These five pointers will help you prepare effective webinar content, promote your event and leverage resulting content to ensure you get the most mileage out of your webinar investment.
To avoid typical webinar mistakes use these five tips to create successful webinar based programs.
1. Map to Company Goals
Mapping your webinar to company marketing and sales goals will help ensure your time and resource investment pays off handsomely.
Goal setting should include clear identification of your target audience and why this audience is critical to the company’s initiatives. Describe who the target audience is for the webinar and supporting marketing campaign. This could include audience type, region, title, area of business, role responsibilities, how your product or services serve them, and publications they read.
Lead generation goals might include number of registrations and resulting attendees, number of responses and quality of poll and survey responses during and after the webinar, and other metrics related to web traffic, email CTR, article placement and response.
Content goals could include identifying the top two or three primary things the audience will learn at the webinar. These goals will help you map out the communications to promote the event.
Goal Example – Reach a Global Audience Despite U.S. Webinar Time Zone
Alectris, a global solar PV asset care service provider, wanted to gather feedback about the “big data” challenges facing solar PV (operations, maintenance and management) professionals in regions around the world. The intent was to inform the company’s further development of its proprietary (and world’s first) Solar ERP software, ACTIS. Even though we were conducting the webinar in a U.S. friendly time zone we worked to involve other regions of the world eventually engaging professionals from 32 countries.
2. Engage Attendees!
Immersive and interactive participation from attendees helps to foster longer attendance at the event and drive stronger lead generation. We have all been on webinars and found ourselves “signing off” due to no engagement, technical difficulties or the perception the presenters were not prepared.
Avoid the problems inherent with most webinars:
- Content isn’t tailored to the viewer
- The virtual experience offers few opportunities to engage with speakers
- There are no consequences if you don’t attend and no rewards if you do
- Ill prepared and/or hesitant moderator or speakers
- Technology unfamiliarity on behalf of the presenters
Explore what types of engagement will be helpful to the audience and to the content development you envision.
Make sure you understand the technical parameters of the hosting service you are using for the webinar and sculpt questions and answers to the specifications of the system.
Audience friendly questions could include:
- Type of company they represent. The options will of course be narrowed to your industry and the types of companies you are targeting for the webinar program.
- Geographic region
- How they found out about the program
Content related questions could include:
- What range of services related to your business they are currently using
- What challenges they have in executing their roles in the company
- What resources are utilized to fulfill their roles
Engagement Example – Uncovering “Big Data” Issues for Solar PV Caretakers
The engagement goals and the strategy to uncover issues related to data and the management of solar PV assets around the world dovetailed nicely with a series of poll questions for the Alectris webinar with Solar Power World Magazine. Audience questions were strategically placed throughout the first half of the webinar and related to content to be presented in each subsequent section. The pictured question related to team hours spent on reporting. It brought one of several intriguing responses, this one revealing most firms did not know how many hours they spend generating reports to manage their solar sites.
3. Choose Helpful Topic
It is really important to come up with a theme to answer “how will this help others?” The best webinars are not a sales pitch.
Consider asking existing and potential clients about what topic they would find most appealing and timely. What topic will add value and be the center point of a broader dialogue?
Review with your team the challenges your industry faces and how your company meets those challenges. You don’t want to do a sales pitch but understanding the challenges your audience members face in your industry gives you fodder for your poll questions. Answers from these webinar inquiries will give you insights into how you can better serve your clients.
Review competitor and related subject matter webinars. What worked and did not work for the audience? Get feedback from the media outlet, if one is involved, to determine what contributed to successful webinars for their audience.
Search the topic online to ensure it will be perceived as you envision. Make sure your topic title is short so that it is social media friendly.
In selecting presenters consider how the topic will be enhanced by their point of view. Have you heard them present? Does each potential presenter not only a firm grasp on their subject matter but an engaging presentation style? Normally more than one presenter gives the webinar a depth of interest contributing to audience appeal. Identifying who represents the subject matter best and will give an appealing presentation requires thought and internal company dialogue. Don’t forget to consider the moderator’s contribution. A lackluster moderator can affect the overall tone of the event and cause audience members to drop off.
Tip: Consider leading the program with one of the more engaging presenters so as not to lose hard won audience members early in the program.
Think about the topic from our audience’s point of view. What industry statistics support your topic? Who is the expert in this area? Adding a quote from such a subject matter expert can enrich your presentation and content marketing.
Tip: Don’t make the presentation slides too text dense! Make sure they are graphically appealing and paced to keep the program moving.
Ensure you have no unpleasant surprises by outlining the flow of the webinar and the role each participant plays including where and when poll questions appear.
