The use of Webinars to engage prospective customers and generate leads has increased exponentially over the past year. As such, best practices for making them successful for lead generation have become clear. Here are several recommendations for planning & executing Webinars that develop thought leadership for your business, and qualified leads for your sales team.
- Have a bias for action: Get in there and get started. Don’t worry about getting hundreds of prospects on the call. Don’t worry about making everything perfect. No matter how much time you spend planning, your first couple Webinars will be a learning experience. Know your audience, know your content, and get out there and start executing.
- Pick the right day and time: Customize this based on when your audience is most likely to be available. For example, don’t plan on reaching sales professionals at the end of the month, or accounting targets at the start of a new month. Avoid Mondays and Fridays. 10:00 Pacific time is a generally good time (1:00 on the East Coast, avoid lunch on both coasts).
- Scan for existing conflicts: Before locking in your day and time, check to make sure there aren’t existing conferences, holidays or other Webinars planned for the same audience at the same day & time.
- Choose a third-party speaker: Even if the topics you’ve chosen are well-known to employees, pick someone outside the company to give the presentation. It’ll come across far more credibly if it’s seen as “independent”, and you’ll likely get a higher registration rate by further separating the content from your sales pitch.
- Ask for content feedback from registrants: As you register attendees, ask them for specific up-front questions or requests based on your general topic. For example, if you’re doing a Webinar on health care reform for HR professionals, ask them what specific questions they have. As you see patterns in their answers, you’ll know how to customize your content and presentation to make it even more relevant.
- Teach, don’t preach: Everything about an effective Webinar should be value-added to the audience. Make sure they walk away with knowledge, insights and specific ideas that can help them – both immediately and long-term. As such, make your content easy to digest. Top 10 lists are great – easy to follow along, and easy to pull next steps from.
- Don’t demo: Unless you’ve promoted the Webinar explicitly as an online demo of your product or service, don’t spent time showing much of the product. Your product should be a natural next step to what you’ve presented. If your content has set up and addressed the problem, the pain, the challenge, or the current situation your customers are in, it will intensify the need for what you’re selling. If your Webinar content is done well, it will organically drive more attendees to want to see what you can offer to help them.
- Be interactive: Change the format, the speaker, the visuals on a regular basis to keep your viewers engaged. If you have a specific guest speaker, consider presenting in a Q&A format so that different people are speaking. This change in voice will keep people following. Consider also interjecting video or other visual tools in between slides.
- Ask qualifying questions: Use your Webinar service’s polling services to ask questions within the Webinar. You can use these answers to customize follow-on content, ensure what you’re addressing is reaching and resonating with viewers, and also qualify attendees as leads for post-event follow-up.
- Be ready for the Q&A: At the end of a good Webinar, attendees can ask questions. But sometimes they need to be warmed up. Have a few “canned” questions ready to address “from the audience” right away. Believe me, this will help other attendees feel comfortable raising their own hands with more questions.
- Treat registrants the same as attendees: To a large extent, whether or not the registrant actually attended the live event isn’t important. What’s more important is that they resonated enough with the topic to register and put it on their calendar. That relevance means they likely have a need for the content (and solution) you’re offering. Everyone who registers for your Webinar (not just the 55% who actually attend) can be a good prospect.
- Follow up quickly: Don’t let those leads go more than three days without a follow-up call. Make the follow-up value-added as well. Ensure the content was valuable, ask if they have additional questions, offer an “additional” article, white paper or other content related to the topic.
- Make materials available for free: Provide the slides, notes, transcript etc to attendees, registrants and anyone else for free. Put it on SlideShare, post it on your blog, make it as easy to access and pass along as possible.
- Conduct and record a post-mortem: What went well? What could have gone better? Capture this information quickly (ideally the same day as the Webinar) to ensure you’re improving the next time.