An enormous pool of content is now available for free. Companies are investing more than ever to create high-value material at no cost, perhaps only in exchange for an email address.
Web users have come to expect all this. They can find advice and answers to fix almost any issue without spending a dime.
Which leads us to an important question: are people actually willing to pay for content?
The short answer is yes - if it’s worth it. And that includes webinars. High-value, exclusive webinars and trainings have a very real place in today’s economy. This post will detail how to create your own.
But before we get into what makes a quality paid webinar, let’s answer an important question.
Why would you host paid webinars?
Most companies and individuals begin with free webinars. As with most of your content, it makes sense to start slowly and build up confidence.
Paid webinars are definitely an option, especially if you have rare knowledge or experience to share. Consider taking this next step if...
You’re offering advanced trainings
We’re not talking about your next 5 Marketing Trends for 2020 presentation. (Nothing wrong with that, by the way!)
But if you’re giving out practical, tangible advice that people would normally pay for, then of course you could present this as a paid webinar. In fact, it’s a great opportunity for clients who might not be able to afford your in-house, one-on-one services.
You can deliver valuable training sessions on a one-to-many basis, your customers can save money, and you can be more efficient.
Customers usually have to pay for extra service
This is similar to the point above. Many companies have a limited number of support hours available to clients as part of their service package. When customers go over those hours, they need to pay a large premium to get more help.
This can be a good earner for your business, but it’ll absolutely turn some clients off.
To meet in the middle, why not have limited-space support webinars where you solve common issues and deal with as many specific issues as you can?
This helps clients diagnose their issues and solve the little things, and then they’ll know if they really need to pay for your time.
You want people to commit
Occasionally you’ll have a presentation planned where you only want serious attendees. People who are invested in the topic, and who you know will stay until the end.
Charging a fee for these sessions can be just what it takes to separate the bystanders from committed listeners.
Paid webinars should have higher attendance rates, and you’d expect viewers to stay for longer. If they’ve committed real money to be there, it doesn’t make much sense for them to skip the session altogether.
You already have a loyal audience
Good luck launching a paid webinar series if there’s nobody on your email list. In fact, until you have a sizable group of passionate followers, it’s going to be pretty hard to get anyone to attend.
So if you’re not worried about building out your list, that may mean it’s time to put it to good use. If your followers are used to receiving quality free content from you, these may be the clients who’ll pay for something 20% better.
And once you do have that committed following, you may be able to use it your advantage. Encourage them to refer three people in exchange for a free ticket, for example.
Paid webinars are not a good way to generate leads, but they can be a useful method to turn the leads you have into paying subscribers.
Tips to build the perfect paid webinar
Let’s suppose you’ve decided to host a paid webinar. It could be your first, and you’re anxious to do a good job. Or perhaps you’ve already hosted a few, but you’re convinced that the next one can be even better.
What do you need to do to create a paid webinar that’s worth the price?
1. Pay attention to detail
Every piece of webinar collateral needs to be double- and triple-checked for accuracy. Typos and small errors that could be forgiven in a free blog post are not acceptable here.
This also means you need a good looking landing page on a website that feels professional. It doesn’t have to be breathtaking - but the visitor needs to know that you’re serious and not just trying to make a quick dollar.
You’re trying to create premium content - something that people can’t get with a quick Google search. And if the first thing they see is a glaring spelling error or a stock image that doesn’t look good on the page, they’re not going to believe that you’re worth the price.
2. Make it exclusive
People are always willing to pay more for something special. For an experience that their colleagues and competitors can’t get for free. Which means your paid webinars need to be limited to a set number of viewers, and need to be one-of-a-kind.
This should be a session that people can’t find elsewhere. If you present the same slides you’ve been using for the last year - the ones that are already all over YouTube and Slideshare - then your audience is going to feel cheated.
And you can make this a key part of the promotion plan. “I’ve never given this advice anywhere before, and I won’t ever again.”
Just be careful not to over-promise, and avoid sounding like the clichéd used car salesperson.
3. Make it a series
This is also an opportunity to sell seats in bulk. Viewers may be more willing to purchase five sessions for $100 than each one for $20.
You could approach this in two ways. The first is to create a series in the classic sense, with each episode (webinar) flowing on from the one before. Viewers should logically attend each in order, and by the end they’ll have all the information they need.
The other approach is to hold a regular Q&A or training session at a set time. You let the audience bring their questions and issues (perhaps even in advance), and then tackle these during each session.
Attendees may wish to purchase four hours-worth of training for the price of three in this case.
4. Give viewers something to leave with
To truly show the value of your paid webinars, consider building an online course or certification around them. That way they’re not just coming for information - they have something to show for their investment.
This works well for private consultants who can help followers learn vital skills (how to master social media ads, for example). It also works for companies who sell complicated products, and whose clients may need to show their employers (or prospective employers) that they know what they’re doing.
Companies like HubSpot and Salesforce have online certifications that users will gladly put on their CVs. And businesses will offer the funds to help their employees level-up.
Again, make sure that the experience is worth it. You’ll need workbooks or questionnaires to accompany the webinar sessions, and attendees need to leave feeling like they’ve really learned something new.
5. Make sure your webinar software is up to it
We mentioned how important it is to avoid mistakes with paid webinars. That includes technical errors. So you’ll want a reliable webinar platform that keeps viewers engaged and entertained.
A few things to look for:
- Attendees shouldn’t have to download anything to watch
- There needs to be an easy-to-use chat and a way to ask questions
- The platform should include polls and allow viewers to download resources during the session
- Ideally it’ll send out automated reminder emails and recaps, so you have one less thing to worry about
Most of all, it should have a good record of not crashing at crucial moments. Read reviews and check ratings online, and ask around to see what your colleagues recommend.
6. Get the price right
This is probably the biggest hurdle, and we can’t give you the perfect amount. Just know that “the right price” doesn’t mean the lowest. In fact, if you set the entry fee below a certain level, you won’t seem serious.
The questions to ask are:
- What do others in my industry charge for these sessions?
- Am I providing something completely unique, or do I have direct competitors?
- Is there a clear return on investment for attendees?
- Can I get more attendees at a lower price, or is it best to keep things ultra-exclusive?
As a general principle, you can always offer discounts. But it’s hard to argue that you’re worth $500 this week, when last week it was only $200.
As always, make sure that you can actually deliver value, whatever the price you choose. Referrals are going to be highly valuable in future, so you need to make people want to recommend you to colleagues.
If it’s a fit, go for it!
We’ve looked at some of the key reasons why you’d test out paid webinars, and then how best to execute them if you do. If you’ve made it this far and it still makes sense, then clearly it’s time to dive in.
There’s a real market for easy and convenient training online, and there may just be room for you in it. Just remember that everyone’s wary of being misled, and a few negative reviews can really hurt.
Focus on delivering the best possible value to viewers, and give them reasons to recommend you to anyone who’ll listen.