Why Webinars? A first-timer’s guide to effective online events – Part 2.

In the first part of this blog post, we looked at the pros and cons of webinars for SMEs. In this second part, we will look at some of the keys to running a successful webinar event. Let’s jump straight in.

Time to promote

It’s pretty obvious that you won’t have much of a webinar unless people know it’s happening. The best way of letting them know continues to be email. In one survey, marketers scored email 4.46 out of 5 as their top promotional method.

You will need to give your email promotion time to take hold. The current trend is for promotional cycles of over 15 days, with around three weeks being a typical figure. As we’ve discussed previously, the success of any email campaign depends crucially on the content – which includes the subject line – and how relevant you make it to the recipient. Crafting a good email is an art form in itself, and one we offer support with.

Sweeten the deal, don’t poison it

Your sign-up rates will rocket if you follow two simple rules:

  • make it easy
  • give away something nice

You can make life easy for your prospective attendees by keeping their registration form simple. Limit yourself to 5 -7 questions – no one wants to sit an exam for no good reason. Think also about scheduling. When would be the most convenient time for your target audience? Monday? Too exhausting. Friday? Minds focused on the weekend. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are much better options for many.

To incentivise attendance, offer a gift for registering. Examples include useful information – such as a white paper – or a discount on any services purchased. In content marketing, companies have to give to receive, so make sure the incentives are genuinely attractive.

Choose the right platform

Registration software can automate the registration process, taking care of tasks such as creating a custom website for the event and scheduling reminders. Popular platforms include those by Eventbrite, Marketo, Cvent and Certain.

You will also need the right platform for the webinar itself. This would make a blog post in itself, but your key criteria for selection might include:

  • Cost – free platforms such as Google+ Hangouts on Air can keep your overheads down. However, this may be at the expense of limited functionality or annoying your attendees with ads.
  • Multiple routes – if the platform offers alternative means of attending, such as via a mobile app, or by phone, attendance is likely to benefit.
  • Analytics – will the platform allow you to gather useful information about your attendee behaviour?

Right content, right style

When it comes to webinars, content is king. If you get everything else right, but your webinar fails to deliver the right content, your webinar is unlikely to do its job well. A survey by Citrix found that the single most important thing for engaging the audience was interesting, relevant content. Webinars are unlikely to do you any favours if they:

  • are thinly-veiled attempts to pitch your product
  • are so broad in scope that they cannot offer much insight
  • are based around an idea that professionals are likely to have heard many times before
  • attempt to take not very much content and spin it out

Of almost equal importance is how the webinar is presented. A presenter with some pizzazz and enthusiasm is obviously important. In the Citrix survey, this was seen as the second most important factor for engagement, and around half of webinar attendees don’t enjoy the experience when the presenter is poor.

Interactivity is another key aspect of webinar success.  Integrating social media into webinars is a growing trend, with 35% of webinars now incorporating Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and so on. However, the most reliable way of encouraging interactivity  is simply to include question and answer sessions, with 92% of attendees regarding this as a useful addition.

Who webinars? We Webinar

We hope that our two part post gives you a little context on Webinars, provides some benchmarks, and points out common pitfalls. As we mentioned in Part One, there’s a strong case for outsourcing webinars to specialists. If you’re considering undertaking a webinar and think you would benefit from expert input, please get in touch and we will be happy to talk through your needs.