Webinars: It's The Experience That Matters

Make Your Webinars Matter

Over the last few months I have been invited to a lot of webinars. And I guess I am not the only one. Sometimes I ended up not attending a webinar I accepted, as something else cropped up. And the ones I attended ranged from extremely well constructed to the quite average.

As webinars are being used more and more these days, I thought I would share my observations about delivering extremely powerful webinars.

Have a Purpose

For many webinars I attended, it felt that the host did not really know why they were running the session. It felt like they thought they need to as their competitors were. Other times it felt like a simple migration of a physical event online, which did not work.

Those successful webinars I attended clearly had a purpose, a goal. They had a reason for running the session. You must know why you are doing the webinar and know what you want your audience to think, feel and do because of their attendance. You must have clear objectives and measures of success. Without this, expect mediocracy.

It’s All About the Experience

For the successful webinars, one element stood out: the experience.

Make sure you think about how your audiences engage with you. And I want to emphasise the word engage, as that is a key metric and more important than simple attendance numbers. So just bear in mind, if all you want to deliver is a sales presentation online, don’t expect much engagement.

Engagement will be achieved based on the experience you deliver, over these three stages:

• Pre-webinar

• The in-webinar experience

• Post webinar experience

Pre-Webinar Experience

Let’s start at the beginning: getting people to your webinar.

It is most likely that you will be inviting guests to attend your webinar through email marketing, social media and perhaps through your sales team. Now I have seen many people just invite “everyone” and hope to get the numbers up. Honestly, you are better having 50 people accept the invite who attend and who want to be there, compared to having 200 accepts and only 20 turn up who had their arm twisted by their BDM.

If you invite the wrong people to your webinar, you could put them off getting in touch in the future. It is easier to get the experience right if you invite the right people.

Having a good CRM really helps identify the target audience based on the objectives. Once you know who you want to invite, you need to determine the one big message to get their attention – this will describe your webinar in an engaging way.

Why should they attend?

You need to know what’s in it for them to attend – which should be to learn something; or be brave and deliver a webinar where you present a unique view on the market.

To get people there you need short content and content that engages. Use visual content such as a quick video that summarises the webinar; I have seen that work well.

And make the sign up as easy as possible and pre-populated form if linked with your CRM.

Once signed up, you can tease attendees with quizzes and facts you will share before the webinar. Seek questions up front. And make sure you have regular contact in the run up and a last reminder about an hour before, as so many people join webinars late because they can't find the link to the session.

In-Webinar Experience

Delivering an engaging webinar is not easy and I would advocate that your presenters are trained and fully rehearsed before delivery. Choose the right presenter who must have someone who is good at delivery. If you haven’t, find a guest speaker.

The in-webinar experience begins when someone logs on and joins the session. Have a good holding screen so attendees know the session will begin soon. Then begin promptly. One thing I have found annoying is when you sit waiting for the webinar to start and the host says, “we are just waiting for people to join”. Either get on with it at the start point or be clear that joining is from 3.50pm with a 4pm kick off.

As an example of a strong in-webinar experience, I attended a webinar that was run a bit like a chat show, with the host posing questions to speakers. The speakers used story telling to get their message across which was very engaging. There was the odd slide here and there and the odd video too, to break it up.

One thing I would say is that conversations seem to be more engaging than presentations. And try breaking things up with videos and music, which adds to the experience.

Using interactive polls is worth using if relevant, as is seeking questions from the audience throughout the webinar, rather than just wait to the end. I have also seen hosts arrange for Uber Eats to be delivered for guests to eat and drink during the webinar. And it worked.

Post Webinar Experience

Probably the first thing you will do post-webinar is to see how many people attended. I suggest attendance is not as important as engagement. Instead, look at the data that will tell you how many attendees stayed for the whole session and how many asked questions.

Now ensure attendees are recorded on your CRM and if you are lead scoring, make sure the attendance is scored properly.

Send an email to attendees with a quick summary of the discussion and give them something to download, and track who downloads it. And tailor your message to those who dropped off the webinar early, or who registered but did not attend and give them the download.

Now you can review the webinar and decide if it was a success based on the objectives set out up front.

Webinars will undoubtedly remain an important part of your communication mix, so make sure you give plenty of thought to the whole experience – before, during and after the webinar. Because the experience matters.

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