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Webinars are an important tool for marketers or any professional trying to engage with prospective contacts. But there can be a lot to think about when putting one together.
How long should it be? What topic should I feature? There are so many questions to consider.
I’ve helped plan a lot of webinars, and one thing I frequently see is people getting bogged down in minor details and making unnecessary mistakes. To help you make the most of your webinars, I’ve put together a list of common webinar mistakes, with some tips and tricks on how to avoid them.
Different webinars have different goals, but if the main goal of your webinar programme is to sell then you’ll definitely run into difficulties.
This may seem counter-intuitive - after all, you’re marketing for a business purpose, you ultimately want to increase your sales. However, the purpose of a webinar - a good webinar - isn’t to sell a product.
Most people don’t attend webinars to hear about your product, they attend to solve a problem or to gain new information.
So what should you be doing? Use your webinars as a way to present your expertise and your knowledge. Build a relationship with your audience. When they trust you, not only will they hand over their all important information, they will be more receptive when the time finally comes to sell.
As I mentioned above, webinars are about building a relationship and one thing I’ve learned is you can’t do that just by talking at someone. Relationships are a two-way street, but when running webinars, a lot of people forget that.
The good news is that engaging audiences has never been easier. There are a multitude of tools you can use:
When you engage your audience during your webinars, they are much more likely to engage with your post-webinar marketing.
PowerPoint has become a ubiquitous part of running a webinar, and that’s great. Slides can be a great tool for any presentation, but there is a tendency amongst presenters to overload their slides with text.
One of the biggest aspects of marketing these days is storytelling, and webinars present a unique opportunity to do this. Part of telling a story is not putting your entire script on your slides. Rather, use your slides as visual aids to help illustrate important points. Let the script and slides work together to tell your audience a story.
(Also, keep in mind that even when it comes to visuals, simple is better - you don’t want to overwhelm your attendees).
When you run a webinar, you get more data than just who registered and attended. While it’s good to keep track of registration and attendance rates, it’s equally as important to look at all the data your webinar platform and CRM provide.
Metrics such as viewing duration, what content was downloaded, poll/survey engagement, and even social media engagement can provide you with powerful insight into how to better engage with prospects.
Let’s look at an example. You run a webinar where 250 people sign up, and 100 attend. However, if you look more closely, you see that while 100 people began the webinar, only 50 were there when it was finished. You can see that most of the drop-off occurred 20 minutes into the presentation. What was happening at 20 minutes that could have caused this - was there a bad slide, a boring guest speaker, an issue with the audio? By taking a bit of time to look at the data available to you, you can ensure any future webinars don’t run into the same the issues.
No matter what your ultimate webinar goal, there is one aspect that determines the success of any online event - that people actually registered and attended your webinar.
Achieving this is not rocket science, but it’s an aspect that many people overlook. It’s not enough to set up your event and then email one invitation out. You have to promote your webinar early and often to see the true benefits of a webinar.
This means using all of the channels at your disposal - social media, email, newsletters, etc. You may even want to put some budget into paid social and PPC to get in front of new contacts. In my experience, centring your webinar promotion around a comprehensive email campaign, complemented by other methods of communication is most effective.
When it comes to planning your email campaign, make sure you’re giving yourself at least two weeks (the absolute bare minimum) from the initial invitation to the webinar date. After the initial invitation, you’ll want to send a couple of follow-ups, preferably with more detail about the webinar itself i.e. announce presenters, point them to pre-webinar information, that sort of thing.
Getting your promotion started early and engaging potential attendees multiple times will generate buzz around your event and make sure you get the highest possible numbers of registrants.
One of the biggest oversights we see when people are planning their webinars is they expect people to be able to manage their own time. Meaning, they think that just by sending out an invite that specifies the date and time, people will be able to remember either to add it to their own calendar or remember when it’s time to attend.
Let me tell you a little secret, people are bad at remembering things like that and many are too busy to take the time to add things like external webinars to their own calendar. When you don’t provide people with an easy solution - like ready made calendar invites - it’s not hard to see why you had 300 people register for an event but only 30 actually show up.
