No matter how great the content of your webinar is, though, it doesn't mean much if there's nobody there to hear it. So what do you do to ensure people actually, you know ... show up?
Turns out, there are at least 18 things you can do to get people aware of, excited about, and attending your next webinar. Here's a guide to making your next webinar a rousing success.
What Is a Webinar/Webcast?
A webinar (also known as a webcast) is a live, online seminar or workshop that's delivered over the internet. A host -- that's you -- organizes the event and invites attendees. The beauty of a virtual event? The host and the attendees can be located anywhere in the world.
Make it educational.
Education is one of the most powerful tools you can use to make change happen. Webinars need to have some type of educational component to it -- whether you're educating your audience about a product, a service, a new piece of content, how to use a tool, and so on.
Communicate your content clearly.
Webinars are great ways to scale your communication. Provide value to your audience by communicating your message clearly. This includes how you organize the content of the webinar, how you present it verbally, and how you present it visually in your PowerPoint deck.
Entertain your audience.
Finally, a great webinar needs to be entertaining. Otherwise, your attendees might as well think of your webinar as 40 minutes to catch up on email. After all, that verbal component is what makes webinars so unique: There are few other mediums where you can deliver content that lets your personality shine through to such an extent.
It's really easy to create webinar content with only your end goals in mind -- that point you want to get across, or those things you want to talk about -- but that won't keep your audience engaged. Think carefully about who your audience is while crafting your webinar content. At the end of the day, your webinar is about building connections and relationships with your audience so they trust you that much more.
1. Choose a topic that straddles the line between broad and actionable.
It's really, really hard to get people to attend your webinar if your topic stinks. Try to select a topic that's broad enough to attract a large audience, yet targeted enough to provide actionable advice that attendees can implement the second they hop off your webinar.
For a webinar with Unbounce, for example, we decided that we wanted conversion rate optimization to be the overarching theme (because what marketer doesn’t want to optimize?) but with a focus on landing page copy and design.
When titling your webinar landing page, do some SEO research to see which keywords you want to rank for. Use that same title for subsequent blog posts and SlideShares, and you'll end up with a slew of assets to back up that keyword ranking.
2. Set an attendee goal.
Having a goal will inspire you to hit it, and help you measure success. When we attempted to break the Guinness World Record for webinar attendees, for example, we knew we'd have to hit about 10,899 attendees.
World Records aside, there are many reasons why you should set a goal. In theory, you're not putting on a webinar for the fun of it. You want it to contribute toward lead generation and brand awareness. For this reason, consider what your marketing goals are and then decide how you want this webinar to contribute toward it.
Note: Just because people register for your webinar does not mean they will attend your webinar. Which brings us to our next tip...
3. Set an registrant goal that will actually result in your desired number of attendees.
Webinars typically get 44% of pre-registrants to attend the live event. To determine how many registrants you need, you should think ahead to how many actual attendees you want.
Continuing with our Guinness World Record example in the previous tip, we knew we needed 10,899 attendees. So, with a little backwards math using the 44% figure above, we'd need to shoot for more than 24,770 registrants to meet the attendance goal.
You should track performance on at least a weekly basis to see whether your marketing efforts are moving the needle towards that registrant goal. That way, if you need to dial up your promotion due to low initial registration numbers, you'll know what to do to fix it.
You will see the word “remind” quite a bit in the rest of this post. That's because getting people to attend your webinar requires lots and lots (and lots) of registrant reminders. People often sign up for webinars weeks in advance, so it's critical that you're making an effort to keep your webinar top-of-mind during that time.
4. Give attendees something special.
Try to think of things that will get people excited, feeling special, talking with colleagues, and remembering their experience on your webinar in the future. Excited registrants turn into excited attendees.
At HubSpot, we’ve given away tickets to events, free marketing assessments, and ad spend coupons to Facebook and LinkedIn. We’ve also inspired the audience by asking them to be a part of something huge, like breaking a world record.
Another example of a contest you could run? Ask them to tweet something related to the webinar a week in advance, and pick the winner at the beginning of the webinar. At HubSpot, we held a #WorkRemote hashtag challenge to support our webinar on working remote effectively, and we built a landing page to explain the rules and how a winner would be picked. (Note: Be sure to work with your legal team when planning any challenge or contest.)
