After a year of tuning in to seemingly hundreds of virtual events, you’d be forgiven for saying you’d sooner manage the DMs of Heinz after the announcement they’re discontinuing baked beans than attend another webinar.
I get it. They can be dull with an extra helping of terrible when they aren’t managed right.
Dodgy connections. Poorly prepared presenters. Topics so bland they’d find themselves right at home on my grandmother’s Sunday dinner table.
(I joke – love you and your roast potatoes, Gran)
But done right… oh, can it be a bountiful exercise in B2B branding. Not to mention, an excellent means to hit those important metrics like lead generation we’re always getting chased on.
- Webinars have an inherent speed associated with their creation. Production is often a fraction of the time it takes to prepare a white paper or physical event.
- The repurposing value of a webinar is insane. Transcript becomes blog post. Clips become social posts. Audio becomes podcast. And so on.
- B2B buyers like them. 91% rank webinars as their favourite content format, with over half engaging with them at least once a week.
The problem isn’t with webinars as a content format; it’s that us marketers have allowed the medium to fall into disrepute and become boring.
But we can change that. From personal experience, I’ve run webinars that have achieved 200% – 300% more ROI than expected with just a few small tweaks. And now I want to pass that wisdom onto you.
Here are 9 tips (plus a bonus) for before, during and after a webinar that will take it from bleh to brilliant.
- Don’t stop at a one-off event. Webinars struggle to have impact and longevity because the information shared is often squeezed into a 45-minute slot. As soon as it’s over, your attendees are back in their inbox to see Steve from HR chasing them on why they haven’t completed their security training. Help your message stick by covering a topic from different angles over the course of a series.
- Encourage sign-ups by asking your audience to help define the agenda. Last year G2, the peer-to-peer software review site, hosted one of the best examples of an online conference I’ve ever seen from a B2B company. Why? Because the G2 team solicited feedback from future attendees on what they wanted to know specifically and curated the sessions accordingly.
- Work with your panelists to build hype. Sorry to break it to you, but odds are that attendees are signing up to hear from your speakers on an interesting subject, rather than the fact it’s your company putting on a webinar. Work together with the guests to create a promotion plan that leverages their network to get as many eyeballs on the event as possible.
- Bonus tip. Ditch the word ‘webinar’ in your promotion – no-one’s world has ever been lit on fire by attending one. Masterclass, seminar, lecture, expert talk are all better alternatives.
- You wouldn’t trust a person who has never been to sea to captain your cruise ship. Take that same attitude when picking a moderator. Whoever you select will be responsible for managing the ebb and flow of the conversation, stepping in when a speaker starts to get to sales-y, and making the audience feel part of the conversation through a Q&A. It’s NOT a job for the intern.
- We B2B pros love talking about ourselves… and it’s kinda why our marketing can get such a bad rap. Too much speaking at our customers, rather than with them. Find a way to involve your attendees to help the message stick. Maybe it’s a live contest? An opportunity to breakaway into smaller groups to network? Turn the speech into a discussion.
- I think that chat boxes are severely under-utilised in the majority of webinars out there. Either they’re a desolate wasteland of awkward digital silence or peppered with corny introductions and sickly half-veiled sales pitches. Task your colleagues with acting as hosts of the chatroom – engaging guests in discussion, asking questions for the attendees and soliciting feedback in real-time. And ban your sales folk.
- You hit the big red ‘End’ button with relief and pour yourself a big glass of something brown. No trip ups, each speaker stayed on message – mission success, job done. Well… not quite. Now you have to squeeze the video for as much fresh content juice as possible. Getting the recording up as quickly as possible for anyone who missed the live event is your first move. After that, check out this tweet for some ideas.
- If the content was good, people will want to share it. But remember Steve from HR? Turns out your attendee also missed their GDPR compliance training and Steve is pissed – so your guest is dealing with that and forgets to type a tweet. Make it easy for them. Send an email thanking them for their attendance and prepare a one-click tweet they can share directly from their inbox.
- If you’ve followed me for a while, you know how much of a believer I am in the power of employee advocacy as a means to drive brand awareness. So what if you worked with your colleagues to create a programme of thought leadership on the contents of the webinar once the live event is finished? Think blog posts, LinkedIn articles, follow-up webinars… all driving traffic back to the original piece.
Webinars are far from dead. With the right subject matter, guest speakers and promotional campaign, they can be one of the most effective tools in a content marketer’s arsenal. It comes down to a brand deciding how to switch it from a monologue and to a dialogue with their audience.