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Webinars: How to Execute Them and Drown Your Sales Team in Leads July 13, 2011

Posted by christinapappas in Content Marketing, Lead Generation.
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Webinars are a great source of leads for many organizations and I feel they should definitely be a part of your content marketing strategy. But marketers and organizations often ask how do I do a webinar? What’s involved? What’s the best way to get the most registrations?

I have run webinars at a few companies whom I have worked for and I have to tell you, sales dreaded it. And not because they were horrible events, but because they knew that the lull in leads in their inbox was equivalent to the ‘calm before the storm’. Yes, I drowned them in leads every time and I loved hearing the complaints revert from ‘there aren’t any leads’ to ‘whoa, slow down, too many leads.’ LOL! Even Ann Handley who was a guest speaker together with C.C. Chapman gave me a ‘wow’ for collecting almost 1400 registrations for the webinar. I am certainly no HubSpot, but I will tell you how I did it so you can do the same.

Picking a Topic

The topic is so important and I cannot emphasize that enough. Oh, and the title. The title is supremo important! Yes, Ann and C.C. got quite the audience but they are Ann and C.C. afterall. And while some of my events collected registrations over the 1000 mark, some were in the 500 range, my marketing gut tells me it was the topic that made the difference since I am pretty consistent with my approach to promotion.

So first things first, consider what it is you would like to cover. If you have a speaker already, ask them what they would like to discuss. Do they have a topic they have wanted to talk about for some time and haven’t had the opportunity yet? Perfect! If you don’t have a speaker lined up, my recommendation is to look at what your target market is currently talking about or a common problem a lot of companies are trying to solve. Look at the news, look at Mashable, pick-up a magazine and ask your sales team.

Now that you have some ideas, run with one or two of them and lay out an outline for the presentation. My outline will typically look something like this:

  • State of the industry. Why the topic is important
  • What are the options available to solve the problem
  • How your audience can decide what option is best for them
  • Case studies of companies ‘doing it right’ and how they did it
  • Wrap up with how my company’s products help solve the problem

Once complete, I will run it by a few selected individuals at my company for collaborative feedback.

Selecting a Speaker (if you don’t already have one that is)

This was probably my biggest challenge because I had no idea where to start. A majority of the speakers who would have been ideal, I had to pay for and that just drove my cost way up, and I really didn’t have relationships established with others.

One idea is to look at your customer base. Are there any customers that come to mind (ask your Account Management team too) who would be relevant to the discussion? Did they have this problem and overcome it or perhaps are still deciphering a strategy to? Reach out to them and praise their efforts and ask if they would be willing to speak about their campaign during a webinar for your company.

Another idea I learned is to search on Amazon for books related to the topic. One of the cool things about Amazon is that it lists books that are ‘coming soon’. These authors want exposure for themselves and for their new book and a webinar about the topic is a great way to do that. Offer to buy a bulk shipment to give out at the webinar and provide the author with your promotional schedule for the event to give them an idea of the exposure this will grant them.

Promoting the Webinar

Like anything in marketing, it’s a trial and error especially if this is your first time doing this. I found that promoting the event no more than 3 weeks from the webinar is the most effective but this could be different for you and your audience.

1. Email your database with an invite. I email 3 times over a 3 week period.

In the first email sent about 2.5 – 3 weeks before the event, I will share some facts about the industry, why the topic is relevant and maybe a quote regarding the topic from an industry thought-leader. I also include headshots of the speakers. Like any email, the subject line is important. I always found that when I started the subject with Webinar: [topic], that I received the highest open rates but I encourage you to do some A/B testing to find out what resonates with your audience.

The second email I will send out 1 week before the webinar. I will use different copy within the email and perhaps change the speaker headshots to some related graphics or charts. Again, the subject line is important and I tend to change this to something like Webinar: [overcoming xyz]. Remember to omit the people who have already registered so you are not spamming them with the same invite.

Almost there, 2-3 days before the event, I will email ‘your last chance to learn all about xyz’ to everyone not registered. Looking at registration data for the events I have managed, this last minute email tended to work the best but that’s not to say you should not do the other two.

