If webinars don’t form part of your marketing strategy, 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 given the current restrictions on face-to-face events.
But running a successful webinar requires finesse. This guide takes you through strategy, templates, and tools to help you conquer the webinar and generate those leads. It’ll cover everything you need for a successful webinar that delivers impact and results while being fun to run.
- An introduction to webinars
- Benefits of running webinars
- Creating a successful webinar strategy
- The perfect webinar template
- Measuring your webinar results
An introduction to webinars
If this is your first step into the world of webinars, let’s cover the basics first.
A webinar is an online seminar where a host presents information that an audience can view online. 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
Expand your reach
Webinars are online, which means they can be consumed by anyone with an internet connection and internet-enabled device. And, if they’re recorded, they can be accessed by even more people after the event. This allows you to reach your audience wherever they’re located, rather than bringing them to you.
Engage your audience
Would you finish a blog that took an hour to read, or watch a YouTube video that was an hour long? Probably not. Yet, more than 2/3s of registrations are for 60-minute webinars.
This is because they’re easy to consume, can be interactive, and they utilize the power of scarcity (the fear of missing out on something good), giving you a powerful tool for engaging your audience.
Move customers down the buyers journey
Webinars are an excellent way to guide prospects along the customer journey. Whether that’s generating leads, converting sales, onboarding customers, or increasing lifetime value, you can find a webinar format that delivers results.
Gain unique insights
Interactive webinars give you 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.
Showcase your expertise
Webinars give you a platform to demonstrate your expertise and that of your partners. This helps you to build authority and credibility in your industry and among your customers.
Finally, webinars help you deliver value to your customers. Whether that’s knowledge, insider information, or product updates, it helps your audience and encourages reciprocity, which can generate high customer lifetime value.
Creating a successful webinar strategy
Like any marketing tool, these results don’t happen on their own; you need a successful webinar strategy.
A webinar strategy is a process that guides the planning, running, and analysis of your webinars, and it should cover the following:
- Content and format
There are two main types of goals for a webinar.
- 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: This is how you want your webinar to perform. 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 generate a positive business impact. There’s no point putting on a webinar just for the sake of it.
Tip: Make sure your goals are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound). “Generating new leads” isn’t a goal, but “Generating 5 new quote requests in the week following the webinar, via the webinar link” is.
To achieve your overall webinar goal, your webinar must be presented to a relevant audience.
Again, 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?
In the summer of 2020, I ran Deliverr’s first annual Discoverr conference, a 2-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, had to get scrappy with some makeshift workarounds, and learned that the tools you use can make or break you.
There are 2 types of tools required for running a webinar; setup hardware and webinar software.
The bare minimum you (and all of your webinar speakers) should have is a reliable internet connection and a computer to run your webinar. 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
Webinar hosting software is necessary for running your webinar. When researching webinar software, the main features to look out for are:
- Registration: What is the maximum number of live attendees per webinar?
- Ease-of-use (for attendees): Can people join from their desktop computers and phones? Do they need to download software?
- Ease-of-use (for speakers): How easy it is for guest speakers to join? Can everyone control their own slides?
- Webinar room features: Can you turn on/off Q&A, chat, surveys, and polls? Can you set Q&A to private?
- Broadcasting features: Is there built-in live streaming? Can you share a video or recording for part or all of the webinar?
- Content sharing: Can you upload slides, videos, and share screens? Can attendees download slides?
- Post-webinar: Will there be a recording that you can download, will the recording get emailed to registrants, and can you download your registrant list?
Take a look at some popular webinar software tools below.
Demio is a hassle-free webinar tool that allows you to host multi-session events, on-demand webinars, customize email notifications, brand your registration pages, and more. It comes with easy onboarding and features built on the foresight of their marketing-focused founders.
Note: Demio is a client of mine, and if you use the link above you’ll get $25 in credit to test them out.
