If you aren’t investing in webinar strategy as part of your overall marketing efforts, you’re missing an enormous opportunity. According to 73% of marketers and sales leaders, webinars are the best way to generate high-quality B2B leads, and they’ve become even more impactful since the shift to virtual events and communication.
I’ve worked with a few clients who used webinars to generate leads, but I saw it reach a new level at Deliverr, where we have a heavily webinar-focused marketing strategy, particularly for our partnerships arm.
Update: I ran Deliverr’s first annual Discoverr conference!
Running a successful webinar requires finesse. After organizing and executing webinars with multiple eCommerce brands, tools, and marketplaces, I’ve put together a few webinar strategies and tips to keep you sane.
This guide takes you through strategies, templates, and tools to help you conquer webinars and generate leads.
Quick note: These are tips for executing webinars behind the scenes, not as a speaker.
An introduction to webinars
Let’s cover the basics first. A webinar is an online seminar where a host presents information to an online audience. This involves the use of software that enables the sharing of slides, screens, and videos — but more on that later.
Webinars are a popular marketing tool across all industries, but particularly in software and tech, financial services, consulting, and education.
In these sectors, webinars are commonly used for:
- Customer onboarding and training
- Marketing and lead generation
- Employee training
- All-hands meetings
- Industry, press, and analyst events
Benefits of running webinars
1) Expand your reach
Webinars are online, which means they can be consumed by anyone with an Internet connection. If recorded and available on-demand, they can be accessed by even more people after the event. This allows you to reach your audience wherever they’re located.
2) Engage your audience
Would you finish a blog that took an hour to read, or watch a YouTube video of similar length? Probably not. Yet, more than two-thirds of registrations are for 60-minute webinars.
This is because they’re easy to consume, can be interactive, and utilize scarcity (the fear of missing out on something good), giving you a powerful tool to engage your audience.
3) Move customers down the buyers’ journey
Webinars are an excellent way to guide prospects along the customer journey. Whether it’s generating leads, converting sales, onboarding customers, or increasing lifetime value, you can find a webinar format that delivers results.
4) Gain unique insights
Interactive webinars provide audience insights and data that would be difficult to obtain elsewhere. Polls, Q&As, and surveys can help you uncover pain points, trends, and opinions that are useful for your sales team.
5) Showcase your expertise
Webinars offer a platform to demonstrate your expertise and that of your partners. This builds authority and credibility in your industry and among your customers.
6) Deliver value
Finally, webinars deliver value to your customers. Whether that’s knowledge, insider information, or product updates, they benefit your audience and encourage reciprocity, which can generate high customer lifetime value.
A step-by-step guide to webinar strategy and execution
Pour yourself a cup of coffee and get ready for a detailed, tactical dive into every step of planning, marketing, and executing an eCommerce webinar.
Step 1: Define your goals
First, you want to set your goals and align them to your overarching business objectives. There are two main types of webinar goals.
- Business goals: This is what you want your webinar to achieve. For example, generating new leads, nurturing existing leads, supporting the onboarding process, revealing a new product, or retaining customers.
- Webinar goals: These are your performance expectations for your webinar. For example, webinar registrations, live attendance, and how many people watched the replay.
Collaboration is crucial. Work with your sales, marketing, and support teams to identify goals that produce a positive business impact. Webinars without purpose are a waste of time and resources.
Tip: Make sure your goals are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound). “Generating new leads” isn’t a SMART goal, but “generating five new quote requests in the week following the webinar via the webinar link” is.
Step 2: Know your audience
To achieve your overall webinar goal, your webinar must have a relevant audience.
Use your sales, marketing, and support teams to identify the right audience and create a customer persona to target.
When doing this, remember your goal — having a webinar with 1,000 attendees is great, but if none of them need or use your product, why are you talking to them?
Step 3: Find the right topic
Pick a topic that delivers value to your audience while driving action relevant to your goal. A webinar is not a sales pitch; it should cover something your audience cares about, while indirectly promoting your brand, product, or service.
