In a recent LinkedIn poll of life science professionals conducted by Rizwan Chaudhrey 64% of people said their favourite virtual event to attend was a live webinar.
External customer facing webinars have been part of the marketing mix for some time now, and can serve as great lead generating activities. They are a great way to introduce customers to new products, technologies or applications. Free webinar events can also add value to the service your company offers its customers, enhancing your brand and building loyalty.
Here are 10 tips for running a successful webinar.
1. Offer a solution to a problem
As with any presentation you will need engaging content. With so many webinars out there, how do you stand out? Offer customers something useful, something they can learn from, a solution to a challenge they have.
Develop a problem statement, one or two sentences that explains the challenge your customer faces and how your product or service will address the problem. This will form the basis of your webinar.
2. Take your audience on a journey
Your webinar should ideally form part of a campaign flowing a sales lead through the marketing funnel to drive them to purchase. Alternatively the webinar should act to build further brand advocacy and loyalty with existing customers.
The webinar should take the attendees on a journey from the initial problem statement through to how your offering can address the challenge using real life experiences and examples. Remember, we all like a good story, and a compelling anecdote will resonate strongly with your audience. Consider using a conversational presentation style.
Use the conclusion of your webinar to highlight the benefits of having solved the problem statement, and ultimately help your attendees take action.
Ensure you deliver on what you promised in the webinar invitation.
3. Get the timing right
Typically a live webinar should last no longer than 45 minutes, with a further 15 minutes for questions. Usually it’s better to make an on-demand webinar slightly shorter, customers may not be so engaged if it’s not a live event, these should be no more than 30 minutes in total.
4. Choose the best format
Webinars can take on different formats. Choose the format and corresponding speaker(s) that will inspire your audience and deliver your message in the most engaging way.
One presenter: A straightforward format webinar which is simple to execute on a technical level, however the chosen speaker has to be confident, highly engaging and have excellent presentation skills.
Two presenters: A format in which each speaker covers a different part of a presentation. This format can be more interesting for the audience, especially if one of the speakers is an invited external guest talking about their real life experiences.
Interview: A question-and-answer session between two people, another great way to discuss real life solution solving examples with a key opinion leader. Thought has to be given to the questions to ensure the interview remains engaging and interesting.
Panel discussion: A panel discussion can be highly engaging and allows for more opinions to be shared, however they need a good moderator and plenty of structure. They require plenty of technical rehearsal time.
5. Know your audience
Host your webinar on a day and time that allows for the maximum number of attendees based on the demographics of your target audience.
It may be the case that not all of the attendees will speak the same native language so you may need to consider the speed of presentation or offer relevant translations.
6. Prepare for questions
To build engagement you should allow for questions throughout the webinar via live online chat. Ensure you have the correct resource available to answer these questions.
At the end of the presentation allow time for a verbal live question section. Use a moderator to host this forum with prepared questions if needed. If you are unable to answer a live question then don’t panic, see it as an opportunity to follow up with either the individual who asked the question or the whole group.
7. Encourage audience engagement
Aside from live chat and a question session think about other forms of audience engagement you can utilise based on the format of your webinar.
If you are hosting a question-and-answer or panel discussion then ask your attendees to submit questions or discussion topics before the event.
Polls are an under estimated tool, not only do they create engagement, but they also give you a snapshot of what your audience are thinking in real time. You can use polls to stimulate further conversation or ensure that delivery of the webinar is at the correct level.
After the webinar ask the attendees to take part in an exit survey. The answers will provide a great indicator of what the audience thought of the presentation, they will help you determine the most effective way to follow up, and will help you make improvements to future webinar events.
Bonus tip - Data you collect from a webinar, whether it be in a poll or the exit survey, may form part of useful data for further marketing activities such as blog posts.
Take time to run through your webinar a number of times. This is a great way to practice speaking at the best cadence for your given audience. Ensure you are fully familiar with the webinar platform and that all of the technology you are using is working.
A fast and stable internet connection is a must. Use a microphone that allows your attendees to hear you clearly. If you are using video streaming then consider upgrading from your built-in webcam to a better quality HD camera, and considering your lighting. Great lighting can help you look your best on camera and project a more professional feel.
Remove complicated animations from your slide deck, it may sound odd as you want your webinar to be visually captivating, however not everyone on the webinar will have the same internet connection speed as the presenter, overtly complicated animations can often lag behind the speakers narrative.
Bonus tip - have a plan B, make sure you have a backup computer at the ready and preloaded with your presentation in case of any IT issues.
Promote your event to gain maximum attendance. Create a landing page for your webinar that introduces the topic and speakers. Highlight the time and date of the webinar and have a clear call to action for people to sign up to attend. Only include form fields that are absolutely necessary for an attendee to register. Whilst it can be really helpful to capture as much data as possible, long and complicated forms can put people off.
Use your social media channels, website banners, email and sales people to promote the webinar. Finally, you will also want to send several email reminders to people who have signed up to attend. Send clear instructions on how to access the webinar, and who to contact if technical support is required.
10. Follow up
Follow up is key to converting attendees into potential customers.
Develop a predetermined sequence of communications to action within a couple of days after your webinar. Remember to not only communicate to your attendees, but also the RSVPs that didn’t show up to the event. In your follow up message include links to the presentation slides, any supporting data and an on-demand recording of the webinar. Think about other call to actions to offer your leads, such as application notes or product demonstrations, in order to flow them through your marketing funnel.