18 Tips For Better Webinars, From Ideation To Follow-Up
Want to set your webinar apart from the pack & drive more results? Read this blog for fresh tips and tactics to help you improve your webinars, every step of the way.
March 24, 2020
With the 2020 events season almost entirely cancelled, marketers are increasingly relying on digital events and webinars to fill their funnels and make up the demand gap.
The bad news: This means the webinar and virtual events space is pretty over-saturated.
The good news: There are so many creative tips and tactics you can use to create value for your prospects and stand out amongst the pack. (Bonus: many of these are actually lower effort than you may think.)
So here are 18 ideas to inspire you to make the most of your webinar efforts—all the way from generating creative topics to nailing your follow-up email.
The ideation phase
1. Consider a webinar series to explore a topic in depth and get repeat engagement
Instead of hosting one-off webinars, why not consider a series approach? A series gives you the opportunity to cover a topic in more depth than a one-off, and it also gives prospects a reason to keep coming back and engage again.
This approach has served us well at PathFactory, with one of our all-time best-performing webinars being a series, The Channel Panel. Since people can register for multiple webinars, this series resulted in 10x more registrations and 5.5x more MQLs than our average webinars. Drift’s Coffee With A CMO, modeled after Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, was also a hit.
2. Design webinars to be more like conversations or debates than “death by PowerPoint”
It can be daunting to think about designing a high-performing webinar from scratch, but remember that webinars don’t necessarily need to be slick and rehearsed. In fact, webinars that are structured more like organic conversations can often be the most engaging and interesting to watch.
Provide a loose structure, like slides with thought-provoking questions, and then simply invite experts to weigh in with their opinions. Some of the most interesting content comes when you have panelists representing different viewpoints and there can be healthy debate. Of course, you don’t want to go too far in the other direction and make it too unstructured, so make sure to choose thoughtful questions that will elicit a productive conversation. Since debate-style webinars are easier to put on and often more enjoyable to watch, it’s truly a win-win.
3. Put customer stories front and centre and let advocates drive the conversation
Here’s another way to put on a webinar with a lighter lift that’s actually more persuasive—let your customers do the talking. Their authentic stories will be far more convincing and well-rounded than your typical canned marketing pitch. Since customer have first-hand experience using your products or services, their stories can provide helpful peer-to-peer insights that are impossible to replicate from inside your company.
Make sure to provide your customer with support in shaping the story, and making sure it’s on-brand. If you have a customer marketing function to lead this process, these existing relationships will help make this process smooth. With a structure and storyline in place, you can get out of the way and let your customer’s authentic personality shine through.
4. Don’t strive for perfection—experiment and measure results to see what sticks
Some of the best ideas come from the least expected places. So the best way to get to those golden nuggets is to test out creative ideas, constantly iterate, and optimize. Try to relax your inner censor when brainstorming and get a lot of ideas on a page (or said out loud) before evaluating and deciding what’s viable.
Enlisting the help of your team can also be an excellent way to stimulate creativity and feed off of one another’s energy. Gather multiple people from your team to brainstorm new topics, or even innovative angles or ways to refresh evergreen topics. The best way to produce quality webinars is to start somewhere, and worry about optimizing later when you have data to support your decisions.
Promoting your webinar
5. Enlist the help of your sales team to promote webinar registration
The sales team can be a major ally in promoting webinars if you equip them properly. You can email them in advance with the details of the webinar, as well as some bullet points on the value that it’ll drive for prospects, so they can recommend it to the right people at the right time in their sales cycles.
You could also consider giving sales reps a quota of registrations to drive. Or you could make it fun and incentivize reps to drive sign-ups by making it a competition (who doesn’t love bragging rights?) and/or offering a prize to the rep who drives the most registrations.
6. Make the most of registration confirmation emails with curated content recommendations
We all know how hard it is to grab a precious moment of your prospect’s attention. So once you’ve got it, it’s a good practice to use that moment to the fullest. Instead of your run-of-the-mill confirmation email, try sending some curated content recommendations related to the topic of your webinar in that email.
This helps heighten your prospects’ interest in the topic, and prove that your brand can offer valuable guidance—making them more likely to tune into the live webinar. (This is one way to “get more juice from your squeeze” out of your marketing. If you’re interested in learning about more efficiency tactics on other channels, check out this blog.)
7. Mix up promotion email types—HTML, plain text, video promotions
The key to consistently capturing your audience’s attention is keeping it fresh. No matter how well your promotional email playbook is working now, the same technique probably has a limited shelf life as people start “tuning out” things that feel routine. Keep your prospects on their toes by mixing up the type of promo email you’re sending.
Try alternating between HTML emails that feel more polished and slick, and plain text emails that feel more casual and simple. You can even shoot a quick video to include in your promo email (and you can easily repurpose the same video for social media promotion.) Don’t think this needs to be a beautiful cinematic production. Just stand in front of a neutral background, and let your genuine excitement about the upcoming webinar shine through. 30-60 seconds is plenty, and the human touch will go a long way.
8. Don’t be afraid to promote webinars 5-6 weeks in advance
You may be used to promoting webinars a few weeks out from the day. But the reality is that people are busy, channels are oversaturated, and sometimes being an early bird will help you catch the worm. If you can get your webinar in people’s calendars far in advance, you’re making it easier for prospects to carve out the time.
A longer promotional window also gives you more opportunities to run promotions, capture attention, and build a sizeable audience to reap the benefits of your webinar.
9. Think outside of the inbox and vary up your promotional channels
Email inboxes can get flooded, so varying up the channels you use to promote your webinar can be a key to successfully getting registrations. If you’re a SaaS company promoting a webinar to customers, consider going to where your users are and sending them a short in-app message they’ll see next time they log in.
