Webinars engage users, showcase your brand's expertise, and are great go-to offers to nurture leads further along in their journey. You can use webinars for any stage of the funnel, so long as your topic is educational and valuable to your audience.
Webinars can be used strategically at all stages in the buyer's journey to improve your lead generation performance. The lead generation potential of a well-planned, well-executed webinar is huge.
Here are tips on how to plan and run a great webinar that produces high-quality, engaged leads at all stages of the funnel.
When coordinating a webinar for your company, the biggest advantage you can give yourself is time. Nothing screws up a webinar like having to rush everything at the end. Plan properly by backing up your webinar strategy to give yourself at least an 8-12-week runway to get things done. This will allow you plenty of time to configure your presentation format and platform. It also ensures you can promote it to your audience with enough time to optimize your campaign as data comes in.
Build a comprehensive plan for your webinar that includes:
- Goals - Include specific metrics like registrants and attendees as well as broader goals like “nurturing top-of-funnel leads into middle-of-funnel-leads." If you're conducting a top-of-the funnel, awareness-stage webinar, how many of your attendees are you hoping to move into the middle stage post-webinar, and how to do you plan to get them there? These are the questions you should be thinking through.
- Target audience - Who is the webinar for? How will you let them know it’s happening? What is the value they will get from your topic? It can be tricky to balance something interesting while avoiding gimmicks or "click bait."
- Stage of the funnel - What stage of the funnel is your webinar is for - awareness, consideration, decision, or for is it for existing customers? All of these audiences have unique needs. Choose the audience that will have the most impact towards your goals.
- Roles and responsibilities for all participants - Let your presenters focus on delivering an engaging presentation and keep admin and support tasks flowing through an assigned point person on the team. Below we discuss having a moderator. Also make sure the rest of your team is aware, in case someone reaches out directly to them.
- Promotion plan - Include social early and often with an email campaign thrown in. If you are looking to attract a specific audience, consider investing in a paid campaign. Determining your spend once again comes back to your goals and projected ROI for the stage of the funnel that you are targeting.
- Rehearsal details - You should plan to record the webinar and will want to practice making sure you have clear sound and video. If you are planning to conduct a Q&A, get your team to submit some questions ahead of time. Not only can you have a prepared questions or two ready to go, it is good practice to consider answering something on the spot.
- Post-webinar lead nurturing - Your nurture campaign strategy should include attendees, no-shows, and leads that may want the recording.
Expert Tip: The deadline clock truly only starts running the moment you push your registration page live that includes a specific date and time. You can always push it back further if you need to before that. The extra time is worth a well thought-through strategy. Allow enough time in advance to have created a sound strategy with ample time to promote the webinar and optimize your campaign for better results as data comes in.
Pick the right platform
Technology can make or break your webinars. Avoid day-of technology mishaps by selecting a high-quality webinar platform to host your presentation. Some of the most popular platforms are GoToWebinar and WebEx, and there are many other good options as well.
When selecting a webinar platform, consider key features like:
- Ability to manage and send reminders and invites from within the platform
- Integration with your marketing automation platform and CRM
- Easy recording options
- Ability to screen-share or allow multiple presenters
- Q&A panel
- Real-time polling
Make sure you test your platform-of-choice rigorously before the live webinar presentation. Be sure to schedule a dress rehearsal a few days before the webinar to work out any technical kinks.
Partner with an outside organization
Today’s B2B buyers are not particularly trusting of companies that wish to do business with them. Studies show that by partnering with an outside organization, user trust will increase for the webinar. Try partnering with a complementary service provider or partner, or even one of your happy clients, who can help bring your message to life.
You'll also drastically increase your potential audience reach. Showcase the logo and headshot for all presenters, include this information in your promotional assets, and work in tandem with the other organization on promotion.
Set up your webinar registration form with lead generation in mind. Lead generation isn’t just about generating a high number of leads. You need qualified leads with valuable data attached if you want your efforts to result in closed deals.
Configure your form fields to collect information that is most useful to your sales and marketing teams, but that is not overly burdensome or pushy for your registrants to provide. Use drop-down fields (over open text fields) to easily segment and analyze your contacts later on.
Some valuable form fields to consider including:
- Job Title
- Biggest Challenge
- Company Size
If you’re marketing to a group that includes leads who are already in your database, use progressive profiling on your forms to gather new, additional information about your registrants.
Don’t stop there. Use these insights to tailor the content of the presentation to align perfectly with your audience and what they’re struggling with. During the webinar, conduct audience polls to gather additional information that will be valuable to your sales and marketing teams. Consider adjusting your post-webinar lead nurturing strategy based on the insights that you gain.