Zoom has become a household name over the past few months, but its capabilities extend beyond the virtual family quiz night. Zoom Video Webinar provides HD webinars with on-demand viewing, analytics, host controls, interactivity features, and event assistance. However, be aware that it can require a strong bandwidth to perform adequately.
GoToWebinar is an all-in-one webinar tool with features including invitations, videos, polls, sharing, data, and automatic invites and follow-up emails. Note that GoToWebinar is not as customizable as other platforms, which may make it unsuitable for larger brands.
ClickMeeting is an easy-to-use webinar platform that comes with tools for organizing, running, and analyzing webinars. Its three different plans are customizable to different needs. However, it lacks phone support and allows only a limited number of presenters.
WebinarNinja is useful because you can hold multi-session webinars. They’re an excellent option if you’d like to put on a series of different webinars with different speakers, but only require one registration from attendees. They’ll send out a welcome email with unique links to each webinar in that series upon registration, which attendees can click on to access each session.
4. Content and format
All webinars require a topic, format, delivery, length, and speakers.
Pick a topic that delivers audience value while driving action relevant to your goal. Remember, 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 focus shouldn’t be spotlighting 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 webinars out by verticals (ex. CPG), subject matter (ex. marketing), or marketplace (ex. Walmart.com) and focus on how to 10x an eCommerce business within that domain. Then, at the end, you 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 all the time? What are the most common obstacles to conversion?
- Your support team – What questions or misconceptions keep coming up in support tickets?
- Your audience – What are they talking or asking about on social media or forums?
- Your blogs – What topics are people searching for, reading, and converting on the most?
Tip: Shift the focus away from your brand and towards a topic 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.
Your webinar format must suit the topic. For example, a product release demo should be internal (no outside guests) and have screen sharing as part of the presentation. An industry trends update can utilize a live panel format with guests from adjacent organizations.
The different types of webinar formats I’ve found most common and engaging are:
- A keynote speech-type webinar, where a company comes on and introduces a topic they’re experts in. This is the most common type of webinar I’ve encountered and can be held in partnership with other companies.
- A panel-style webinar, where multiple company representatives discuss various topics, usually led by a separate host or moderator. You can also do a panel of team members from the same company, but different departments, if you’re covering a new feature release or something similar.
- A live demo for onboarding, where a company activates signups by teaching them how to engage with the service. Typically there is only one speaker who owns the presentation and Q&A.
While live webinars work best for interactive content, there may be circumstances where you want to deliver a wholly or partly pre-recorded webinar. For example, a product demo where the presenter plays a recorded video of the demonstration then opens the webinar up to live Q&A for attendees.
Various webinar tools have the option for on-demand webinars, where the registration page takes someone to a recording. The recording can be a previous webinar or something that was recorded specifically for the on-demand webinar.
Most of the webinars I’ve hosted and attended are an hour long. Within those 60 minutes, 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 more in-depth teaching events. You can adjust the length of your webinar based on what you need, but make sure to pad some time around your webinar end time if you aren’t sure.
Tip: Double-check that your webinar software won’t automatically end once it hits a certain time. Some of the common webinar tools, especially if you’re on the free plan, have time limits.
Use a host who is engaging, personable, and confident in front of the camera and microphone. If you’re inviting on guest speakers, choose experts who are knowledgeable about the topic, with a bio that inspires trust from your audience.
Tip: When planning a co-webinar, get the speaker details for your registration page as soon as possible.
Time and date
Getting a time and date that overlaps 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, you may want to adjust for evenings and weekends instead.
Don’t forget timezones! If your audience is scattered across the country (or globe), find a time that overlaps with the majority. For example, 11 a.m. PST is 2 p.m. EST.
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 time on everyone’s calendars for:
- Content planning and software setup – where you confirm outline, slides, and introduce speakers to the software.
- Rehearsal – a day or two in advance where you run through the slides and rehearse with everyone in your webinar software.
