10 Lessons for Effective Webinars that Benefit Your Audience & Your Brand

Thursday - 5 December 2013

Webinars are now the No. 1 tool for lead generation, driving sales through an interactive, educational online program.

However, that opportunity goes to waste on webinars that over-promote, ignore the audience and neglect important details like quality audio, visual and interactive elements.

In a recent webinar titled “10 Common Webinar Mistakes…and How to Avoid Them,” Mark Bornstein of ON24 presented the most common mistakes made when promoting, hosting and measuring webinars. The data is based on thousands of webinars ON24 supports every year.

Many little things distinguish a great webinar from an OK webinar, and marketers can take several measures to assure their webinars are a success for both the company and their audience.

Give yourself plenty of time to promote.

Bornstein’s advice: give yourself a long runway to promote your webinar vent with different email and social media messages over multiple weeks.  Starting promotion one week in advance rarely achieves the full potential audience.

Instead of sending three of the same emails, Bornstein suggests varying between HTML and text-based messages. The latter offers a more personal approach and can come from the presenter, marketer or product manager of the webinar.

Courtesy of ON24

The “magic number” for when to begin promotion: 3 weeks. A same-day email as a reminder helps assure those who registered actually attend.

Optimize registration and confirmation pages.

A webinar’s registration and confirmation pages should include social sharing buttons and an official hashtag so attendees can spread the word. Marketers should also include a direct link that enables registrants to place the event on their business calendar.

Courtesy of ON24

As far as registration information goes, only ask for the information you need. Long forms drive away potential registrations.

Don’t create a “vanilla” webinar console.

When you ask someone to stare at a fixed location for an hour, it needs to be engaging, pleasing to the eye and interactive. Take advantage of the webinar console by customizing it so it presents your brand and corporate colors.

Engage with the audience.

Most webinar platforms provide interactive tools for social media integration, group collaboration, polls and chat boxes.

Courtesy of ON24

After taking a poll of the webinar he presented, Bornstein found that a Live Q&A is the most used form of interaction, followed by polls and chat boxes.

Tell a story with pictures, not words.

The most common webinar mistake: overloading slides with text and bullet points. To educate viewers, you must tell a story — and the best way to tell a story is through pictures, Bornstein reasons.

Use text as a complement to the photos and highlight key points.

A golden rule of presenting: don’t read your slides. Talk to the audience, not at them.

Help, don’t sell.

Though it’s tempting to start pitching products when you have a live and attentive audience, great webinars offer solutions. Don’t victimize your viewers with the “bait and switch” tactic; address common problems and offer advice on how to solve them.

Make sure the attendees can hear you.

Presenters who use cell phones or the conference feature are hard to hear, which distracts the audience from the content, decreases their attendance time, and is unprofessional.

Webinar presenters should use a headset, broadcast from a small room, turn off noisy devices, and hang up a “Do Not Disturb” sign for the best audio performance.

Respect your audience’s time.

An unspoken agreement exists between the presenters and their audience: viewers agree to attend for the time allotted, and presenters agree not to exceed the advertised amount of time.

Note: while it’s the most common timeframe, webinars don’t have to be one hour long. Schedule the webinar based on the amount of content you have.

Have an on-demand strategy.

It’s likely your business is trying to reach a national and/or international audience. It’s impossible for your entire audience to be available on the time and date of your webinar. Do them a favor and make the webinar on-demand.

Assess the value of leads.

Intelligent lead scoring increases marketing effectiveness. After the webinar, marketers should analyze each lead’s value and take into account their viewing time, registration data and amount of interactivity.

Courtesy of ON24

Then, assign a score to the leads and send only hot leads to the sales department. The “cooler” leads still need nurturing via other marketing approaches.

Bottom line: webinar attendees want to be engaged and educated, and leave the webinar with a different perspective or knowledge. Marketers who remember this can create successful webinars for both their audience and their company.

Do you have any additional tips for improving webinar effectiveness? Please share in the comments below!

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