A Beginner’s Guide to Webinars (Best Practices Included)

Webinars are ideal for boosting brand awareness and legitimacy, turning prospects into customers and increasing revenue.

We do so many things online now – from banking to staying in touch with old friends and finding jobs – hosting events is simply another example.

A webinar (sometimes referred to as a webcast) can be a seminar, lecture or presentation viewed online. Since the presenter is not physically present during the webinar, brands include ways for viewers to engage with the content – they should be able to comment, ask questions or give feedback.

You can use webinars to overcome physical barriers and engage with your audience regardless of their location. Presenters often respond to chats and use slides and various interactive tools to make sure that the audience is engaged and gets value.

While webinars are an important tool in the marketer’s toolbox, the truth of the matter is that organizing them is both demanding and time-consuming. The reality is that you need to put in a healthy amount of work before you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

As more marketers are using webinars as a part of their marketing strategy, it’s also becoming challenging to stand out and grab your audience’s attention. You need to produce exceptional content and present it in a captivating way.

This is why we will first layout the benefits of adopting webinars into your marketing strategy. Then, we’ll go over important technical aspects of producing a webinar. Finally, we will discuss proven best practices designed to make your webinar a resounding success.  

Advantages of Webinars

Webinars come with many benefits. One of the many great things about webinars is that they are not expensive. If you were to host an event live, you’d need to spend money on renting out the space, food, beverages, equipment not to mention the costs attached to traveling to the location.

On the other hand, you don’t have to pay for any of those things when hosting webinars.

Webinars are also great for explaining how your product/service works and for introducing new features. They provide a great way to show your prospects and customers how to properly use your product/service. Therefore, your audience will better understand how you can solve their problems.

As a result, you’ll build a stronger relationship with your audience, which increases your chances of converting prospects.

Different Components of a Webinar

All webinars consist of the following:

  • Host and presenter
  • Audience members
  • A computer with a microphone and camera
  • Software built for webinars
  • Slides as part of the presentation
  • Features like surveys or discussions which get audience members involve
  • Main event

Now that you know all about the different elements of a webinar, let’s take a close look at how a webinar functions.

How to Use a Webinar

The first thing you need to do as the host is to decide on a time and date for the online event. Then, send an invitation to your audience to sign up and attend.

You can host the webinar with special software and encourage viewers to take part. It’s important to record the event, so that you’ll not only have it for future reference, but you’ll be able to use the content for other marketing purposes.

As you organize more webinars, build a library containing all of the events you hosted. This way you can share your previous content to prospects and customers alike.

Getting Started

Producing a webinar is very straightforward. Apart from a computer with an installed camera and microphone, you need specialized software. Software for webinars will allow you to record and distribute the content as well as collect analytics so that you can see how well the event did.

Before we continue, let’s take a look at some of the best webinar software to help you kick off your online event.

ClickMeeting

Organize and host your webinar with this easy to use web-based tool. Audience members can interact and follow-up with the presenters or host. It’s built for both small-business and multi-national companies.

Whether you want a product demonstration webinar or a Q&A or conference, ClickMeeting makes hosting and sharing events a breeze. Hosts can live stream the event on YouTube and Facebook, which makes it great for increasing your brand’s reach.

EasyWebinar

This webinar software is ideal for people new to hosting webinars. It comes with a multi-step campaign process to guarantee that everything goes without a hitch. Its user interface is intuitive which makes it easy to navigate for beginners. Just like ClickMeeting, you can share your video content on YouTube to grow your reach.

The tool comes with useful metrics to help you understand your audience and how your content is useful to them.

Zoom

Finally, your webinar will have incredible video and audio quality with Zoom. The tool comes with clever participation features like viewers raising their hands, polling and a chat interface.

Zoom is an easy to set up program that delivers high-quality content and is a great solution for freelancers, small businesses and large enterprises to conduct online events.

Best Practices

Now that we’ve covered the technical aspects of hosting a webinar, let’s take a deep look at the most important webinar best practices. These battle-tested tips and techniques will make sure that your audience looks forward to your webinar.

Before you can start hosting a webinar, there is a lot of preparation that needs to be done. Some of the things you need to do as you’re preparing for the webinar include deciding on topics and material to be covered, finding a speaker(s) to present and promoting the online event.

These best practices will make sure that you produce a well-structured webinar that provides your audience with relevant content.

Touch Base with Your Viewers

You have to get the word out to your audience about the webinar you’ll be hosting.  Imagine putting in all that effort to create valuable content for your audience and no one ends up showing! You have to promote the online event.

