webinarsPlanning is a critical first step to any marketing campaign, but it’s especially true when it comes to producing great webinars. Creating, promoting, and repurposing webinars is a complicated process with a lot of moving parts. In order to succeed, you need to create a plan and make sure everyone on your team is on board. When you’ve got a great idea or a popular speaker on the hook for a webinar, it might be tempting to jump right to the promotion stage. But without the right plan in place, you run the risk of low attendance and unengaged audiences. Worst of all, you might risk losing out on hot prospects who are turned off your brand because of a lacklustre presentation.

What does it take to create a strong webinar plan? Start by identifying your business objectives.

  • Are you trying to generate more leads?
  • Are you educating new customers?
  • Is this a new product demo?

Once you’ve determined the goal, you can identify the target audience, topic, and promotional plan.

Here are eight tips that will help you plan out a webinar that meets your goals.

1. Identify the What and the Who

When planning a webinar, the first step is to decide what you’re selling and who you want to sell it to. You may have multiple products, and/or multiple different types of potential buyers, and those buyers may be in different locations of the sales funnel. Questions to ask:

  • What product or service do you want the webinar attendee to consider?
  • Which buyers do you want to draw? Who could benefit from this webinar?

It’s a good idea, in general, to create target personas for all your marketing programs. Each persona, when well-defined, will show you who is a likely buyer for which product or service. You can apply this knowledge to identify the potential attendees of your webinar, and then refine your messaging to specific personas.

Buyer persona toolkit

Don’t forget to consider where the buyer is in the customer journey. The B2B customer journey is generally seen to have five stages: attract, capture, nurture, convert, and expand. If you can identify which stage your likely buyers will be in, it will help you further refine your messaging and your content. (Learn more about determining where your buyers are in their journey.)

2. Specify the objectives for your webinar

What’s your goal for this webinar? Your business purpose? It could be anything from introducing a new product to gaining brand awareness to getting qualified leads. Whatever it may be, be clear about what it is, and how you will measure it.

3. How many attendees can you handle?

Decide how many people you want to register and attend the event. Typically, a well-promoted webinar on a popular topic will see 25-50% of those who register actually attend the event. The number of registrants will depend on the size of your promotional efforts and the topic. Some web conference software programs have limits on the number of attendees they can support. If that’s the case for you, make sure you know what that limit is.

3. Agree on a topic, format, and speakers

The success of your webinar depends on your ability to select a topic, format, and speakers that will resonate with the audience.

Start by identifying a small number of topics that you think will attract the prospects you prefer. Talk to sales and customer success reps and find out what customers and prospects are asking and what topics they’re interested in. Test these topics with coworkers or existing customers to see which ones resonate the most. You can also use other webinars in your industry for inspiration.

Identify a SpeakerOnce you have a topic, you can choose a format and identify potential speakers for the webinar. Ideas for a webinar can come from anywhere. When deciding whether the topic is the right one, consider your audience and what they want or need to know. Take a look at what your competitors are doing, and sit in on a few of their events. Look at trade show schedules to see which topics are on the agendas. Then ask these questions:

  • Would a webinar on this topic satisfy a business goal?
  • Can you attract enough people, and generate enough value, to justify the time and expense?
  • Do people care about the problem enough to spend their time listening to a webinar about it?
  • Will you be able to source a speaker who can address the topic with originality, expertise, and credibility?
  • Can you deliver an engaging presentation (allowing time for a Q&A) in 60 minutes?(It’s even better if you end in under an hour; people really appreciate getting a little time back, so it’s a very friendly thing to do.
  • Can you get the buy-in and internal support you need?

If you can answer yes to all these questions, you’re ready to move forward with your webinar execution plan.

4. Write a creative brief

A simple creative brief will help guide the production of the webinar. It should detail the target audience, topic, business objectives, key themes, target speakers, timeline, deadlines, and key promotional activities. This should function like a business plan for this project. You can use the creative brief as a tool to keep everyone on the same page when developing the webinar. The production schedule will come out of this document.

5. Set a date and time

The date and time of your webinar play a big part in determining whether the webinar will be a success. According to a benchmark report from ON24, the best days for webinars are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays; Mondays and Fridays typically have lower turnouts, particularly for B2B audiences. Make sure that all of the major time zones in your target market can attend the event. This usually means hosting the webinar at 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. Pacific time.

6. Create a production schedule

Your production schedule should work backward from your event date. Specify the key milestones the team will need to hit to meet the production deadlines. Most webinars have dependencies involving third parties such as speakers, so make sure you have a plan for managing the deliverables and dates that are out of your direct control.

7. Create a promotional plan

When building the promotional plan, start with the target number of registrations you’d like to reach for the event and then determine which promotional tactics will allow you to hit that goal. Make sure you specify the target number of signups that each channel will deliver in your plan. Email marketing will probably generate the vast majority of registrations to your event, but the promotional plan should include other channels, such as social media or third-party newsletters.

Consider the timing of your email promotion as well as your webinar. According to ON24, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the best days to send emails promoting webinars. Test for yourself; your results may vary.

Best Day for Promo Emails

8. Select a webinar platform

There are many webinar platform providers on the market today. The best-known are probably Citrix’s GoToMeeting platform (to 100 attendees) and GoToWebinar (up to 1,000); ON24; and WebEx. These are all dependable, and include features that can help manage the process of promoting and deploying your webinar. For more options, this blog post reviews 15 webinar software vendors.

Got your plan, now? Ready to spring into action and create a successful online event? If you’d like to learn more, check out this free guide for even more information on hosting perfect online and in-person events.