You could note in the promotional and reminder emails that "attendees are getting a special 25% discount on X," and include that discount code in the final slide of your webinar.
To make things easy, consider using Rybbon, a system that can help gift rewards to participants on webinars.
5. Choose the right day of week.
Don't host your webinar during the weekend. Okay, you probably knew that one. But did you also know that it's best to host your webinars on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday?
Monday and Friday always seem to get filled up with “catch-up” and “last-minute emergency” happenings around the office. According to GoToMeeting, Wednesday and Thursday are the days people are most likely to attend webinars. "Both Wednesday and Thursday attract 26% of attendees, making up more than half of all webinar attendance." Tuesday comes in third at 24%, which validates the Monday/Friday hypothesis.
6. Choose the right time of day.
HubSpot typically runs webinars at 1 p.m. EST or 2 p.m. EST, because it's the most convenient time for the largest chunk of our audience. But if you have a huge audience in... I don't know... Jakarta, you might want to reevaluate your timing. Right? Right.
However, like any variable in marketing, the best time (and day) will depend on your audience. Which time zone(s) do they live in? Do they work nine-to-five jobs, or are their daytime schedules more open? To maximize attendance, experiment with different days and times, compare attendance rates and conversion rates, and tweak your timing accordingly.
If you're just starting out or have no clue what time works best, you can always ask. Include a field on your registration form that asks attendees to confirm the time slots that work best for them, and schedule your webinar based on that feedback.
7. Create an informative landing page.
Be clear. Be honest. Set expectations. Take a look at the landing page we created for our webinar with Rajan Kapoor of Dropbox:
On this landing page, we’ve clearly outlined a few things:
- Who? Introduce presenters on the landing page, with brief bios that explain who they are and why they matter. (Well, why they matter for this webinar, at least.)
- What? Include an explanation of what the webinar is about and some of the topics it will cover. Bullet points are best. Pick a dedicated hashtag for your webinar and include it, too.
- When? Seemingly obvious, but ensure you provide a date and time so people can mark their calendars.
- Where? Clearly explain when and how the webinar will be accessible. Typically, webinars are accessible via links and can be joined 30 minutes prior to the start time.
- Why? Explain the value of your webinar. What will people be able to do after they leave your webinar that they weren’t able to prior to attending?
8. Send a thank-you email and registration confirmation.
Sending a thank-you email isn't just good manners -- it also gives you a chance to confirm your attendees' registration (so they know that their form submission worked) and, you know, remind them about your webinar. Some people will delete it. Some people will save the email in their inbox, serving as a periodic reminder of your webinar. Some people will take the details in the email and input it on their calendar. If any of your registrants fall into those last two groups of people, you're sittin' pretty.
We recommend including a call-to-action to "Add this webinar to your calendar" as the #1 CTA in both your thank-you and follow-up emails. (More on this later.)
9. Send value-building reminder emails.
Send these two weeks in advance, and one week in advance on your webinar. They not only serve to remind registrants about the webinar's date and time, but rebuild the value that you established with them on your registration landing page. Many of your registrants may have not only forgotten that they registered for your webinar ... they may have forgotten why they registered in the first place.
Hi [REGISTRANT NAME],
We're 7 days away from the [WEBINAR NAME], where you'll learn to [GOAL/VALUE PROPOSITION OF EVENT].
Here's a quick reminder of the details of this webinar:
[EVENT DETAILS IN BULLETS]
Before showing up, check out this resource [LINK] on [TOPIC], which will be informing our discussion. Attendees tend to get more out of the event with this knowledge in their back pocket.
Tweet us at [HASHTAG] if you have any questions.
We're excited for you to join us on [DAY]!
Include relevant blog posts or previous ebooks or webinars that cover similar topics. You might frame this as content your team has recently updated, which they can learn more about in the webinar. Include the webinar's hashtag and tell people to tweet if they have any questions.
10. Send two final reminder emails.
People forget. Things come up. Last-minute reminder emails -- specifically, one the day before, and one the day of -- give people enough time to finagle attendance around meetings and other items on their to-do list, but also not too much time that they'll forget about the webinar. It's only a day (or less!) away, after all.
Webinar planning is like any other event, with lots of things to do and stuff to organize. To ensure that you don't forget this important aspect of promotion, marketing automation can come in handy. HubSpot's Workflows tool includes a "Center on date property" that can help you build a drip sequence that leads up to the day of the webinar. This allows you to schedule all the emails at once and leave the worry behind once and for all.
11. Market your webinar using social media.
You know what's awesome about social media? It's much more difficult to oversaturate your social audience than your email audience. And there's a really, really good chance much of your email audience is connected with you socially, too. That affords you the opportunity to use social media to remind your audience about your webinar.
If you're using a social media publishing schedule, you can pepper in updates for every social channel that remind your audience you have an upcoming webinar. Increase the number of reminder updates as the date approaches, particularly the day before and day of. Make sure you pick a dedicated hashtag for your webinar and include it on the landing page, in your emails, and everywhere else you're promoting it.
12. Market your webinar through your speakers.
Of course you'll be promoting your webinar, but what about the presenters? You know, the ones with a different audience than yours right at their fingertips? Are they leveraging their personal connections, social accounts, and email lists to make sure they have a giant audience? If they're not, they sure-as-shootin' should.
13. Don't be afraid of paid media.
If you’re looking to drive more attendees to your webinar and have the budget, a little paid media to supplement your organic efforts can always help. For instance, you might run a PPC ad on Google for a search term that aligns with your webinar content in order to get the word out and drive attendance.
By bidding on a long-tail keyword such as “aligning sales and marketing” you can also keep your PPC costs low, promoting your webinar in a cost effective way. Just make sure your paid media team and organic team are aligned, so your company is organically publishing terms like "aligning sales and marketing" while you bid on the same term, resulting in total dominance in the SERPs for that keyword phrase.
14. Blog about your webinar.
Use your blog (and other blogs if you have the relationships) to promote your webinar and the topic it covers. Create a "launch blog post" for your webinar indicating the excitement of new content/data in the webinar. Obviously, you'll want to provide links to the registration landing page within the blog post, too -- including a webinar-specific CTA to include at the end of your post.
You can also get your audience warmed up to the topic of the webinar by creating blog content that discusses that topic at different angles. Include the webinar CTA in these posts as well, but be sure to swap it out with a different CTA once the webinar is over.
Bonus: If you start writing posts about the webinar topic far enough in advance, you can use the questions readers ask in the comments section to beef up your presentation, too.
15. Set calendar reminders.
Some uber-organized people will put your webinar right on their calendar, but there are tools out there that let you take it a step further.
16. Partner up.
If you want more people to attend your webinar, you can always consider working with another brand. But while additional attendees is one benefit, it shouldn’t be the main focus of partnering up -- relevancy, however, should be.
HubSpot has partnered with numerous partners specifically for co-marketing purposes because we believe that two well-aligned brands have the power to be truly amazing together -- much more amazing than they can be apart. It's also helpful for your audience if they can hear another perspective once in a while, particularly when that perspective comes from a specialist's point of view.
17. Leverage your homepage.
Your homepage is likely one of the most visited pages on your website. So why wouldn’t you leverage your homepage real estate to promote upcoming webinars?
It's a great way to show people that your entire company is behind the webinar and sees the value in it for site visitors. Don’t hide behind your webinars; get them out in public and show people that your company believes in the initiative.
18. Use the best video conferencing tools to ensure a smooth video experience.
If an industry expert reveals the secret to success, but their technology wasn't good enough to record it, did they make an impact?
The content of your webinar might be unparalleled industry insight, but it isn't nearly as valuable if your attendees can't easily access and listen to the event. Picking the right video conferencing tool puts your webinar on the platform it deserves so people are encouraged to join in and listen to you.
What are some reliable webinar hosting services to choose from? Glad you asked ...
Loom is a video recording software, compatible with Mac, Windows, and Chromebook computers. The tool offers a convenient desktop app and can record your screen activity in real time. Loom is particularly useful for pre-recorded webinars, slide presentations, and single-hosted experiences.
Zoom is a cloud-based conferencing tool that offers live and on-demand video services. You can use a Zoom account to add a video chat option to group events listed on your online calendar.
GoToWebinar helps you create branded webinars with automated email invitations leading up to the event. It also makes it easy to follow up with attendees after the webinar, while reporting on who attended and who didn't.
Customers buy from the companies they can trust, and broadcasting your industry expertise via webinar is one of the key ways of doing that.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in July 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.