A webinar is a live, online event that’s broadcasted to a pre-registered group of individuals who view the presentation from their computers. Webinars typically have both audio and visual components, and therefore webinar hosts need reliable computer technology and strong internet connections in order to provide the best presentation to their viewers.
The main purpose of hosting webinars is to generate leads and connect with targeted audiences. Both B2B and B2C businesses can benefit from hosting webinars, yet webinars are far more commonly used in the B2B space.
Webinars are a great option for presenting complex information to an audience. For example, reading the transcription of an interview with an expert as a blog post will be far less interesting to your audience than watching a live webinar of the expert being interviewed.
You can feature the following types of content in your webinars:
This is to say that webinars are not an ideal medium for all content. For example, simplistic, informative, and list-based content performs best when used in blog articles. Short-form content isn’t necessarily compelling enough to feature in a live webinar, which isn’t to say that short, simple content isn’t valuable information. But that type of content will probably perform better in a format other than the webinar format.
The following are content types that are probably too simplistic and too broad to feature in a webinar:
A good rule of thumb to remember is that webinars are designed to be educational and instructive. Anything less than a demonstration, tutorial, or discussion is probably not going to hold your audience’s attention for very long.
With that in mind, here are our guidelines to help you create a successful webinar.
Before you dive into creating a webinar, you first need to choose the topic and understand how to frame that topic correctly. As a demonstration, Q&A, or educational tutorial, your webinar should answer questions and address difficulties your customers typically have. The more specific you are when presenting the questions and providing the answers, the better.
Check in with your sales team to learn the sticking points that have prevented consumers from following through with purchasing certain products, then frame your webinar to address those sticking points. Or, if you sell SaaS, gather and review subscriber feedback, and present a webinar that demonstrates how to properly use a particularly challenging feature of your software.
Once you’ve selected your specific webinar topic and understand how best to frame it, you’ll need to choose the best presentation structure to convey the webinar information to your audience. Presentation structures include expert panel discussions, Q&As, single-speaker tutorials, two-person product demos, and the list goes on.
In order to choose the best webinar structure, you’ll need to consider how to effectively engage your audience, as well as take into consideration any production limitations you might have. For example, if you can’t professionally produce a panel discussion due to a lack of professional lighting equipment, and lack of multiple cameras and microphones, then you’ll have to present your webinar using a structure that you can manage.
One of the most important webinar production tools is the actual online platform you use to present your live webinar to your audience. There are many platforms out there that will meet your needs, but you’ll need to do your own research to decide which platform you’ll be the most comfortable using. Popular online resources to consider are ClickMeeting, GoToWebinar, and Zoom.
Ask yourself, how many webinar attendees are you expecting, and can the platform handle that many attendees? Are there costs associated with the online platform, and can you afford those costs? Will the platform support the presentation structure you’ve chosen? For example, will attendees be able to type their questions into a chat box for you to easily read and answer? Make a checklist of your needs, and then make sure that the online platform you want to use can meet them.
In order to present a smooth, professional webinar that your audience will appreciate, you’ll need to put a strong production and management team together. This team will consist of your on-camera host or presenters and your off-camera producers. Meaning, you’ll need to assign the roles of your team members who will handle planning the webinar, from creating the content script to troubleshooting technical issues during the live presentation.
It’s possible to pull off an excellent webinar using only four key positions. These key positions include the organizer, the presenter, the moderator, and the technical assistant. The organizer is your team leader who will oversee every aspect of the webinar, from framing the topic to approving everyone else’s work. The presenter is the on-camera expert who will be your primary presenter. The moderator handles responding to attendees’ questions in the chat box during the live webinar, as well as troubleshooting any issues that arise. And the technical assistants will manually oversee all technical aspects, from making sure the internet connection is intact to manning the cameras to fixing any tech issues that might arise.
The magic of webinars stems from the fact that they are truly live events. Webinars happen in real-time, and a lot can go wrong in the moment, which is why we strongly recommend that you practice your webinar in-house before the live event. Once you have your script and your team in place, set up a dry run and use employees from other departments of your organization to pose as your audience.
This type of dress rehearsal can help your presenter get rid of those jitters and give your technical assistants a chance to work out any production kinks. After you complete the dry run, ask your mock attendees for their feedback. If they mention any major issues, you will have plenty of time to fix those issues before the real webinar presentation.
The most important decision you’ll need to make in order to successfully promote your webinar is to first select the right date and time to broadcast. You’ll probably need to do a bit of research in order to figure this out. A good place to start is to figure out in what time zone the majority of your audience lives.
Is your audience mostly B2B or B2C 9-to-5ers? You might choose a midweek morning time slot, like 11:00 am on Wednesday. If your audience is mostly work-from-home entrepreneurs, you might have better webinar attendance rates with a Thursday afternoon or early evening time slot. Use Google Analytics to help you research, and if appropriate, you can even survey your audience to find out from them when they would prefer to attend. Then simply send out an email invitation campaign with the webinar link.
Webinars are essentially sales tools, and the main purpose of any webinar is to boost sales. That being said, your audience might not immediately jump to purchase your products or services after the webinar has concluded. This is when sending out a follow up email campaign comes in handy.
Depending on the complexity of the webinar content and the specific topic you covered, you may choose to send out a follow up email campaign later that day or later that week. If you deem that a follow up phone call would be more appropriate, then do it! The point here is that even the best webinars with the highest attendance rates will need to be followed by a campaign that’s designed to close sales.
That concludes the basic rundown of how you can create a successful webinar. Remember, not all content is complex and compelling enough to necessitate its own webinar, but for demonstrations and tutorials of your products or services, webinars can be wielded into powerful sales tools that help convert viewers into customers.
As we mentioned in this article, producing a quality webinar that looks and sounds professional involves many components, including a strong webinar script or outline, correct lighting techniques, and reliable technology. It also requires an organized follow up campaign to check in with your audience, gather feedback, and close sales.
If you’re not sure your business can create, produce, and market a quality webinar all on your own, FTx 360 can help. Our creative services department is full of experienced marketers and audio / visual producers who can design, film, and edit a custom webinar for you. Contact us to learn more.