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’re even more impactful since the recent shift to remote work.
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 tips and tricks to keep you sane.
This guide takes you through specific strategies, templates, and tools to help you conquer webinars and generate leads.
Quick note: These are tips for executing your webinar strategy behind the scenes, not for speaking.
An introduction to webinars
Let’s cover the basics first. A webinar is a virtual seminar where a host(s) presents information to an online audience. It requires software that enables sharing slides, screens, and videos — but more on that later.
Webinars are a popular marketing tool across all industries. However, they’re particularly prominent in the software and tech, financial services, consulting, and education sectors.
In these sectors, webinars are commonly used for:
- Customer onboarding and training
- Marketing and lead generation
- Market research and new product development
- Employee training
- All-hands meetings
- Industry, press, and analyst events
Benefits of running webinars
1) Expand your reach
Webinars are a great opportunity to grow your business globally. Unlike in-person events, you aren’t restricted by location. Anyone with an internet connection can take part in a webinar. This freedom expands your reach, connecting your business with a broader audience.
If your webinars are recorded and available on demand, they can be accessed by even more people after the event, no matter their location. Your webinar viewers could be watching from Bali while you run your business in the U.S.
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, two-thirds of registrations are for 60-minute webinars.
This high level of engagement comes from webinars’ easy consumption, interactivity, and utilization of scarcity (the fear of missing out on something good), giving you a powerful tool to engage your audience.
The interactive aspect of webinars is particularly important for increasing audience involvement. Through the use of polls, Q&As, breakout rooms, and live chat, your webinar attendees can participate with you directly. This builds closer connections with your target audience and potential clients.
We all know humans connect with other humans, not faceless brands. So, if you really want to ramp up your lead generation strategy or nurture your existing customers, you need to run webinars.
3) Move customers along the buyer journey
Webinars are an excellent way to guide prospects down your sales funnel. Whether it’s generating leads, converting sales, onboarding customers, or increasing lifetime value, you can find a webinar format that delivers results.
When someone interacts with your business, they take the first steps on the buyer’s journey — whether they know it or not.
The buyer’s journey, or customer funnel, can typically be broken down into three stages:
- Awareness — Prospect experiences and expresses a problem or opportunity.
- Consideration — Prospect begins to research and understand their problem/opportunity.
- Decision — Prospect decides on a solution for their problem/opportunity (i.e., conversion).
I would argue there’s also an important fourth stage: Retention. This stage occurs after the prospect has made their decision and gives you an opportunity to nurture and encourage them to continue using you for future challenges of opportunities.
By understanding where in the funnel your potential customers are, you can develop a webinar strategy that engages prospects at each relevant stage.
Webinars for the awareness stage
For prospects in the awareness stage, your webinar needs to focus on the current challenges or opportunities your audience may be facing.
Whether you host a webinar on industry trends, best practices, or key learnings, the goal is to educate your audience.
For example, if you are a fulfillment solution, you could run a Q4 Q&A to answer all merchants’ holiday questions, such as; How much do you expect holiday sales to increase this year? What are the best types of ads to run? How do I compete for holiday sales without dropping prices?
The questions may not be directly related to fulfillment, but the businesses are — and that’s where your opportunity lies.
Webinars for the consideration stage
As your prospects move down the funnel, the consideration stage presents an opportunity to get them thinking about your brand as a solution. Webinars in this middle stage of the buyer’s journey can nurture your audience and portray you as a helpful partner and expert in your field.
Consideration stage webinars should be more technical and in depth than the ones you host for the awareness stage. For example, you could present a more sales-focused webinar that shows attendees how your business can provide a solution for their challenge or opportunity.
Webinars for the decision funnel
In the decision stage of the buyer’s journey, your audience will be closer to choosing a solution to their problem or opportunity. They’ve done their research, gained an understanding of their situation, and are ready to make a choice.
At this stage, you should host a webinar that highlights your solution. This could be in the form of a product demonstration, new feature release webinar, or a success story showcasing case studies and how they achieved success through your solution.
4) Gain unique insights
Interactive webinars provide audience insights and data that would be difficult to obtain elsewhere.
With a webinar, you receive feedback directly from your target audience. By hosting Q&A sessions, running polls, and sharing surveys, you can better understand your audience’s wants and needs. These interactive elements will enable you to uncover pain points, trends, and opinions that are useful for your sales team.
