When it comes to making human connections in a digital world, nothing beats engaging, interactive, data-rich webinar programs. Done right, they’re the most effective marketing channel for driving demand.
We’re here to help you do it right — join our ongoing Webinar Best Practices Series with Mark Bornstein, ON24 Chief Webinerd Officer and VP of Content Strategy, for a look back at this year’s best webinars in the season’s final episode, “Webinars that Rocked, 2018.“Register Now
Be the best webinerd you can be and use our step-by-step Webinar Best Practices to learn everything from planning out your program to optimizing webinars for engagement to turning that engagement into actionable data.
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, so you can really 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 because it’s time to brainstorm topics and content ideas. 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 your registration by 42% by promoting 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 wealth 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.
We all know 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 webinerds across the world make their webinars rock.
SAP makes their webinars all about who’s watching and in this case, it’s an audience of time-constrained state and local government officials. The webinar series Smart Cities pulls the audience in right from the start by rolling video to introduce the topic and presentation. Then, the software company gives participants the opportunity to consume the content at their own pace by dividing the webinar into chapters.
From the fully branded console to the use of video to deliver a thought-leadership discussion, this SAP webinar is more like a TED Talk than a humdrum Powerpoint presentation and brings the company’s thought leadership to life.
Drawbridge is all about helping companies have a 360-degree view of their customers, unifying data to make customer experiences that make an impression. So, it’s no surprise that Drawbridge delivers a cohesive webinar experience.
Every single touch point is branded, with their company identity thoughtfully infused into every element. This shows Drawbridge’s commitment to helping brands with their omnichannel strategies.
Boring seminar or dynamic talk show? Even for the complex topic of analytics, enterprise software company Qlik makes their webinars like must-see TV by opting for a video-based panel discussion over a typical webinar presentation.
Qlik’s strategy is about more than entertainment. This approach shows how webinars help transform B2B marketing from stiff, sterile transactions into consumer-friendly experiences that reach the individual.
Professional network LinkedIn knows the importance of making connections. Their webinar series, “Live with Marketers,” draws on the power of networks by turning their webinar into a forum for live peer-to-peer discussion.
With interactivity throughout the session, LinkedIn creates an online conversation that surfaces what’s top of mind for marketers in real time. And, just like their platform, it becomes a destination for marketers to get industry and peer-driven insights that they can’t get anywhere else.
For a consumer brand as widely known as Weight Watchers, it can be a challenge to expand into the B2B space of employee wellness benefits. So, Weight Watchers turned to webinars to enhance its human resources wellness programs.
Through webinar-driven nutrition classes featuring celebrity chefs, Weight Watchers helps its business partners engage their employees in developing healthy habits and understand the individuals at the companies they support. This high-value program sets Weight Watchers apart and helps companies deliver nutrition expertise at scale.
As an international investment bank specializing in advising small businesses on a sale of their company, trust is BCMS’ greatest currency. That’s why webinars are their primary tool for upholding that reputation in the market.
By presenting in simulive format, BCMS ensures its webinar content is delivered flawlessly and the information they are sharing is just as reliable. Their consistent branding throughout the webinar further cements their audience’s confidence.
Check out award-winning campaigns, examples of killer content and other great resources from ON24 designed to help you make the most of your next webinar program.