How to Host a Webinar: A Guide to Success
What is a Webinar?
Webinars are live video presentations where knowledge is shared. Sometimes they’re dialogues with subject matter experts and sometimes they’re courses as a part of a larger learning experience. Sometimes they include chat boxes, polls, and other audience participation.
With virtual communications replacing in-person trade shows and meetings, hosting a webinar is a great way to engage your audience. No matter what flavor of webinar you’re interested in hosting, there’s no denying that, in general, they’re pretty great.
Hosting a webinar is a low-cost, high-reward way to connect your business with whomever it wants to be connected to. They invite a lot of potential opportunities, including generation of high-quality leads and the building of your brand’s reputation. Hosting a webinar is easy enough, but making sure it’s successful can be an entirely new challenge. We’ve been able to learn from experience and gather four of the most important considerations to make below. If you want to learn how to host a webinar, you’re in the right place.
Plan your content
Webinars are a great way to engage prospects who aren’t quite ready-to-buy, or need some more convincing in order to talk to sales. Choose content that will provide value to your best customers and prospects, and leads with providing helpful information – not a sales pitch. Talk to sales reps about frequently asked questions or hot topics, and look at your website analytics to find a topic that prospects are eager for more information on. Even if you get signups who don’t show (or plan to watch the recording later), you’ll end up with a list of leads that you can continue to market to well after your webinar.
Choose the right platform
There are a wide variety of different platforms that you can use to host your webinar. You’ve likely even heard of ones that aren’t included in this list. Choosing the right one for you comes down to a couple things. First, the goal of your webinar. Some platforms have more interactive features than others. Second: the audience you’re trying to reach. For example, your existing social media channels could be perfect for reaching out to existing customers.
Here are a few of our favorite platforms for webinar hosting:
- Zoom. This platform is popular and easy to use; be sure to set up a password to avoid security concerns.
- WebEx. Long time webinar staple, and reliable. The interface can be a bit clunky if you are hosting your first webinar..
- BrightTalk. Popular with technology companies and marketers. Well-reviewed due to its ease-of-use and in-platform visibility.
- Demio. Demio has a lot of special features that are appealing to those in the business space. One key draw is that they offer both automated and live webinars depending on your individual wants and needs.
Test things out
Never go into a webinar blind. Even if you’ve already hosted an event on a particular platform, you should still plan ahead. We recommend doing at least one test run before the big event, but there’s never any harm in doing more than one. These are some of the things you’re going to want to make sure work before you host your webinar:
- Audio and visual. Do the cameras turn on like they’re supposed to? Does the sound work? If not, do you know how to troubleshoot if anything goes wrong while you’re live? Make sure you do so you can avoid any potentially problematic delays.
- Settings. Verify that they’re all set in the way you prefer, especially if you’ve made any changes to the default.
- Guests. We know your special guests work, but does their technology? If someone will be tuning in to join you on video via the world wide web, make sure they’re as prepared as you are. Run through the audio, visual, and settings checks with them in advance as well.
Pay special attention to timing
When it comes to webinars, timing is everything. Even if you have the best topic, talent, and direction… nobody’s going to see it if it’s at an inopportune time.
You’re never going to find a 100% consistent rule as to when the best time and day for a webinar is. This is especially true right now, because so many more people than usual are spending time at home due to the presence of COVID-19. That said, here are the rules of thumb we follow (and why):
- Choose a time that’s either after dinner or during lunch. The windows between 11-2 PM and 6-8 PM tend to have the best retention rates. That’s because people are tuned in, but not too tired to interact.
- Go for Tuesdays or Thursdays. Tuesdays and Thursdays are the best days of the week for a webinar due to the process of elimination. Even if your information is interesting and engaging, most people aren’t going to want to attend a webinar during the weekend. Mondays have too much going on to catch up from the weekend. Wednesdays are usually nose-to-grindstone project finishing days, and Fridays, well… focusing on Friday is hard enough. That’s why you’re left with your in-between days: Tuesday and Thursday.
Make sure you’re promoting your webinar
You need to promote your webinar to make sure people know it’s happening. Otherwise, all your other work will be in vain. We’ll be writing on this topic further in the future (stay tuned!), but for now here are some of the most
Important ways to promote your webinar:
- Social media. You should use social media heavily when it comes to the promotion of your webinar. Paid social is helpful, and both display and retargeting ads will give you the ability to save money on qualified leads thanks to lower CPC.
- Email marketing. If you have an existing client newsletter, utilize it. If you have an email list, don’t let it go to waste. Let your partners know what you’re offering and remind them that the webinar is happening shortly before it begins (30 minutes beforehand is a good rule of thumb).
- Conversion forms. Use a heatmap or other analytics tool to find out which areas of your website have the highest traffic and engagement. Set up conversion forms in these areas as a way to increase your odds of capturing interest and sign-ups.
See what we mean? Webinars are great. If you’re interested in learning more about how to host and promote your own webinar, or successfully make other marketing moves, get in touch with Windmill Strategy. We offer free consultations and would love to learn more about your business and discuss how we can help boost your brand.