5 Steps to Executing a Successful Webinar Program
Webinars can be a powerful marketing and lead generation tool – if they’re done right. Without ever leaving your office, you can:
- Create visibility for your practice and your firm.
- Establish yourself as a thought leader.
- Get in front of clients and prospects.
- Leverage the webinar presentation into articles, blogs and other marketing content.
Hosting webinars is fairly inexpensive, but they can be time-consuming, so it’s important to carefully strategize and plan before you launch into execution. Here are five steps to produce a successful webinar program.
1. Determine Timing and Content
Webinars should be timely, informational and brief (30 minutes to an hour). Avoid the temptation to host a two-hour webinar that discusses everything under the sun. You’re more likely to grab someone’s attention with a focused topic that examines specific issues. Think about what challenges are arising in client matters, or what questions clients are regularly asking you about. It’s also helpful to review your marketing calendar and see what can be leveraged. Are you publishing a bylined article for a magazine? Consider turning the article topic into a webinar.
Ideally, you should hold webinars on a regular basis – monthly or quarterly – so you can stay in front of your target audience, consistently. Even if you don’t have a topic selected for your second webinar, pick a date and time so you can promote it when you market the first webinar. This way, people will add the date to their calendar, and it will also hold you accountable to make sure the second one happens.
Give yourself at least one month from the scheduled webinar date so you can properly prepare and promote. It’s usually best to avoid scheduling webinars on Mondays and Fridays when people are less likely to tune in. Time of day matters as well – mid-morning to early afternoon generally brings in a higher number of registrants. Keep in mind, if your audience spans multiple time zones, you may want to hold it earlier or later to capture the most webinar attendees.
2. Get the Word Out
Once you have decided on a topic and date, draft an engaging title and short announcement that describes what you’ll be covering with key takeaways. Then determine what platform you’ll use to host the webinar – Zoom, GoToWebinar, etc. – and set up a registration page you can link back to in your marketing materials.
Once that is complete, you can begin promoting your webinar. Email and social media are the most effective channels to get the word out. Consider sending at least three email blasts to obtain registrations: one initial invite and two “reminder” emails to those that haven’t registered. Post regularly on social media leading up to the webinar – this could potentially bring in attendees that aren’t in your database. You should also promote the webinar on your website with an announcement in your News section and/or add it to an announcement toolbar.
3. Prepare for Your Presentation
“Failure to prepare is preparing to fail,” said the great college basketball coach John Wooden. In the context of webinars, you don’t want to spend time and resources to drive up registration, only to have it be a flop due to poor planning.
If you’re using a PowerPoint or other visuals during the webinar, be sure the materials emphasize your points and they’re not simply a regurgitation of what you’re going to say. Include photos, graphics and anything else that will make your webinar visually appealing. This is no different than an in-person presentation – people don’t want to look at boring slides.
Since the webinar is a live event, there are many things that could go wrong from a technical standpoint. Schedule time before the actual webinar to do a “dress rehearsal” and have someone sit in as an attendee so they can provide feedback. This allows you to familiarize yourself with the webinar platform, practice your presentation, make adjustments to your content, and confirm your internet works well and ensure there aren’t any sound issues. Most computer speakers don’t offer amazing sound quality so use a land line or headset to be on the safe side.
A few additional tips as you prepare:
- Select a quiet space to conduct the webinar; you don’t want background noise to interfere.
- Make sure your “studio space” – what will be viewed on screen – is clean and clutter-free.
- Have everything charged (laptop, headset, etc.) and keep power cords handy.
- Turn off computer notifications, cell phone and anything else that could distract you.
- Plan to be online early for the webinar to address any last minute issues.
- Determine how your webinar platform records the presentation so you can download the file once complete.
After your webinar concludes, it’s important to maximize your efforts by following up with registrants. This includes those that registered but didn’t show up.
First, post your recording to your firm’s YouTube page. If you don’t have one, set up a profile so you can continue to add future webinar recordings. Then create an email thanking people for attending, and include a link to the video and a copy of your PowerPoint or other presentation materials. For those that didn’t attend, create a separate email recognizing they were unable to make it: “Thanks for registering, we’re sorry you missed it,” and include the video link and materials. You can also promote the recording link in your next firm newsletter.
Post an announcement on your website that the webinar is available for viewing, and share the link on social media several times.
Don’t forget to add all contacts to your database so they can receive the firm’s marketing communications going forward.
5. Leverage, Leverage, Leverage
There’s so much more you can do with the presentation beyond one webinar. For example:
- Transcribe your presentation and turn it into an article or blog series for your website.
- Pitch the topic to the media to generate interview opportunities.
- Suggest the presentation for an upcoming conference or to your local networking organization.
- Use key takeaways to share on social media. The information could lend to a series of posts or possibly an infographic.
It’s important to remember that while having a large turnout for your webinar is nice, it’s not the only way to get visibility among your target audience. Be sure you’re maximizing your efforts by extending the webinar’s shelf-life through additional marketing and public relations tactics. Here are six additional ways to maximize the reach of your webinar & track ROI.