Along with the rest of the world, marketing teams face unprecedented challenges, triggered by the coronavirus pandemic which has forced down-stream decision-makers to work from home. In response, brands are shifting their positioning as consumer attitudes and preferences evolve with the changing situation.
Brands are also rethinking their strategy to identify new routes to communicate and engage effectively with their customers on virtual and digital platforms. One that is seeing a resurgence is the use of webinars, especially among online entrepreneurs and marketers.
Webinars are not new and were already popular before the current pandemic. However, thanks to technology, webinar meetings have advanced to become far more effective than in-person meetings. They serve as a powerful tool to promote thought leadership and increase brand visibility. What’s more, as part of a more comprehensive content marketing strategy, webinars provide a valuable opportunity to secure top of funnel leads that are critical to increasing sales.
Have we got your ear? If you’re interested and ready to roll but still wondering about how to host a webinar that people would want to watch, here are some steps to consider.
Step 1: Choose a compelling topic
If you’re lost for ideas, brainstorm with your sales team to identify the “pain points” of customers and prospective buyers. You can also ask your audience for their burning questions, whether it’s about specific products or topics that apply to your industry. Poll your customers and social media followers on what topics interest them the most. This will help you to prioritize your topics.
Step 2: Find the right speakers
Choosing the right speakers can make or break a webinar. More than sharing insights and data, speakers can help to create a buzz about your webinar. Reaching out to long-term media contacts and other leading experts in the community adds further publicity to your webinar and will establish your company as a credible organization. It’s a good idea to have a panel of at least 2-3 speakers with the right experience to discuss your pre-planned topic and address potential questions from the audience. Include the speakers’ photos, bios and area of expertise in the invitation so that your target audience knows what to expect from the session.
Step 3: Pick a webinar platform and format
Notice a pattern here? That’s right! Webinars are dependent on the choices you make. A key decision that you and your team would need to make is to choose the right platform and format for your brand. Your chosen platform needs to be congruent with your format for a seamless and disruption-free session. If you’re choosing to showcase presentations, your service platform should enable screen-sharing with the audience. On the other hand, if the format is more of an interview style where a host asks questions from guest speakers, it is better to choose a platform with HD Audio and Video configurations. Although Zoom seems to be of the preferred choice these days, choose one that best fits your objectives. Capterra, a comprehensive software directory has created a comparative chart for 4 different types of webinar interfaces. Check it out here!
Step 4: Advertise and Promote
Advertising and promotion make up the largest percentage of the marketing budget. While advertising is used to persuade the audience, customers and viewers to purchase products or services, promotion is a tool to reach out to consumers to create awareness for a new product or service, with a call to action. The same rule applies to your webinar. Producing a well-thought-out ad or announcement is essential. Social media and your email database are your best bets to disseminate the information. Research shows that sending up to three e-announcements is most efficient. To tackle social media, be sure to post announcements over three pre-planned schedules. An example of a great announcement is MediaCorp’s webinar series. The brand always presents a clear topic with a summary of the session, a list of panellists/speakers, with the date and time prominently displayed. A call-to-action such as the “Register Now” button guides the audience to register easily without hassle.
Step 5: Pre-test webinars
Pre-testing webinars is a must to ensure a smooth flow of the session and address any technical issue. Hold a pre-discussion and mock webinar with your panellists/speakers so that everyone is on the same page. A good webinar should last between 30-45 mins.
Before we go…
No matter how much you prepare, things can still go wrong as with any live activity. Some things you just cannot control like the Wi-Fi connection dropping or someone accidentally turning on their microphone. What’s important is to get back up quickly and apologise for the disruption (humour helps!). Most viewers are pretty forgiving. It will take time to learn how to organise and host a successful webinar. By your second or third try, you’ll breeze through like a pro! BTW, if you’re recording the webinar to share with your audience as a follow-up, do review and edit the recording as necessary to improve customer experience.
Written by: Tanisha Khanna