You can also use paid social to promote your webinar. It’s a great way to get some form fills and build your database. Since webinar leads tend to produce meaningful and qualified pipeline, you can see some influenced revenue and pipeline in your reporting later for a channel that isn’t a typical high performer.
During your webinar
10. Always capitalize on the moment of attention you’ve captured to guide prospects to the next step in their journey
In today’s attention economy, a moment of your prospect’s time is a precious resource. So once your buyer has shown up to your webinar (high five!) this is both a major accomplishment, and a precious opportunity to advance the conversation forward. Always have a logical next step in mind, and use your webinar as an opportunity to promote this action.
Your goal may be to book a personalized demo, continue the conversation with sales, read your latest content, or a variety of other goals. You can use CTAs directly in your webinar, if the platform you’re using to host allows for it. Or your host can verbally remind prospects of the desired next step. Just make sure to position the next step in terms of the value your prospect derive from advancing through their journey with your company.
11. Keep track of questions asked during Q&A to use later
While the Q&A at the end of a webinar might feel like a nice-to-have tacked onto the end of the main event, it can actually be a treasure trove of value since this is where your prospects have a chance to contribute their thoughts to the conversation.
This value can live on past the virtual event in a couple of ways. First, you can keep track of those questions and forward them to the specific sales rep who’s on the account with the individual, so they can follow up and make sure the concern has been addressed fully. Second, you can share these questions with your content team who can develop new blogs, eBooks, or videos based off of any insightful or frequently asked questions.
12. Don’t overlook cross-promotion opportunities
Don’t overlook the platform your webinar gives you to promote other offers. You can use your webinar as a chance to promote a future webinar on another topic, whether your webinar is part of a series or whether you’re promoting another one-off.
You can also use the air time on your webinar to promote your content, whether that’s a recent eBook, white paper, or infographic. Also, if you mention a topic during your webinar that you don’t have time to cover in depth, you can use this as an opportunity to encourage listeners to take the deep dive with a specific piece of content that addresses that question.
13. Remember you’re talking to humans—don’t be afraid to have some fun!
The B2H or “business-to-human” approach to B2B marketing is gaining some serious traction. Despite the fact that we’re working for organizations, we’re all humans who appreciate a good laugh during our work day, or getting to know others on a personal level.
So why not start your webinar with a quick personal intro of your host and your guests, and/or a few fun facts? You don’t need to have hiked Everest or make kombucha from scratch in your spare time to be interesting either. Simply sharing a picture of your pets, your kids, or you doing your favourite hobby will endear you to your audience and help people ease into the presentation. It’s really as simple as letting your natural personality, passion, and sense of humour shine through.
After your webinar
14. Give time stamps of notable moments in your webinar in your follow-up email
If you’re a B2B marketer who is guilty of signing up for webinars and not attending, raise your hand. (Yeah me too, I’ll admit it.) For your busy prospects who sign up with the best intentions, but end up too swamped to make it to the webinar, consider what else you can do to help them absorb the information in less time.
One thing we like to do at PathFactory is give time stamps for particularly notable or interesting parts of the webinar in the follow-up email with the video recording. This makes it more digestible for your audience because they can skip to the parts that interest them most. It’s less daunting for them to get to the parts of the recording that address their concerns. This simple gesture can go a long way to make life easier for your audience.
15. Repurpose your webinars as an eBooks, blog, infographic or video
Since you’ve already gone to the trouble of creating a webinar, why not repurpose this content in other formats so it can live on past the initial event? The benefit of this approach is that it’s a fairly light lift to produce (versus producing content from scratch) and new formats appeal to a wide variety of different preferences.
You can work with your content team to pull this off. You can also go the reverse direction, and use a recently published white paper or blog as the basis for a webinar. Work smarter not harder!
16. Send out related content in your follow-up email
As we’ve mentioned a couple times now, a moment of your prospect’s time = a golden opportunity you should make the most of. Same thing goes for post-webinar emails. If you can include a few curated content recommendations on the topic in your follow-up email, you can further their engagement even more.
And the beauty is that this tactic is valuable if that even if prospects don’t actually tune into the webinar—you can still capitalize on their interest in the topic to engage. Maybe your prospect is too busy to watch a full webinar, but they’d gladly skim a blog on the same topic.
17. Measure content consumption of on-demand webinar views after the event
While it’s easy to tell how many people tuned into your webinar live, understanding how people are engaging with the webinar on-demand after the event is far murkier ground. If your tech stack is includes a tool to understand content consumption data, this data can help you make the most of every interaction.
Monitoring content consumption post-event can help inform both sales and marketing follow-up. When your sales team knows whether your prospect spent 4 minutes or 45 minutes with a webinar, they start to build a clear picture of what topics interest them and how much. This greases the wheels for seamless follow-through by the sales team on webinars run by marketing.
18. Send out a brief survey as a follow-up to learn what your audience does and doesn’t like
Not sure what parts of your webinar did and didn’t landed with your audience? There’s an easy way to find out. You just have to ask! Consider sending out a brief survey in your follow-up email to understand the standout parts of the webinar, as well as which aspects can be improved.
You can also ask what topics your audience is hungry to learn more about, and use these topics for future webinars. When you combine this qualitative feedback with quantitative data on content consumption times, you get a robust picture of performance that can be used to optimize and improve future webinars.
We hope these tips make it easier to create engaging digital events that deliver value to your prospects. It’s never easy to change your strategy on a dime, but online events are making it possible for marketers to deliver the sharing, learning, and sense of community our prospects need. Marketers are being faced with unprecedented obstacles, but it is inspiring to see how our global community is rising to the challenge with unprecedented ingenuity.
Have a webinar tip we missed? We’d love to hear about it on Twitter—just tag @PathFactory.