- Webinar – the actual webinar, and don’t forget to pad 15 minutes ahead of time for people to come on and do sound checks.
Brief your host and guest speakers before the event, so they know what to expect, what they’re talking about, what to wear, and how to use the software.
While you don’t want your speakers to sound scripted, it’s important they have something to refer to throughout the presentation that keeps them on track (especially if they didn’t write the presentation).
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 event, and a technical test on 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
Tip: Download my webinar planning document to get everyone on the same page and ensure clear communication as you organize your webinars.
Planning and organizing a webinar will help it run smoothly, but webinar marketing will determine the quality of the leads you get. You’ll invest a lot of time in hosting these webinars, so you want to get the best leads possible out of it.
How to market your webinar
Dialing things all the way back to the registration stage, let’s talk about webinar marketing. Your webinar marketing strategy should outline a multi-channel approach to promoting your upcoming webinar.
1) Find the right promotion timeline
If you promote your webinar too early, people will forget, but promote too late and schedules will fill up.
Luckily, GoToWebinar has crunched the numbers for you:
- 15% of registrations happen 3-4 weeks before the webinar.
- 69% of registrations happen the week before the webinar.
- 33% of registrations happen on the day of the webinar.
- Tuesdays are the best day for registrations.
- Most registrations happen between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.
So start marketing your webinar four weeks before the event and ramp up your efforts in the week and days before.
2) Build a registration page that converts
People need somewhere to sign up for your webinar. Create an enticing online registration page that includes:
- A catchy title that’s informative and intriguing.
- Bullet points covering what people will gain from the webinar.
- The names and expertise of any guest speakers.
- The date, time, and length.
You can further optimize your page to drive registrations by including testimonials, a countdown timer, and references to the webinar being free (if it is).
3) Share your webinar everywhere
The more places you talk about your webinar, the more people will hear about your webinar (and hopefully sign up). Promotional activities should cover:
- Website: Reference and link to your webinar in your blogs, guest blogs, and on your website. You can use pop-ups and banners to highlight the event.
- Emails: Share the upcoming webinar in your email newsletter, and talk to your partners to see if they’re willing to share with their audiences.
- Social media: Hype up your webinar on your social profiles, and pin the announcement to the top of your feeds. You can also create a hashtag on social media for big events, or for a webinar series.
- Advertising: For big events, you can use ads on social media or Google search ads to share your webinar across the web. If you use print or digital signage, consider adding the webinar announcement to these too.
- Mobile notifications: Market your webinar to existing audiences by using in-app push notifications or automated text messaging to alert them.
- Customer-facing teams: Be sure to brief sales and support teams about the webinar schedule, so they can share relevant events with your customers. Consider having them add a CTA to their email signatures as well.
- Guest speaker network: If you’re inviting another team to join a webinar, work with any guest speakers and their brands to promote the event to their audiences.
- Registrants: In your confirmation email or post-registration thank you page, encourage registrants to share that they are attending on social media.
4) Master your post-webinar communications
The end of the webinar isn’t the end of your marketing. A post-webinar email reinforces your message, directs people to your CTA, re-engages those who didn’t attend, and gathers essential feedback.
Send an email following the event thanking people for their attendance, providing a link to the recording, attaching relevant information, and repeating your CTA. You can also include a link to any feedback surveys you have set up.
Tip: Use this opportunity to promote upcoming webinars, tell them to bookmark your events page, or have them subscribe to an email newsletter that will announce future events.
Throughout the webinar planning and execution, you need to ensure crystal clear communications.
Use your confirmation emails
Registration doesn’t automatically guarantee attendance. Once someone has signed up to your webinar, run a drip-feed email campaign similar to the following:
- Upon registration – Confirmation and a diary 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 will handle these reminders 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.
Finally, 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 for showing:
- 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)
I dive deeper into measuring your results below.
The perfect webinar template
The perfect webinar depends on your goal, audience, and format. To spark your inspiration, let’s look at the different components of a webinar.