For example, if you’re running a B2B eCommerce SaaS, your webinar shouldn’t spotlight your customers (you have case studies for that). You should focus on equipping merchants for growth, optimizing their operations, and saving them time and money.
Break down webinars by verticals (ex. CPG), subject matter (ex. marketing), or marketplace (ex. Walmart.com), and focus on how to amplify 10x an eCommerce business within that domain. At the end, introduce your value and how it can add to that 10x effort.
Great sources for topic inspiration are your:
- Sales team – What pain points do they hear about repeatedly? What are the most common obstacles to conversion?
- Support team – What questions or misconceptions keep reappearing in support tickets?
- Audience – What are they talking or asking about on social media and forums?
- Blogs – What topics are people searching for, reading about, and converting on the most?
Tip: Shift the focus away from your brand and toward a subject that will help your audience succeed. Think of it this way: No one is interested in your brand, but they are interested in how to grow their business.
Step 4: Pick your webinar toolkit
In terms of technical requirements, you’ll need webinar/broadcasting software, project management software, and scheduling tools.
In the summer of 2020, I ran Deliverr’s first annual Discoverr conference, a two-day virtual event consisting of a series of webinars with industry leaders and successful merchants.
Back then, I was busy figuring out the right tech stack and had to get scrappy with some makeshift workarounds. I learned that the tools you use can make or break you.
There are two types of tools required to run a webinar: setup hardware and webinar software.
The bare minimum you (and all your webinar speakers) need to run your webinar is a reliable Internet connection and a computer. However, if you want to add a professional feel to your production, you can use:
- A microphone with a stand and pop filter
- A high-quality webcam
- Studio lighting or graphically designed backgrounds
You should list out your webinar software requirements beforehand, so you have a checklist prepared when evaluating your options. Some of the features I always look for include:
- Unlimited registrations
- Support for expected number of attendees plus a 20% buffer
- Ability to build branded landing pages or embed forms on our website
- Easy UX for speakers and attendees
- Engagement features for polls, surveys, and Q&A
- Content sharing options (ie. share screen, play video, present slides)
Step 5: Iron out your webinar details
There are so many different webinar types to choose from. What do you want your webinar to look like? A webinar can take many formats, and you’ll need to examine your overall goals to determine which is best for you.
Most of the webinars I’ve hosted and attended were an hour long. The first 5 minutes are a quick introduction, followed by 45 minutes of content, and then 10 minutes of Q&A.
I’ve also seen shorter webinars for product demos, and longer ones for in-depth teaching events. You can adjust the length of your webinar based on your needs, but make sure to pad extra time at the end if you aren’t sure.
Tip: Double-check your webinar software won’t automatically end once it hits a certain time. Some of the common webinar tools have time limits, especially if you’re on the free plan.
Choosing the ideal time and date
Finding a suitable time and date can be a complicated process, especially if you have more than one business participating.
The ideal time to host a webinar is 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. on a Thursday. If you’re targeting a consumer audience, though, you may want to aim for evenings and weekends.
Don’t forget timezones! If your audience is scattered across the country (or globe), find a time that is convenient for the majority. For example, 11 a.m. PST is 2 p.m. EST.
Whatever webinar format you choose must suit your topic. For example, a product release demo should be internal (no outside guests) and include screen sharing. An industry trends update can utilize a live panel format with guests from adjacent organizations.
Step 6: Find partners for co-webinars
To maintain a robust webinar marketing strategy, you need to present webinars consistently and reliably. So, how do you guarantee consistency with so many moving pieces?
One way is to run regular webinars that only involve someone from your company. For example, a co-founder can hold monthly Q&A sessions on his/her product/company that’s open to anyone who registers.
However, I recommend partnering with other companies for maximum reach (ie. leads) and value in terms of what the webinar will bring to the table. Two founders sharing experiences, case studies, and strategies will provide more insight than one, and if you rotate partners regularly, your audience will always have a fresh, new perspective and reasons to sign up.
