If you put a crossbow to my head, I couldn’t tell you what year I participated in my first webinar – and that’s good news for you. That means I’ve been doing this for so long that I have lots of experience to share with you on the subject of planning webinars that get results.
Before I share some of my best practices (all learned the hard way), let’s define “results.” Don’t expect to make a slew of sales directly from a webinar. The webinar results I shoot for are (1) registrants followed by (2) unsolicited engagement from the audience. Engagement includes questions asked during the event, information-seeking emails sent to you during or after the event, and phone calls received after the webinar’s conclusion. Now let’s get to how to make that happen…
Select the best date and time
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in the early afternoon (1:00 or 2:00 PM ET) tend to draw the most attendees. Mondays are often the busiest days of the week and both Mondays and Fridays are the most common days off. Also, try to stay at least one week away from major holidays and trade shows in your industry.
Build a schedule
You can’t wing a quality webinar. I begin by determining the webinar date and then counting 10 weeks back which is when your webinar creation process should begin. Here are some key dates from my calendar:
- 10 weeks out: Finalize webinar topic and date
- 8 weeks out: Set up WebEx event including webinar description, email registration link to marketing
- 3 weeks out: Include webinar registration link in newsletter, email link to sales/customer service reps for them to forward to key customers
- 10 business days out: Slide deck and script should be close to finalized
- 9 business days out: Send mass email webinar invitations, schedule social media promotion
- 4 business days out: Send reminder email to registrants
- 2 business days out: Do we need a last-minute push? If yes, email reg link again to past webinar registrants
- 1 business day out: Finalize slide deck
- Day of the webinar: Send final reminder email to registrants (early morning), log into WebEx 30 minutes prior to test equipment, conduct webinar, answer all questions/requests immediately
- 1 business day after: Add registrants to future webinar promotion list, begin process of converting webinar recording to on-demand
- 2 weeks after: Post on-demand webinar, email all registrants that webinar is now available on-demand
Select a timely and impactful topic
Don’t start with, “What message do I want to jam into the brain of my audience?” Think instead, “What are the most important challenges facing my audience, and what information can I provide to help them?” You will integrate company promotions into your webinar of course, but that shouldn’t be where you start.
Write a compelling (and brief) title and promo email
Instead of describing what I do, let me share with you the text from an email that promoted one of my recent webinars:
Don’t be boring – please!
We’ve all sat through dry, forgettable presentations. The world sure as heck doesn’t need another one. After you’ve created your slides and a script for your webinar, go back through and determine where you can inject humor. A good rule is that you shouldn’t go more than 10 minutes without a moment of levity. Check out the slide below that I included in my aforementioned Customer Health Checkup webinar. After three slides where we wade through negative customer feedback – including “Please make an effort to make me think you care about me. I know you probably don’t but come on.” – I felt like we needed to lighten the mood a little bit. So I included this puppy PowerPoint while I transitioned to the webinar’s next segment.
Is that the funniest thing you’ve ever seen? No. But is it boring? Nuh-uh – you know it made you smile! (Especially the Corgi with the carrot.) Levity like that changes the pace of the webinar and keeps your audience on their toes because they’re not sure what’s coming next.
Because we’re all not as hilarious as we think we are, I suggest the book Do You Talk Funny? by David Nihill to every B2B presenter. Nihill details the attention-getting techniques standup comics use that you can integrate into your next webinar.
I mentioned this in the “1 business day after” portion of my webinar schedule, but it bears worth repeating. During my webinars, I offer resources the audience might find interesting – a study, report, white paper, or blog post – and give out my email address. I say, “I know you have your phone next to you, so email me right now with the subject line [name of resource] and I’ll send it to you.” Of course I have my phone next to me, so it’s fun to see the screen light up with attendees requesting what I offered. (Side note: Your phone should be in silence mode during your webinar so you don’t annoy your audience.)
I always block out the 30 minutes after my webinars to respond to attendee emails. I give them what they need and, when appropriate, ask them to set up a time to talk with me. This is where a good webinar transforms into one that gets results.