Creating and conducting webinars is one of the best ways to engage with potential customers in an increasingly remote world.
Since the rise of remote work, people rely on technology for education and social interaction more than ever. This means more Zoom meetings instead of in-person meetings, more walks to a home office instead of commutes to a high-rise, and more webinars instead of live events.
The B2B webinar platform BrightTalk reported a 76% increase in video, webinar, and virtual events uploaded to their platform from March to June 2020. From April 2019 to April 2020, ON24 saw a 167% increase in monthly usage of its webinar platform. If there was ever a time to create a webinar, it’s now.
Are webinars dead?
In a word: no. While webinars may seem outdated, they have proven to be invaluable during social distancing. Most companies are moving toward a telecommuting model, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. The new “working from home economy” guarantees that webinars remain a cornerstone of companies’ marketing and sales strategies.
Because companies are turning to webinars to replace their live events, the market is experiencing an over-saturation. As a result, it’s even more challenging to make your virtual event stand out from the pack. Luckily, HubSpot and GoToWebinar teamed up to bring you the ultimate webinar planning kit that can help you create a compelling, effective webinar that will engage potential customers and drive lead generation.
1. Brainstorm webinar ideas.
Before you can start making your webinar, you'll have to decide on the topic.
The topic you choose should answer questions that your audience typically asks and preferably be highly specific. For example, if you're hosting a webinar on email marketing, you can choose to focus on subject lines in particular.
Overall, your webinar should provide value to your audience. Think about your company as a whole and your unique value proposition. What topics do you have expertise in and can provide value on? Consider choosing an educational topic, as this content performs well.
Align the topic with the goal of your sales team. A successful webinar hinges on sales and marketing alignment. If the marketing team creates content that isn’t helping their sales conversations, it won’t successfully drive high-quality leads to sales.
Luckily, you have experts at your disposal who can come up with content ideas that will complement and aid the sales conversation: the representatives themselves.
Ask your sales team what they might want a webinar’s focus to be. Get the representatives' buy-in for a webinar before you plan it. Set up a meeting to discover new content ideas and find out what pain points they need to help solve. This will go a long way toward ensuring the sales' follow-up with registrants is seamless once the webinar is over.
2. Choose a webinar format.
When considering how to structure your webinar, you have countless options. The four most common types are panel discussions, Q&A, single-speaker presentations, and interviews.
For panel discussions, you can invite industry experts to discuss a niche, current topic within your industry. They encourage roundtable conversations, focus on building a dialog around the topic, and offer various viewpoints. The experts’ differing perspectives can expand your attendees’ understanding of the topic in ways that wouldn’t be possible with one speaker’s input.
Because panelists will be speaking to each other rather than directly to the audience, panel discussions may encourage speakers who are camera shy to participate in your webinar.
When you organize a panel discussion webinar, it’s important to choose the best moderator for your topic. Your moderator is responsible for establishing the rules of the discussion, keeping track of time, and keeping the panel on topic.
Choosing the most engaging panelists to present your topic is also important. Panelists must be able to volunteer key points and concrete examples during discussions. Your panel needs to represent the demographic of your audience and offer different perspectives to encourage interesting discussion. At least one of your panelists should be an authority on the webinar topic who can establish credibility with the audience.
For Q&As, you only need your team’s product experts to answer your customers’ questions. Q&A webinars allow attendees to participate in the webinar, help you to learn more about the attendees’ needs, and enable your team to showcase your knowledge about the topic.
Live Q&As can be unpredictable. Your attendees may be hesitant to ask questions or may ask questions your team is not prepared to answer, so it may be helpful to develop a list of potential questions. Rock Content recommends making a list of doubts and curiosities that your audience may have and using it as a guide for the Q&A.
Single-speaker presentations involve one presenter delivering the webinar and answering attendees’ questions. We recommend holding a single-speaker presentation if you plan to have a small audience for your webinar.
Interviews are also a great choice. You can either interview an industry expert or a current customer about their experience with your company. Interviewing someone who has a large following may encourage people to sign up for your webinar and help you reach a new audience.
Before your webinar, prepare a strong portfolio of interview questions to keep the conversation flowing and ensure that your interview runs smoothly.
3. Pick a webinar tool.
When you're researching a tool to use, consider your objectives. For example, how many people do you think will attend? Do you need a tool that could allow over 1,000 attendees? How much does it cost? How easy is it to use? You should look into these questions when deciding what webinar tool to use.
Additionally, you'll want to make sure the tool can handle the type of webinar you want to host — can it handle video chatting for panels or Q&A webinars? The right tool for you will depend on the overall objectives of your event.
