Webinars are everywhere, but they’re hard to get right.
In this post, we’ll take you through the best practices for marketing, designing, and hosting your next webinar series.
What We’ll Cover:
- Why should you host a webinar?
- How to choose the best webinar topic
- Selecting the right webinar format
- How to create the best content for your webinar
- Understanding the basics of webinar marketing
- Equipment you’ll need
- Deciding on a webinar platform
- Webinar marketing checklist
Why Host a Webinar?
Well, for starters, in this COVID-19 world, webinars are one way to engage your audiences in the absence of in-person events (and without the pressure to buy something during an uncertain economic landscape).
Webinars are often used as a lead generation tool and considering an effective tool for selling products and services without really “selling” your products and services.
However, a webinar isn’t meant to be used as a sales pitch.
While yes, it can be a powerful lead generation tactic, your goal is to make sure that you provide value to your audience.
How to Choose a Webinar Topic
Before you do anything else, you’ll need to come up with a topic for your webinar.
This topic should be something that you’re highly knowledgeable about and that is of interest to your audience.
But, that criteria admittedly casts a pretty wide net.
So, what makes a good webinar topic, anyway?
Generally speaking, webinar content should check three main boxes:
- Relevant. It should go without saying, your webinar topic should cover insights that your audience finds valuable.
- Specific. Webinars should be about the type of content users can’t readily find through a Google search or on a competitor website–otherwise, why would they commit to tuning in at a specific time? Focus on niche topics that present a deeper dive into the areas your customers care about most.
- Evergreen. You’ll get more mileage from your webinar content if you focus on an evergreen topic. Keep in mind, you’ll want to repurpose this material for social media posts/YouTube videos/knowledgebase content later on.
Before we move on, I’d also like to mention that not every topic makes a good webinar. If you don’t have enough information to fill 45 minutes to an hour, you might want to look toward other content formats instead.
In these cases, blog posts, live streams, or YouTube posts may be a better platform for sharing your ideas.
Additionally, it’s important that you create something unique.
Creating your own version of a competitors’ webinar doesn’t provide the audience with anything new–which means, even if you’ve created great, original content if the ideas don’t bring new insights to the table, there’s no point for users to save the date.
Here are some examples of topics featured in Trello’s On-Demand Webinar library.
While most of these topics center around Trello’s features and key use cases, notice how specific they are.
Where to find topic ideas:
- Ask Your Sales Team for Ideas. Sales teams are an excellent resource for learning more about what your audience is looking for during the buying process. Set up a meeting where you’ll discuss pain points and key questions that buyers ask during the sales process. If your webinar is designed to generate qualified leads, you’ll want to consider how the content can complement the sales process and how marketing-sales can coordinate on a follow-up strategy.
- Expand on Your Most Popular Content. Another good place to find source material is your own blog. Look at your website analytics to identify your top posts, and consider if any of these ideas might make a good webinar.
If you allow comments on your site, look at the questions people ask and consider using those as a starting point. If you don’t allow comments, look at your social media accounts to see what kinds of conversations were happening around the content that got the most engagement.
- Find Out What People Are Asking Your Service Team. Your customer service team or support desk will have a different view of what your customers are asking about than the sales team. In this case, topics might speak to existing customers looking for more information on how to use your product–think advanced features/specific use cases. Check your social media profiles, support tickets, and ask service teams to share insights into what they’re hearing on the front lines.
- Run a Competitive Analysis. What webinars are your competitors hosting? While your content should examine a topic from a unique angle, it’s a good idea to see what similar companies are putting out there so that you can do better.
Select the Right Webinar Format
Once you’ve settled on a topic that’s relevant, evergreen, and specific, you’ll need to decide what format works best for your webinar.
- Presentation Webinars. Presentation-style webinars are probably the most common format, and consist of a series of slides and a voiceover. Here, you’ll need to be careful that you present content in an engaging way and avoid “reading” the script as you work through the slides.
- Expert Interviews. Interview webinars are one of the most engaging formats for engaging an audience, particularly if you have access to guests your audience really wants to hear from. While these types of webinars can be challenging if your guests go off-script, people tend to enjoy unscripted, discussion-type content. Here, your best bet is to prepare with a series of questions and skip the slides.
- Q&A. I mentioned creating webinar content around the questions your audience is asking. But why not take that advice literally? You can either
- Demos/How-tos. Are you trying to help users get more out of your solution? If that’s your primary goal, you might want to focus on creating webinars around your own products–though you’ll want to make sure you cover something your audience won’t find in a blog post or Google search, Again, the Trello example points toward many ways that
About Your Slide Content
There’s no shortage of bad webinar slides out there.
Here’s a “slide deck skeleton” example recommended by ConvertKit that provides a basic overview for how you might approach this:
Some best practices to keep in mind:
- Make it Visual. If your webinar is all text-based slides and voiceover, your audience is going to get pretty darn bored. Instead, you’ll want to add plenty of charts, graphs, and images to enhance the experience.
