Sam O'Brien is the Senior Website Optimisation & User Experience Manager for EMEA at RingCentral, a global UCaaS systems provider. Sam has a passion for innovation and loves exploring ways to collaborate more with dispersed teams. He has written for websites such as Channel Partners and Novatech.
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According to InsideSales.com, almost three out of four senior marketers say webinars are one of the best ways to generate leads. The web based seminars are a useful way of capturing prospects at any stage of the sales funnel. They’re also perfect for boosting engagement amongst leads and customers alike.
You may have used HD video conferencing to connect with colleagues - especially in recent months. But hosting a webinar is quite different. It involves a presentation, lecture, or workshop that’s transmitted over the web.
If you’ve never hosted a webinar before, you might not know how to get started. Or (sorry to bring this up) maybe you did host a webinar and it didn’t exactly get the response you were hoping for. How do you prevent this from happening again?
There are several steps to take if you want to host a successful, engaging webinar:
1. Choose a topic and be specific
When you’re planning a webinar, focus on your areas of expertise and make sure you cover something your audience will find interesting. Don’t try to cover too much in one webinar. Don’t host a webinar on the entire concept of the internet of things. Instead try to focus on a relatively narrow topic to which you can do justice in an hour or less.
Speaking of time; don’t make your webinar too long or too short. Research indicates that most people prefer a webinar that’s 30 to 45 minutes in length.
A good way to get ideas for a webinar is to talk to sales and marketing. After all, they’re the ones talking to prospects regularly, so they should understand their pain points and areas of interest. Whatever you choose to discuss, make it interesting and actionable for its own sake. Don’t try to sell stuff to your audience - they didn’t sign up to get a sales pitch.
Providing useful, educational info will help you build trust in your audience. That is the backbone of creating relationships with potential customers and keeping them engaged.
2. Select the right webinar tools
There are quite a few ways to deliver your webinar. Narrow down providers based on their suitability to your individual needs. For example, do you want to reach 20 or 1000 people? The following diagram shows the average B2B webinar audience by size - 45 percent of webinars attract 1-100 participants.
If you want to share your webinar with a larger audience, you’ll need a tool which allows for greater capacity. Similarly, find out if a provider offers the option of including live chat or Q&A - and if so how much does it cost?
To make your webinar work best for you, use a webinar hub that allows you to access on demand recordings of the event. And one that allows you to document the webinar’s goals, target audience, stage of prospects, and speakers.
3. Bring your content to life
If you’re planning a Powerpoint type webinar make sure your content is engaging. Don’t rely on boring stock photos or overused icons.You’ll look unprofessional. Instead, use animated graphics, high quality illustrations, and video to bring your content to life.
And, importantly, customise your content so that people get familiar with your brand values. Keep text to a minimum so attendees don't nod off.
Or would you prefer to host a talking head webinar? Discussion based webinars can be highly engaging as long as you do your homework beforehand. Sound out your speakers so they’re prepared, and do your own research. It’s imperative to know the kind of questions that could come up.
People love to interact so why not send out a quiz ahead of time and get them to vote for their favourite questions?
This is a win-win situation. You get a heads up of what attendees want included, and they know they’re going to get the answers to their questions.
You can also encourage participation by using social listening. Check out what people are already saying about your brand on social media. Then engage with your audience, and encourage them to use hashtags on Twitter to ask pertinent questions. It’s a great way to turn your webinar into a multi-channel event.
4. Run your webinar at a convenient time
If your target audience all live in the UK, you can time your webinar to avoid the daily commute or for after work hours. If you’re planning a webinar that takes in several time zones - if it’s to go live across the USA, for example - then a good time to consider is 11 am PST. That’s because this time captures the audience in the majority of major American time zones.
You can’t host a party without sending out the invites. It’s the same situation with a webinar. Consider your email marketing carefully.
A few ways to effectively market your webinar:
Create a web landing page that people can sign up on.
Run ads on social media.
Announce the webinar everywhere you can - on your website and on emails to subscribers.
Don’t forget to send follow-up emails, too, as the big day grows closer.
Use automated emails to send out follow ups using personalised templates.
Consider co-hosting a webinar with a partner company. By teaming up you’ll get double the exposure and the chance to connect with the other company’s customer base.
Just before the webinar, send the link directly to your customers or subscribers so they don’t have to go searching for it.
6. After the webinar - follow up
Once you’ve hosted the webinar, don’t leave it at that. Gather feedback to help you plan even better webinars in the future. You can also send a recording of the webinar to people who couldn’t attend.
Don't’ forget to send the relevant stats and leads to your sales team, so they can follow up and nurture those leads. You could also consider sending people who attended a free eBook or link to your blog posts to keep engagement with them going.
The key to a successful webinar is in the preparation. If you follow the above steps, you stand every chance of hosting a webinar that will have a positive impact on your marketing strategy, generate you new leads and win you new customers.
Guest blog author: Sam O’Brien - RingCentral UK
Sam O'Brien is the Senior Website Optimisation & User Experience Manager for EMEA at RingCentral, a global UCaaS systems provider. Sam has a passion for innovation and loves exploring ways to collaborate more with dispersed teams. He has written for websites such as Davinci Virtual and Krisp Blog. Here is his LinkedIn.
(Although we don't often do guest blogging on this platform, as a RingCentral client, we were happy to collaborate here!)