4. Assign roles to your team members.
After choosing the platform, assign roles in your team. Typically, you’d need to choose four people:
The organizer handles all facets of planning, from ideation to content creation. They are usually the primary contact in the webinar platform.
The presenter is the subject matter expert, either on your team or in the industry, who will present on the topic you’ve chosen.
The moderator is required for panel discussions but not for single-speaker presentations. This person will help stimulate conversation among panel participants. You can also assign a moderator if you expect to receive a lot of questions from attendees.
Assistants are the team members at hand in case of emergencies. For example, if there’s no sound, an assistant can step in to resolve this problem. Like moderators, assistants can also manage the chat box during the event.
5. Produce the content.
Once you find a tool and know the topic you want to present, it’s time to create the content, depending on the type of webinar you want to host. For example, will it be a PowerPoint and talking head presentation? Or perhaps you want to do a live panel Q&A? Either way, you'll have to produce the content and prepare for the big day.
For example, if you're creating a PowerPoint, you'll need to create your slide deck. Make sure that the slides emphasize your points, but don't include a script. These slides should be visually appealing and include interesting graphics, such as images or GIFs.
If you're hosting a discussion-style webinar, plan out your speakers, gather audience questions, and prepare any other questions you might have so you can prioritize your time during the webinar.
6. Choose the best time for the webinar.
To select a time and date for your webinar, you'll want to consider where your audience lives. Use tools like Google Analytics to see where people are so that you can choose a convenient day and time zone.
ON24 reports that Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days to host webinars, with 11 a.m. being the best time. Another popular time is 10 a.m.. Both are great for a wide range of time zones and should avoid most commute times or work hours. Typically, these times prevent conflicts for the greatest number of people.
However, if your audience is solely in the United States, you won't need to worry about global time zones. Instead, you can focus on planning a time when most people aren't commuting. For example, early afternoon or after work hours are generally good times.
7. Create a contingency plan for your webinar presentation.
When hosting a live webinar, it’s crucial to have a contingency plan. Setting up a backup internet connection, prerecording content, and printing out a copy of your presentation can save your webinar in case of outages, interruptions, or other unforeseen circumstances.
If you lose your internet connection while hosting a webinar, a wired internet connection or wireless hotspot can be used as a backup.
Prerecording content for your webinar ensures that your attendees have something to watch while you troubleshoot technical issues that may arise.
You may not be able to view your notes on screen while presenting your webinar, so you should consider printing out a hard copy of your slides and notes. That allows you to continue presenting if your computer screen freezes or you lose your video connection.
Additionally, emailing your attendees a printout of your slides before the webinar can help them stay engaged if they have technical issues while viewing the presentation.
8. Practice your webinar before the event.
Practice is essential for a successful webinar, and it can help you get acquainted with the platform if you’ve never used it before.
We highly encourage creating a fake event on your webinar platform. Publish it, send a link to another one of your team members, and practice as if you were presenting a real webinar. Your team member would watch it as an attendee and should tell you what the presentation looks like on the other end.
9. Promote your webinar.
Now that you've done the backend work, it's time to ensure you have people who want to attend.
To promote your webinar, you can create a landing page where people can sign up and then distribute and promote that link in several ways.
For example, consider running ads through social media and search engines. Additionally, you'll want to use free promotion tactics — you can post on your accounts and website, and send an email to your subscribers. It's important to use your follower base to get people interested.
Reminder emails are also helpful. Consider sending “Don't Miss Out” or “Seats Are Filling Up” emails as the day gets closer.
When people do sign up, you'll want to remind them leading up to the day of the webinar. You should send them the webinar link about an hour before, so it's top of mind, and they don't have to go looking for the link in their registration email.
10. Follow up with your audience.
Webinars are a great sales opportunity, and you don't want people to leave your webinar and never think of you again.
That's why you'll want to send them a thank you email and gather feedback from attendees so you can plan better webinars in the future.
Remember that attendees generally like to have a recording. If you send them a link to the recording afterward, they don't have to take vigorous notes during the webinar. This also means you can send it to registrants who weren’t able to attend.
Once you’ve come up with relevant content topics for your webinar and set up the event, it’s time to get that webinar in front of as many eyes as possible.
With webinars, it’s not just about generating initial excitement. You have to build excitement and encourage engagement once the webinar goes live.
1. Set up a landing page that is optimized for search engines.
The first step in your webinar promotion strategy is to create an optimized landing page that can organically jumpstart registrations.
According to Karthik Shetty, a field and performance marketing specialist, you have only seven seconds to convert a prospect who has visited your landing page, so you must strategically structure the landing page for your webinar.
