If you’re a company in the B2B space (like mine!), you probably know that there’s more to acquiring new customers than just having a herd of salespeople, not to mention most companies can’t afford herds. Webinars are a great way to generate qualified leads and ultimately more clients, because you’re offering something of value, not just a sales pitch right out the gate. An even more compelling approach is to provide webinars for free. The idea here is to use the webinar to attract potential customers, get them to know your brand and company, and then try to convert them later.
At my email marketing company VerticalResponse, we conduct several webinars every month on various topics, from how to effectively use social media to how to leverage events. Here are five things to think about when preparing your first or next webinar:
1. Flaunt your expertise. Your webinar should not – I repeat, NOT – be a sales presentation. This is the time for you to show off your knowledge of the business and provide useful, interesting content to your audience. People attend webinars because they want to learn something to improve their work and/or their lives; give them advice and “how-tos” that they can act on right away.
2. Don’t pack too much into your presentation. Pick one topic or subject and stick closely to it; too much information will confuse your audience. You can always conduct a second webinar if you find that there’s more you want to say. Also think about ways to “dress up” your presentation with images, screenshots, real-time surveys and statistics. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want to sit through a presentation that has nothing but block after block of text, so keep that in mind when developing your deck.
3. Promote it! Launch an email marketing campaign to your current customers letting them know about the upcoming webinar and encourage them to forward the email to any colleagues or friends who might be interested as well. Be sure to include social media sharing buttons in your email so they can easily post it to their social networks and spread the word. Don’t forget to send reminders a few days before the webinar, as well as the day it takes place.
4. Timing is everything. If your customers are mostly based in the U.S., pick a time that works for both coasts. At VerticalResponse, we’ve found that 10 a.m. Pacific time works pretty well. Also aim for a Tuesday or Wednesday, so that people aren’t just starting or ending their week.
5. Be prepared. Rehearsal isn’t just for in-person presentations. Run through your webinar at least a couple of times to make sure the transitions flow smoothly and your talking points are succinct. Have a list of questions ready in case people are too timid to raise their virtual hands and to prevent any awkward silences during the Q&A section. The day of, open your presentation at least 15 minutes before the start time so that those who log on early will see that you’re there.
After the webinar, make sure you get the list of people who attended and follow up FAST. Shoot off an email marketing campaign to your attendee list with a link to the archived version of the presentation, along with an offer for your services. (If there’s something exclusive about your offer, all the better.) Also, you might even want to do a separate campaign to those who didn’t attend with the same link. After all, you eventually want all of these people to be paying customers, right?
Ready to get started? Here are a few companies that “host” webinars. I haven’t tried all of them, so I definitely recommend doing your own research to see if their technologies are right for you and your business.
- AnyMeeting: Free for up to 200 participants. It’s also advertising supported.
- Fuze: Pricing ranges from $9.99 to $69 a month.
- WebEx Meeting Center: Unlimited meetings with up to 25 attendees starting at $49 a month.
- GoToMeeting: Their webinar product, GoToWebinar, starts at $99 a month for up to 100 attendees.
Happy webinars ahead!