Here is a sample webinar flow based on the recent Alectris event:
“Audience Introduction” – Poll questions to illicit audience introductions asking about their roles in the industry. This information was requested upon their registration however we were also working for their participation and to get a feel for the live audience make up.
Moderator introduction – Brief overview of sections and opportunities to participate. Communicated our desire to make this a rich learning and participating opportunity and when information about more resources (content) will be shared.
Seeded challenge section with two poll questions the audience could readily address related to the solar PV data issues they faced in managing their portfolios. This then moved into an overview of the challenges most operations, maintenance and management solar professionals face related to their portfolio assets.
Again we seeded this section by asking two poll questions about what types of tools the audience currently used and the time these tools took in terms of resources.
Case Study section
This case study section did weave in the use of the company’s solar PV asset care data solution in a non-sales oriented approach.
The closing section included a Q&A portion and a slide dedicated to mentions of other resources for information. Be sure to create two or three seed questions for the Q&A session in case the audience is shy at the beginning of this portion of the program. This is an appropriate time to bring up the company’s social media, contact information and relevant call to action. In the case of the Alectris webinar, this meant an invitation to participate in an online Solar ERP service demo. In your exiting survey include 5-10 questions to get feedback to improve content for future events.
4. Create a Comprehensive Plan
Your marketing and preparation calendar for a successful webinar should include:
- Technology rehearsal to make sure the moderator and presenters are comfortable with the technology platform, understand how to do hand offs smoothly, how the polls will run, and how questions will be handled.
- Content rehearsal to ensure each presenter is comfortable and within the time constraints allowed for their section of the presentation, all key points are covered, and who will answer which types of audience inquiries.
Consider using a webinar prior to a company sponsored industry event. Tie in the webinar content with the industry event topic and coordinate the content to lead up to the event. Coordinate with the event planners to include mention of the event in the webinar and promotional support from them for the webinar as well.
In the case of the Alectris webinar the timing was set just prior to the company’s participation in the Solar Asset Management NA event in San Francisco. Working with the show organizers, Solarplaza, and the media partner, Solar Power World, we were able to cross promote the events and drive content sharing.
Identity an appropriate hashtag to use in pre, during and post webinar promotion. To support a true social conversation, embed the hashtag in all communications and encourage viewers to monitor the hashtag too. The hashtag needs thoughtful consideration in advance to ensure it is appropriate for the industry, conversation and company. Make sure all participant company marketing teams are agreed on the hashtag for the event. In the Alectris case, Solar Power World has an established webinar hashtag, #SolarWebinar.
If working with media outlet like Solar Power World in the case of the Alectris event, what support do they need to market the event and what marketing communications do they bring to the table to extend the reach? Make sure you understand what measures your partners will fulfill to promote the event and when those communications will hit so you can time your marketing appropriately.
Webinar Graphic and Landing Page
Build a social media friendly graphic including the chosen hashtag. Make sure you generate an engaging landing page to generate interest and registrations. This page can be used to add more information as it is available including the webinar recording and any subsequent articles. See the Alectris webinar “Drowning in Solar Data, but Starving for Knowledge?” example here.
After the Webinar
You can extend the conversation by responding to mentions. This involves finding the people who took the time to talk about the webinar and asking them what they thought about it.
Consider as many communication options as possible to promote your event and the resulting content including:
- Email Blasts
- Media Content Placement
- Digital Ads
Social media campaign for your company sites. Don’t forget relevant LinkedIn groups particularly if you are promoting a B2B event.
5. Increase ROI with Post Event Engagement
Leverage content gathering during the webinar to create a strong content marketing post event engagement program.
Post event promotion can include:
- A blog post recap or better yet article placed in the media outlet you worked with on the webinar then reposted on your company blog
- Transcription of recording into a white paper
Content Development Example – “4 Big Problems with Solar PV ‘Big Data’”
As a result of the questions posed to the webinar audience insights emerged highlighting most solar asset care professionals experienced four challenge areas in their work to protect energy generation and performance levels of their photovoltaic sites. This information allowed us to build an article, placed with Solar Power World magazine, to spotlight these issues. Of course this information also helped to promote the client’s software solution, and gave them valuable insights to use in further development of their platform. The article became rich content for social media posts and an extension of the webinar gleaned information via online and email communications.
To further engagement and move event leads deeper into the sales funnel create a clear follow up strategy. Email a thank you note to registrants with links to resources and a call to action. Make sure the sales team understands how to follow up quickly and are assigned the leads promptly. Also provide them with each attendee’s poll and survey questions so the call can be enriched with specific information pertinent to the audience member.
Webinars offer rich opportunities to hear from your targeted audience, further company goals, seed relevant industry content and spark sales initiatives.