- Design for Usability. While focusing on design is critical for improving the webinar experience, don’t overdo it. Too much text, crowded slides, or a lack of white space can overwhelm your audience. Instead, break text into bullet points and allow each on-page element to “breathe” by surrounding them with plenty of white space. Make sure that the text is large and easy to read—i.e. sans serif works best. Essentially, you’re following the same rules here that apply to your landing pages, blog content, and emails.
- Close it Out with an Offer. Finally, you’ll want to make sure you include a closing slide that provides a few key details—contact information for presenters and the host, a thank you to your audience, and of course, a CTA that tells viewers what to do next.
Outline Your Content & Create a Script
Start by Stating Your Purpose. Why are you running this webinar, anyway? What do you want your audience to take away from this experience? What action should they take after viewing the content?
- Takeaway 1
- Takeaway 2
- Takeaway 3
- Takeaway 1
- Takeaway 2
- Takeaway 3
- Takeaway 1
- Takeaway 2
- Takeaway 3
You get the idea.
Webinar Marketing Basics
In another article, I write in more specific terms about how to create and promote your webinar to drive more sales.
Here, I’ll quickly go over what should be included in a webinar marketing plan as a refresher.
Social Media. What channels will you be using to promote the webinar?
You’ll also want to consider which visuals you’ll need to create posts that capture your audiences’ attention. Thumbnails, infographics, photos, cover art? Make a list of what you’ll need so that you can streamline your cross-channel strategy. If you need some tool recommendations, here’s a list of 15 apps that can help you out.
Email Marketing. How many emails will you send to promote the webinar? And to how many segments? Keep in mind, you’ll likely need to create multiple drip campaigns. At a minimum, you’ll need one to promote the webinar, another to follow up with registrants, and a post-webinar nurture campaign for following up on new leads. Additionally, you may need to create those campaigns around a few different segments.
Influencer Marketing. If you’re hosting the webinar with other influencers/thought leaders in your space, make sure you leverage their followings to help spread the word. Consider what you’d like them to do before reaching out–what channels do they get
Intercom is a pro when it comes to leveraging influencer marketing to promote its webinars. The chat platform hosts guests from companies like Slack in their webinar content, which gives them access to a whole new audience of potential users.
Come Up with a Catchy Title & a Compelling CTA
As with any type of content, webinar registration starts by generating enough interest to warrant a click. A great title should clearly explain what the webinar covers and what audiences can expect to learn from the experience.
Create an Optimized Landing Page
Generally speaking, webinar landing pages follow the same principles as any other landing page.
- Hi-Res images
- A strong CTA
- A compelling headline
- Testimonials/social proof
Another example from Intercom, this landing page does a nice job explaining what the webinar is about (Automating Customer Engagement) and what that means (ensuring customers receive the right information at the right time).
Additionally, bullet points quickly explain what you’ll learn, while the resources on the left-hand side are a simple way to be even more helpful.
What Materials Will You Need?
- Professional Audio. Use a cabled headset or a landline connection to ensure that everything you say is crystal clear.
- Strong Internet Connection. Without reliable connectivity, the whole thing falls apart.
- For platform recommendations, I’d recommend heading over to an earlier post covering the 12 best webinar platforms.
Find a New Home for Your Webinar Content
Once the big event itself is over doesn’t mean your content has outlived its usefulness. After the event, you’ll need to find a new home for your webinar content. Wistia, Vimeo, or even good old YouTube are all solid options, here.
Some sites even choose to turn their webinar content into a resource library. Take HubSpot, for example. The platform runs so many webinars that they’ve dedicated a whole knowledgebase category to past webinars.
Webinar Marketing Checklist
✔️ Choose a topic that reflects audience interests/pain points.
✔️ Select a catchy title.
✔️ Create an optimized landing page to promote your webinar.
✔️ Develop an outline for your content
✔️ Create slides to support main points
✔️ Ensure that your webinar content aligns with your offer, CTA, and where your audience is in the buying process.
✔️ Choose a webinar hosting platform and a site for hosting content after the event is over.
✔️ Develop a promotional campaign to drive registration–social media, email, paid ads, etc.
✔️ Come up with a nurture campaign for following up after the webinar.
✔️ Do a dress rehearsal with everyone who will be participating in the webinar before going live.
✔️ Double (even triple) check that audio, equipment, presentation materials, and connectivity are working — leaving plenty of time to fix potential problems before the actual event.
✔️ Find a home for your webinar content.
✔️ Close all apps/windows and turn off any notifications before going live.
✔️ Follow up with participants to convert new leads into customers.
Bottom line: great webinars begin with the right topic and structure.
Again, you’ll want to select a topic with a narrow focus that speaks to the needs of your audience and where they are in the buying process.
By following the tips I’ve outlined above, you should be able to create an effective webinar strategy for generating leads, improving retention rates, establishing yourself as an expert–or whatever goal you have in mind.
Oh, and one last thing: don’t forget that a webinar is an event. Which means you’ll need to give your audience a good reason to make it a date.