If you thought last year was the year of the webinar, wait til you see this year.

More and more companies are discovering the power of webinars as educational, thought leadership and lead generation tools. And that means you’re likely going to be inundated even more in 2013 with webinar offers.

As a marketer, this doesn’t mean you should pull webinars from your marketing mix. Far from it, as they can still be incredibly powerful, foundational tools. You just need to execute better.

Below are eight ways to make your webinars more compelling, help them stand out from the crowd, and increase their power to attract and convert prospects into followers, opportunities and closed business.

1. Choose a narrower target audience
If you’re trying to get as many attendees as humanly possible, you might be shooting for too wide of an audience. Narrowing your focus to a more specific target audience will help you hone the message, value proposition and appeal of the event more specifically to a particular group of prospects, decision-makers and/or influencers. Focus on quality of content and audience, and not always the highest possible registration volume.

2. Solve problems vs. describing products
Unless you’ve promoted it specifically as a demo event, don’t waste time describing or promoting your product. Your company or product can be a sponsor of the event, but use the webinar to address & solve problems your customers have. Help them think differently about something they already struggle with. If you’re trying to introduce a solution, you might be doing so out of context or too early, when the prospect doesn’t yet understand or respect its ability to solve their problems.

3. Make your points more immediately actionable & tactical
We’re all busy people, and have tons to get done. So if your webinar can help me get those things done, I’m all ears. But that typically means they need to focus on content that’s very actionable and tactical, including best practices that can immediately – right now – help me do my job better. Leave the theoretical discussions for another event. The more actionable your webinar, the more attractive it will be for busy prospects.

4. Make it really clear what people will learn
Every good webinar description needs a clear, short “you will learn” section.  Ideally, this is a bullet list at least 3-4 points long.  It should enumerate some specific, actionable things people will take away by attending.  This is tactical but critical.  Scanners won’t read your two-paragraph warm-up copy.  They  want to know, quickly, what they’ll get out of it.  If your bullet list passes the sniff test, they’ll register.

5. Tease the webinar with quality, pre-event content
If your webinar will feature a prominent expert, author or speaker, why not publish a short Q&A with that presenter on your blog a week or so beforehand? If you’re going to feature a top ten list of tips to do X, why not feature the first 1-2 on your blog as well? Think about how you can use your additional content, social and marketing channels to share snippets of content relative to the presentation, and drive additional demand, interest and registrations.

6. Create an extra incentive or offer to attend live
Is there something you could make available only to those who attend live? Something like an extra white paper or free research report or e-copy of the speaker’s booK? Something of value without a ton of incremental hard cost to you, but makes it that much more likely someone will 1) register, and 2) actually show up.

7. Build the presentation for skimmers
We all do it. Attend webinars, while multi-tasking with something else. We listen, sort of, while checking email or flipping through RSS feeds. We aren’t going to change this behavior, so we might as well optimize our webinars to accommodate. So if you take too long to make a point, those multi-tasking might miss it. But if you format and present your content with skimmers in mind (think top ten lists, highlighted subsections, well-formatted and clear divisions between points), you’re more likely to get the point across to more people. And, bonus, skimmer-focused webinar content typically works much better for subsequent, on-demand viewers of the recording.

8. Have a plan for takeaways
Think beyond just a copy of the deck and recording. Could you summarize your main points in a one-page PDF? Create a checklist of to-do’s and action items out of the event? For attendees and non-attendees alike, make it easy to to distribute, pass-along and digest the content in shorter, more efficient formats.