Marketers have dozens of growth marketing strategies and lead generation tactics at their disposal. There’s content marketing, paid campaigns, social media ads, and so much more. And most marketers will tell you that a combination of marketing strategies is what produces the best results.

But when it comes down to actually putting together a marketing plan and executing those strategies, there’s one question that comes to mind—which one is actually the most effective? As a marketer myself, I know what it’s like to work with a scarce budget. Those marketing dollars are extremely valuable, so it matters what programs they go into.

Running an Instagram contest, or partnering with a well-known influencer might sound like a great way to get new customers, but in reality, those strategies only work for certain companies. If you’re a software company, chances are that your prospective leads are not looking for new business tools on social media. But there is one marketing strategy that has stood the test of time—webinars.

Are Webinars Still Effective?

Now, I know what you’re thinking—do people even watch webinars anymore? According to data (and personal experience), the answer is a resounding yes. GoToWebinar, a leading webinar hosting platform, reports that 70 percent of marketers and sales executives say webinars are one of the best ways to generate high-quality leads.

The biggest reason why webinars are still a staple for many marketers is because they’re engaging. The average webinar attendee tunes into the presentation for over an hour, which means they’re finding useful information that resonates with them. And when you offer a promotion or incentive to stay until the end, viewers are more likely to stick around and convert on your call-to-action.

Another major perk of hosting webinars is getting to learn about your attendees. When someone signs up for your webinar, you have the opportunity to ask them about their role, company size, business goals and challenges, etc. Even if they don’t actually attend your webinar, marketers and salespeople can use that information to customize their follow up.

So while webinars might not be the trendiest way to bring customers through the door, they’re certainly one of the most effective. And when budget is on the line, effective is the name of the game.

Planning Webinars with Limited Budget

The other big question you might be asking yourself is, “aren’t webinars expensive?” Well, here’s the thing: sometimes they are, but they don’t have to be. According to the Webinar Blog, the average cost of a webinar is between $100 and $3,000—that’s a huge range.

If you decide to host a webinar, the biggest cost is going to be the webinar software you use, and some software is cheaper than others. For example, pricing for GoToWebinar starts at $89 per month, whereas paid plans through Zoom start at $14.99 per month. If that’s out of your budget, keep in mind that some companies, like Zoom and Google Hangouts, offer free video hosting for up to a certain number of viewers.

Let’s talk about production equipment. It’s 2020, and pretty much everything can be done from your computer these days—including recording your webinars. So don’t waste your money on expensive cameras, sound systems, and fancy backdrops. Leave your IT department alone, and host your webinars from a laptop in an empty conference room.

And let’s not forget about marketing. If you set a goal of 300 signups, you might decide to run banner ads or paid social campaigns to spread the word. But those strategies can get expensive quickly. If budget is a concern, know that sending email reminders, posting regularly on social media, and even using the webinar as a CTA on a new blog post can help you drive signups.

4 Tips for Webinars That Actually Convert

Not all webinars are created equal. It’s not enough to throw some bullet points on a slide and hope for the best. Developing a webinar takes time, thought, and probably a few rounds of revisions. Follow these best practices for creating a webinar with real conversion power.

  1. Don’t mention your product until the end

There’s nothing worse than joining a webinar to learn more about a certain subject, and realizing that you’re really watching a sales pitch. One of the biggest mistakes people make when hosting a webinar is making it too focused on the company and their product. Webinar attendees expect to be pitched at some point—after all, webinars are a sales tactic. But doing it in a subtle and strategic way will keep people from leaving early.

It’s generally a best practice to wait until the end of your webinar to mention your product. After you’ve educated your audience on the topic, and demonstrated your expertise, it makes sense to plug your product and talk about how it fits into the bigger picture of the presentation. Even still, try to keep the pitch short, sweet, and relevant to the audience.

  1. Provide examples

Don’t neglect the power of showing examples throughout your webinar. Talking about a subject will never be as impactful as showing it in action, especially if the topic is complex. Keep the wording on your slides to a minimum, and let the examples do the talking. That could be a customer case study, or even just screenshots that illustrate your main points effectively.

Another good tip is to get your sales team involved with your webinar. Having a second voice in the narrative will give the webinar more credibility, and your viewers will get different perspectives. For example, recruit one of your sales reps to present the customer case studies, so they can talk about the challenges the customer was having, and how your product helped them get better results.

  1. Offer a freebie

Let’s be honest—everyone likes free stuff, even in the business world. One of the most effective webinar strategies (in my opinion) is to entice your viewers with a freebie, or some type of discount on your product, if they stay until the end. Even if people aren’t completely sold by your pitch right away, most will be willing to at least sign up for a free trial to see what your product is all about.

A lot of salespeople and marketers avoid free trials because they view it as a loss. However, don’t underestimate the power of a free trial. It’s unrealistic to think that every person who attends your webinar will be ready to buy right away. Assume that most people are working with a limited budget, so unless your product is a must-have, your attendees will be hesitant. Make it easy for them to explore your product, and realize how it can transform their business.

  1. Don’t neglect follow up

When you’re hosting a webinar, the most important part comes after the presentation ends—it’s the follow up. Arguably, follow up is even more critical than getting sign ups. Now that you have these new leads, it’s time to score them, send the best ones to sales, and put the rest into a nurture campaign.

Identify the people who actually attended the webinar and send them a survey asking how they liked it, and what they want from you next—maybe it’s an ebook, maybe it’s a demo with sales, maybe it’s nothing. For the ones that didn’t attend, send them the recording with a personalized “we missed you!” message. Use follow up emails to gauge your lead’s interest in your product, and share related content to help them continue learning about your offering.

Final Thoughts

Hosting a webinar is an effective way to generate high-quality leads that are likely to convert. If you’re curious about how a webinar can help your business, give it a shot. Know your options in terms of webinar hosting platforms, and work within your budget. Remember that content is key, and eye-catching slides are just a nice-to-have. Making webinars a regular part of your sales and marketing strategy is a great way to build up your email list, close more deals, and drive revenue.