By Steve Williams

Co-Founder / Chief Creative Officer

Dec 24, 2019

How to deliver a great Webinar without losing your audience.

Webinars are one of the most powerful tactics available to marketers, but their success rides on keeping the audience’s attention. Learn how to use webinars to engage and build an audience of interested buyers.

In B2B marketing, thought leadership webinars have proven to be a highly effective tactic for establishing your brand, benefitting both marketing and sales. Leveraging multiple formats of content (audio, video, presentation, downloadable assets) with an audience of participants who have actively chosen to engage with you is often a recipe for success.

However, underdeliver on expectations and you run the risk of doing more harm than good.

So, what exactly is required to successfully execute a great webinar? Let’s start with a basic question of knowing the difference between good and good enough.

What separates a good webinar from being great?

The goal of most webinars is to generate high quality leads that will build a pipeline and convert to sales and revenue. There are three primary components of a webinar that determine its success; Registration, Delivery, Follow Up. Within each of these components there are dozens of specific tactics and nuances that all impact the result, each of these broad areas are important on their own but they need to work together to drive desired results.

1) Registration – Determine your audience needs

To ensure you get the right people in attendance, it’s critical that you build the themes of your webinars to align with the interests of your target audience. The best way to gain this kind of insight is to produce evidence-based personas for each segment of your audience. For each of these personas you should develop a ranked prioritization list of their business challenges and informational needs. Develop a list of themes and sub-themes/topics that map to your audience’s highest priorities and use this as your guide for webinar topics.

When promoting your webinar be sure to put the theme front and center and be precise about what exactly you will be covering. Providing information that is relevant to your audience is what will get them to register and, later, give their valuable time. Setting accurate expectations for what they will get, and meeting them, when they attend is what will get them to stay and continue to come back.

2) Delivery – outstanding webinar content are numerous.

The nitty gritty details of producing quality webinars can vary depending on the topic, audience and objectives. However, there are some fundamental best practices that every webinar should follow. Here are a few:

  • Align your goals with sales objectives – Seems like a no-brainer but it’s scary how infrequently this is not part of the process. Involve your sales team in the planning activities. Make sure they know who you are targeting, how you are planning to engage and what information you expect to be collecting and handing over with the leads you deliver.
  • Industry stature and knowledge of the topic – Remember, you’re trying to build a reputation as a thought leader so everyone participating in the webinar should demonstrate subject matter expertise.
  • Well-developed speaking skill sets – Being an accomplished public speaker is so important to keeping the audience engaged. The more advanced webinar platforms allow for live video to be presented alongside static or animated content and human nature is to focus on other people so knowing how to gain and hold attention is a must for all presenters.
  • Use multiple media formats – The length of your webinar will be dictated by your subject and depth of exploration, but it becomes increasingly difficult for the audience to maintain focus after 20 minutes or so. Using multiple forms of media and content can help combat the tendency for viewers to become distracted or multitask, which is a big challenge when viewing on any device, where a multitude of distractions are a mere click away. Some examples include, using live/streaming video of the presenters, creating highly visual slides to emphasize key points or share statistics and employing animation to show process or multi-step programs.
  • Inspire audience participation and action – Even with a compelling topic and relevant and engaging content, an audience’s attention can still wander, so include ways to make the webinar experience interactive. A few examples include, fielding surveys or real-time polls, asking viewers to submit questions, or encouraging participants to communicate with each other via chat.

3) Follow Up – Qualification & Scoring, Nurturing and Tracking

Your webinar program will only be as effective as the weakest link. Attracting the right audience and keeping them engaged during your webinar is important but an effective follow up strategy is critical to accomplishing your business objectives and being able to demonstrate a positive ROI. Don’t forget, the goal of your webinar is to generate qualified leads, but the larger business objective is to convert these leads to sales and revenue. If you don’t have a solid plan for how to qualify and nurture the leads you generate, you’re significantly decreasing your chances of failure. Again, each of these steps, Registration, Delivery, Follow Up, involve significant planning but here are a few core requirements for an effective follow up plan:

  • Qualification & Scoring – Make sure you have a plan in place for collecting the data that Sales needs to continue the conversation. Ideally, you will have discussed this with your Sales teams in advance and know what information is most valuable to them.
  • Lead Nurturing – Have your follow up content and communication calendar in place before you broadcast your webinar. This could include a link to the recording of the webinar, a SlideShare of the presentation used, links to resources referenced in the presentation, etc. You can always adjust based on learnings gathered but put yourself in a position to maximize whatever momentum you build by making contact with interested parties immediately.
  • Lead Tracking – Always include a call-to-action and make it simple and easy to complete. For example, if you are offering a downloadable white paper, make the link available during the webinar and include it in any follow up communications. Everyone gets included in the follow up. Attendees, people who registered but didn’t attend, and attendees who left the webinar before it was over.

What Is The Most Difficult Part of Producing A Great Webinar?

Once you’ve become familiar with the fundamentals of (1) attracting the right audience, (2) producing high quality content and (3) executing a follow up strategy, the biggest challenge you will face is developing a repeatable process that works for your organization. You have to define a process that is replicable without putting too big of a burden on the team responsible and can support omni-channel execution for promotion. You also have to adopt a process that can be scaled as you generate results and the demand for more increases. In other words, you have to plan for success.

If the effort to deliver one webinar puts a huge burden on your team and overtaxes them, you’re going to have a very difficult time producing them on a regular basis, while maintaining quality. Even if you over deliver on results. Especially if you over deliver. If you’re successful in delivering an increase in the volume of highly qualified leads that convert at a higher rate in a shorter sales cycle, you can be sure Sales will be knocking down your door, asking to increase the frequency of production, so you need to be ready. Give some thought to how the rest of your organization can contribute. Identify existing swim lanes, or create new ones, that align with current activities and that will clarify responsibilities.