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Gini Dietrich

Host a Successful Webinar with These 16 Steps

By: Gini Dietrich | May 16, 2013 | 
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Host a Successful Webinar with These 16 StepsI’ve been doing this marketing and communications thing for a long time (don’t ask how long; I’ll lie to you) and have tried nearly every tactic possible.

I’m here to tell you, the very best way, particularly for business-to-business organizations, to generate leads is through content…and it’s also the most fun.

I want you to think about your content in two ways: Free and paid. The paid doesn’t necessarily mean money is going to exchange hands. Rather, they’re giving you something in exchange for your content. Something such as an email address or phone number.

Let’s say you want to have a successful webinar you’ll host every month and for free, but people have to register to attend. This is both a free and paid model. They are paying you with their email address, which means they have given you permission to market to them.

But how do you generate leads with successful webinars? This is the fun part! You get to use traditional and new tactics to gain registrations. You’ll use media relations, email marketing, social media, direct mail, content, and advertising. In most cases, you’ll be marketing to prospects who haven’t made a decision yet to work with you, former clients, or someone new entirely.

Host a Successful Webinar

Following is a step-by-step list of how you’ll do this. Of course, this list could change, depending on your business and your industry, but it provides a good place to begin thinking about how to generate good, qualified leads from content.

  1. Choose a topic and a headline that has great search potential. For instance, we did a webinar about Google analytics. Rather than call it “Advanced Analytics,” we called it, “The Lies and Truths of Google Analytics.” The difference is the second one is much more compelling to someone who doesn’t know what great content you offer.
  2. Set up the webinar with your provider (brightTALK, GoToWebinar, Adobe Connect, and WebEx are some of the favorites) and grab the registration link they provide. You’ll include that in the email they get after they’ve registered.
  3. Create a landing page on your website or blog (you can use Hubspot, FormStack, Impact, or Landerapp) that requires a name, company name, and email address to register and has all of the information about the webinar.
  4. Create a list of tactics you’re going to use to distribute information about the webinar: News release, social networks, email, blog, Facebook ad, Google ad, and postcard.
  5. Using the URL of the landing page (not the URL of the webinar software registration), create a different link for each of the tactics using the Google URL Builder. What this does is create a campaign in your analytics under traffic sources > sources > campaigns. When you open that tab, it’ll list the visitors per tactic. It will list in there, “March 28 Webinar from Newsletter,” “March 28 Webinar from Social Media,” “March 28 Webinar from News Release,” etc. This gives you data to use so you know which tactics work best for your audience.
  6. Shoot a one minute video to describe what people will learn in the webinar. You can house this on your website and/or blog, distribute it through the social networks, and use it in email marketing. Human beings are visual creatures. You’ll be amazed at how well this one thing works.
  7. One month before the webinar, distribute a news release (using your media relations URL in the body) on the wire (PR Newswire, PRWebPR.com, BusinessWire, or Pitch Engine, depending on your budget). Also upload the release to the newsroom on your website.
  8. If you have a newsletter, include the webinar in the email one month prior to its date.
  9. Now you want to think about email marketing, separate from the newsletter. If you have a newsletter, you’ll have three other emails. If you don’t, you’ll do four emails. Do one a month before, one three weeks before, one a week before, and one the day before. It will seem like a lot of emails to you, but most people get the information and sit on it and then register the day before the event. The URL you use in the emails will be different than what you use in the newsletter so you can track the effectiveness of each.
  10. A week before the webinar, you want to think about social media and about a blog post (if you have a blog). Because we have a crazy, fun community at Spin Sucks, it is our most effective marketing tool for webinars. But most of our clients find success in the email campaign. Test, test, test and measure, measure, measure.
  11. Using the social media URL you created, begin to post the webinar on your social networks. Ask your team to do the same. If you have a guest speaker for the webinar, have them share it. If you have a LinkedIn company page, share it there and ask people for recommendations so it rises in search results inside the social network. Fair warning: Most registrations do not come from the social networks so use this tactic with that expectation.
  12. If you have a blog, write a blog post about what people can expect to learn if they attend. This is not a sales pitch. It’s valuable and educational content that motivates people to register. When we did the Google analytics webinar I mentioned above, I wrote a blog post about what *I* learned by watching it ahead of time and why I was excited to share it with our community.
  13. If you want to test Facebook or Google ads, they’re both very inexpensive ways to see if you can attract new visitors who don’t already know about you and your business. Do this two weeks out.
  14. You can also go really old school and send a postcard to your database. Because that’s rarely done anymore, it can be pretty effective. Do this a month out and make sure your URL is specific to direct mail so you can track whether or not it works.
  15. If you have a speaker (or speakers), test your technology with them a week before the webinar. Most speakers get annoyed by this (I sometimes do), but it’s important to make sure everyone knows how the technology works and what their responsibilities are beforehand. Test your volume and Internet settings. Make sure the software works on your computer. Every time I log onto GoToWebinar, they make me download an update. You don’t want to be doing that last minute.

