Content Marketing

14 Steps to Hosting a Successful Webinar

badge guest post FLATTER 14 Steps to Hosting a Successful WebinarFollowing is a step-by-step list of how to host a memorable, interesting, and useful webinar. Of course, this list may change, depending on your business and your industry, but it provides a good place to begin thinking about how to generate good, qualified leads from content.

  1. Choose a topic and a headline that has great search potential. For instance, we did a webinar about Google analytics. Rather than call it “Advanced Analytics,” we called it, “The Lies and Truths of Google Analytics.” The difference is the second one is much more compelling to someone who doesn’t know what great content you offer.
  2. Set up the webinar with your provider (brightTALKGoToWebinar, Adobe Connect, and WebEx are some of the favorites) and grab the registration link they provide. You’ll include that in the email they get after they’ve registered.
  3. Create a landing page on your website or blog (you can use HubspotFormStackImpact, or Landerapp) that requires a name, company name, and email address to register and has all of the information about the webinar.
  4. Create a list of tactics you’re going to use to distribute information about the webinar: News release, social networks, email, blog, Facebook ad, Google ad, and postcard.
  5. Using the URL of the landing page (not the URL of the webinar software registration), create a different link for each of the tactics using the Google URL Builder. What this does is create a campaign in your analytics under traffic sources > sources > campaigns. When you open that tab, it’ll list the visitors per tactic. It will list in there, “March 28 Webinar from Newsletter,” “March 28 Webinar from Social Media,” “March 28 Webinar from News Release,” etc. This gives you data to use so you know which tactics work best for your audience.
  6. Shoot a one minute video to describe what people will learn in the webinar. You can house this on your website and/or blog, distribute it through the social networks, and use it in email marketing. Human beings are visual creatures. You’ll be amazed at how well this one thing works.
  7. One month before the webinar, distribute a news release (using your media relations URL in the body) on the wire (PR NewswirePR.comBusinessWire, or Pitch Engine, depending on your budget). Also upload the release to the newsroom on your website.
  8. If you have a newsletter, include the webinar in the email one month prior to its date.
  9. Now you want to think about email marketing, separate from the newsletter. If you have a newsletter, you’ll have three other emails. If you don’t, you’ll do four emails. Do one a month before, one three weeks before, one a week before, and one the day before. It will seem like a lot of emails to you, but most people get the information and sit on it and then register the day before the event. The URL you use in the emails will be different than what you use in the newsletter so you can track the effectiveness of each.
  10. A week before the webinar, you want to think about social media and about a blog post (if you have a blog). Because we have a crazy, fun community at Spin Sucks, it is our most effective marketing tool for webinars. But most of our clients find success in the email campaign. Test, test, test and measure, measure, measure.
  11. Using the social media URL you created, begin to post the webinar on your social networks. Ask your team to do the same. If you have a guest speaker for the webinar, have them share it. If you have a LinkedIn company page, share it there and ask people for recommendations so it rises in search results inside the social network. Fair warning: Most registrations do not come from the social networks so use this tactic with that expectation.
  12. If you have a blog, write a blog post about what people can expect to learn if they attend. This is not a sales pitch. It’s valuable and educational content that motivates people to register. When we did the Google analytics webinar I mentioned above, I wrote a blog post about what *I* learned by watching it ahead of time and why I was excited to share it with our community.
  13. If you want to test Facebook or Google ads, they’re both very inexpensive ways to see if you can attract new visitors who don’t already know about you and your business. Do this two weeks out.
  14. You can also go really old school and send a postcard to your database. Because that’s rarely done anymore, it can be pretty effective. Do this a month out and make sure your URL is specific to direct mail so you can track whether or not it works.

Now it’s time for the webinar. Make sure you record it because a good 50 percent of those who register will not show up. After the webinar (we like to do the next day, but many do it same day), send an email to everyone who registered with a link to the recording. Put the recording on your website so you can track who visits and downloads. You can also put it behind a landing page so anyone new has to enter their email address to download it.

For the most part, the people who register for your webinar are qualified leads. Some will be competitors because they want to see what you’re up to and will want to copy you, but most will be people who want to do business with you.

At this point, you can decide if you hand those leads over to your sales team or, if you have a lead nurturing program, if they go into your system for follow-up content to push them through the marketing funnel to a decision.

  • LeBlancly

    Ahh if only this list existed a couple of years ago when I was tasked with running webinars for my old company. Great tips for marketing here, but I would add that there are two important aspects that will help your webinar run smoothly and make your recording more valuable:

    1. Test your technology with all speakers a few days before the session, test your volume and internet settings (Go To Webinar for example, requires an updated version of Java to run correctly). The last thing you want is your attendees hanging on the line while you run to get IT assistance. Practice screen sharing and rehearse any hand-offs between speakers

    2. Have someone on the line the day of whose main job it is to start up the webinar program and make the recording. The worst moment is realizing you’ve gone to all this work to produce a webinar only to end up with no recording or only a partial recording to show for it. (Some webinar providers will take care these tasks for you though, which is a big help).

    • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

      Your number one is SO important! We have a client who tested and tested and the technology failed anyway. But, because they had tested multiple times, the webinar software company was forced to give them a refund. It was super painful, but so necessary.

      • LeBlancly

        Yikes. That’s brutal – hopefully the attendees were understanding!

  • http://www.ning.com/ Aaron

    Love the video idea, Gini! Do you shoot live video, screencasts, or a combination of both? I’m also thinking this would be ideal for social distribution (Tumblr, Twitter) in addition to blogs, email invites, or in-product lightboxes.

    • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

      We stopped doing live video because of technology glitches. Now we record them and do a combination of talking head and screencasts. They work really, really well … and no one ever knows they’re not live.

      • Stacey

        If you aren’t using live video, how does the Q&A work? Thanks for the tips!

  • Graciousstore

    Good! Thanks for sharing with us how to host a good webinar

  • Anna Pham

    I am not familiar with webminer and am thinking to try creat a new one, Thanks for your post, it got all the steps that I need.

  • http://www.arbschool.co.uk/ micheal mcallum

    thanks for a lovely step by step instructional; guide for making a successful webinar really helpful for newbies as well as for experienced ones

  • http://blog.similarweb.com Natalie Halimi

    Very informative and helpful post. Thanks for sharing Gini!

  • http://www.entagy.co.il Neta Gorelik

    This is gold!

    Thank you so much.
    I own a web development company and was thinking extending our marketing to include webinars. You laid it out perfectly. A complete marketing plan for a webinar.

    I do however still struggle with how to plan the actual webinar.
    How to present the content, flow of events to anticipate etc.
    Anyone with expirience on creating a webinar, please share.

    Thanks again,
    Neta

    • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

      Neta, I somehow missed the alert when you left this comment a few months ago. If you still need help with how to plan the webinar, let me know. I’m super happy to walk you through it.