How to grow your business with webinar marketing

Dan: At WP Curve we have just put the finishing touches on our plan to use webinars to build our business. This guide, written for us by Ross Beard couldn’t have been better timed for us. I hope it’s as useful for you as it’s been for us. Please let us know in the comments.

Over to Ross.

Have you ever made a purchase from a company after attending one of their webinars?

Most of us have. Why? Because by attending the webinar, you gained valuable information and developed a level of trust with the presenter and company, which helped push you over the line to buy their product or service.

Webinars offer the perfect platform to dive deeply into topics relevant to your audience and really show off your expertise. Attendees are looking to learn more about the topics you are discussing and prove this in their willingness to devote one hour of their busy day to listening to you. They’re not just giving you their email address to download an eBook, they’re giving you their time.

Webinar marketing is one of the best ways to build trust with your audience. This is powerful because as we move our leads through the buyer’s journey, trust is one of the biggest factors that will determine whether they will buy your products or services or your competition’s.

I know this because I’ve used webinars to effectively attract new leads and nurture existing leads through the buyer’s journey to make a purchase. It wasn’t easy in the beginning and I did struggle with webinars at the start. In fact, my first webinar attracted a measly four attendees, had an embarrassing number of technical problems and, to top it off, I forgot to record it! Let’s just say it didn’t go too well. However, to my surprise, I was still able to convert one of those four attendees into a customer!

Through lots of trial and error combined with some really good advice from other webinar experts, I’ve developed a webinar best practices guide that you can use today to start growing your business with webinars.

What’s in this guide?

This guide has been created specifically for the startup founder or small business owner who wants an actionable look at how to grow their business with webinar marketing.

Here’s a quick look at what we’ll be covering:

  1. Planning your webinar
  2. Creating your webinar
  3. Promoting your webinar
  4. Managing and running your webinar

1. Planning your webinar

Before you rush into creating your webinar, you need to create a plan. Just like any other marketing initiative, proper planning will give you the best possible chance of success.

Setting webinar goals

What is the purpose of this webinar? Why am I running it?

By asking yourself these questions, you will be able to determine the specific goals of your webinar. Here are some common goals for you to consider:

  • I want to attract new leads.
  • I want to convert leads into customers.
  • I want to build stronger relationships with my leads and customers.
  • I want to show that I am an expert on a topic.
  • I want to build an email list.

Clearly defined goals will help shape the webinar topic, purpose and call to action.

Understanding your audience

Just like any content marketing, you need to know your audience. Make sure you know who you are targeting with each webinar so that when you start creating and promoting it, you’ll ensure you are appealing to the appropriate audience. Since webinars do take more investment from the attendees’ perspective, the more relevance and value you can provide with your topic, the more likely you will be to attract some registrations.

Choosing a topic

The topic of the webinar needs to appeal and be relevant to your audience and be linked to your webinar goals. Choose one that will educate your audience on a specific challenge, problem, tool or update. Often times the best topics are the ones that are trending, which can be found by using tools like BuzzSumo. If you find a hot topic, it is likely that your audience will be interested in learning more about it.

Finding an industry expert

georgianalaudiWhen it comes to finding industry experts to bring into your webinar, Georgiana Laudi, Director of Marketing at Unbounce, recommends you identify someone your community admires and that represents who they aspire to be. Next, you should woo the seasoned speaker because you’ll likely need to prove you can bring them business.

“Explain the reach of the marketing you’ll be carrying out to drive people to the webinar,” Georgiana advises. “Give past webinar registration/attendance numbers. Lure them in with the promise of your qualified audience. Always lead with what’s in it for them.”

Other best practices

Here are some additional best practices I like to stick to when I plan webinars:

  • Make sure your webinar focuses on being educational, not salesy.
  • Don’t be too serious. Keep it fun, entertaining and tell lots of stories.
  • Interesting and up-to-date topics generally do better than topics that have already done the rounds.
  • Focus on the actionable takeaways. Your audience wants to learn something, so try to keep it well-structured and provide easy advice to take away and implement.
  • Use personal stories, customer examples and/or case studies to explain your ideas.
  • Give yourself time – at least 15 minutes – for Q&A.
  • On average, 40% of your registrants will actually attend. Make sure you record the webinar for the remaining 60%.
  • Osterman Research Inc found that the best length for a webinar is 60 minutes. Their research also suggested you should open up for attendees 15 minutes prior to the event starting.
  • 60% of webinar marketers run a rehearsal session for the webinar in advance. Use a test run to iron out any technical issues.

