Everything you need to know about running great webinars.
For many people, the thought of doing a webinar can be a bit intimidating and overwhelming. You know they’re a great way to connect with potential customers, generate leads, conduct virtual meetings, and dozens of other things.
But you have plenty of questions as well. Questions like:
In this guide, we’re going to walk through the what, why, and how of webinars. Ready?
Let’s get started.
A webinar is an online video presentation during which a host(s) presents important, relevant information to the watching audience. A webinar can be done live or recorded ahead of time and then used multiple times (aka an “evergreen” webinar).
What’s the difference between a webinar and any other video online? While there’s not a hard and fast rule, generally speaking, there is an element of training or teaching involved in webinars. The name, after all, is a combination of “web” and “seminar”.
However, as more and more communication happens online, the lines are becoming a bit blurred. Individuals and businesses are using webinars for an increasing number of reasons.
While webinars are often business-centric, they don’t have to be. As webinar software gets more robust and technology improves, the possibilities for webinars keeps growing. The best webinar software has marketing automation built right in. A best practice is also to connect your webinar tool and your marketing automation tool if you have specific needs.
At a minimum, webinars can be used for the following:
Webinars are ideal for sales demos, especially when the product or service is digital. Features can be highlighted, questions can be answered in real-time, and customers can see exactly how a product/service would help their business.
Webinars make it easy for customer success teams to create live sessions to answer questions, give tips and tricks and even share some exclusive news with your customers. These kinds of one-to-many training sessions are easily scaled. Customers can watch as you walk them through specific processes and raise any questions they may have.
Online learning is exploding, and webinars are perfect for courses. They allow you to gather an audience in a single location and then provide that audience with valuable information. Features like polls, chats and questions make engaging learning easy, and instructors can use them to check the status of their students.
With podcasting rapidly rising in popularity, more and more podcasters are relying on webinar software to help them interview guests. Your audience can vote on the best questions during your event, and you can use the information when planning future webinars.
Organizing physical, offline events is time-consuming and expensive. Webinars allow you to create powerful online events at just a fraction of the cost. Livestorm is easily adaptable for any kind of online event, from conferences to live panels.
When a new customer comes aboard, you can use a series of webinars to streamline the onboarding process. Instead of manually communicating everything to the customer, webinars allow you to automate the entire process.
Need to have a team-wide meeting? You don’t need to all gather in one location. Instead, get everybody on a webinar. You can also use webinars for team announcements, and save the recordings to your team knowledge base.
If you’re hiring out of state, it can get expensive to fly candidates in for interviews. Why not use webinars instead, at least during the initial sessions? You can present the roles to many candidates at once, showing your company and culture.
Now that we’re on the same page regarding what a webinar is, let’s talk about how webinars work.
Technically, you can do a webinar without webinar software. You could do a webinar using YouTube or Facebook Live, but you miss out on a significant number of benefits when you do this:
To top it all off, browser-based webinar software is much more secure and increases overall attendance.
Sure, there are times when YouTube or Facebook might be appropriate, but not when you’re doing a webinar. You want to use software that is specifically dedicated to hosting webinars.
When choosing your platform, look at attendee limits and then evaluate what your needs are.
There will always be an audio and visual component to every webinar. Depending on the purpose of the webinar, you would be wise to invest in a microphone, as well as audio tools that reduce background noise and improve the clarity of speech.
If the webinar is just an in-house meeting to discuss a project, this investment probably isn’t necessary. However, if you’re creating something like an evergreen sales webinar, you want the audio to be of great quality.
If you’re going to be on-screen (rather than just sharing your computer screen), you need to have a good camera and effective lighting. The background should be well organized so that it’s not distracting, or you can use an aesthetically pleasing virtual background.
Preparation is critical when doing a webinar. You don’t want to just show up and wing it. You want to know what you’re going to say and how you will visually reinforce that information for your audience.
Step #1: Choose the host, speakers, and moderator
The host is, obviously, the person responsible for leading the webinar. They welcome the audience, keep things moving, etc. A moderator is someone who stays in the webinar room and ensures that any chats, questions, or polls are responded to. They don’t play an active role in the webinar, but are a silent helper to the host and speakers. Because guest speakers bring their own audiences, it’s critical that you choose industry experts or influencers. When choosing speakers, look for individuals who have complementary areas of expertise and insight.
Step #2: Select your topic
When choosing a topic, consider if there are any ways you can partner with another brand to present a joint webinar. This allows you to double the amount of exposure you receive since the other brand will be sharing their audience with you. It also establishes your own brand authority in the process.
Step #3: Prepare your content
What is the most effective way you can share information with your audience? Slides? Video? A combination of the two? If people get bored, they’ll tune out. Keep them engaged with outstanding content.
