Our Top 5 Best Practices for Hosting an Effective Webinar

Are you looking to draw more prospects to your Web site and generate more new leads? Hosting a webinar is one inbound marketing tool that can help you draw in qualified leads. I’ve recently read “The New Rules of Marketing  & PR,” by David Meerman Scott.  In the book, Scott defines webinars perfectly as, “online seminars that may include audio, video, or graphics (typically in the form of PowerPoint slides) and are often used by companies as a primer about a specific problem that the company’s services can solve.”

We love webinars because they present a mutually beneficial situation for the host and attendees. Attendees get to learn about a topic they are interested in, or a problem that they need to solve and they get the opportunity to ask questions to a knowledgeable party – the presenter. The host of the webinar also reaps benefits as they strengthen their position as an expert and thought leader on the particular hot topic, or business problem. Often times, after receiving valuable information and expert opinion from a webinar, attendees will reach out to the host about the company’s problem-solving product or service.

So how do you get started creating a webinar?

It’s easier than you might think. Webinars can often be created using content you have already created for another purpose. Have a PowerPoint presentation, series of videos, or blog posts on a topic your prospects would be interested in? These can easily be repurposed into an engaging webinar with the right focus. Once you have your topic chosen, your content together and a host/speaker, all you need is the software to get up and running. There are a number of easy to use platforms available today for hosting webinars such as GoToWebinar and WebEx.

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Here are 5 of our best practices for hosting a successful webinar:

  1. Identify a Target Audience: Be sure to identify a target audience before creating your content so that you are sure to hit on topics and questions that will resonate with them. It may also be useful to add a description of “Who Should Attend” to your email invites and promotional items so that people are clear on who will benefit from the presentation, saving them time if it is not the right fit.
  2. Promote: Once you’ve finalized your webinar topic, content and speaker, it is essential to promote your webinar so that people are aware of it and you are able to generate a list of attendees. Start out with a plan for how you will promote the event. We have found that email reminders work best. For example, when registration set up is complete, you should send your first email about 4-6 weeks before the event. We recommend sending another reminder email about 2 weeks prior to the event, and then the day before. You want people to be aware of the event, but it is also important to be mindful of sending too many emails.
  3. Consider Timing: The ideal webinar should be about an hour or less. Keep in mind that people are likely to multitask throughout your event and are probably squeezing this into an already busy schedule. It is important to keep the presentation engaging and concise. When looking at an hour long presentation, this gives about 5 minutes for an intro, 40-45 minutes for the main content and then 10-15 minutes for Q&A.
  4. Practice: It is important to practice your presentation ahead of time to ensure that your webinar comes across as professional and well-delivered. Ideally, 2 dry runs of the presentation should allow the presenter to get comfortable with the material. It should also give the team an opportunity to identify and sort out any kinks in the presentation such as problems with images, slow loading videos, or use of webinar tools like chat and polls.
  5. Share: Be sure to record your webinar using your hosting software, so that you can share it after the event has concluded. Send the recorded webinar to attendees within 24 hours of your presentation so they can both refer to the content later and share with colleagues. Also be sure to leverage your content and your time investment by placing the recording on your Web site and sharing via social media.

Have additional tips for hosting webinars? We’d love to hear your input. Share your best practices with us in the comments below.

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