Let’s take a look at how Unbounce, a landing page software tool, plans their webinars. Here’s a screenshot of their upcoming webinar, 10 Rules for Landing Page Copy That Converts:

unwebinar

What are the goals of this webinar? Georgiana explains in her eBook, The Smart Marketers Guide to Webinar Marketing, that Unbounce’s main objective of their webinars is to increase interest in their company and ultimately drive revenue. She also notes that they feel webinars offer a great platform to distribute their content and give their community an opportunity to learn and ask questions in real time.

So what this really boils down to is they are looking to build trust with their leads and customers by adding more value. In this example, they have an expert on the topic – Ian Lurie the Founder and CEO of Portent – which means they are looking to focus on providing an educational experience for the attendees.

What audience are they targeting? Well, since they are running a webinar on landing page conversion tips, it’s safe to say they are targeting marketers in small to medium-sized businesses. Since we know that Unbounce is a tool specifically designed to help marketers create awesome landing pages without IT, the topic of this webinar makes sense. Attendees will primarily be marketers who need to learn how to write better copy on their landing pages.

Key takeaways to help you plan your next webinar

  • Understand why you are running your webinar and make sure your topic and goals center around this.
  • Choose a topic that interests and is tailored to your audience.
  • Set tangible goals so you can measure the success at the end of the webinar.

2. Creating your webinar

Now that you have a plan, it’s time to create your masterpiece. The first thing you need to do is start putting together your content. You need to break up the topic into ideas and structure it in an easy-to-follow way.

What to include on the slides:

This is a question I always get asked. I suggest you treat a webinar just like you would any presentation. Picture yourself presenting the topic to one of your customers. This is a great way to really focus in on the ideas and concepts you want to get across.

Focus on four or five key concepts and break them up across your presentation. Try to incorporate stories and customer examples into your slides as a way to explain your ideas. What I’ve found works well and, in fact, is something I learned from watching Hubspot Webinars, is to use lots of big images. Don’t be afraid to fill your slides with photos in between your content. This is a great way to break up text and keep your audience engaged.

Let’s take a look at the slides from one of Hubspot’s webinars:

By looking at the above example from Hubspot, we can also see they include four important slides:

  • Introductory slide:  This should include the topic, your bio, speaker bios and photos.
  • Case study slide: Everyone loves a good case study. Include one that is relevant to your topic.
  • “About us” slide: This is an opportunity to give a quick overview of what you do and how you can help.
  • Q&A slide: Every webinar must have a 15 minute Q&A. You can use this slide to put presenter and/or company contact details up so that while you’re doing Q&A, interested attendees can easily have the time to take down the details.

Other best practices that we can learn from Hubspot:

  • Hubspot ensures their webinar content goes no longer than 45 minutes and then spends 15 minutes for Q&A. People don’t have all day!
  • The Hubspot slides aren’t too wordy. Use the notes section if you want to add text to remind you when presenting.
  • Notice the consistency with the webinar template and Hubspot’s branding. There’s been a solid design effort put into these slides, they haven’t just thrown them together. Use the same style guide to ensure a consistent experience.
  • Include relevant links to additional content and make sure your facilitator drops them in the chat during the webinar.

A lot goes into creating a webinar. It doesn’t stop at the presentation slides. Here are some other components that you’ll need to create.

Landing page

You’ll need a landing page to accept webinar registrations. Use a tool like Unbounce, LeadPages or ConvertPress to quickly set one up. Unbounce and Leadpages give you the power to a/b test variations so you can optimize your pages for best performance. Make sure you sync up the tool with your webinar software so that registrants automatically get added to the attendee list.

The other option is to choose a webinar software tool, like Webinars on Air, that has integrated features to allow you to set up registration forms and send leads directly to your email marketing or CRM tool.

Email marketing campaigns – pre and post webinar

Emails are the best way you’ll communicate with attendees. You’ll need to set up two email marketing campaigns. A pre-webinar campaign should be tailored to send one webinar registration confirmation and two webinar reminder emails: one a day before and one an hour before the event. A post-webinar campaign should send one email after the event that links to your webinar resource/recording page and send two emails that go out 3-4 days apart that have links to some related content. The idea here is to continue educating beyond the webinar.

Related: Learn how to send emails to invite people to your webinars

Webinar software

Some webinar software tools will act as ‘all in one’ solutions to help you create landing pages and send email marketing campaigns.

Dan Norris has some great advice for beginners trying to decide which webinar tool is the best. He recently reviewed eight of the most popular tools with mixed results. Here’s what he had to say:

“Obviously creating great webinar software is a huge challenge, because I was very disappointed in most of the services I tried. GotoWebinar is not the prettiest, not the cheapest and doesn’t have the most features. But it works and in this group, that is a defining quality.”