Webinar partnerships are one of the easiest ways to multiple your impact, as your partners bring their own audiences, insights, and expertise to an event.
Step 7: Stay organized
Once you confirm a speaker for your webinar, jump into dates and details you need from them. For example, you could ask for:
- Confirmation of the webinar title and outline (or, if you haven’t discussed this yet, pitch a few topics/titles).
- Full name, email address, bio, and headshot(s).
- For external speakers, their logo and a white version for darker backgrounds to put on your marketing materials.
- A finalized date and time of the webinar itself, plus a run-through the day before (or a few days in advance).
To organize the dates, I recommend sending out Google Calendar invites to block off your target time and date on everyone’s calendars. Another approach is to use scheduling software like Calendly, then send your calendar links to partners and ask them to book the timeslot most convenient for them.
Make sure you sync your calendars to avoid double-booking, mistakenly showing reserved times as available, or allowing them to book time in your off-hours (ie. the weekend, or middle of the night if you’re in different timezones).
When you confirm the time and date, start building your registration page. Create a shared Google Slides file where you and your partners can collaborate on your presentation.
Tip: Some companies have VAs who control founders’ calendars. If you’re going to run multiple webinars every week as part of your strategy, getting a VA to act as a gatekeeper for a founders’ speaking schedule is a great investment.
As a rule of thumb, you want to schedule a few meetings prior to the actual webinar to learn the software and rehearse content. These meetings should include the host, organizer, guest speakers, and tech support (if this is a separate department).
Be sure to block out time on everyone’s calendars for:
- Content planning and software setup – Confirm outline, slides, and introduce speakers to the software.
- Rehearsal – A day or two in advance, run through the slides and rehearse with everyone using your webinar software.
- Webinar – The actual event. Don’t forget to pad 15 minutes of time for people to come on beforehand for sound checks.
Don’t forget to test
Technology has a habit of going wrong just when you need it. Avoid tech problems during your event by testing everything in advance.
At the very least, you should complete a dry run with your host and speakers the day before the webinar, and a technical test the morning of the event.
Things to watch out for:
- Connectivity problems
- Tool functionalities (e.g.. surveys)
- Sound and lighting
- Camera positioning
- Recording and saving
Step 8: Master your eCommerce webinar marketing
Stepping back all the way to the registration stage, let’s discuss webinar marketing. Webinar marketing is how you get registrations and attendees (AKA, leads).
Your webinar marketing strategy should outline a multi-channel approach to promote your upcoming event. Make sure to align on co-marketing in the planning and organization stage!
Here, having co-webinar partners is extremely helpful. If you both agree to send out announcements and webinar reminders, your webinar could potentially double in reach compared to you trying to market it alone.
I recommend requesting:
- Social media shares in the week leading up to the webinar. Twitter can be daily, LinkedIn should be once or twice max, and Facebook can be two to three times.
- An email announcement the week before the webinar, and a reminder the day before to register.
- A guest blog exchange with CTAs at the end of the posts to register for the webinar. You should aim for these blogs to go live two weeks before the webinar to give them time to gain traction, be announced on newsletters, etc.
If your partners have a unique email newsletter schedule (monthly, weekly), ask to be in whichever issue is closest to the webinar date. Their email schedules don’t need to change to suit your preferences (after all, you’re the one asking in the first place). I’ve also seen partners send out three or more emails weekly and blast the webinars more than usual. It goes both ways.
Step 9: Nail the execution
Build a registration page
Your registration page should deliver a clear outline of what the webinar will cover, and how attendees will benefit from the event. Use bullet points, showcase speaker expertise in their bios, and keep things short and sweet.
The branding of your webinar is fundamental. Consistent branding looks professional and makes your webinar easier to follow, as well as creates familiarity, which can lead to trust and eventually conversions.
Maintain consistent colors, fonts, and styling throughout your presentation. Take advantage of the footer space by including your logo and website, partner logo and website, and the event hashtag or Twitter handle.
Use your confirmation emails
Throughout the webinar planning and execution, you need to ensure crystal clear communications.
