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Fill All the Seats at Your Webinar With These 6 Steps

You culminate your online presentation with a passionate call to action.

Reflecting back on your screen are virtual applause emojis after applause emojis, accompanied by tons of thank you’s and compliments in the comment section.

Just like you dreamed.

In reality, that reflection often is more like the equivalent of the deflating sound of a record scratch. Your webinars get lackluster responses with too many seats left empty.

What’s a content marketer to do?

Does your #webinar get a virtual ovation or the deflating sound of a record scratch, asks @DanielWaas. Click To Tweet

Follow this six-step program that works for us at GoToWebinar to send your next presentation on a trajectory toward bursting-at-the-seams fame and glory.

Step 1: Find a killer topic

Compare the performance of these two webinars:

Both were promoted to the same audience, using the same tactics. Even the weekday and start time were almost identical.

Why did one generate almost eight times more registrations and over 12 times more attendees?

Because the topic of making slides pop resonated with the audience, and killer robots and video marketing didn’t.

How do you make sure your topic doesn’t bomb? Simple:

  • Get clear on who your true audience is.
  • Research its key challenges and pain points. For example, Google “job title” and “challenges,” or scour the agenda of your audience’s most popular conference.
  • Present a solution to that challenge or pain.
  • Frame your topic angle in a best-practice, original-research, or industry-news format.
  • Create a compelling title. These three formulas work well:
    • How to Solve (Pain Point)
    • (#) Things I Learned Doing (Topic)
    • The Beginner’s Guide to (Topic)
Frame your #webinar topic as a best practice, original research, or industry news, says @DanielWaas. Click To Tweet

Step 2: Put all your chips on email marketing

One tactic blows all others out of the water when it comes to webinar promotion: email.

It’s most frequently used and rated as most effective among our audiences.

TIP: If you don’t have a solid email list, it’s time to build one.

Since you now have a killer topic and title, generating interest should be a snap if you craft a great email invite. Here’s how to create a great invite:

  • Keep the message short.
  • Keep the copy casual.
  • Keep the design clean and simple.
  • Repeat the call to action at the top and at the bottom.
  • Include a bullet list that focuses on the recipient, e.g., “You will learn:”
  • Experiment with animated GIFs and video.
  • Mix up your templates.
  • Test different names as the sender.

For best results, mix up your templates. Look at the examples from UserTesting.

Both emails get a lot right. They have:

  • Obvious session title in bold
  • Short and snappy description
  • Prominent call to action

The color change from red to blue is a good example of how to capture your audience’s attention with a different look without changing the core template.

You also can change things up by sending plain text invites every now and then. They’re easy on your design resources and sometimes more effective than a fancy HTML template. Look at this simple invite from Brightcove.

Click to enlarge

Step 3: Find a partner

What’s better than your email list? Getting access to the email list of a partner.

For us, co-marketing generates about 25% of our total registrations.

Look for companies that have products or services adjacent to but not competitive with yours. Then make sure they reach an audience that mirrors your target audience.

Armed with a short list of potential partners, reach out to their marketing leadership, content marketing, or event marketing team to see if there’s interest in co-creating and co-marketing a webinar.

For the best success, suggest a handful of potential webinar topics that are (1) of interest to the joint audience and (2) a topic covered by your target’s existing content.

TIP: A webinar with multiple presenters tends to make for a more engaging event.

A #webinar with multiple presenters tends to make for a more engaging event, says @DanielWaas. Click To Tweet

Step 4: Advertise on Facebook

When we partnered with Vyond (formerly GoAnimate) on a webinar, we used its promotion engine, which included Facebook ads.

Vyond’s social advertising process:

  • Create a short video teaser promoting the webinar.
  • Use that teaser as a Facebook video ad.
  • Retarget site visitors and build a lookalike audience based on your visitors.
  • Send clicks to the webinar landing page to generate registrations.

The result: $2.68 per click with a $1.52 return for every dollar Vyond spent on Facebook ads.

If you’re willing to put a budget behind your webinar promotions, Facebook ads are your best bet for driving additional registrations.

#Facebook ads are your best bet for driving additional webinar registrations, says @DanielWaas. Click To Tweet

Step 5: Optimize your landing page for conversions

To maximize conversions and control your registration landing page layout, invest in a custom design.

The key elements of a successful landing page include:

  • Big, obvious title
  • Clarity on date, time, and duration of the event
  • Two big call-to-action buttons
  • Short description and bullet list of benefits
  • Minimal registration form
  • Background on the speaker(s)
  • Social proof from past webinar participants

For more inspiration, check out these great webinar registration landing pages.

TIP: Maximize optimization through a fully integrated system. Your marketing automation system, landing-page builder, content management system, and webinar tool all must work together.

Step 6: Play a long game

With Steps 1-5 complete, your next webinar is sure to see a surge in sign-ups. But you still need to clear one last hurdle: attendance. We found the average attendance rate for marketing webinars is 44%. With over half the intended audience never showing up. Are webinars even worth it?

Yes, they are. Live attendance is only a part of the picture. One-fourth of attendees surveyed who didn’t show up for the webinar said they registered to access the recorded version.

And sometimes a scheduling conflict prevents registrants from attending. If you have a webinar that did well, run it live again on a different day at a different time. You’ll be surprised to find you may get a similar number of registrations for the second go-through.

You also need to play a long game and consider the future value of your webinar as an evergreen content asset. Think about how you can repurpose the content into blog posts, white papers, infographics, etc.

Get the applause

Go through this six-step process each time you develop a webinar. Tweak the next iteration based on what you learned from the previous one – all with the goal of delivering what will attract and engage your target audience. After all, the path to a screen filled with applause emojis isn’t a single, straight line.

Get advice and tips to generate demand across your content marketing channels. Join us Oct. 23, 2019, for the free virtual Demand Generation Summit.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute