Leading organizations are discovering how effective it is to run webinars as part of their marketing strategy for increased brand awareness and lead generation.
In fact, according to recent research by the Content Marketing Institute, 58% of content marketers said they use webinars as one of their key marketing tactics. Other, more frequently used content marketing tactics include social media, email newsletters, blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers and infographics.
Why are these other tactics used more frequently than webinars?
Webinars can be a very effective way to convince hundreds of prospects over the course of an hour-long presentation that you are a trusted source for information on products or services similar to the ones you offer. But they can also be time-consuming to plan, prepare for, deliver and follow up. It takes time to plan what to talk about, schedule, book guest speakers, run rehearsals and orchestrate the post-webinar follow-up activities.
Most organizations have high expectations for how many people they would like to register for each webinar, especially the person tasked with measuring the return from webinar efforts. With so much time and effort spent on a single project, it is easy to understand the pressure marketing teams face to create webinar content that will drive up registration numbers and avoid questionable results that they must report on after the event.
Many of the webinar attendees who sign up for your events already know your company because they are current clients or prospects, so they are not considered new leads. Clients are disqualified the moment they enter your sales funnel, leaving marketing with a smaller number and the burden of finding new attendees.
The hardest part, regardless of marketing channel, is to find new people – businesses that have never heard of your company before but are (or should be) interested in your products or services. Once they do register, your next task is to get your leads to show up when the webinar begins.
A typical show rate for webinars is between 30-50%, depending on the quality of your registration process and periodical reminders as well as how compelling your webinar topic is.
Let’s take a simple ROI example:
Your total marketing budget for the webinar is $5,000, including staff expenses, webinar tool subscription, promotion (banner ads, lists, marketing material, etc.). If your customers typically stay with you for an average of 24 months, and you sell an online tool that costs $199/month, your Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) is $4,776.
How many webinar attendees do you need to generate the desired ROI?
In this example, we assume:
- 40% of registrants will show up for the webinar
- 30% are ready to buy, which represents 100% marketing qualified leads (MQL) based on lead scoring and other criteria
- 25% of the MQLs end up as Sales Qualified Leads (SQL), ready for the sales team to follow-up
- The sales team has a close rate of 25%
The example above shows that you have to acquire at least 400 registrants for your webinar to be able to convert three new customers.
The challenge is to demonstrate the reality of how tough it is to generate a good ROI from your webinar efforts, unless you find enough new people to attend your webinars.
Who should you target?
The challenge is to demonstrate the reality of how tough it is to generate a good ROI from your webinar efforts, unless you find enough new people to attend your webinars.The example above shows that you have to acquire at least 400 registrants for your webinar to be able to convert three new customers.
How do you find new prospects who have never heard of your company before? Let’s take a look at a few common ways to announce your webinar to a new audience and direct them to your webinar registration landing page:
- Buy email lists
- Run social media advertising campaigns
- Place banner ads or bid on paid search terms using Google Adwords or Bing Ads
Normally these techniques are challenging and expensive. Unless you’ve mastered these activities and can create a sense of urgency, your outreach efforts could come across as ‘spammy’ and turn off prospects rather than attract them.
You can use media companies to help promote your webinars, but they struggle too because they rely upon the same techniques mentioned above. They also charge big money for the job, which adds more pressure to close on sales leads post-webinar as the cost of production increases.
I assume you already add upcoming webinars to your email newsletters and post them on your social channels multiple times, so I will not go into details about that here. Continue to do these things and sometimes your subscribers and followers share it with new people, but don’t expect these regular practices to create tremendous results.
Defining your target audience is a critical part of this process. Who do you usually sell to? Who are you targeting with this webinar, and what actions do you want them to take? Who uses your products? Who are their stakeholders? Who are the decision makers? What market(s) are they in and where does the money typically coming from? That is where you should look for new people and make sure they hear about and learn from your webinar. Ideally, they will even share it with their contacts and colleagues, leading to the second circle of outreach.
Effective webinar promotion techniques take time but are definitely worth the planning and effort because they will eventually pay off.
Make a choice
Do you want to run four webinars, spend hundreds of hours, and get the same results you always get? Or do you want to do one or two very successful webinars, with 10x the outcome you have seen in the past?
The best thing about having a robust webinar marketing process is that you can leverage it for future webinars. You’ll start to notice after a couple times that you are getting better results, with less time and resources invested in the webinar process. Act, measure, improve, adjust and repeat.
Create a beautiful, professional webinar registration page
Let’s look at some of the free techniques you can leverage to promote your webinar. This process requires you to start early. Some of the promotional channels we cover here take time to establish, at least the first time you use them.
Since most webinar solutions provide you with a standard webinar registration page, you may think it is fine to use that registration page as the destination for interested attendees from all of the channels you use to get registrations.
Unfortunately, this is not a good idea. First of all, you cannot track the visits, sources, channels, and so on, that the visitors are coming from, so you end up having no clue which promotional activities led to the best results. Sometimes these registration pages are ugly, and they lack the presentation that makes people want to register for your webinar. Time is precious, and your prospects need to feel confident that your webinar is worth spending time registering and attending.
There are hundreds of landing page tools you can use. Ideally, you would create a landing page on your website so you have control of everything. If you are using a tool to create your webinar registration page, try to avoid the standard templates everyone else is using. Instead, design your own and make sure the landing page tool lets you use your domain and analytics tools to track traffic.
I also recommend using a landing page or a plugin on your website that connects directly with your webinar platform for a better registration process with reduced attrition.
Make sure your webinar registration page include these elements:
- Webinar title + subtitle
- Webinar description that focuses on what’s in it for the attendee
- Date and time (including timezone)
- Who this webinar is for (roles, titles, etc.)
- Why they should attend this webinar (3-5 reasons)
- Speaker bios, images, and social media links
- Short description of your company, including what you do and client references or success stories
As a bonus, you can also incorporate a promotional video (more on that later) and a high-resolution webinar banner image that does not look too stock photo-ish that is relevant to the webinar.
Your landing page should match the look and feel of your company’s brand guidelines and must be mobile responsive so viewers can find and view it when browsing on their mobile phone or tablet.
Furthermore, make sure you create the landing page at least 5-6 weeks before the webinar date to ensure there is enough time for your page to be indexed by search engines.
Make sure people can find your webinar via search engines by building, structuring and optimizing your landing page correctly. (That is something we will cover in an upcoming blog post on webinar.blog!)
Finally, make sure your webinar registration page can be turned into a webinar on-demand page where you replace the live webinar registration links with access to the recording of the webinar. The on-demand feature creates a long-tail marketing effect, one that will allow you to increase the leads generated from your webinar over time significantly.
Webinar promotional video
For each webinar you produce, you should consider creating a professional, engaging video teaser, 30-60 seconds long. You can post it on YouTube or Vimeo and link to it from your social media profiles, your webinar registration landing page, and company newsletters, blog posts and other promotional channels.
Tip: Make sure it is possible to click a link at the end of the video to access your webinar registration page.
Blog Posts Promoting Your Webinar
If you run a successful blog with lots of followers, including potential clients, you should do a write up about your upcoming webinar. Discuss the topic you will cover in your webinar, mentioning and linking to your webinar registration page.
But if you don’t have that many regular readers or don’t have a blog, you should reach out to some of your partners or industry blogs that do have a large amount of readers and a regular following on social media. If they welcome guest blogs, and they are interested in your contribution, they may allow you to share a bit of knowledge with their readers in exchange for visibility to your webinar.
The bigger the blog is, the more likely it is that they do have a guest contribution plan, but keep in mind that you may have to wait in line to get published. Identify the potential guest blog opportunities early and offer them exclusivity to your blog post, at least for a couple of weeks.
Make sure you read their blog post guidelines, so your content is not rejected for being overly self-promotional or another editorial requirement.
When you write the guest blog post, make sure you focus on the topic you will cover in the webinar and address why people should care about this subject: what’s in it for them? If you are allowed, you can also embed the webinar promo video in the guest blog post.
Audit your lists and research the biggest blogs in your industry to get started.
Leverage industry influencers to share your content
Another useful technique is to use industry influencers to promote your webinar. Even if your company’s brand or solutions are not well-known, a recommendation or a link share from the right person could make a huge impact on attendance.
Maybe you or one of your colleagues knows a prominent influencer in your industry. If you don’t know any influencers or don’t know where to start, you could use tools like Buzzsumo to search for people with authority in your industry and reach out to them.
Neil Patel has written extensively about influencer marketing including this helpful article: How to Get Promoted by Social Media Influencers When You’re a Nobody.
Rule number one is to begin your webinar planning early. Make sure you spend time producing webinar promotion assets that make people want to register for your webinar based on building trust that your webinar is worth attending. Focus on what’s in it for them and be sure to make it look great from their perspective, not your own.
Reach out to industry blogs and ask if they are interested in guest content. Once published, make sure you have a list of influencers in your industry, with lots of real followers, and reach out to them for a mention, a share or even a promotion to your webinar landing page.
Thank you for reading, and feel to share your webinar promotion techniques and success stories below.
About the Author
Kristian Haanes is the founder and CEO of Webinara and a serial entrepreneur with 15-plus years within B2B solution sales, management and marketing. He also has a solid background with IT companies, SaaS/cloud services, focusing on market research, lead generation, customer experience management, project management and HR. Connect on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin.