Webinars are a killer content format for B2B marketers. Not only are they relatively easy to produce, they're also great for lead generation.
At Uberflip, we currently run two to four webinars per month and see increasingly awesome results (check out some of our webinar recordings here). A key factor in our webinar success has been establishing a good process for producing our webinars so we have ample time to prepare valuable material, promote, and leverage the content in our ongoing lead gen efforts.
Below, you'll find a step-by-step guide to running a successful webinar (and generating great results). Read on if you've dabbled in running a few webinars and want to level-up your results.
Step 1: Planning
Choose dynamic presenters
Logic would say that you should choose your webinar topic before choosing your speakers. However, choosing your speakers first can be an effective webinar strategy for a number of reasons:
- You can leverage their expertise on a particular topic that’s of interest to your audience.
- You’ll generate net new leads by tapping into their audience.
- Speakers make or break your webinar content. Simple as that.
Since the power of your webinar content is inherently tied to your speaker, it's important to put time and effort into selecting a speaker (especially if you're interested in partnering with speakers outside of your organization). Don’t be afraid to be picky — your audience is worth the added value that the speaker will bring in.
When selecting a speaker:
- Choose someone from an organization that has a similar target audience. Going for someone with a bigger audience isn’t always the answer — at the end of the day, you’re not going to mesh well or find a good topic with someone who your audience can’t relate to, and you’re going to bring in all kinds of unqualified leads if you aim for volume, only.
- Look for people who already have webinar presentation skills or speaking experience. Have they established an engaging presence? Will their presentation style go over well with your audience?
- Make sure they can provide material that is valuable to your audience. Again, as cool as it may be to have a celebrity webinar guest, your webinar won't bring in qualified leads if the speaker attracts an audience that you don't want.
Pick a focused topic
Figure out what kind of leads you want. Choose a topic that not only is aligned with your audience’s interests, but also solves a real problem and will teach your viewers something.
- Leveraging data to come up with good webinar ideas
- Pre-determining topics that are meaningful to your audience
- Repurposing an eBook, a series of blog posts, etc. into a webinar format
Once you nail down a topic, you need to come up with a good headline. By now, you should understand the reigning power of headlines. Content is king, and its crown jewel is a compelling headline.
Develop an outline of the webinar content early on so responsibilities are clear, and you have ample information to create promotional assets.
Streamline your processes
Clearly outline your next steps, and set due dates and calendar reminders. You need ample promotion time for webinars if you want the initial presentation to be a roaring success!
For a rough suggestion of timelines for your webinar preparation, see the webinar “to do” checklist below. Use this as a guideline to set up an internal checklist (e.g., using a Trello board, or Basecamp, or another productivity tool), like this one (directly below) from LeadGenius.
Step 2: Promotion
Build a landing page
Create a landing page where registrations can be accurately tracked in your marketing automation platform and CRM. Some webinar hosting tools have registration pages built into their platform, which is effective if your webinar platform integrates with your marketing automation platform. We set up our own landing pages using HubSpot to ensure accurate tracking, but ultimately, it's your call.
Some tips and things to keep in mind when building a landing page for your webinar:
- Optimize it so that your messaging is simple, clear and concise
- Your CTA should be compelling and your form should be optimized to meet your goals
- Provide tagged links for your partners to use when promoting (when applicable)
- Ensure your team is on the same page (pardon the pun) when it comes to tracking
- Provide easy social sharing options after registration (e.g., include sharing buttons on the "Thank You" page)
Develop promotional assets
Set your budget and define your distribution channels. Then, generate the creative assets you need for these channels. This might include:
- Email header images
- Email copy
- Suggested social media messaging
- Images optimized for social media (LinkedIn images, Twitter cards, etc.)
You've got your landing page. Everything is set to be properly tracked. Your creative is ready to go. Time to promote!
These are the distribution channels with which we’ve seen the most success:
- Email — Send at least two emails encouraging webinar registration: one 2-3 weeks before the webinar, and one 2-3 days before the webinar targeted to those who have yet to sign up.