You can use tools such as Poll Everywhere to capture instant attendee feedback and insights during your live webinars. You can then analyze this information post-event to determine how to better support and engage these prospects going forward.
Incorporating interactive elements into your webinar can also benefit your audience. When asked what they would like to see in webinars, 22% of consumers said they wanted the host to take questions from the audience.
5) Showcase your expertise
Webinars offer a platform to demonstrate both your expertise and that of your partners. This builds authority and credibility in your industry and among your customers.
Many of the businesses I’ve worked with have strengthened their brand authority, awareness, and expertise through webinars.
When developing a webinar strategy, make sure to include thought leadership in your webinar objectives. This guarantees the sessions you deliver always provide attendees with valuable information.
Integrating thought leadership into webinars helps you gain a competitive advantage over other businesses in your industry as attendees begin to recognize your brand as the go-to expert in your field.
They’ll think of you the next time they need help with something or are looking to buy a product/service you offer.
6) Deliver value
As much as they benefit you, webinars must ultimately deliver value to your customers. Whether that’s knowledge, insider information, or product updates, they enrich your audience knowledge and encourage reciprocity, which can increase customer lifetime value.
This links back to the retention stage of the buyer’s journey I mentioned earlier. Consistently providing value to your customers builds stronger connections with them. In turn, they’re much more likely to become returning customers, or refer others to you.
Webinars don’t always have to push immediate sales. Sometimes, it’s better to focus on delivering value. This allows you to drive long-term success by nurturing your long-term brand strategy, rather than just pursuing quick wins.
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.
This guide to webinar strategy and execution will walk through the following steps of planning your event:
- Define your goals
- Know your audience
- Find the right topic
- Pick your webinar toolkit
- Iron out the details
- Find partners for co-webinars
- Stay organized
- Master your webinar marketing
- Nail the execution
- Schedule your post-event marketing
- Measure the results
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 watch the replay.
Collaboration is crucial at this stage of your webinar strategy. Work with your sales, marketing, and support teams to identify goals that will generate 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 demo 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. You need to make sure the people attending are the most relevant for your intended webinar goals.
Use your sales, marketing, and support teams to identify the right audience and create a customer persona to target. You can then use this customer persona to understand what stage of the buyer’s journey your target audience is at. This can give you a laser-focused understanding of the direction you need to take your webinar to achieve your goals.
Throughout 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
Once you understand your webinar goals and know exactly who your webinar is targeting, you can begin to develop the perfect webinar topic.
Pick a subject 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. Essentially, your webinar should subconsciously sell to attendees through its value.
For example, if you run a B2B eCommerce SaaS, you should focus on equipping merchants for growth, optimizing their operations, and saving them time and money.
You want to make sure your webinar topic is highly tailored. To do this, you need to define your topic clearly, using as much detail as possible.
Break down webinars by verticals (e.g., CPG), subject matter (e.g., marketing), or marketplace (e.g., Walmart.com), and focus on how to amplify 10x an eCommerce business within that realm. At the end, introduce your value and how it can add to that 10x effort discussed in the webinar.
Great sources for webinar topic inspiration are your:
- Sales team — What pain points do they hear 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
You could just run a webinar and hope the sales will roll in. But that spray-and-pray attitude won’t take you far. You need a webinar toolkit featuring all the technical tools and requirements to make your webinar a roaring success.
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. After plenty of trial and error in planning, developing, and delivering webinars, I’m ready to pass my learnings on to you.
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 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&As
- Content sharing options (i.e., share screen, play video, present slides)
Along with your webinar hardware and software, you need to consider what tools will help you plan and market your webinar. I recommend using a project management tool that lets you organize each task in the lead-up to your event.
This can be used to plan the details detail of your webinar, from defining your goals and choosing a webinar topic, to selecting a webinar date, creating a registration landing page on your website, and planning your pre- and post-event marketing activity.
In terms of webinar marketing, your toolkit should include email marketing (especially email drip campaigns), organic and paid social media channels (and scheduling tools), paid advertising, and registration landing pages, to name a few. These marketing tools will amplify your webinar, increasing your reach potential.
Tip: If you plan to make your webinar interactive, don’t forget to include some interactive software that offers live polls, quizzes, and Q&As for audience members.
Step 5: Iron out the details
Webinars come in a variety of formats. What do you want your webinar to look like? You’ll need to examine your overall goals to determine which type is best for you.
