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How to host a successful webinar

Posted by Scott Christopher on Mon, Aug 31, 2015 @ 16:08 PM

Lately I've been deemed the "webinar guru" here at McCulloch+Company. In fact, I've helped coordinate 3 with different clients just this month.  There's a very good reason I am such a huge proponent of these online seminars and recommend them often to our B2B clients. For your money in the B2B marketing space, there's very little else a company can do that's as successful in generating leads. And they are qualified leads, too - having submitted their information to register, and then invested an hour of their time. There are several more residual benefits that come along with participating in this type of content marketing - including thought-leadership within your industry. 

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I've written about this good media idea before on here, but since that post I have hosted several more webinars - and learned a ton more. I would like to share a few of more tips and best practices on how to host a successful webinar. 

1. Pick the right partner

Developing partnerships with like-minded publishers and ad tech partners is a vital tactic in all marketing and media buying. You must always align yourself with partners that understand your business and keep your goals in mind. When it comes to developing successful webinars, this is crucial as well. One thing I always look for when vetting out a publisher-partner is whether they have a dedicated staff to help coordination of the event. This is critical when it comes to coordinating deadlines for deliverables from the client, getting the registration page up on time, training of the platform and facilitating promotion of the webinar. This promotion to the publisher's audience is the main thing you are paying for and is central to whether your webinar garners enough registrants.  I always ask to quantify up front how many promotional impressions the publisher will provide before we sign on the dotted line.

The last thing I recommend in vetting our publisher-partners is to uncover which webinar platform they use for hosting. This can impact your experience as host as well as that of your attendees. We have run into issues with some publishers having capacity limitations and locking registrants out of the live webinar. The best platforms I have seen are TalkPoint and InExpo.

2. Promote internally

As important as it is that the publisher promotes your webinar, you should also send an e-blast to your internal prospect list and promote on your social channels. Maybe send a note to your regional sales managers so they can share with some hot prospects if the content is relevant. This is another best practice that maximizes the success of your webinar, and a way to use your content to nurture existing leads besides just prospecting for new ones. This will require different follow up for different leads, but that can be easily done through your CRM and/or marketing automation software.

3. Have a dedicated team to manage Q&A during live webinar

This is a practice we have started to employ this year, and with great success. Having a team in another room scrolling through questions as they come in, weeding out bad ones (and/or questions from trolling competition) and selecting good ones allows the presenter to focus during the presentation. Perhaps this team is a product manager, a marketing team member, and any one else that can help determine which questions are most relevant and will showcase the presenter's expertise as well as your product as a solution. The publisher will help do this, but they do not know your business as well as you do. Another best practice is putting in 2-3 seed questions to help kick-off the Q&A in case the audience does not. This is another opportunity to reiterate key points of the presentation, or even hit on new information that the audience will find relevant.

4. Be tastefully "sale-sy"

I know there is a lot of debate around this, and conventional wisdom says webinars are for education, not sales. But I really think most companies err to much on the side of not being sale-sy enough.  Don't get me wrong -the webinar should not be a 45-minute sales pitch. But your audience has given you their information and an hour of their lives because you are presenting. Don't you think they want to hear something about your business and how you can help them? I signed up and attended one recently because I wanted to hear about a new product from the hosting brand. But by the end, I knew nothing more about it - just a "state of the union" of the industry, which I already knew. In most cases these webinars are marketing programs, and the attendees understand that. You should not be afraid to give this captive audience what they want. Here's another article that backs me up on this point (see tip number 5).

5. Follow up with your leads!

It does not matter how many sign up for your webinar or how many attend - if you do not have a system in place to integrate them into the sales process, these leads will be wasted. These programs usually take a significant chunk out of your marketing budget - not to mention the time investment in creating the content and promotion of the webinar. Make them work hard for you. We recommend consulting with sales at the very beginning of the process to develop this follow-up process. Hey - they may even help provide topic ideas that are relevant to their prospects by relaying objections they have been getting. I know, I know - sales and marketing working together? We're asking a lot!

I hope you found this post helpful. If you are a marketing director and need help coordinating a webinar, or any other marketing help, contact us today. Thank you for reading!

McCulloch+Company is an advertising media services company that integrates the innovation of digital media with the strengths of traditional paths. Founded in 1994 and located in historic Roswell, Georgia, McCulloch+Company is regarded as one of the Southeast's preeminent media agencies. The agency is skilled at managing B2B and B2C clients in a multitude of industry categories. 

 

Topics: good media ideas, digital marketing, webinars, content marketing, B2B marketing strategy, best practices

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