Spread the word
Get the word out about your webinar by any strategic means that make sense for your industry, audience, resources, and budget. Build a promotion strategy upfront that includes promotional assets like:
- Your website - Add a CTA to your home page and on other highly-trafficked pages.
- Your blog - Add a static CTA to your blog listing page, and use post-level CTAs to promote the webinar when you publish blogs on related topics.
- Social media - Share your webinar across all of your company pages and get your team involved, encouraging them to share the links on their personal networks as well.
- Email marketing campaign - Create an email campaign to promote your webinar that includes at least 4 emails. Invite #1, invite #2, Reminder the week before, reminder the day before. Be sure to exclude the people who have already registered from each subsequent blast.
- Social media advertising - Social media ads can be great for webinar lead generation because of their ability to hyper-target their audience. Campaigns are run on a cost-per-impression or cost-per-click basis and shown to only the audience that you set. Make sure you define your audience specifically enough to appeal to the right people, but that your universe of prospects is large enough to allow for sufficient registration. Try using many different variants of the same job title, for example, to cast a wider, yet specific net.
Use a moderator
Make sure that someone from your company other than the presenter is available to support and moderate your webinar. The moderator’s role is to keep the presentation organized, facilitate Q&A and polls, and to address any technical issues that attendees report, such as an issue with the sound. Your moderator should open up the webinar by introducing him or herself, the presenters, and your company. The moderator should cover things like:
- How long the presentation will be
- When the webinar will start
- Speaker introductions
- A reminder that the webinar will be recorded
- Information on the Q&A rules - will it be live? Will all questions be answered at the end? What happens if you run out of time?
- Whether there will be any live polls and how to participate
- What to expect after the presentation - will the session be recorded? Will it be sent by email? What about the slides?
Hosting an interactive, live Q&A session at the end of your webinar is a great way to engage attendees and showcase your company's knowledge. Develop some pre-planned questions and thoughtful answers in advance that your moderator can ask in case your audience needs some help getting the ball rolling.
Remember to record
One of the most valuable parts of a webinar is the lead generation potential of the recording. When you record your webinar presentation, you can immediately flip your offering from “register for the live webinar” to “watch it on-demand.” This allows your webinar to generate leads for you perpetually.
Be sure to create post-webinar versions of all of your promotional assets, including your webinar registration page and any CTAs throughout your website and blogs. As soon as the live presentation is complete, update all of the assets to their post-webinar version.
If, for any reason, your initial recording is not useable, simply re-record the presentation separately, and use that version as your on-demand offer.
Include a CTA
At the conclusion of your webinar, be sure to give attendees an opportunity to continue the conversation and further engage with your brand. Do this by including a call-to-action that directs users to a related offering, such as an ebook or consultation on a similar or related topic. You’ll want to promote an offer that is the natural next step in their buyer journey. If you are hosting a top-of-the-funnel webinar, consider promoting a middle-of-funnel offer, etc.
Build a lead scoring model
Build a lead scoring model specifically for your webinar registrants and attendees. This will help you identify which of your webinar attendees are the most engaged with your brand, so that you can hand off the warmest webinar leads to your sales team.
Include scores for:
- Registered for the webinar - Add 2 points
- Attended the webinar - Add 10 points
- Industry = “manufacturing” - Add 5 points
- Annual revenue > $100,000 - Add 5 points
- Downloaded the follow-up ebook - Add 5 points
- Unsubscribe - Subtract 10 points
- Returned to website within 3 business days of webinar - Add 5 points
After the webinar, be sure to follow up with all your attendees. Make good on any promises that your moderator made, such as sending the slides or the recording, and include a CTA to encourage attendees to convert on the follow-up offer.
Use one or more lead nurturing campaigns to deliver tailored content to your webinar attendees that aligns with their goals and needs. Consider setting up separate lead nurturing campaigns based on the different segmentation criteria that you collected on the registration page. For example, consider building two separate lead nurturing tracks for two different industries. Or, create one “general” lead nurturing track and one industry-specific track for a specific audience.
Continuously monitor the data that comes in as your lead nurturing campaigns run. Make sure that elements of your lead nurturing campaign, such as email opens and clicks, are built into your lead scoring model.
Consider a series
If webinars are working well for you and your organization has a good handle on running them smoothly, try taking things up another notch by building a webinar series. Use data to determine what topics would be of the most interest, and then use coherent branding to promote the series as a whole. Combine promotion of the overall campaign with promotion of each individual webinar, and you’re almost certain to get continually improving registration numbers throughout the life of the campaign.
Webinars are a powerful tool when used strategically. Follow the best practices above to take your webinar lead generation to the next level.
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