Webinar: A blast from the past?

While the word “webinar” may conjure up memories of Windows XP, MySpace and unfortunate early-2000s hairstyles for some of us, these web-retro events are back and better than ever.

Many top marketers today consider webinars one of the most powerful conversion tools in their arsenal. And their popularity continues to soar. One market researcher even found that webinar attendance increased by 87% in 2019. That number definitely continue to rise in 2020 as more and more people move their learning and development activities online.

So, do you want to know how you can turn your webinars into a high-performance conversion method? This article gives you some inspiration and best practices for turning those webinar leads into new, loyal customers.

Why are webinars so popular now?

There are many reasons why webinars have become a go-to content marketing activity in B2C and B2B sectors ranging from tech, to finance, to fast-moving consumer goods, to you name it. Here are some of the most important reasons:

  • Webinars are cheap to host. There are plenty of low-cost platforms out there where your company can host a professional-looking webinar on a budget.
  • Webinars are cheap to advertise. You can use social media and platforms like Meetup.com to promote your webinar.
  • Webinars are personal. When hosted properly, webinars create an opportunity for your leads to get to know your brand and its products personally. They give a face and a voice to your brand and its products. This helps build the relationship that’s necessary for converting leads into paying customers.
  • Webinars are effective. They establish your brand’s thought leadership and show that your brand is attentive to its customers’ needs.

Yet, with great power comes great responsibility. If you want to make sure your webinars convert, you’ll need to plan things carefully at every stage, from development, to content creation, to hosting and (very importantly) to follow-up. It goes without saying that you will want to pick highly relevant topics and select hosts who can truly display your brand’s thought leadership.

Here are some more best practices to get your creative energies flowing.

“Be the change” that your lead wants to see

To begin with, you need to come up with topics that actually speak to your leads. A good webinar topic promises to offer a solution to a real problem that is relevant to your lead. Your webinar should focus on informing your lead while enabling them to visualize how your company’s solution can transform their life.

People sign up for webinars because they are looking for new input. From the planning stage onward, be sure your focus is on adding value and “being the change” that your leads want to see.

Use a stable webinar platform with excellent video and audio

Just because webinars are an old-school format does not mean that you can get away with using pre-Y2K technologies. Your webinar needs to be held on a professional webinar platform, using interactive tools and excellent videostream and audio quality. That also means providing a good-quality microphone for your speakers to use. And be sure to always use video in which your speakers can be clearly seen. Audio-only webinars are far less engaging.

There are plenty of excellent webinar platforms out there to choose from. Pick the one that matches your budget and needs, but be careful not to underestimate the importance of a stable, high-quality environment. There’s nothing more off-putting than terrible sound and picture quality, or experiencing “technical difficulties” while you’re trying to establish your brand’s thought leadership in front of a global audience. It’s the online equivalent of hosting a Tupperware party in a tent during a rainstorm: never gonna convert.

Always use a moderator

To prevent your webinar from devolving into virtual chaos, you need a skilled moderator to keep things jiving between the speaker(s) and the audience. Never host a webinar single-handedly. Having a moderator has many advantages:

  • It makes your speakers seem more prestigious, because they have someone who introduces them to the audience.
  • The moderator can keep things on track and screen incoming questions from the audience. This should be done in a structured way to prevent abrupt changes of subject.
  • A moderator reinforces the idea of creating a link between the audience and the subject matter. They are the audience’s guide and advocate. They need to be fully aware of this important role.

Be sure to involve the moderator in the content development stage. At very least, the moderator should be briefed in detail before the webinar. This way, they fully understand the structure, so they can screen incoming questions from the audience and feed them to the hosts at the right moments, without interrupting the flow or shifting the subject.

Make webinars interactive

One of the greatest advantages of webinars is that they create a space for brands to interact directly with leads. Make sure your webinars are fully interactive. Think of it as a collaborative event rather than a one-sided conversation.

Use a platform that allows attendees to easily submit their questions and comments. If possible, ask your speakers to address questions and comments in real time. This can be a little tricky if they’re being bombarded with questions. But it’s better to answer straight away than to make attendees wait till the end for a Q&A. That’s because some attendees will zone out and tune out if they feel they’re being ignored. This is where your moderator steps in. They should screen incoming questions while the main speakers are talking, and feed those questions seamlessly into the presentation at the right moments to keep things nice and structured.

Follow-up is fundamental

Often overlooked, the follow-up stage is probably the most crucial aspect for conversion after a webinar. Send attendees an email within 24 hours to follow up. Use surveys to give them a chance to rate their experience.

It’s a good idea to end any webinar with a clear call-to-action. Consider inviting attendees to a future webinar for more information on a similar, relevant topic. Depending on what you’re trying to sell, think about offering your attendees a free sample or gift (such as an online discount code if they sign up for a trial, future webinar or purchase a product from your site).

The follow-up helps strengthen the tie and solidify the relationship you’ve established during the webinar. Be sure to seize it as an opportunity for pushing conversion even further.

Back to the future

So, now you can see why so many top brands are dusting off the webinar to boost their conversions. Thanks to modern technologies that make the old-school webinar experience more engaging and exciting than ever, this powerful conversion tool is now accessible for virtually any company.

Just remember to make your webinar relevant, personal and interactive. As with any form of content-marketing: a bad webinar is worse than no webinar at all. And once you’ve impressed your audience with a top-notch webinar presentation, be sure to seal the deal with some meaningful follow-up. That’s how you can turn this relatively cheap marketing tool into conversion gold.