As more and more organizations are using the Internet as a tool to cut costs, generate revenue, increase productivity, and communicate effectively with their customers, webinars continue play an important role for education, marketing, sales, and customer support purposes. By saying that, have you ever think the webinars you are producing today similar to the ones you produced years ago? What changes are there? What have you learned?
I think they are similar, with the exception of the tools being more advanced and people have a bit more experience of doing it. Then how can you make the webinar a more valuable educational option for those who doesn’t have time to attend a conference, peel away from the office, or wants to learn on their own time? How can you bridge the distance more effectively? If you are asking attendees to take part in a real-time session, shouldn’t they have ample opportunity to engage each other so ideas are generated through peer discussion?
Speaking of a webinar – it is a presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar that is transmitted over the Web.
A key feature of a Webinar is its interactive elements – the ability to give, receive and discuss information. Contrast with Webcast, where the data transmission is one way and does not allow interaction between the presenter and the audience (Source: Webopedia).
Webinars are often a free resource that companies offer to their visitors. It enable presenters to conduct virtual seminars for anyone to take part as long as they have a PC with an Internet connection. In the webinar, presenters give some valuable knowledge and use that to sell their other products/services.
Attendees will be able to ask questions and get answers in the real-time, and the presenters will be able to conduct polls and ask questions as well. These types of online courses have a higher impact than simply reading material on the web. Webinars offer exceptional convenience and are very cost-effective, they are ideal for brown-bag lunch training.
It is also a good method to use to build your brand, generate quality sales leads and build strong customer and prospect relationships. Traditional face-to-face seminar marketing events have been recognized as a very effective business relationship builder, however the costs associated with travel and time away from the office have become significant barriers to getting and keeping attendance.
In his recent article, Jeremiah (Web Strategist) pointed out that “Most webinar producers do it wrong, or they miss key steps in planning, or fail to follow-up and ‘pursue’ attendees. A common mistakes? Not engaging with the distracted multi-tasking audience, and recognizing that webinars are now a two-way medium – even if chat features are not enabled in the platform.”
For those who seek to produce successful webinars, he emphasis the important of “Ten P’s” to follow to cut risk and increase chances of success. The Ten Ps include:
1) Philosophy – Most approach webinars realizing they are different from all other mediums. Despite being primarily one-way they have a social element as attendees will interact with each other in the provided chat features, or on tools like Twitter. Secondly, many webinar producers don’t offer helpful content to the audience, and instead treat it like a sales pitch. Lastly, speakers that are great on stage in the real world, may fall short and appear lackluster in an online faceless webinar.
2) Purpose – Many webinar producers fail to pick a succinct goal, in fact this is key as it will define how you measure success. Some goals can include: Thought leadership, association, customer references, lead generation, sales material, accelerating the customer life cycle, or education.
3) Planning – One biggest fail point is not having the right hardware and software (including compatible browsers) and waiting to the last-minute-scramble to get this done. The truly savvy producers will integrate the webinar with existing community and tie with direct marketing systems and then funnel leads to the CRM system.
4) Professionals – Your internal team will include the following duties, but keep in mind, often one person will conduct multiple duties such as: Internal Stakeholder, Webinar Producer, Coordinator, Marketer, Community Manager, and Technical Support of both the platform, hardware, and software. The performance team will include any of the following: Speaker, panelists, emcees, and should have a backup speaker.
5) Programming of Content – Once a kickoff meeting has been set in place, the internal and performance team should discuss content.
6) Promotion – Successful webinar producers create a template of marketing content that can be used in multiple mediums, create a registration form that both collects opt-in leads as well as polls the audience for the real event, applies an integrate marketing approach by alerting prospects via email, web, account teams and even advertising.
7) Preparation and Practice – Like a real world performance, the speakers should both practice in advance by doing a dry run. While the entire set of content doesn’t need to be rehearsed specifics on the logistics, hardware, software, and connections tests need to be completed.
8) Performance “Showtime” – This is it, we’re now at “Showtime!” One key mindset is to remember to engage with the crowd by sourcing questions.
9) Pursuit – This is the most overlooked opportunity by producers. Rather than patting yourself on the back after the webinar, the greatest opportunity lies in “facilitating action after your call-to-action.” Do this by: sending a thank you to the attendees in email, and ask if they want to be contacted directly by your account and sales teams. Also, engage with those who were very engaged in the event, both in their explicit behaviors and duration of paying attention. Furthermore, publish the slides and recording, and make it easy for prospects to contact you to learn more. Then continue to funnel qualified leads to your sales team, showing in order of priority those that have requested to be contacted, and those that were highly engaged.
10) Post Mortem – Have an internal meeting to recap what was done well, and what needs to be improved. Develop a report for your primary stakeholder based upon your decided purpose, and send a thank you to the speakers. Lastly, congratulate yourself for producing a successful webinar!
If you’re in the marketing or sales arena, the 9th P is crucial. Remember, once the event ends, your job is just starting and you must focus on “Pursuit” for sales follow-up, don’t just throw a lead least over the transom to sales.
You can Download the Webinar Checklist Sheet Here, review with your team, then assign team members and dates. And also place this document in a central location so all of your team members can see, and conduct regular meetings to complete checklist.