This is the 12th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.
As your inbound machine starts to crank and you are producing volumes of content (guides, ebooks, infographics), webinars can be useful to provide variety and connect with targets who may not be interested in reading an entire ebook. Depending on your target persona, webinars are surprisingly popular and can generate quite a bit of buzz in your industry. They also require a lot of logistics and planning, so let’s walk through the process of hosting a successful webinar:
1. Identify the topic
Each webinar should tangentially relate to one of the core points of your story (i.e. your product’s value props). A great strategy to get started is pairing a webinar and written content piece about the same topic. For example, my team wrote an ebook about the future of technology for health clubs. We’ll host a webinar about the same topic that essentially walks through the content of the ebook. That’s effective because some targets will want to read the ebook and others would rather consume that content in webinar format.
Importantly, webinars should rarely be about your product specifically. We don’t want them to feel sales-like. Instead, they should always be value-add and educational, focusing on whatever points you’ve identified resonate with targets.
2. Find a co-presenter that has industry influence
Webinars are best with two players involved:
- Host: person who guides the discussion
- Guest: person who is positioned as an expert and responds to questions
A successful strategy is inviting guests who have industry influence or better yet, their own lists of contacts. By co-branding your webinars with a guest (this could be a vendor partner or industry thought leader), that guest will be incentivized to invite their contacts to attend the webinar. This is huge for you because it introduces a flow of new contacts (i.e. leads) to add to your database.
3. Use GoToWebinar and integrate it with your marketing automation system
- Collect registrations
- Send reminder emails
- Share our screen and audio during the webinar
- Facilitate Q&A during the webinar
- Create a recording of the webinar to share later
Typically a tool like GoToWebinar could cost between $100 – $300 per month depending on how many attendees show up.
4. Create a landing page to collect registrations
Use your marketing automation system to create a landing page and form to collect registrations. Similar to downloading a piece of content, targets that want to attend your webinar need to provide their contact information in return, thus converting them to a lead.
5. Create slides as a visual aid during the webinar
While a webinar should be organic conversation between the host and guest, typically slides are used as a visual aid in the background to help illustrate the points you are making. Be sure to make these slides:
- Extremely simple (ideally just pictures)
- No text that is smaller than 30 point font
- Queued animations to ensure the audience doesn’t read ahead
As with any slides, the show is you and the slides are just there to support what you are saying.
6. Send reminder emails, social media posts and sharable graphics
Begin promoting the webinar 2 weeks prior to its date. This gives people just enough time to get it into the calendars but not too much time where they will forget about it. Over those 2 weeks, be sure to send reminder emails, post on social media and use custom graphics that depict the webinar details, time and guest information.
7. Do a technology test and run-through with the guest
At least 1 week prior to the webinar, consider doing a brief “mock webinar” with the guest to ensure that your technology (speakerphone, microphone, screenshare) all works properly, the audio comes in clearly and there are no issues dialing in and viewing the slides. There is nothing scarier than having 100 people on the line during a webinar and having everything freeze or the call drop.
8. Host the actual webinar
It’s webinar day! Consider the following details for the webinar itself:
- Duration should be 30 or 45 minutes; longer will lose people’s attention.
- Start the webinar 3 minutes after the start time to account for stragglers
- Spend roughly 75% of the time on presentation and 25% on Q&A
- Use GoToWebinar to enable attendees to ask questions throughout
- Ensure that the host and guest speak loudly and with high energy
- Ensure the webinar is being recorded (both audio and video)
- Expect an average attendance rate of 50% of registrations
9. Follow up with the recap and video recording
After the webinar, you may follow up with specific attendees if you didn’t get to answer their question live. Additionally, send a blast email to all attendees and no-shows with the recap recording and a next step call-to-action, like downloading an additional piece of content or even exploring a demo of your product.
10. Measure and benchmark against other campaigns
Webinars are a lot of work. As you begin hosting more, be sure to track metrics (registrations, attendance, MQL conversion, etc) to see how effective a webinar campaign is in comparison to other mediums like written content.
10.5. Define a webinar cadence
Once you establish your webinar strategy, consider getting into a cadence of regularly scheduled webinars, as your audience begins to anticipate and look forward to them. A schedule of 1 webinar per month is an ambitious goal and great way to start.