Your landing page should have a target keyword in the title, a sign-up form, and optimized copy. Ideally, the form should integrate with your other marketing and sales tools, automatically turning registrants into contacts or prospects.
2. Promote your webinar to current subscribers and contacts via email.
Now that you have a landing page to direct users to, it’s time to target your first attendees: people who already know about your company and customers who have previously engaged with you.
After sending a personalized email to your contacts, take the following steps:
- Create automated email reminders that will be sent to prospects who have been invited but not yet registered.
- Create manual email templates reps can send in their one-on-one communication with prospects.
- Set up an automated email to notify reps when one of their prospects has registered for your webinar. This will help them engage and close those prospects down the road.
3. Promote your webinar via LinkedIn and other social media platforms.
LinkedIn is an excellent platform to promote webinars. They’re usually created for other businesses, and LinkedIn is the ultimate B2B marketing platform.
LinkedIn now has an option for virtual events, which allows you to add the webinar access link. Registrants can also jumpstart discussions on the event page, giving you potential topics to address during the presentation or Q&A.
You can also advertise the webinar through display ads on Google, Instagram, and Facebook, though we encourage keeping the bulk of your investment on LinkedIn.
4. Send reminder emails to registrants.
Even though you’ve gotten registrants, that doesn’t mean they’ll show up. After all, if you promote a webinar one to two weeks in advance, some of your registrants are likely to forget when the live date comes around.
Remember to send out reminder emails the day before and the day of the live event to ensure a high live attendance rate.
Adding an “add to calendar” button to your emails will encourage registrants to block out time in their busy calendar, making them more likely to attend.
5. Offer a certificate of completion, professional development hours, or continuing education credits.
An easy way to entice registrations is to offer something in return. Certificates of completion, PDHs, and CEUs are credentials attendees will want to receive after the webinar. This also entices people to stay until the end.
Services like Certifier can be used to create certificates of completion for your webinar attendees. They can be offered to virtually any professional. Industries such as engineering, architecture, software engineering, and marketing require professionals to continue their training after starting their careers.
6. Consider co-marketing the webinar.
Try your hand at co-marketing. One of the best ways to get new expertise, generate interest for a piece of content, and expand the reach of a campaign is to run a co-marketed webinar.
Instead of running a webinar with speakers internally, try working with another company that’s going after a similar buyer persona and can bring their expertise into the conversation. Doing so creates more interesting content and gives you the opportunity to get your webinar in front of another company’s established audience.
7. Survey participants after the webinar.
The only way to get better is to know how you can improve. By sending an after-event survey, you can refine your next webinar. Hosting a better event can help you confidently market it to prospects.
You can schedule a survey in Zoom that will appear to attendees at the end of the webinar. This survey can include a link to the next webinar you’re hosting, driving registrations for that event.
8. Deliver necessary information to sales.
A considerable part of the pre-webinar and post-webinar process is ensuring the right information gets delivered to sales. That’s why GoToWebinar and HubSpot recommend creating one webinar hub that’s easily accessible by sales with the following information:
- On-demand recordings of all webinars.
- A calendar with past and future webinars.
- Documentation that details the webinar's goals, title, target persona, funnel stage, key points, speakers, and logistics.
- Promotional and follow-up emails.
- Collection of graphic and text CTAs sales reps can drop into their communications.
- Mechanism to collect suggestions from sales reps for new topic suggestions and general feedback.
However, once the webinar has concluded, it’s time to ensure the sales reps are ready to close those leads. Send a follow-up email to your representatives and include the following information:
- Leads who registered
- Leads who attended
- Leads who registered but didn’t attend
- Leads who never registered
- New SQL leads from post-webinar lead scores
- Any other relevant webinar data
- Send email templates sales can use to send to leads based on their webinar behavior. Include other relevant content they can use to continue to nurture leads in the coming weeks.
Putting the extra effort in will go a long way toward ensuring the webinar is a success from both a sales and marketing standpoint.
1. Western Forestry Conservation Association’s “Benefits and Drawbacks of Hot Planting, Summer Planting, and Fall Planting” Panel Discussion
In the Western Forestry Conservation Association’s “Benefits and Drawbacks of Hot Planting, Summer Planting, and Fall Planting” webinar, a tribal nursery specialist moderates a panel discussion among fellow nursery specialists. The panelists discuss the effects of hot planting, summer planting, and fall planting on nurseries and reforestation efforts.
Each panelist is given an equal amount of time to present their research and views on the discussion topic. This webinar handles a large audience well by enabling a setting that automatically mutes attendees’ microphones and turns off their cameras to limit distractions and interruptions. While the panelists give their presentations, the moderator answers the attendees’ questions via chat.