If you have an email list, then send an invitation to the people who’d be delighted to attend the webinar. Obviously, don’t just send a blast to everyone on the list. Instead, only target the people who are interested in the topic.

Try to create a buzz surrounding the event. Use social media to tell your followers, create a hashtag, or write a blog post about it. You can also organize an exciting giveaway to get people talking and looking forward to the event.

Be sure to post more than once on social media-there’s so much content being posted, you don’t want your promotions to be lost under all the chatter. Your posts must contain a link to a landing page where visitors can sign up to the event. Use the landing page to additionally hype up the event by including appealing visualizations and compelling professional biographies of the speakers.

If you are willing to spend a little money, run paid ads for keywords closely associated with the topic of the webinar.

Also, don’t forget to use your website to promote the webinar. Place CTAs on pages which your targeted audience typically goes to.

Blogs are another phenomenal way of creating interest in the webinar. Make sure that the blogs are relevant to what will be covered in the webinar. You can use blogs to hook your audience by going over some introductory points, which will be further developed in the webinar. This way you’ll have them waiting in anticipation for the event.

For an example, a common tactic is to promise a free ticket to a popular event to one or more individuals who make a post using your hashtag during the webinar. This creates excitement about the webinar.

Create a Hashtag

So continuing with the previous point, you should definitely use hashtag written specifically for the webinar. Be sure to select a less-common hashtag so that posts will mostly be about the event.

It’s recommended that you come up with a hashtag well in advance so that you have time to get people’s attention about the webinar. Hashtags are a phenomenal way to get your audience involved.

They can use the hashtag during the webinar to put forward comments or questions. Hashtags are also useful once the webinar has finished because the event organizer or host can address any unanswered questions or provide new information.

Get a Good Speaker

Hosting an interesting webinar is a challenge for most marketers. They typically become dry especially if there’s only one speaker who’s doing all the talking.

We have to be honest and admit that some of us are just lousy public speakers. This has nothing to do with one’s level of expertise. It’s just means that some of us need to improve our speaking skills.

Now, the ideal speaker should absolutely be someone who’s knowledgeable about the topic – that’s a given. However, the ideal speaker should also be an animated and charismatic person who can hold people’s attention. Also, if you have multiple speakers, encourage them to enter a discussion with each other. This way the audience will hear more opinions and experiences as a result of the discussion than if speakers just presented independently of each other.

Pro-tip: You want to make sure that you’re hosting the webinar from a silent (or sound proof if possible) location. Even if you have stellar speakers, if there’s background noise then nobody will be able to properly follow along and there’s no point to the webinar.   

Practice Makes Perfect

Going over your presentation before the actual event is a must. You must practice a couple of times before the webinar if you’ll be presenting with one or more speakers. Make sure that you fully understand the topic about which you’ll be speaking, so that you can easily respond to any questions or comments from the audience. If you’re comfortable with your presentation and responses, then you project authority.

Choose the Right Time

Timing is another factor that plays an important role in the success of a webinar. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring how important choosing the right time and date is for your event. No matter how amazing your content is, most people won’t be waking up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday to attend your webinar.

A convenient time depends on your audience. So, when setting a date for the webinar, find out when the slowest part of the week is for the majority of your audience. This tends to be a day during the week and not a Saturday or a Sunday.

Also, take different time zones into account. This is especially important if your audience is from different countries. You have to find a time and date that will suit most of your audience members. However, this is kind of tricky. What many webinar organizers do is they add field on the webinar’s landing page where visitors can put down their preferred times. Also, after the event, you can ask the attendees when they’d like to attend webinars in the future.

One final note about time: be punctual! Yes, it sounds obvious, but you’d surprised how many people miss the mark here. If the webinar starts at 14:00 (GMT + 11), then it can’t start at 14:20. Also, it can’t start at 13:45. Respect people’s busy workload and stay true to your word. However, it’s not a big deal if the webinar starts a couple of minutes late.

If in the unlikely but horrifying event that you experience technical difficulties, then inform the audience about the nature of the problem and when you expect to start the webinar.

Press Play

Once the webinar finishes, be sure to thank your audience for attending. They set aside valuable time from their busy lives to watch your webinar. A professional host is grateful for his audience.

Don’t forget to thank them when they register for the webinar as well!

There are many moving parts to hosting a successful webinar and it can be overwhelming to beginners. However, if you adopt these best practices, you’ll increase both brand awareness and conversions with your webinars.