As an acquisition marketer, I hear questions like this all the time: “Is the PDF dead? Is the webinar dead now too? How should we continue generating leads for our sales team while continuing to innovate on the content formats we produce and gate behind a form?”
It’s 2020, and the way our prospects and customers find and consume content has certainly changed. While I would love to say that there’s one new, highly optimal content format that all marketers should use for lead generation instead of older formats, I can’t — it’s a little more complicated than that. Instead, I’ll make a bold claim: webinars aren’t dead, and neither is the PDF ebook.
What has changed, however, is a saturation of mediocre PDF ebooks, webinars, and other forms of gated content available online. So while webinars aren’t dead, that doesn’t mean marketers should continue running the same, tired playbook.
Luckily, HubSpot and GoToWebinar teamed up to bring you the ultimate guide, “How to Produce Webinars Your Sales Reps and Prospects Will Love.”
Make sure you’re following these steps to create an effective webinar that works in 2020.
Webinars Drive Sales
According to InsideSales.com, 73% of marketing and sales leaders say webinars are one of the best ways to generate quality leads. Why?
- They are highly engaging. According to GoToWebinar, the average webinar attendee viewing time is 61 minutes.
- 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 deal and beyond.
- They generate high-quality leads for Sales. 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 your sales team can use to initiate personalized outreach.
We know planning and promoting a webinar can be difficult if you’ve never done it before. That’s why we’ve compiled a guide, template, and checklist for you to get your webinar off the ground – whether its your first or fortieth. Click here to download the kit for free.
1. Brainstorm the right topic.
Before you can get started on making your webinar, you’ll have to decide the topic you want to speak about.
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 are you an expert on? What topics can you provide value on? Those are the topics you’ll want to use for a webinar.
2. Choose a webinar tool.
When you’re researching a tool to use, consider your objectives. 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? And how easy is it to use? These are questions that you should look in to when you’re deciding on 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 panel or Q&A webinars? The right tool for you will depend on the overall objectives of your webinar.
3. Produce the content.
Once you find a tool and you know the topic you want to present on, you’ll have to decide what type of webinar you want to host. 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.
4. Select the right day and time.
You’ll want to consider where your audience lives. Use tools like Google Analytics to see where people are, so you can choose a convenient day and time zone.
According to ON24, Tuesday from 10-11 a.m. GMT is the best day to host a webinar. This is because it’s great for a wide range of time zones, and should avoid most commute times or work hours. Typically, this time avoids conflicts with the most amount of people.
However, if your audience is solely in the United States, then you wouldn’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.
5. 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, you can consider running ads through social media and search engines. Additionally, you’ll want to use free promotion tactics as well — you can post on your own accounts, on your website, and send an email to your subscribers. It’s important to use your own follower base to get people interested.
Additionally, reminder emails are also helpful. Consider sending “Don’t Miss Out” or “Seats Are Filling Up” emails as the day gets closer.
And when people do sign up, you’ll want to remind them leading up to the day. 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.
6. Follow up with your audience.
Webinars are obviously 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.
Additionally, attendees generally like to have a recording, so you can send them a link to the recording afterwards so they don’t have to take fervent notes during the webinar. This also means you can send it to registrants who wanted to attend but weren’t able to.
Convinced that webinars are still a relevant acquisition strategy in 2020? Follow these strategies to create an effective webinar.
1. Leverage your sales team for content topic ideas.
When it comes to building a successful webinar strategy, it comes down to sales and marketing alignment. If the marketing team is creating content that isn’t helping their sales conversations, it won’t be a successful effort for driving high-quality leads to sales.
Luckily, you have experts at your disposal for coming up with content ideas that will actually compliment and aid the sales conversation: the reps themselves.
Instead of guessing what your sales team might want a webinar to be focused on, ask them. Get reps’ buy-in for a webinar before you plan it. Set up a meeting to discover new content ideas and to find out what pain points they need to help solve. This will go a long way for ensuring sales’ follow up with registrants is seamless once the webinar is over.
2. Nail your promotion strategy.
Once you’ve come up with relevant content topics for your webinar, its your job as marketers 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. Here are a few tips for doing both:
- 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-marketing webinar. Instead of running a webinar with speakers internally, try working with another company that’s going after a similar buyer persona and 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.
- Create automated email reminders under each sales rep’s name 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 done the road.
- Once you’ve gotten registrants, that doesn’t mean they’ll show up. After all, if you promote a webinar 1-2 weeks in advance, a portion of your registrants are likely to forget when the live date comes around. Remember to send out reminder emails the day before and day-of the live event so ensure a high live attendance rate.
3. Don’t just stick to a PowerPoint and talking head.
The format of slides with a person speaking on screen has been done time after time. Don’t feel the need to stick to the script — literally. Instead, think about ways to mix up how the information in your webinar is presented:
- At HubSpot, we’ve found unscripted, discussion-style webinars to be quite effective at engaging 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 both encouraging Twitter participation via a hashtag and keeping the content conversational, but informative.
- 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 day-of too.
- 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 your prioritize the material your audience is most interested in.
4. Deliver necessary information to sales.
A huge part of the pre- and post-webinar process is making sure 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 webinars 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.
Once the webinar is done, however, it’s time to make sure the sales reps are ready to close those leads. Send a follow up email to your reps 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 making sure the webinar is a success from both a sales and marketing standpoint.
It’s All About Alignment
Webinars as a marketing tool aren’t dead. But they’re also 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.
However, creating the kind of alignment you need to make this all a success isn’t easy. That’s why HubSpot and GotoWebinar created this ultimate guide for creating a successful webinar in 2020 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 has been updated for comprehensiveness.