Most of the webinars I’ve hosted and attended were an hour long. The first five 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 complicated, 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’s convenient for the majority. For example, 11 a.m. PST is 2 p.m. EST.
When it comes to hosting webinars, there’s a wide range of formats to choose from.
The style you choose must suit your topic. For example, a product release demo should be internal (no outside guests) and include screen sharing. Meanwhile, an industry trends update can utilize a live panel format with guests from adjacent organizations to form a co-webinar.
Step 6: Find partners for co-webinars
A robust webinar marketing strategy requires a consistent, reliable schedule of webinars. 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 (i.e., leads) and value in terms of what the webinar will offer. 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 perspective and reasons to sign up.
Webinar partnerships are one of the easiest ways to multiply your impact, as your partners bring their own audiences, insights, and expertise to an event.
By partnering with an experienced webinar marketer, you further increase the potential success of your co-webinar as you develop the best webinar strategy for your intended goals and audience.
Double the reach means you can promote your event through both of your networks and marketing channels. This cross-promotion is a powerful way to get even more eyes on your upcoming webinar.
Tip: Use my webinar planning document when hosting a joint webinar with a marketing partner.
Step 7: Stay organized
Once you confirm a speaker(s) for your webinar, it’s time to get organized. Be sure to lock down the exact dates and details you need from them right away. 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).
Gathering these details early on in the webinar strategy process is important to avoid delays in your event. I recommend creating a speaker checklist you can use each time you engage a new speaker for a webinar. This checklist will help you stay organized and ensure nothing is missed.
To organize dates, you can send out Google Calendar invites to block off your target time and day on everyone’s calendars (plus 15 minutes of buffer time on each end). 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 (i.e., the weekend or the middle of the night if you’re in different timezones).
After 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 worthwhile 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. Doing both will keep any potential technical mishaps to a minimum.
Things to watch out for when doing a webinar test are:
- Connectivity problems
- Tool functionality (e.g., surveys not working in real time)
- Sound and lighting
- Camera positioning
- Recording and saving
Step 8: Master your webinar marketing
Returning to the registration stage, let’s discuss webinar marketing. Webinar marketing is how you draw in 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 reminders, your webinar could potentially double in reach compared to you marketing it alone.
I recommend requesting:
- Social media shares in the weeks 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 to publish these blogs 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, etc.), 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
Once the planning stage of the webinar is complete, you need to focus on how to execute your webinar effectively.
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. It should be concise and compelling, so use bullet points, showcase speaker expertise in their bios, and keep things short and sweet.
The registration page should have a clear call to action (CTA), contact form, or registration button that makes it easy for people visiting your page to sign up for the event.
Once prospects have opted in to attend your webinar, they should then be added to an automated email campaign that sends them a registration confirmation, webinar reminders, and marketing emails to maintain interest.
Keep branding consistent
The branding of your webinar is a fundamental element of its success. 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 uniform colors, fonts, and styling throughout your webinar presentation and marketing material (webinar presentation, registration page, social media posts, ad banners, etc.).
Take advantage of the footer space of your presentation by including your logo and website, partner logo and website, and the event hashtag or Twitter handle.
Harness your confirmation emails
Throughout the webinar planning and execution, you need to ensure crystal clear communication.
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 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 go 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
I recommend having two people present to represent your company during the webinar. 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.
You may also want to have someone on hand to help with any technical difficulties that may arise, or to assist webinar attendees (e.g., fixing microphone issues or letting late attendees into the webinar).
- 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 signal the end of your opportunities. Invest in webinar post-event marketing to continue to engage with leads, draw additional insights, and repurpose your content for more value.
Once the 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. This can be a great way to gain customer buy-in before your webinar even begins.
Step 11: Measure the results
Finally, it’s time to measure your webinar’s performance. 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.
You can use these results to understand how well your webinar performed and how you can improve in the future.
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 from the higher-ups)
- 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)
Did your webinar meet its intended 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 learn 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 (i.e., if they watched the recording). Look at which advertising and content channels generated the greatest return as well.
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.
As a thank you for reading all the way through, I’m also linking to a few resources and templates I’ve created to run online conferences and webinars.
- Landing/registration pages and website inspiration
- Email drip examples (registration confirmations, etc.)
- Promotions checklist
- Partner resources checklist
- Internal proposal approval tracker
- Speaker planning document
- Timeslot reservation sheet
- Expense and budget tracking sheet
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 the strategy behind it. 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.
Published: June 3, 2020
Updated: August 2, 2021