One of the really cool things about technology is how it continues to help small-business owners reach their target markets in a faster, more streamlined fashion.
In the “old days,” if you wanted to put on an event for a large group of customers or prospects, you’d have to worry about all sorts of logistics, such as location and venue, not to mention the time and cost of getting everything set up. These days, you can accomplish the same thing by conducting a webinar.
A webinar, quite simply, is a seminar that's held via special technology on the Web. It’s likely you’ve attended a webinar, though it might have been called online training or an online workshop. It could have been on any number of topics because any topic that can be shared in person can be presented in a webinar.
There are three main steps to conducting a successful webinar. Let's review each one of them.
1. Planning Your Webinar
You’ll get the best results from your webinar if you take enough time to plan it in advance. Your first step is to decide on what date you want to hold your webinar, then you can work backward from there so you have plenty of time to get everything done. Allow yourself at least a month to get from planning to execution. Once you have the date set, move on to these three steps:
1. Define your purpose. Identify the purpose and expected outcomes of your webinar. Before you even begin to develop the content, ask yourself what you expect to walk away with. You may want to attract new leads, land sales with current prospects, highlight your business expertise or deliver training to a current customer list. Taking the time to clearly define your purpose will help you choose the content you'll deliver.
2. Determine your audience. As with any type of marketing activity, it’s important that you clearly define your target market. Because your audience has to make a time investment to attend your webinar, the more in tune you are with their wants and needs, the more successful you'll be at attracting a crowd.
3. Select your topic. If you're already on top of the pains, wants and needs of your market, this step should be easy for you. If you’re not clear on exactly what would appeal to your market, spend some time researching your target customers or, better yet, conduct a short customer survey so you know exactly what to offer.
2. Marketing Your Webinar
Now's the time to get the word out about your webinar. There are actually three phases of webinar marketing: before, during and after the webinar.
Before the webinar. Getting people to your webinar and getting them to take action is pretty much a numbers game. The more people you can get registered, the better off you’ll be in terms of attendance and goal attainment. Make sure you have an enticing sign-up page that speaks to your market. It should contain the triggers that will entice people to register for your webinar immediately. Here's an example from one of my webinar registration pages:
You also want to make it as easy as possible for people to remember to attend. I like to use a landing page that provides them with an easy way to add the session to their calendars, plus gives them an incentive to help spread the word by offering a free gift. Here's what that landing page looks like for the same webinar noted above:
So let’s talk about numbers. As a general rule, you can plan for similar percentages to the following results:
- You have an email list of 500 people and decide to invite them to your webinar.
- Fifty percent of those people (250) open your email, and 75 percent of those people (187) register for your webinar.
- Once the big day comes, 50 percent of your registrants (94) attend the live webinar, and if you have a sales offer included in your presentation, about 10 percent of those people (9) will buy.
See how important it is to market before the webinar? You'll get better results if you use all your marketing channels (email, word of mouth, social media, offline marketing) to get the word out
It’s important to remember that people aren’t sitting around waiting to attend your webinar. Make sure you set up email reminders for the day before and the day of the event—it will definitely make a difference in your attendance.
During the webinar. If your audience is tuned in to using social media, create a hashtag they can use during the webinar to express their thoughts in tweets and Facebook posts. It can give you a good bit of marketing leverage during your webinar. After the fact, you can collect all those postings and utilize them for future events.
After the webinar. You can reach more of your market if you provide a replay after the event. Once again, use all your marketing channels to get the word out about the replay. Remember that people are busy, so introduce a bit of urgency to get them to watch. For instance, tell them the replay will be available only until a certain date. I like to make this time period three to five days from the date of the webinar—that's long enough to give them time to watch and short enough that they don’t forget about it.
3. Executing Your Webinar
How well you execute your webinar will have a direct impact on whether or not you achieve the goals you’ve established for your webinar. Your content should be engaging, and your delivery should be energetic. Following these three steps will help you pull it off without a hitch:
Preparation. A general rule of thumb when it comes to length is to shoot for a 60-minute webinar. Your presentation should include about two minutes for kick off and introduction of the presenter(s), 40 minutes for the educational (not salesy) content, three minutes for your call to action (What do you want your attendees to do now?), and 15 minutes for Q&A. Your Q&A session is vital to solidifying relationships with the participants and can help move them from observer to action taker, so use this time wisely.
Also, when you're create content for your webinar, keep in mind the goals you established during the planning phase. If you know what you want the end results to be, you should be able to develop content that helps you achieve those goals. One last note: Whatever you do, don't prepare slides that you just read aloud to people—that’s a sure path to failure. Remember, the people participating are surrounded by any number of distractions that can pull them away from you. Don’t let that happen by being boring.
Software. There are a variety of technologies you can use to deliver your webinar. You’ll want to choose one that helps you meet the objectives of your session. Start by researching your options on the Web, narrow the results down to your top three choices, then review them all and make a decision.
Follow up. Once you’ve completed your webinar, your ultimate success may be determined by your follow up. Make one last push, using all your marketing channels, to get participants and even non-participants to take your chosen action.
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