Read Dan’s full blog post: My experience reviewing 8 webinar software options

Neil Patel, prolific online marketer and blogger at Quick Sprout, runs his fair share of webinars. He tested a few different software tools and found GoToWebinar generated 15-38% more signups than any other tool. He attributes this to the fact that people recognized the GoToWebinar brand. I tend to agree with him. From my experience, although I don’t like everything about GoToWebinar either, it is the best one available.

dan mcgawIf you’re looking for a low-cost webinar tool, Dan McGaw, ex Director of Marketing at KISSmetrics, suggests using Join.me – a lightweight screen-sharing tool that can host up to 250 participants.

Note from Dan: I’ve also chatted to Gideon Shalwick about this and he swears by Youtube live. You can check out his recent webinar here. I haven’t had a chance to test it myself yet. 

Call to action

This links back to your goals that you determined earlier. What is it you want attendees to do after watching your webinar? Do you want to convert leads into customers? Do you have a free assessment or free checklist you can send interested attendees?

The call to action is super important. It must be related to the content of the webinar. For example, looking at the Unbounce webinar, they would use a call to action like this: “Ready to improve your landing page copy? You’ll need the right tools. With Unbounce, you can split test landing page copy quickly without the help of IT.”

Resource page

This is the step most webinar beginners forget. After you run your webinar, you have a great opportunity to repurpose the recording and create a useful resource page. This page can be used to host the recording, link off to other important resources, add the Slideshare presentation and host a call to action form. You can also optimize the page for search engines and try to rank for the topic. If done correctly, this is a great way to keep driving new visitors to the webinar well into the future.

R & G Technologies is pretty good at turning their webinars into resource pages. Check out this one they did:

office365

From the screenshot, you can see they have included the recording and a call to action. Below (cut off from image) they’ve also got links to additional resources, included the transcript and added more information about the speaker.

I’m a big advocate of not keeping webinar recordings behind opt-in forms. I think there’s more value in keeping it open and available to everyone to access. I know at R & G Technologies, they are now ranking well for keyword search terms relating to this webinar. It’s become a go-to source of information on the topic for their audience.

If you do want to keep the recording behind closed doors and capture contact details, you can take the approach Unbounce does. For inspiration, take a look at this page that Unbounce created to host the webinar recording that they did with Chris Hexton from Vero:

vero

Ok, so this is all sounds pretty good, but I can hear you asking me: What tools do use to create webinars?

Good question. Here are my favorite tools:

  • Webinar software: GotoWebinar, Youtube Live
  • Presentation tools: PowerPoint, Keynote, Google Presenter
  • Email marketing: Mailchimp, Hubspot, Infusionsoft
  • Landing pages: Unbounce, LeadPages,  Hubspot

Related: Dan Norris shares his experiences reviewing 8 webinar software tools

3. Promoting your webinar

Remember my story about my first webinar only attracting four attendees?

Well, using these webinar promotion strategies, I hope to help you avoid making the same mistakes I did. After having run a number of successful webinars across different markets, here are some proven tactics I’ve found work really well to drive registrations.

Promote to your existing audience

Your existing audience should be the target for your first promotion strategy because they already have a relationship with you and, more likely than not, are interested in what you have to say. Your existing audience is made up of your customers, leads, subscribers and partners.

Firstly, you’ll want to include details about your webinar in all your email newsletters for 4-6 weeks leading up to the event. You’ll also want to promote the webinar to your audience via your social media channels. Schedule 10-15 messages to go out over the 4-6 weeks prior to your event.

After that, you can add call to action banners on specific blog posts that focus on the topic of your webinar. The idea here is they are already interested in the topic, so it’s logical that they might want to learn more. Take a similar approach with your main site: add a webinars page. Unbounce does this really well by including their upcoming webinars on their resources page.

Another great idea you can try is to promote your webinar to new subscribers who have just opted into your email marketing list. John Dumas, founder at Entrepreneur of Fire, does this really well. When someone opts into his email list, they are redirected to a landing page that promotes his next webinar. Since these people are already engaged and haved already trusted John by opting into his email list, it is lot easier to convert them into webinar registrations. For inspiration, take a look at the redirected landing page here:

eofire

Promote to a new audience via your partners

“Creating buzz and getting people to attend” is one of the biggest challenges marketers with webinars,” according to Dan McGaw. He suggests that the key to overcoming this is to partner with other companies.

You can reach out to other companies you have good relationships with and ask them to share your webinar with their audiences. Unbounce does this quite a bit with other companies like Wistia and CopyHackers. This works well since they have mutually beneficial relationships and both target the same ideal customer.

