Webinars are an important part of the modern marketer’s toolbox. More and more, brands use webinars as a way to find new leads, interact with and nurture the leads they already have, and build the brand’s image.
In short, they’re a wonderful tool to have.
But as they become more popular, you need to make sure that you’re presenting the best webinars possible. From the initial idea, to promotion, to follow-up, your webinar experience needs to be excellent.
Which is no easy feat.
To help, we asked 14 expert marketers for their top tips when it comes to marketing webinars. These pros have run dozens of webinars each, and have learned a few things along the way.
Here’s what they recommend.
Promote it properly
Before even thinking about the meat of your webinar content, you need to have a clear promotion plan in place. Because unfortunately, people just aren’t going to find your session by accident.
There are so many webinars happening every day, especially on hot topics like digital marketing and sales strategy, that you have to find a smart way to reach registrants.
One excellent method is co-marketing - partnering with another brand or influencer who has an audience in place. We’ll talk more about that in the next section.
So what do our experts do to promote webinars?
“There's no one trick that works every time like a charm,” says digital marketing and lead conversion expert Lilach Bullock. “rather, it's important to develop complex promotional strategies, using several channels in order to reach your target audience.”
“First, develop a target persona: who exactly are you targeting for this webinar? Be as specific as possible, as that will help you find the ideal channels to reach these people.
Then, start developing a promotional strategy based on your target persona: a beautiful landing page that demonstrates the value of attending your webinar; a social media promotional strategy, including advertising; an email marketing/marketing automation campaign to promote it to your list and so on.”
For digital strategist & brand and influencer consultant Shane Barker, it’s about a clear pitch to the contacts you already have. “There’s nothing better than reaching out to your existing customers and subscribers. After all, these people are already interested in my niche and like my content, so they should be the first ones to contact for attending webinars.”
“I send out emails or newsletters, informing my subscribers about my upcoming webinars. This one tactic gets me more attendees than any other technique aimed at bringing in new viewers.”
And promotion doesn’t end the moment viewers fill in the form. You need to make sure they actually show up and pay attention.
“I recommend setting up an email sequence where registrants receive regular reminders to attend the webinar,” says Lilach. “After all, it's easy to say ‘yes, I'll attend this webinar,’ but it's a lot more effort to actually attend the webinar at that specific date and time.”
Good webinar platforms will even automate this email cadence for you. For instance, Livestorm has pre-prepared emails ready to send to users on the day of the webinar, an hour before, and when the session starts, to make sure you have the best attendance rate possible.
Find great partners
Your own skill, expertise, and network can only take you so far. The best way to produce a webinar that really sings is to lean on the experience of others.
It’s also perhaps the most reliable promotional tactic out there. When you team up with another brand, you have the chance to speak directly to their audience.
You worry about promoting the webinar to your network, and they do the same for theirs. In the end, you’ve massively increased your own reach without searching desperately for anyone new.
For Sara Davis, VP of Growth at CanIRank, this is a surefire way to increase your orbit. “I love co-branded webinars! If there is a partnering service, product, tool, or other business in your niche that is not a direct competitor of yours with a similar audience, a co-branded webinar can align the two audiences and be highly beneficial for both businesses!”
Sandra Chung, Head of Content & Partnerships at Mention, agrees. “Co-marketing! This includes collaborating with thought leaders, influencers, and experts from top companies in the marketing industry. We’re able to piggyback off our partners' audience to reach new potential customers.”
So what should you look for? Start with “a complementary product” says Nils Herrmann of Geckoboard. “For example, you run a live chat software and you partner up with an e-commerce software.”
And it doesn’t have to be limited to products. Kristen McCabe, Senior Content Marketing Specialist at G2, says that “cross promotional opportunities with educational institutes, such as the Local Marketing Institute, are the best way we've gotten the word out when it comes to B2B reviews.”
“Companies outside of the tech industry learn about the tools available to them, and then we can guide them through the process of immediately setting up their free profile as soon as the webinar finishes.”
Prepare a strong presentation
It seems obvious, but a good webinar requires a strong presentation. Which means that, as the speaker, you need to plan and prepare a compelling, engaging, and informative address.
ContentKing uses webinars for thought leadership - to deliver ideas and prove that it knows what it’s talking about. And to ensure that these webinars are top quality, VP of Community Steven van Vessum says there are no shortcuts:
“Prepare well before the webinar. Know what you're going to say. Write it down; literally word for word. And make sure your slides are prepared well in advance. Treat it like a speaking engagement.”
Even if you know the subject inside-out, it’s your ability to communicate clearly and confidently that will make the difference.
Make it interactive
Good webinars are full of interesting information. Great webinars leave a lasting impression, and make the attendees want to share what they’ve learned.
To take it a step further and really connect, find ways to interact with your audience. “We’ve all sat through those webinars where the speaker seemed to drone on endlessly, leaving little room for audience feedback,” says Artiiseo founder Leighton Burley.
“This is exactly the opposite of the atmosphere you want to create. We’ve found that the best webinars are highly interactive, to the point where the audience actually feels like they are in the same room together.”
So how can you achieve this feeling? “Create an interactive learning experience by asking for feedback, sharing personal experiences, asking questions, taking polls, and even adding in some humor where needed. This will go a long way to creating a better group ‘vibe’, engaging the audience, and improving learning outcomes.”
This is important whatever the purpose of your webinar. Clearly, if it’s an external presentation with potential customers or to generate leads, you need to make a great first impression.
