WebAttract’s webinar expert Mike Agron opened his Content Marketing World workshop — Webinar Demand Creation for Content Marketers: From Start to Finish — by stating, “Webinars make content marketing come to life in a way that other forms of content marketing don’t.” Today, both small and large brands are relying on webinars as a key part of their content marketing. In this workshop, Mike led the participants through the execution of a webinar from start to finish.
A high performing/high impact webinar will provide the best opportunity to inspire an audience to respond to the presenter’s call to action. To achieve this goal, practically all the stars have to be aligned, as this truly takes a balancing act involving business drivers, logistics, human factors, and technology. Alternatively, one can take heed of the best practices shared in this workshop.
Webinar methodology divided into project phases
Mike’s advice is to “think of a webinar as a theatrical event” that is comprised of five acts.
Act 1: Project Kickoff and Scheduling
This is the planning phase. First, define webinar objectives, target audience, desired outcomes, and identify success factors. To attract the right audience, the webinar topic has to promise “must have” information as opposed to “nice to have.” Create the schedule, assemble the resources, and conduct a kickoff meeting. Optimal results can be achieved if given an ideal preparation time frame of eight weeks. Set the date and time for the webinar using the desired online platform. Once completed, the stage is set.
Act 2: Webinar Promotion and Tracking Daily Metrics
Developing the invitation is an absolutely critical task because it provides the framework for the webinar content and shapes the speaker’s message to keep the audience engaged. Today, competition for an audience’s time and attention is intense.
The above example has a clean look and provides the intended audience of small/medium business people with learning something they will find of immediate value to them. The status quo is not working; they need an alternate approach, so the invitation talks about what they will learn to supercharge their marketing efforts with social media and avoid making critical and costly mistakes.
Webinars are powerful magnets for attracting prospects whose needs are not currently being met or those who are actively looking for a solution. Build an interesting and relevant webinar invitation and the target audience will come. Then, create a registration landing page that asks just the right questions to capture information about the registrant without being invasive. Ideally, the final question should ask what the registrant wishes to learn from the webinar. The next step is to source the right audience by tapping into in-house lists, outsourcing audience recruitment, social media, and similar methods. Send the invitation four weeks before the “go live” date and track daily registration metrics. The click-through ratio (CTR) is one of the most important metrics, as it measures the percentage of people who registered vs. those who came to the registration page.
Act 3: Dress Rehearsals and Sound Checks
Prior to the “go live” date, gather all the resources and practice, practice, practice. How do you respond to speakers who say, “I’ve done this a million times before … I don’t need a rehearsal; I know exactly what to do?” There’s no compromising. Insist on the dress rehearsal and explain that the purpose of the practice session is to ensure proper flow, cues, and transitions. A webinar is typically an hour long, with a few minutes in the beginning for introductions and housekeeping and 15 minutes at the end for questions and answers, which leaves approximately 35 minutes of air time for the panelist(s). With only a short period for the actual presentation, the speaker must evaluate the importance and relevance of each slide. The speaker’s story must have a beginning, middle, and end. During the dress rehearsal, include a sound check to ensure that the quality of the electronics broadcast is clear and crisp.
Act 4: “Go Live”
An hour prior to the call, assemble all of the resources and go through a final checklist. This hour before the “go live” is a virtual “green room” for the speakers so they can relax and get mentally prepared. This is also a good opportunity to go through the slides one last time, do a final sound check and resolve any last-minute technical issues. Speakers must be prepared with a printout of their slides in “notes view” to ensure they can continue with the webinar even if technology glitches happen. A few minutes before the webinar starts, remind the speakers that it’s not about perfection; if they make a mistake, they shouldn’t worry because the audience will forgive them. Then it’s show time! Go over the housekeeping details and introduce the speaker(s). Although control of the slides can be transferred to the speaker, it makes for a much cleaner presentation if the organizer is controlling the deck. After the webinar, call all the resources back for a quick 5- to 10-minute debriefing. Thank the speakers, and share any available metrics, such as total registration, retention info, etc.
Act 5: Post Webinar Follow-up
Archive a copy of the recorded webinar. Within 24 to 48 hours of the webinar, send follow-up thank you emails to the audience and include surveys and details on how to obtain more information. Some webinar platforms provide editing capabilities so the recorded version can be streamlined to drop any unnecessary segments (housekeeping, silence, “ums” and “ahs”). This is the time to review the metrics to determine webinar effectiveness … did the webinar increase the pipeline? Were any prospects converted to customers? Were new geographies and markets reached?
To end the workshop, Mike told the story about a survey that went out following a webinar conducted for an Internet marketing company, in which the attendees were asked, “How will you monitor your online reputation going forward?” Twenty-one percent of the attendees surveyed responded, “I don’t know; I want help.” Talk about instant lead generation. On that note, case closed for the benefits of webinars!
Mike described webinars as “a gift that keeps on giving” because the resulting archived recordings are available for download many months following delivery of the original webinar, hence, continuing to attract and engage more potential customers.
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