime, speak slowly and clearly, make eye contact with the camera (not your computer screen) and smile.
Give your audience a voice during your webinar by inviting them to share ideas, provide feedback and brainstorm. Open the floor to Q&A, and break up your slides with surveys and polls. Encourage attendees to spread the word on social media, and provide hashtags to help them do it. Get everyone talking, and keep the conversation going even after your event ends.
With the right on-demand strategy, your best webinars can live forever. Convert your webinar to on-demand assets right away to allow your customers and prospects to engage at their convenience post-event. Make sure you provide the same interactive functionality as a live event. Follow up with prospects to let them know your webinar is now available on demand, then promote your event to drive registration.
Show your audience some post-event love. Keep them engaged with an effective follow-up strategy. At the very least, you should thank attendees for coming, and let them know the event is available on demand. Remind them that you are available to answer any questions, promote upcoming events and recommend related content.
Congratulations, your webinar was great! Now, use what you learned to zero in on your most engaged prospects, and share a detailed profile of their behavior with your sales team. Qualify leads by using engagement to uncover a prospect’s intent and readiness to buy before passing them onto sales.
Check out how professionals from across the world make rocking webinars.
To connect with their prospects and customers, ADP hosts a series of Podcasts sharing real life, relevant examples of how financial advisors can navigate an ever-changing environment.
Using ON24 Target, the team has created a customized content hub rich with content that showcases their value proposition, allows audiences to filter for the content most relevant to them, and helps them build connections with existing clients and prospects.View Experience
Thomson Reuters’ ingenious approach to its virtual Topgolf tournament experience not only included a socially distant golfing competition but also a virtual happy hour teaching attendees how to mix the perfect cocktail. But Thomson Reuters took things to the next level when it embedded hidden “hot spot” images in its happy hour console.
With these easter eggs in place, visitors could click out to additional branded experiences. The kicker? Thomson Reuters didn’t announce the hidden treats, allowing attendees to explore organically. Then, when the event was over, the team sent out a survey asking participants if they found the easter eggs. Half did. Those who didn’t returned to the event to find them.View Experience
A lot of companies have paused in 2020 to reassess, rebrand and reinvent their digital experiences. For Zendesk, that meant reinventing its roadshows, its conferences and other in-person events. The effect of its efforts?
A unified brand capable of bringing the Zendesk brand and culture anywhere, anytime. And, just as impressive, because the company shifted to digital experiences for its in-person events, it managed to expand its geographic reach and connect with more audiences than before.View Experience
At ON24, great webinars don’t go unnoticed and SAP’s SuccessConnect is no exception. The bright, clean branding really pops while also conveying SAP’s brand identity. But what is form without function?
In addition to being visually compelling, the webinar console provided attendees with tons of educational resources, networking opportunities and partnership integrations. Not in the U.S.? Not a problem. The webinar broadcasted in multiple time zones to support global audiences. All in all, a job well done.View Experience
How can you share your great tips and tricks in a digital experience? Jackrabbit has the answer. First, it enables audiences to sign up for the events they want to with one landing page that offers the opportunity to sign up for multiple events.
Second, the company provides engaging experiences by allowing attendees to ask for certain demonstrations in real-time through the Q&A tool. Finally, Jackrabbit ties it all together with a fun presentation — right down to the costume. Congrats!View Experience
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