Registration doesn’t automatically guarantee attendance. Once someone has signed up for your webinar, run a drip-feed email campaign similar to the following:
- Upon registration – Confirmation and a calendar placeholder.
- One week before – Final information, such as guest speakers.
- The day before – Reminder and log-in details.
- The day of – Reminder and technical support details.
Many webinar tools can handle these on your behalf, so make sure to set them up in your software to avoid missing any reminders.
Emails can be supplemented with SMS messages and even telephone calls – anything to generate excitement and encourage attendance.
Run through a webinar rehearsal
As the webinar date draws near, you should have a run-through the day before the event. Often, the speakers don’t put together the slides themselves, so this is their chance to run through them, talk about the flow, make requests, and more.
Here’s what to cover during the run-through:
- Who will welcome attendees.
- Whether or not you’ll start the recording on time or one to two minutes after to give everyone a chance to join.
- The flow of the webinar and where speaker handoffs will be.
- Reminders, such as using headphones.
- Whether your video cameras will be on or not.
During the webinar
During the webinar, I recommend having two people present to represent your company. One is the speaker, and the other handles questions in the chat. In especially busy webinars, you’ll get more questions than your speakers can answer live, so having someone share resources, tips, and answers as questions come in can improve the attendees’ experience.
- Before the webinar begins, have one of the speakers welcome attendees and let them know it’ll start shortly.
- Once the webinar begins, welcome everyone and go through housekeeping (whether the recording will be emailed after, if there will be time for a Q&A at the end, etc.).
- Non-speakers should keep their mics off at all times, and speakers should turn their mics off when they aren’t presenting.
Step 10: Schedule your post-event marketing
The end of a webinar doesn’t mean the end of your opportunities. Invest in webinar post-event marketing to continually engage with leads, draw additional insights, and repurpose your content for more value.
Once a webinar is over, provide plenty of options for interested parties to watch the recording. I set Deliverr’s old webinars to be available on-demand, which means if you have the registration page link, you can register to watch the recording immediately.
I also shared them on YouTube and with our partners, some of whom published them on their blogs.
Another idea is to create a dedicated webinar page that has recordings of past webinars and links to register for upcoming ones.
Step 11: Measure the results
Finally, it’s time to measure. There are mixed reactions to this; some marketers live and breathe metrics, while others take a cursory glance and are satisfied. I fall somewhere in the middle, but there are a few important elements to analyze (don’t worry, it’s not too much).
Use your goals to identify the metrics you need to monitor, how you’ll measure them, and when you’ll analyze them. While analytics might not be your favorite step, it’s crucial to show:
- The impact of your webinar (which can generate bigger budgets and more support).
- The success of your marketing (which can improve future attendance).
- The overall event ROI (which tells you how much time and budget to allocate in the future).
How did your webinar perform against its overall goal? For example, how many people registered for the free trial, how many customers are using the new feature, or how many new blog sign-ups were there?
You can gain this information from website analytics, sales and support teams, and webinar feedback surveys.
How well did the webinar perform? Look at the number of registrations, live attendees, and post-event engagement (ie. if they watched the recording). You should also look at which advertising and content channels generated the greatest return.
This should also include feedback on technical problems and software glitches gathered from the host, speakers, audience, tech team, and organizers. If there’s negative feedback, drill down into whether this was caused by user error (requiring more training) or software error (requiring feedback to your software provider).
Tip: Use percentages instead of figures. The number of people attending your webinar doesn’t tell you much, especially if you’re marketing to a very small or large audience. The percentage of people attending your webinar vs. the number of registrations will provide better insight.
Key takeaways on creating your webinar strategy
Webinars aren’t just a lead magnet (although they’re pretty good at that, too). They’re an effective tool for driving action, upselling customers, engaging audiences, and establishing industry authority.
But a webinar is only as good as its strategy. By creating and executing a defined webinar and marketing strategy, you can ensure your webinar targets the right audience, generates high attendance, encourages action, and delivers positive business impact now and in the future.