Webinars are fast becoming one of the favorite ways for B2B marketers to reach new customers and build strong and enduring relationships with existing customers. According to the 2012 study by the Content Marketing Institute, 46% of B2B marketers are using webinars and 70% believe that webinars are either a “very effective” or “effective” content marketing tactic. That’s a higher percentage than other popular tactics, such as white papers, social media, videos, and blogs.
Successfully creating and running regular webinars are a great way to build your brand and raise both your profile and credibility among your target market. It is not only a strong customer acquisition vehicle and lead generator, but it is also a solid customer retention strategy and method to establish your company as a thought leader in your industry.
Here are some of my favorite tips gleaned from hosting dozens of webinars over the past year:
1. Select a good technology provider.
- WebEx, GoToMeeting and ON24 are some leaders. There are other new platforms, including ReadyTalk and BrightTALK, but this is one area you do not want to be cheap about. Find something that works for you price wise, but if you have to splurge a bit, do so.>
- Test drive the platform before making a commitment to see if it works for your organization.
- This is the #1 factor in running a smooth webinar. I cannot stress this enough.
2. Send invitations and reminders early.
- Attendees may need to install plugins for your webinar platform, so to advise them on what they will need. Let them get this step out of the way early so they can attend with a minimum amount of frustration.
- Make sure to be clear about your webinar time zone, and to repeat this in reminder emails. Most webinar platforms clearly state the time zone, but oftentimes attendees may overlook this when signing up. Stating the time in multiple time zones helps to eliminate this confusion
3. Preparation is key.
- If your webinar platform requires uploading your presentation, then do so ahead of time and check it, as sometimes fonts and slide transitions can get mangled.
- Test your headsets or phone microphones to ensure clarity, without background noise or echos. This step is critical, whether your presenters are physically located in your office or dialing in remotely.
- Appoint a moderator and empower this person to be the “MC” of the webinar. They will be responsible for orchestrating the event, keeping track of time, moderating questions and avoiding “dead air”.
- Rehearse the presentation with all presenters. Provide speakers with guidelines for smooth content delivery, and schedule a dry run to help them get comfortable with the material and any speaker transitions.
4. Maintain a steady but interactive pace.
- Don’t make your slides too dense, as you can lull your audience to sleep, but also don’t make them too sparse, as you may have part of your audience on slower connections so quickly reloading slides can make for a frustrating experience. I like to target a minute per slide and gear my content accordingly.
- If possible, use attendee polls to provide an interactive element during the presentation. A multiple choice format frames the conversation and allows for a quicker response rate.
- Encourage attendees to submit questions. This helps to personalize the content and maximize value for attendees and allows you to connect with your audience.
5. Remember to follow up.
- Take the day to relax, but then follow up and engage your audience again via email.
- Include a recording and copy of the presentation, as well as other white papers, case studies or relevant resources.
- Invite attendees to connect with you on social media as well (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) as building your audience is key.
- Include a quick 5-10 question survey to improve upcoming webinars and shape new content
- Include a link to your next webinar to encourage future attendance.
I'll write a post in the future about driving attendees to your webinar, but the above tips should help you with your next webinar.
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