2. ActualTech Media’s “Mitigating Ransomware in 2021” Live Q&A Webinar
In ActualTech Media’s “Mitigating Ransomware in 2021” webinar, David M. Davis of ActualTech Media moderates a live Q&A with Roger Grimes, a security expert and data-driven defense evangelist from KnowBe4. The webinar focuses on the latest ransomware threats, the signs of a ransomware infection, and the best ways to prevent the spread of ransomware.
ActualTech Media designed a landing page where registrants could submit their questions in preparation for the webinar. Attendees were also encouraged to ask questions during the webinar.
It provided value to the attendees after the webinar concluded by offering them a handout and links to free ransomware mitigation tools.
3. Vanessa Van Edwards’ “2022 Goal Setting” webinar
In her “2022 Goal Setting” webinar, behavioral investigator and author Vanessa Van Edwards breaks down the science of goal setting and offers tips for setting and achieving goals in the new year.
At the end of the webinar, Van Edwards encourages attendees to enroll in a monthly workshop that expands on the webinar’s topics, allows attendees to practice the concepts, and includes a live Q&A session.
Useful Webinar Creation Tips
Not sure how to set your webinar apart from the rest? No worries.
Single-speaker presentations are admittedly overdone. In a time when webinars are commonplace, it’s even more important to use different tactics to engage your viewers.
Think about ways to mix up how the information in your webinar is presented. Here are some tips:
Try a discussion-style webinar.
We’ve found unscripted, discussion-style webinars effectively engage our audience. In many of our live events, we’ve foregone the slides completely and instead brought two speakers together and had a host ask live questions on air. It’s effective for encouraging Twitter participation via a hashtag and keeping the content conversational but informative.
Answer your customers’ questions throughout the event.
Try building a webinar around your prospects' questions. Send a call for questions to be answered live on-air. This will help build engagement and excitement for what’s to come. Hopefully, the people asking questions will be more likely to show up on the day of the webinar.
Engage prospects beforehand by adding interactive features to the webinar sign-up page.
You can also use a landing page like this that includes a voting feature for people to upvote their top questions. This will also help you prioritize the material your audience is most interested in.
According to ON24, 68% of marketers say webinars are one of the best ways to tie marketing activity to revenue. Webinars can also help generate quality leads. Why?
Webinar Engagement Statistics
According to GoToWebinar, the average webinar attendee viewing time is 57 minutes. However, the attention spans of webinar attendees differ depending on the webinar’s length and topic. For example, attendees view marketing webinars for 52 minutes and training webinars for 61 minutes on average.
They work across the entire customer journey.
From thought-leadership panel discussions to weekly live demos, webinars are a dynamic and effective way to move prospects down the funnel from awareness to closed deals and beyond.
Webinar Lead Generation Statistics
Webinars come with a ton of information about your prospects you can use to identify high-quality, sales-ready leads. With each webinar registrant, you can collect lead and engagement data that your sales team can use to initiate personalized outreach.
Webinar Consumption Statistics
Twenty-seven percent of consumers watch a webinar that teaches them more about a passion or a hobby, while 24% reported watching webinars for the entertainment value. Eighteen percent of consumers watch webinars to further their knowledge about their profession. Nearly a quarter reported watching webinars for all of the above.
Webinar Thought Leadership Statistics
Thirty percent of consumers report feeling more engaged when a webinar teaches them something new. And when it’s about your product, it’s safe to assume that they’re highly interested in converting.
Webinar Lead Conversion Statistics
According to ON24, a good registrant-to-attendee conversion rate falls between 35% and 45%. ON24 reported a 61% increase in registrant-to-attendee conversion in April 2020. In 2019, it was 55%. For events with over 100 attendees, the average conversion rate was 53% in 2020, up from 43% in 2019.
Featured Resource: Free Webinar Planning Kit
We know planning and promoting a webinar can be difficult if you've never done it before. So we've compiled a guide, template, and checklist for you to get your webinar off the ground — whether it's your first or 40th. Click here to download the kit for free.
It's All About Alignment
Webinars are seeing a timely resurgence. They’re not just an effective marketing tool. They’re also effective sales tools — but only if your sales team has the information, content, and tools to use them to move prospects down the funnel and close deals.
Creating the kind of alignment you need to make this all a success isn’t easy. So HubSpot and GotoWebinar made this ultimate guide for creating a successful webinar and included a checklist to guide you through pre-, ongoing, and post-webinar communications.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in February 2018 and was updated in January 2021 for comprehensiveness.