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Well, that doesn’t quite have the same ring that “Let’s put on a show in the old barn!” had in the old Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland movies, but, on the other hand, pulling off a webinar requires many fewer people than pulling off a show. And, a webinar is broadcast on the Internet, so no barns will need to be prepared for your event.
A valuable tool for marketers, webinars are an incredibly rich source of content that can be tapped into in many ways throughout the entire customer lifecycle.
A well-executed webinar can offer the following benefits:
Even though most marketers are leveraging webinars as part of their content strategy, there is always room for improvement in the way that we plan, promote, and execute webinars and then optimize the aftermath.
The following steps can help you walk through the process and emerge on the other side with a successful webinar that yields leads, customers, and first-rate content long after the actual event has ended.
Once you’ve decided to put on a webinar, take the time to think about what you want to get out of it. Decide what audience you’re targeting before you put the go-live date on your calendar.
Once you determine your main goal, use it to clearly define your webinar content and map it to the customer lifecycle stages of Attract, Capture, Nurture, Convert, and Expand. To help further shape content, you’ll want to create target buyer personas. This will enable a more directed approach and help improve the results you’ll see from your webinar.
After you know your primary goal and your ideal audience, you need to figure out what kind of webinar will be best for your purposes.
This is the most common webinar format. It works because it allows presenters to demonstrate their expertise on particular topics; this helps to develop trust in the speaker and/or the brand. Educational webinars also offer a lot of flexibility. Typically, one to two experts speak, and they present to a slide deck or leverage some sort of video or animations to illustrate their points. These webinars are best when you also allow for some form of audience participation, such as a Q&A or live polling.
Q&A webinars are the ultimate in audience-driven webinar formats because they involve attendees asking questions of panel experts. These events are relatively easy to host because they don’t require you to prepare content in advance. But make sure you have someone fielding questions who is adept at quickly identifying which topics should or should not be addressed. The moderator should create a welcoming atmosphere that people feel comfortable participating in and also prepare a list of seed question to fill in any gaps.
A panelist discussion is similar to Q&A, but it’s not quite as audience driven. Instead, it’s guided by the moderator, who typically asks prepared questions that have been shared with the panel in advance of the event. These webinars are usually very interesting because the audience has the benefit of learning from top influencers and experts sharing their experiences, knowledge, and (at times clashing) opinions. They also offer the possibility that panelists will amplify the event promotion by sharing registration links with their own audiences and followers, thus driving more people to attend.
The workshop format is the most applicable to expanding customer relationships because it involves walking viewers through a live step-by-step process. Often the host shares the screen so the audience can see everything that’s occurring. These events are great for education and product demonstrations.
Once you’ve picked your format, it’s time to establish the logistics of the event. If your webinar is haphazardly put together at the last minute, your audience will know. Many details and moving parts go into producing a webinar. You want to make sure that you have a plan, stay organized, and set clear expectations.
Start with booking your speaker or speakers, because their availability can have a big impact on your planning. Always convey clear expectations to your speakers ― they should know the topic and be comfortable with the event’s abstract. Also, let them know if they’ll need to create visuals for the webinar.
Set the schedule by mapping out dates for things like rehearsals and content submission (if you’re not creating it yourself) and plan the promotion schedule.
You also need to consider the webinar platform or the technology you’ll use. Many good options are now available. Consider your need for engagement and interaction, as well as your budget.
It’s very important to rehearse your webinar. For the best quality audio, present from a quiet room. And, by all means, make sure your Internet connection is stable!
Well-thought-out promotional materials and communications with attendees will go a long way toward making your webinar a success.
Automate your promotions if possible, because, really, why wouldn’t you? Marketers are known for keeping incredibly busy schedules and juggling multiple tasks. So, save yourself some valuable time and automate your promotions.
Utilizing multi-channel promotion is a good strategy for most marketing campaigns, and webinars in particular. You should employ all the tools in your arsenal: emails, website promotions, social media promotions, app banners, and so on. Using multiple channels to publicize your webinar will drive greater interest, registration, and, ultimately, revenue.
Once you’ve created something special, give it plenty of time to shine. After the event, continue to leverage content so all your hard work keeps paying off long after you hang up the phone on the webinar. Explore the different ways you can shape content gleaned from your event and turn it into blog posts, eBooks, infographics, and other promotional formats that suit your organization’s needs.
By following these five steps for creating first-rate webinars and optimizing the results, you should emerge from the event with new and stronger relationships with your audience, solid new leads, and a wealth of content that leaves you convinced that putting on a webinar is well worth the effort.
This article originally appeared on Act-On's Marketing Automation Blog.