There’s one indisputable fact that many modern marketers and sales agents understand: Webinars provide implicit value and can be an excellent tool for conversions. These web-based events help a brand establish authority in a vertical, power a customer’s journey, and they are a great way to secure business relationships.
They can even be interactive so that you will better understand what your target audience wants.
Webinars establish brand awareness. For example, if you’re looking to break into the market, creating a webinar that’s at once entertaining and informative is a smart move because it creates an authoritative voice for your organization in your niche or vertical. These events can be recorded for later use, and they can even be used as a regular training tool for your employees.
Webinars don’t have to be expensive; there are even free webinar solutions out there to consider. Still, not everyone understands how to create a great webinar that will resonate with their intended audiences, which is why we’ve created this guide for you.
- What is a Webinar?
- The Best Webinar Software for Business
- 9 Steps for Creating Your First Webinar
- Conclusion: Webinars Build Your Brand
What is a Webinar?
A webinar is a web-based seminar, which means that they are educational or instructive, and therefore, have a variety of potential uses like training, providing information, and marketing.
For example, say you’re introducing a new technology into your call center. With a webinar, you can effectively and interactively instruct all of your agents on how to use it effectively. In many cases, live webinars have question and answer sessions where the attendees can learn more about the subject of the event.
Since these can be recorded, companies can host webinar pages on their site. Others can be used as part of the onboarding process. Rather than just using a dry powerpoint presentation, your staff can be trained via the dynamism of a live event.
Additionally, hosting webinars is great for content marketing. Larger businesses can create paid webinars to be used as an extra revenue stream. This is especially effective when your business is recognized as an industry leader since attendees will be willing to part with their cash to gain insights.
The Best Webinar Software for Business
One of the best aspects of webinar software is how readily available it is. Just about anyone can find software for creating webinars that will do the job. There are high-end solutions that are designed for enterprise, and there are solutions that are more moderately priced built for mid-sized companies. In this section, let’s take a look at some of the webinar creation solutions that you can use to develop these web-based events on your own.
Cisco’s WebEx is a versatile system that has built-in webinar functionality. It also has video conferencing, training, remote support, and collaboration functionality, so organizations looking for a one-size-fits-all solution may want to consider this platform.
WebEx also has a four-tiered pricing plan that’s great for just about every type of organization. Their webinar software has features that allow you to host Q&As, start text chats, and even carry out polls for your attendees. Overall, this is a robust way to carry out a webinar. We published a beginner’s guide to WebEx to walk you through the platform’s features.
While Cisco is a leader in the industry, we also took the time to compare their solutions with alternatives to WebEx.
|Plans||WebEx has a free tier, a starter tier, a plus tier, and a business tier.|
|Maximum Attendees||Their webinar solution has a maximum attendee count of 3,000.|
|Organizations that Can Best Use WebEx||Due to the popularity of the solution, enterprise-level organizations will be well-suited to WebEx’s business model. The platform even allows you to brand your invitations and registration site.|
Many small businesses utilize LogMeIn’s GoToMeeting because it’s a relatively cheap solution for business VoIP. In addition to its conferencing software, the company has also created GoToWebinar, which has some useful features for webinar creation.
The platform has webinar templates that you can use to quickly set up new events based on webinars that you’ve held in the past. LogMeIn has even developed features like custom branding, customized webinar invitations, and automated email reminders to help you promote your brand and events.
|Plans||Like WebEx, GoToWebinar has four pricing plans. Unlike that other solution, there is no free tier.|
|Maximum Attendees||GoToWebinar allows for a maximum of 2,000 attendees.|
|Organizations that Can Best Use GoToWebinar||Since the attendee count caps out at 2,000, this is the right solution for mid-sized organizations. All plans now also include GoToMeeting as well, which delivers some extra value.|
Join.me is another LogMeIn product that is useful for smaller companies that are trying to find out how to create webinar content without spending a lot of cash. While their offering isn’t quite as feature-rich as competitors like WebEx, there are enough features to create some polished events. For example, for not a lot of money, Join.me has customizable branding, pass presenter functionality, and scheduling.
LogMeIn has reserved some features for GoToWebinar, but for on-the-fly events, Join.me is a good option. They also offer a free trial for new customers.
|Plans||There are three Join.me plans. The Lite version has no webcam streams, but Pro and Business allow for the creation of webinars.|
|Maximum Attendees||Join.me’s webinar functionality only allows for 50 attendees with screen sharing.|
|Organizations that Can Best Use Join.me||Join.me is a good option for those that want to build their brand’s presence using a simple webinar platform. This is an easy to use, inexpensive option that’s great for SMBs.|
9 Steps for Creating Your First Webinar
The process by which you create your webinars is the determining factor in their quality, so you’ll need to get it right. Well-crafted webinars can garner conversions, educate employees, and build awareness, but poorly crafted webinars can deliver the opposite effect. GetVoIP has a detailed guide from some of the pros on how to give a killer webinar, but before checking that out, here’s our step-by-step guide on developing your first.
Step 1. Select a Topic and Theme
It’s important to understand that a webinar is going to establish you as an authority in the topic you’re tackling. For this reason, you must select a viable topic and theme for your webinar. It’s also essential to select a theme that is going to engage and motivate your attendees. This is going to be the section of the webinar that is going to take the most due diligence.
Here are a few questions that you can ask at this stage:
- What subjects tend to mystify your clients and employees?
- Are there topics and themes to establish your role as a thought leader?
- What subjects engage you the most?
- Are there subjects that your customers might need to know more about?
- Have you posed questions to your audience in the past about things that they’d be interested in knowing more about?