  16. Make someone responsible for the technology side of things the day of. He or she will start the program, make the recording, and even introduce the main speaker.

Now it’s time for the webinar. Make sure you record it because a good 50 percent of those who register will show up. After the webinar (we like to do the next day, but many do it same day), send an email to everyone who registered with a link to the recording. Put the recording on your website so you can track who visits and downloads. You can also put it behind a landing page so anyone new has to enter their email address to download it.

For the most part, the people who register for your webinar are qualified leads. Some will be competitors because they want to see what you’re up to and will want to copy you, but most will be people who want to do business with you.

At this point, you can decide if you hand those leads over to your sales team or, if you have a lead nurturing program, if they go into your system for follow-up content to push them through the marketing funnel to a decision.

A version of this first appeared on Convince and Convert. Thanks to Jay Baer’s community for adding a couple of additional steps.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

28 comments
FollowtheLawyer
FollowtheLawyer

Hi Gini,

I hope you do a future post on "during and after the webinar."  There are significant qualification/conversion opportunities within the webinar itself -- polling, calls to action. And as you noted, follow-up sequences for attendees and non-attending registrants can significantly improve and accelerate the lead qualification process.

susancellura
susancellura

Oh, this is great. Thank you so very much for sharing this. 

biggreenpen
biggreenpen

These are great steps and it's such a comprehensive list. I was just talking to someone the other day about how to convince leadership that a lot of this pre-work is available to get people's attention re: webinars -- when their time is so fragmented. And I apologize for the tangent but I think I've established that "tangents are Paula" and we all know that's better than my singing (ha ha). I recently particpated in a webinar put on by a blogger for whom I have a LOT of respect. I have been following this blogger since long before he had hundreds of thousands of followers and thousands of daily views. So much so that we were Facebook friends (from the time before he figured out it would be a good idea to split out personal from "only blog") and frequently exchanged emails. I gave him heads up emails (infrequently) if there was a grammatical issue in his blog. Anyway, during the webinar he commented about the "mistake" he had made in accepting FB friendships from blog followers and complained about blog followers who write about trifling grammatical issues. It just struck me funny --- we are still on good terms but I took note of that and defriended and cut out the "helpful" emails. I still have the utmost respect for him. I say all of this just to point out that there are times when proactive individual actions need to be taken if you are going to say something that could be perceived as alienating after you have taken all sixteen steps to get the viewers there in the first place. :-)

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes

Do you try to focus on something the agency already has expertise in or do you look for outside experts and try to bring them in?

KimHoward
KimHoward

Great points Gini. So glad you wrote this and shared it on LinkedIn

annelizhannan
annelizhannan

@belllindsay Sure a lot of steps but taking them one by one gets you to the top in success rather than tripping up when you try to skip over them. We have learned in recent days about  about falling on the steps when moving to fast ;)

annelizhannan
annelizhannan

@Howie Goldfarb You crack me up Howie with your quick wit and response. I obviously have difficulty typing never mind walking. I hope Gini doesn't read my statement with the double 'about' or she may just push me down the stairs for not proofing before hitting send ;)

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