2. Post your event in the social networks. I do this multiple times, if not every day on some networks, for a 3 week period.

I will tweet the webinar at least one time per day from my own account and from my company’s account. Try to avoid using the same tweet repeatedly and build a list of tweets to promote. Share this list with your company so they can tweet the event from their own accounts.

Start a discussion in LinkedIn about the topic of your webinar. Now I have seen people simply start a discussion with a link to a webinar and we all know that is not really a discussion. There is an events section within the network to do this as well, but why not start a conversation online about the topic? This may give you more talking points for your event and when its over, you can go back to the discussion and post the link to the recording.

Does your company manage a group? We had one and I would email something every month. So in this case if I hadn’t already emailed them with another offer, I would send an invite for the webinar to all my group members. I also look at my personal connections and carefully select those that would be relevant and send them a personal note.

I don’t spend a whole lot of time on Facebook but I will update the company’s wall with a link to the event and add it to the Facebook calendar. Doesn’t take much time, and doesn’t hurt to have one more promotional piece running.

3. Webinar listing sites, third party affiliate promotion and PPC

I tried webinar listing sites because they are not that much money (about $70 will get you the listing and placement on their calendar for the entire time leading up to the webinar) but did not see any significant change in results worthy of repeating it.

As for third party and pay-per-click, I will not, or should I say, have not, used a third party email broadcast dedicated to promoting my webinar. I need these for leads while the webinar is in queue. What I will do however is add the webinar in the footer of the email just in case.

Practice

I always recommend that you do a practice session. You could run through the entire webinar as if it was happening right then and there. Record it so you can listen to how the sound is being captured and how your slides and visuals are being represented. If you have more than one speaker involved (especially if they are in different locations) practice the hand offs and decide what cues you will say or do to indicate that it’s the next speaker’s turn.

Mostly likely you will receive questions from the audience, but have a list prepared in the event that none come in or you don’t receive as many as you anticipated. Review the questions with your speakers for their feedback.

After the Event

Depending upon how many registrations you get and the ratio to sales reps, decide how you will follow-up with attendees and no-shows. I recommend always sending the email with the recording and slides to all no later than 1-2 days after the event takes place. Include an additional piece of content like a related whitepaper or a link to a blog post and let them know someone will call them to answer any questions they had that were not addressed during the session.

And a few final points to wrap-up:

  • Your results will vary webinar to webinar. You will most certainly have some rockstar events and some not so much.
  • Modify your approach to promoting your events and always remember to A/B test every chance you get.
  • Do not read from a script. The webinar is meant to be a live event so don’t sound like a robot.
  • We all know technology sometimes ‘breaks’ so don’t sweat it. People understand. Think about a contingency plan if your audio goes out or if you lose power.
  • Keep doing webinars and learning! I will guarantee you will get better at it over time.

 

Any tips and tricks I missed? Please share in the comments section!

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Comments»

1. Paul van der Woodsen - July 15, 2011

All things aside, it’s a really cool picture on top of this post.
And as far as webinars are concerned – during the last few days Laura Roeder @lkr brought my attention to them, and I am loving the concept. When I am ready to publish my own webinar, your post is definitely the place I will start from. Already saved it to my Evernote!

Paul

christinapappas - July 17, 2011

Hi Paul,

Great to hear it! I think webinars are a great part of anny content marketing strategy and they don’t always have to be about lead generation.At a former company, we did a live demo webinar of our product for prospects once per quarter. Or you can try doing a ‘how to’ webinar with your support team. There’s all types of ideas but the point is that people think its a huge undertaking and it really doesnt have to be. Let me know if and how I can help when you are ready to run one! And please send me an invite!

2. Dennis - July 21, 2011

Thanks for the tips. What do you actually use to broadcast the webinar? Maybe I missed that somewhere else on this site.

christinapappas - July 21, 2011

Hi Dennis,

We used GoToWebinar but I have also used Webex. If I had to choose, I would go with GoToWebinar because the pricing structure is easier to understand and budget for and it does everything you need it to do.

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