You can also run webinars directly with other partners and leverage their audience. LeadPages recently did this really well when they ran a webinar with KISSmetrics. Here’s a look at the webinar Tim Paige from LeadPages put together:

kissmetrics_leadpages

I actually attended this webinar (very insightful), but from the page you can see that Tim has chosen an interesting webinar topic on how his company went from 0 – 15,000 customers in 12 months. Tim knew this topic would be of particular interest to KISSmetrics subscribers, so he reached out to KISSmetrics and ran it for them. He was able to get in front of the KISSmetrics audience by offering to do a webinar for them. See how that’s a win-win?

If you don’t have that kind of pulling power, you can pay to get in front of other sites and communities that your audience is a part of (think: industry associates and online magazines). These communities are packed with people that want to learn more about topics. Find a community that is full of your ideal audience and don’t be afraid to pay to run a webinar. Often times the only way these sites and organizations can pay the bills is through sponsorship. Offer to sponsor a webinar and remember to focus on adding value to the audience and choosing a topic that you know they’ll be interested in. Nobody likes a salesy webinar.

Promote to a new audience via paid ads

If you know your audience well, you can have great success with running paid ads across LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Make sure you tailor these ads specifically to your audience. The other advertising channel you can explore is retargeting. This offers a great medium to advertise the webinar to people that had previously visited your website or blog. Since they’ve engaged with you previously, you’ll have a good chance of spiking their interest and attracting them to your webinar.

Related: The Practical Retargeting Guide

Extend your reach with post-webinar promotion:

Promotion doesn’t stop when the webinar goes live. Post-webinar, you have the opportunity to promote the webinar recording and resource. This will give your webinar more reach and get you more bang for your buck.

Let’s look at some ways Unbounce extends the reach of their webinar after it has finished.

  • They turn the webinar into a Slideshare and leverage the Slideshare community to extend your reach.
  • They share the webinar resource page across their social media channels.
  • They create a follow-up blog post about the webinar where they break down the key insights and answer attendee questions. They add a call to action on this blog post that links to the webinar recording resource page.
  • They convert the webinar registration page into the recording resource page.
  • They send attendees an email with the recording and include sharing buttons.
  • They turn the webinar into a podcast for people who prefer to consume content on the go.

4. Managing and running your webinar

Now we’re ready to run the webinar.

In preparation for your webinar, you’ll need to make sure the email reminders have gone out with all the access details included. Generally speaking, a reminder one day and one hour before the event is best practice. Next, make sure all your equipment is working properly, including audio and video.

Open the webinar up 15 minutes prior to the start so you can let the keen ones get in ok. One thing I have found to be of help is to have someone act as a facilitator to ensure the webinar runs smoothly. A facilitator can be used to introduce the webinar, introduce the speakers and take down all the questions throughout the presentation. In the Q&A, he can read out the questions and ask the speakers to answer accordingly.

georgianalaudiGeorgiana explains that she takes on this role at Unbounce. She shares this story: “Despite how hard you might try, you cannot talk and read (questions, comments, tweets) at the same time.” She says that your webinar dream team should have at least two or three people: The host, the industry expert guest, and the sidekick (i.e. facilitator).

Don’t forget to talk about your product.

I’ve mentioned several times the importance of making sure your webinar isn’t salesy. But you do get one or two slides to share information about your product. Instead of leaving this for the very end, I suggest doing it just before Q&A. In the past I’ve noticed people drop off during Q&A so you want to do it before then to ensure everyone gets to hear about your product.

After the webinar is complete, you’ll need to turn it into a recording ASAP. The quicker the better: I try to get the recording and resource page created and an email sent out to all attendees within two hours of the end of the live webinar. This gives everybody that missed the webinar a good opportunity to catch up and view it on their own terms.

Webinar marketing works well to build trust with your audience and move them through the buyer’s journey

Webinars are a great way to help nurture your audience through the buyer’s journey. You aren’t using webinar marketing to sell your products; instead you’re using it as a vehicle to educate your audience. Just like any other content marketing, webinars are about adding value and offering something that is interesting and helps solve problems for your audience.

As the world becomes more and more reliant on technology, important business decisions are being made online without the trusty physical handshake. As humans we still have trouble trusting people we haven’t met in person.

Webinars build trust. Your audience needs to trust you so when they are ready to buy, they know you are an expert in the industry, they already have a relationship with you and you have demonstrated that your product adds value and can help them.

If you are struggling to find a way to move your email subscribers and leads through the buyer’s journey, webinars might just be your answer. They are an essential component of any content marketing strategy and will help you grow your business.

Your thoughts

Did you find this guide useful? Let us know in the comments below.

Other useful blog posts and resources I recommend:

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About

Ross Beard is a marketing specialist. He helps companies with their content, SEO and PPC. Connect with him on Twitter @RossBeard.

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