Step #4: Create your landing page
You need a webinar landing page where people can get information about your event, as well as sign up. The landing page should clearly explain what the webinar is about and give people a compelling reason to attend. If you use Livestorm, landing pages are built right in.
Step #5: Select the timing of your webinar
You want to do your webinar at a time that makes the most sense for your audience. If your topic is business-related, it makes sense to do the webinar during the workday rather than at night, when people are less likely to attend. If you’re not sure what time works best, poll your audience.
Step #6: Start promoting your webinar
You should begin the promotion process about two weeks before the webinar. This includes things like writing the promotional and reminder emails that will get sent out to attendees and posting details on social media.
Step #7: Practice
Before the webinar, practice going through your material. You want to be as smooth and comfortable as possible during the actual event. Additionally, double-check the gear and software you’re planning on using to ensure that everything is compatible. You don’t want any tech hiccups to happen.
Step #8: Do the webinar
It’s your big moment. Time to shine. Don’t forget to engage with your audience by asking them questions and having them participate in the chat. You can also plan polls in advance and have your moderator submit them to the audience during the presentation.
Step #9: Follow up
After the webinar, send follow up emails as well as the replay (Livestorm does this automatically). Allow attendees to ask follow up questions, and encourage them to take action on what they learned. You can also repurpose content from your webinar for social media or other marketing purposes. For example, you could take key points or quotes and post them on your social media accounts. In the comments you could include the link to the full replay for anyone interested in watching it.
When choosing a webinar platform, make sure you pick one with a robust feature set. The best webinar platforms have the following features:
Taking a poll during a webinar is a great way to get an overview of what your audience thinks about a particular subject. Polls also allow you to customize your presentation based on the desires of attendees. For example, if you have the option of talking about two different subjects, you can let the audience determine which direction you go.
Live chat is essential during a live webinar. It allows you to interact with your audience in real-time and get feedback during each section of your webinar. Although webinars are often a one-to-many experience, chat allows attendees to feel like they are authentically interacting with you.
During any webinar, questions will inevitably come up. The webinar platform you choose should allow questions to be upvoted by the audience. This helps you answer the questions that are the most relevant to attendees.
There will be times when you want to give attendees some form of media, whether that be a whitepaper to download, a free PDF, an MP3, etc. Your webinar platform must be able to handle uploads and downloads.
A digital whiteboard allows you to do things like create visuals, write notes, and highlight things during your webinar. This makes your presentation more visually engaging and can be very helpful for those who are visual learners.
Advanced analytics give you insight into who attended your webinar, how long they stayed, the conversion rate of your registration page, and more. Without this information, it’s almost impossible to tell how effective and engaging your webinar is. Analytics allow you to evaluate your performance and make changes based on the data.
It doesn’t do you any good to host a webinar that nobody attends. Your webinar platform needs to be able to capture attendee email addresses and then automatically send reminder meetings leading up to the webinar. You should also be able to easily share the webinar landing page on social media to drive more attendance.
People don’t want to have to install new software just to attend your webinar. They want to be able to simply paste a link in their browser and join. Your webinar platform should be browser-based so that neither you nor attendees need to download an app.
There will be a substantial group of people who will want to watch your webinar after it’s over. To satisfy this need, your webinar software must be able to record your webinars and host the replays. This feature allows you to get much more out of your webinars since you can point people to them months, or even years after the fact.
There are several key metrics that can help you know whether your webinar was a success. At a minimum, you need to look at three pieces of data:
The number of people who register for your webinar gives you insight into how effective your promotional efforts were. If fewer than expected register, it means that some aspect of your marketing didn’t work. A low conversion rate on your webinar landing page means you need to work on improving landing pages. If hardly anyone visited the landing page, you need to work on driving more traffic.
The number of attendees tells you whether or not your reminder emails were effective. If a significant portion of registrants failed to show up, you need to make your reminder emails more persuasive. You need to more clearly communicate the value of the webinar so that people will actually want to attend.
The number of replay views shows you whether your follow-up efforts were successful. The primary group who will watch the replay is registrants who weren’t able to attend for some reason. Follow-up emails sent after the webinar should persuade these individuals that they should still make an effort to watch it. More replay views lead to more effective follow-up marketing.
Now you know what a webinar is and how to create a compelling presentation that really resonates with your audience. You know how to choose a webinar platform and the metrics that you need to pay attention to.
The next step?
Create your own webinar!
Sign up now for a free trial of Livestorm and get your first webinar running in no time.
Molly Hocutt has been a Content Manager at Livestom since 2019. She has more than five years of experience in SaaS content writing and B2B marketing.
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