Webinar platforms like WorkCast include an ‘Add to Calendar’ option on all events as standard and you should think about doing the same.
Not all webinar platforms are created equal and not all will have the elements you require to make your webinar programme the best it can be.
Let me tell you a secret: a lot of ‘webinar’ platforms are just virtual meeting tools that have been modified to be able to reach larger audiences. That may not seem like such a big issue until you realise that webinars are a lot more than just big virtual meetings. These modified meeting tools have big limitations in terms of things like branding and ease of use.
You know when you have to download a plug-in to dial in to that virtual conference call? It seems like a simple step. When you have 3000 people attending a webinar, downloading a plug-in without issues isn’t so simple and can create a massive barrier for attendees.
So when you’re putting together your webinar programme, it’s important to consider what functionality you’ll need. Are you running webinars to increase brand awareness? Then branding will be pretty important. Are you going to have thousands of attendees? You’ll probably want a cloud-based solution that doesn’t require a download or plug-in.
So you want to run a webinar, you just pick a topic, put together a presentation, send out an email and you’re done, right?
Well, not if you want to have a successful webinar programme. Too many webinar presenters and hosts see it as a one-off that can be pulled together without much effort. And while that’s technically true, a successful webinar requires a comprehensive plan.
What does that mean? Well first off, any webinar should have a tangible goal attached to it, whether that’s lead generation, brand awareness, thought leadership etc. It’s also best if the webinar is part of a larger programme. That doesn’t mean you have to run 15 webinars a year, but any webinar you plan should be part of a larger campaign. A webinar on it’s own is a good tool, but it shouldn’t be your only method of communication with potential attendees.
If you put in the effort to build a comprehensive plan and strategy prior to running your webinar, you’ll put yourself in a position for increased success, whatever your goals are.
Not every topic is created equal and not everything should be presented in a webinar.
I know that not every topic is going to be relevant to everyone - webinars will have to relevant to the industry you’re trying to engage. As much as I would love to present regular webinars about why the Scottish rugby team is criminally underrated, I work in the webinar industry. That’s not really possible.
Instead, you should find make sure your topic is interesting for the industry that you’re in and be creative when presenting it. How would you like to hear about the topic you’re presenting? Are there any creative ways to engage with the content that make it compelling? The trick is to make sure your topic actually warrants a 60 minute webinar and to bring a little bit of passion and creativity.
If you keep these tips in mind, you can create awesome webinar content that your audience will absolutely love.
Practice makes perfect - it’s a cliche for a reason. Yet, for some reason, there are a lot of people out there who don’t think you need to practice when presenting a webinar, especially when they’ll be speaking to a slide deck.
Maybe it’s because no one can see them or they think they can put their script on a slide to guide them through (which as we’ve discussed, is not a good idea), but under-preparing is an issue we see time and again.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but the more you practice, the more natural a presentation will sound. That’s because you will be confident with the material. You may not know your script word for word, and that’s ok, because if you know the material you can speak to it, and speak to it well. You want your presentation to sound natural, not like you’re reading it off notes in front of you (guess what, we can all tell when you’re doing that).
So when you’re scheduling your webinar, make sure you put in time to practice the presentation - more than once!
Another issue with not rehearsing is that you don’t know how long your presentation will actually be.
There are guides that tell you a certain amount of text = a certain amount of speaking time, but you can’t be sure until you’ve actually practiced. You know how I can tell when a presenter hasn’t practiced? They run well over time.
Running over time is not just a little quirk or inconvenience, it signals to the audience that you don’t respect their time or that you think your time is more important than theirs. That is not the way to start off a fruitful relationship with a customer.
If you say your webinar is going to be 60 minutes, keep it at 60 minutes. Going slightly under is ok, but be careful there as well. You want attendees to feel they got value, which they may not if your 60 minute webinar is suddenly 25.
Webinars are a great tool for engaging customers, building leads, and sharing your knowledge. By taking care not to make some of these common mistakes, you can definitely make your webinar programme a smashing success.
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