But Artiiseo uses webinars mainly to train its own agency staff. And since they want people to really pay attention, they make sure that these sessions are fun and engaging.
At the very least, a bit of audience interaction helps to break up your presentation. “It lets the presenter change pace by getting some questions and feedback from the attendees,” says Zamir Javer, CEO of Jumpfactor
Check the technical specs
There’s one surefire, guaranteed way to ensure that your webinar is a disaster - if people can’t actually see or hear you. It sounds silly, but too many presentations fall down before they even get started because the host doesn’t know how to work the technology.
“Want a ‘what not to do?’” asks Sara Davis, of CanIRank. “Don't forget to test your webinar platform extensively before going live. Nothing is more awkward than sitting on a live webinar with technology issues!”
Thankfully, most good webinar tools are easy to use. Just check that there’s nothing you need to install first, and of course that your camera and microphone work as they should. Run the session with a few colleagues as audience members to be sure.
You also need to think about the reading experience if you want to share slides. “Not everyone can view your webinar on a desktop computer. It’s essential to optimize your webinar for mobile,” says Irina Weber of SE Ranking.
“Make sure to increase the text size and visuals in your annotations and slides. Provide a comfortable level of viewability through small displays in mobile devices.”
As a general rule, you want fewer words and more visuals. The less people read and the more they listen to you, the better.
Stephen Jeske of MarketMuse encountered one particularly tricky situation. “While conducting an interview with a notable person in our industry, our presenter encountered technical issues and was kicked off as presenter (we weren't using Livestorm). Our back-up presenter had audio issues so she couldn't help.”
“Fortunately we had someone third in line (that was me) to keep the presentation moving along. Otherwise our monthly hour-long webinar would have been a 20-minute disaster!”
Don’t just create webinars as one-off events
An interesting strategy came from Anton Shulke Head of Video Content at SEMrush. He produces a lot of webinars, and plans the companies schedule months in advance.
Anton likes to plan webinars in batches, with each session complementing the next. “You build a series of webinars, both thematically and technically. So when you promote one episode you can promote all of them. Plus, the audience can go back and check out previous episodes if they’re interested.”
Anton also recommends you experiment with webinar formats. It doesn’t always have to be one speaker for 45 minutes, or two people discussing the same topic.
At SEMrush, they love webinars that include one host (themselves an expert on the subject) and one speaker who gives a short, 15-minute presentation. Then they bring on two more guest experts and hold a panel discussion, to go deeper into what the presenter brought up.
This is a great way to present different voices and points of view to the same audience. Plus, when all of those parties promote the webinar, the reach can be truly impressive.
And Ecommerce Tech has a similar approach. “We run monthly virtual summits, which are a series of 8-14 webinar-like sessions,” says Chief Ecommerce Technologist Derric Haynie. “After running many webinars, I found they weren't delivering enough value, both to the audience, and to my company and partner.”
“In my opinion, larger virtual summits take about the same amount of time as 4 webinars to put together, and yield 20x results. We’re able to pull multiple partners audiences, hold the audience attention for a longer period, exposing them to a lot of valuable content and tools, and then key partners are allowed to follow up with the audience after.”
Tell the audience what to do next
Marketers know the importance of a good call-to-action. The moment your webinar ends, viewers need to know the next step you expect them to take.
If you’ve created a series (as Anton suggested), this could be to sign up for the next session. It could also be to download a particular ebook or visit the company website.
Whatever the case, it’s all about timing.
“Including the link to set up their free account in the follow-up email is a great way to get results,” says Kristen McCabe of G2. “People are excited about the information they've been given, and making the next steps quick and easy increases long-term engagement.”
So whether it’s a free trial as Kristen suggests, your next webinar event, or just a blog post you’d like them to read, make sure it’s in the follow-up email.
Get the rest of the company onboard
For a lot of us, webinars are strictly a marketing exercise. These are tips from marketing experts, after all.
But Tim Whitehead, Head of Content at Spendesk, says you shouldn’t limit yourself in this way. “We do use webinars for marketing, and they’re a great way to find and talk to leads. But Spendesk also uses them in the sales cycle, and as part of the onboarding process for our customer success team.”
“They’re a great way for sales, especially, to interact with a large group of prospects without having to call them one-by-one. One salesperson can talk to 20+ potential buyers at once, show them how Spendesk works, and come away with a good handful of opportunities.”
If you are a marketer, this is still a big win for you. For one, these might be leads from all your hard work. If they can convert to customers, that makes you look good.
But it’s also a way to help sales and support teams be stronger advocates for your brand. The more you can get their names out there and prove how clever they are, the better the business will look. Aside from finding leads, that’s got to be one of your chief responsibilities.
Plan and present better marketing webinars
A few of the keys takeaways from our experts:
- Promotion needs to be a big part of your webinar plan. Make sure your pitch suits the persona you’re trying to attract.
- Partner up with other brands that have a similar audience to increase your reach.
- Create compelling, interactive presentations. A slow, boring webinar will drive people away.
- Test your webinar thoroughly before going live to avoid technical issues.
- Think of webinars as a series, and figure out what you want people to do once the first one is over.
- Involve more of your company in the webinar plan. This doesn’t have to be just for your marketing team.
And possibly most important: make sure it’s a good idea. Have a problem or topic that people really need help with, and show them how to solve it.
If viewers can leave your webinar smarter and more confident than they were when they arrived, that’s a success by any measure.