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. Not only does consistent branding look professional and make your webinar easier to follow, but it also creates familiarity, which can lead to trust and eventually conversions.
Use consistent colors, fonts, and styling throughout your presentation. Make use of the footer space by including your logo and website, partner logo and website, and the event hashtag or Twitter handle.
The title page is what your audience sees while waiting for the webinar to start. It’s an excellent opportunity to remind your audience what they’re waiting for and start getting them excited.
Include the title, a brief description, and the names of your key speakers. You could even add a little countdown timer to build anticipation and tell people how long they have to grab a cookie beforehand.
Always open with an introduction of the host and guest speakers. This helps to establish a relationship from the beginning and build a rapport that stops people from leaving.
Your introduction slide should include:
- Headshots, especially if you’re not using video.
- Name and job titles so viewers can identify who is speaking.
- A short bio to establish credibility and expertise.
- LinkedIn and Twitter handles to encourage connections.
The Aristotle triptych says: tell them what you will tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them.
An agenda sets your audience’s expectations and can keep them engaged for longer by telling them that the best part is still to come. Agendas are also useful for preventing questions on topics that are later covered and gearing your audience up for any final Q&As.
Now it’s time to tell them. Your presentation should form the bulk of your webinar, but forget long scripts, vast chunks of text, and boring slides – it’s time to sparkle.
Bring life to your webinar through:
- Storytelling – Making the presentation personal and relatable.
- Visual aids – Using graphics and animations.
- Interactivity – Running polls and surveys.
- Imagery – Using photographs and videos.
- Application – Adding stats and information relevant to your audience.
A recap slide is perfect for telling your audience what you just told them and reinforcing your message. It’s also a useful prompt for the host should they have missed anything they wanted to cover.
After telling your audience what you want to say, you need to tell them what to do about it. Include a powerful and clear call to action at the end of your webinar, relevant to your goal.
This could be directing them to a webpage, a free trial, your blog, or a registration page for next month’s webinar.
A question and answer section allows your audience to play an active part in your webinar and can generate some useful insights for your sales and marketing team. Q&As can be run using audio or chat boxes.
Tip: It’s useful to assign a person responsible for filtering and collating questions, and then delivering them to your host. It’s also a good idea to plant some initial questions to get the ball rolling.
Pro tip: Use the Q&A section to generate more content ideas
Use the questions your attendees ask during the webinar to fuel your content calendar.
I recommend keeping questions open throughout your webinars and fielding questions in real-time. You’ll be able to set aside the best questions for your speakers to answer live at the end, and garner insights into what your audience wants to know at the same time.
Some of my best-performing articles were inspired by the Q&A section in my webinars, because we were able to find the most relevant content to our audience.
Tip: Set questions to private, so your internal team can see and answer them. When questions are seen publicly, attendees can get caught up on one topic.
Thank you and repeated CTA
Finally, thank your audience for their time, repeat your call to action, and let everyone get on with their day.
Measuring your webinar results
High-five, you ran a webinar. But was it a success?
We’ve already covered why it’s necessary to measure your webinar results. Now let’s look at what to measure.
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 go? 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 most return.
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.
This section also includes 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).
Common webinar KPIs include:
- Attendance vs. conversion – This tells you how well your content and CTA did at driving your goal.
- Attendances vs. engagement – This shows how much attention your audience was paying throughout the webinar and identifies any technical glitches with surveys and polls.
- Registrations vs. attendance – This highlights problems with your post-registration/ pre-event marketing. The typical attendance rate is 40-50% of registrants.
- Emails sent vs. registrations – This gives you an insight into how well your email campaign performed.
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 that your webinar targets the right audience, generates high attendance, encourages action, and delivers positive business impact now and in the future.
If you liked this article, you may enjoy my article on Webinar marketing strategies: How to execute eCommerce webinars.
Originally published July 26, 2020
Updated January 12, 2021