Any themes and topics must resonate with your audience, especially if you plan on creating webinars of this type in the future. Having this level of engagement will ensure that your attendees feel that they are part of the ride, which is crucial.
When attempting this step, it’s okay to laser-focus down to a more specified objective – this will even free up aspects of the topic that you can cover in a follow-up webinar.
Step 2. Pick the Right Time
There are a few aspects of timing the webinar that will be essential to its success. If you’re going to be having attendees from different time zones, then midday tends to work out well –be mindful of the attendees’ lunchtimes. For example, 2:00 pm on the East Coast, which is 11:00 am on the West Coast tends to be a good time to schedule a webinar in the US.
If you’re hosting one of these for a single time zone, then it’s a good idea to schedule them between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. Don’t schedule these at noon since many professionals won’t attend on their lunch hour. Additionally, select a day that’s in the middle or end of the week. These periods tend to be less busy, which is why many professionals won’t mind sacrificing an hour during their post-lunch energy dip.
Finally, don’t be afraid to pre-record. Prerecorded events will open up the reach of your webinar, and your attendees can watch at their leisure. This doesn’t preclude holding polls or Q&As, especially if you’re running your webinar on a platform that has these features as part of the digital package.
Step 3. Select the Proper Format
Select a format that will work best for the information you’re trying to relay. Is there only going to be a single speaker at the event? What about a moderated panel discussion between the customers and your presenters? Do you want a Q&A format that will help provide your customers or employees with the answers they need? Whatever you do, select the webinar format that’s going to deliver the highest level of attendee engagement.
Step 4. Create Engaging Visuals
While it’s a fair expectation that a webinar will feature at least some slides from a deck, these will have to be streamlined so that you’re not just displaying stats to your attendees. For this step, you’ll want to be expanding on the user experience so that each takeaway that you’re intending to make is presented in an easily-digested package. This will require some quality visuals, not just graphs or text that may seem a little dry to attendees.
For this reason, here are some visuals components of your webinar you’ll want to include:
- An introductory slide that walks the attendees through what will be discussed in the webinar
- Slides that introduce any presenters or interviewees before they even become part of the webinar
- Polls and handouts that will be directly engaging for attendees
- An online whiteboard where attendees can see you laying out an idea in real-time
- A section at the end that provides a call to action for the viewers
Step 5. Pick an Organizer and Presenter
While some opt to run their webinars solo, having helpers can streamline processes. Capable organizers can help you organize the information for the webinar in a cohesive way and develop the content so that it’s as engaging as it needs to be. A good organizer is also great for finding your other critical component for this step: the presenter.
The presenter will need to be knowledgeable about the subject matter and also comfortable enough with answering questions and delivering information to the attendees. They will also troubleshoot potential issues with the presentation and help the organizer with programming.
Step 6. Create and Promote a Hashtag on Social Media
You have to promote your webinar to increase the number of attendees, so utilize your existing social media accounts to promote a hashtag for your event. Hashtags are perfect, bite-sized ways for your followers to spread the word about your event.
Hashtags are usable on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and in many cases will work cross-platform. Just be sure that the hashtag is unique to your event. This hashtag can even be used to interact with people attending the webinar.
Step 7. Perform a Practice Run
No matter how much of an expert your presenter is on the webinar’s subject, it’s still critical that he or she perform a few practice dry runs to iron out any kinks. This is particularly important if you’ll be having multiple presenters and experts taking part in the webinar.
This will also ensure that all of the participants are as comfortable with the webinar solution you select, and it can also be a great way to implement changes that can streamline the event and make it more engaging.
These practice runs can be performed once or twice before the event and a final time a few days before the webinar premieres. This final dry run can be used to implement last-minute changes.
Step 8. Host and Learn from Your Webinar
Once the ball is rolling, make sure you’re prepared to learn from the event. It’s a great idea to record the webinar for your analysis. What worked? What didn’t? Additionally, the recording can be hosted on a landing page and uploaded to sites like Youtube, which can help bolster your brand’s presence and authority in the field.
Make sure that you gather information about webinar attendees with a strong registration page. Your webinar host should have a look at the email list to see if there’s anyone they should follow up with anyone asking questions while they were busy running a webinar. If they couldn’t answer immediately, they can still use the webinar registration information to reach out via your next email marketing effort.
Step 9. Follow Up With Attendees
Finally, it’s a great idea to reach out to any attendees so that you can develop your webinars for the future. What did attendees like? What questions weren’t answered that they would like to see in future webinars? It’s critical to keep engaging with your audience, and you will need to do this within 24 hours of the webinar that they attended or else you’re missing out on an opportunity to build a relationship.
An excellent channel for this is email; you can use software to send out surveys, thank you emails, and even webinar recordings to keep the conversation going. If customers failed to attend, this is an opportunity to send them the content so that they can find out what was discussed during the event.
You need to craft your outreach to get actionable results so check out our guide to the art of a customer survey. This can help inform your marketing strategy, create new webinar topics, and improve your lead generation potential in every webinar presentation.
Webinars Build Your Brand
You’re not going to be an expert at creating successful webinars immediately, but there are some fantastic benefits to adding these events to your marketing and training practices. Remember, these are great for establishing your authority, adding to your revenue stream, and providing information for both clients and sales agents, so strike while the iron is hot and start planning your first webinar today.
They are also more digestible for those that are looking to find out about new service updates or who want a demo for new products that you’re releasing. The steps in our how-to are designed to help you create a high-quality first webinar, and your existing clients will appreciate your efforts in providing them with the needed info.
Not sure which webinar software will fit your needs? We’ve published some extensive material on webinars, so check out our latest reviews on some of the best webinar software on the market today.