- Social media (paid and organic) — Blast out your webinar to your social audience organically, and consider paid social promotion to generate more net new leads.
- Content — In addition to repurposing webinar material into blog posts after the webinar, we also see good results by creating content "appetizers" before the a webinar is scheduled. For example, this infographic helped to promote a webinar we hosted with Buzzsumo.
- Partners — If you've invited a guest presenter, leverage their audience. You should also ask other companies with whom you have partnerships to lend a hand in promotion. Again, don't forget to provide them with a unique partnersource URL for accurate tracking!
Step 3: Execution
Before you go live
Work out as many kinks as you can before the webinar. Remember, webinars are like live events, and "winging it" isn't always the best idea.
Prepare for the presentation by:
- Scheduling a dry run — be sure each presenter has the right equipment and a reliable Internet connection.
- Dial-in early on the day of the presentation to upload your slides and resolve any unexpected technical glitches.
- Before you start, be sure you can record your webinar — people will ask for a copy of the recording, and you're going to need it for your ongoing promotional efforts.
During the webinar
You've gone live! A few tips for a more engaging presentation:
- Introduce yourself (show that you're a human, not a random omniscient voice)
- Review the agenda of what you'll be talking about
- Encourage participants to ask questions, and include a designated Q&A period at the end of the webinar
- Consider showing a product demo at the end of the webinar (but only if it's relevant and concise)
- Include links to relevant resources in your webinar slides
- Have a member of your team listen in and monitor Twitter during the webinar, and encourage live social participation (we do this using the hashtag #uberwebinar)
After the webinar
Make sure your team is aligned to act quickly after the webinar is done. If all has gone well, you should have a nice list of warm leads in your hands — the longer you wait to follow-up, the cooler they'll get.
The key to post-webinar success is having a solid follow-up plan in place. Which brings us to our next step...
Step 4: Follow-up
Have a follow-up process in place
Again, time is of the essence in your post webinar follow-up. You should aim to send out your recording and pass your lead list to your sales team within 24 hours of your webinar.
To expand upon the steps outlined in the flowchart above:
- Edit your webinar recording as necessary.
- Add your webinar recording and slides to your Resource Center. Also, add your slides to SlideShare — it's an awesome B2B distribution channel!
- Send an email follow-up to all registrants and attendees with a light recap of the webinar and a relevant call-to-action. Include the webinar slides and recording.
- Scrub your webinar list for qualified leads and pass it to your sales team.
- Provide context to your sales team. The reality is that they’re probably not going to take time out of their day to watch your webinar recording, and their time is probably better spent closing deals. This is a great way to enable your sales team with content. SMarketing FTW!
Step 5: Ongoing promotion
Repurpose your webinar for on-demand viewing and syndication
You may have completed the actual webinar, but as a content asset, your webinar is far from done. Doing nothing else with your webinar would be like pulling your star player from a tied game for no reason.
When promoting your webinar as an on-demand asset:
- Organize it strategically within the rest of your content assets. No one wakes up in the morning thinking, "Gee, I'd love to watch a good webinar today" — people seek content to fulfill a need or solve a problem. Don't let it get buried in a mix of other webinar recordings. Place it within a tailored stream of relevant content.
- Optimize it for lead generation. You've created a premium piece of content, so gate it with a compelling CTA. (You could use a landing page, but that would remove the end-user from your content experience — read more about that here.)
- Set up syndication. There are a number of tools available that you can use to specify your targeting to generate better results, like NetLine and Integrate.
Again, the worst thing you could do is just let your webinar get dusty in your Resource Center. Once it's syndicated and optimized for lead generation, make sure it's accessible for sales enablement, and regularly promote it on social media.
Your webinar planning checklist
Now that you have an in-depth look at what you need to do to run a successful webinar, it's time to track the steps at-a-glance.
Use the checklist below to plan your next webinar. Happy planning :)