In these socially distant times, businesses want to find new ways to connect to customers, fans, and potential leads. Most digital marketing tactics are as relevant as ever, but one that seems as though it’s set to surge is conducting impactful webinars.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, people were already aware of the power of webinars. According to a report from InsideSales.com, 73% of marketing and sales leaders said webinars are the second most effective way to generate quality leads. Only “small executive events” ranked higher (77%)—and right now, no one is holding such events.
Webinars, when done right, are an effective way to expose your business to a large audience—whether your business is B2B, direct-to-consumer, or anything in between. Now, as we are collectively stuck at home (as well as in the future, when business regains a sense of normalcy), webinars allow for intimate and real-time interaction. You can explain complex topics, connect with your audience, and demonstrate the value of your business in a short time frame.
In other words, webinars are vehicles for building your brand—and trust and loyalty along with it.
If you’re new to the concept of the webinar as a marketing and lead generation tool, let’s review some key ways to get a return on investment for your webinar. The first steps you’ll need to take are to set up your webinar infrastructure. That means creating a landing page where you can collect email sign-ups (emails that can be used for future marketing endeavors), testing your technical equipment, and creating a slide deck to present your case.
Once you’re ready to start broadcasting, here’s how to glean marketing value from your webinars:
1. Build your brand with timely presentations
When it comes to webinars, you want to read the room. What’s on the minds of your existing and potential customers that your business can speak to? A perfect example is the novel coronavirus outbreak. If you run a B2B business, how can you channel your expertise into a presentation that informs, reassures, or otherwise provides value to other business owners?
A webinar that is more evergreen—a topic that will have value a year from now as well as today—is a good idea, too, but you may find more traction on social media and through search with a topic that people are looking for information on now.
Of course, pick a topic that aligns with your brand and expertise—the more authentic you can be, the better. Focus on the part of your business that relates to the topic, lay out goals you want the webinar to achieve, and prepare to answer questions that relate to both what your business can provide as well as the topic more generally.
Tackling questions in the moment may present a unique challenge, but this real-time response helps to build your brand as a thought leader and your business as a conversation driver.
2. Collect emails for follow-up engagement
One of the main reasons why any business should hold a webinar is to collect email addresses. Email marketing is effective—it has one of the highest ROIs of any digital marketing tactic; email addresses serve as the gas in your tank here.
Access to your webinar should go behind a “gate,” where you ask for an attendee’s email address (as well as name and other demographic information such as age, industry, location, etc.) before granting them an invite. You can add their email to an existing email newsletter list or create a new email campaign to market your business specifically to webinar attendees.
Once the webinar is over, take the time to follow up with the most engaged and curious attendees. Remember, each one is a potential lead, or at the very least a brand ambassador who can attest to your dedication and passion.
Reach out to participants and provide a deeper explanation to questions they asked. Did someone in the audience offer a suggestion or criticism that you’d like to learn more about? Contact them and get them to elaborate.
3. Team up with affiliated partners and brands
If you think you might have trouble building an audience for your first (or first few) webinars, identify a company you can partner with to co-brand and co-host the webinar. This helps introduce your business to a new audience, as well as ease the burden of planning the event. Make plans for both parties to help promote and market the webinar before, during, and after.
Not only will this boost overall attendance, but you’ll have an opportunity to build a relationship with another brand, as well as introduce yourself more intimately to their existing audience.
Having guests speak at your webinars can accomplish similar goals. Bring someone from outside the company to offer new perspectives. Or, invite another member of your team to leverage their specialized knowledge.
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4. Convert skeptics with “deminars”
Showcasing your brand’s expertise on a particular topic is great, but it doesn’t always mean the viewers will understand exactly what your business does or what products or services you offer.
Consider creating an additional webinar focused on how your business works, geared specifically toward people who are interested in learning more. Sometimes referred to as “deminars,” their appeal is that they have the feel of a private demonstration for customers who may be on the verge of making a purchase. The format is also handy for showing current customers new products you have just unveiled.
In both cases, attention to detail is perhaps more crucial than with a standard webinar. If you don’t feel comfortable using a live demonstration to showcase a product, incorporate videos—which brings us to our last suggestion . . .
5. Break down your webinar into new content
Another advantage of creating webinars is this one piece of content can actually be turned into several ways to reach your audience. Think of the event as a giant piece of information that can be broken apart and repurposed in smaller pieces across your various digital platforms.
A webinar can power several entries for your company’s blog, which you can then spread across social media. Best practices include creating a blog post (or repurposing one from your website) related to the webinar’s theme, and using paid media to target a specific audience on the platform. Of all the platforms to choose from, LinkedIn may offer the best way to leverage your business’s webinar content.
That product demonstration we mentioned earlier? Put it on your business’s YouTube channel, which has an audience that gravitates toward how-to videos.
And, you don’t need to limit yourself to video. Any charts and graphics that you reference in your webinar can be useful starting points for creating a blog post or a standalone tweet. Unless your webinar is extremely timely, you should be able to find ways to repurpose your webinar content for months to come.
The bottom line
Webinars are an effective marketing tool and can offer your company a chance to have personal interactions with current and potential customers without expensive, time-consuming, and in some cases, logistically impossible travel.
You can use the time you save by not traveling to in-person meetings to prepare a presentation on a focused topic to engage with your audience. Webinars provide the opportunity to answer questions, gather meaningful feedback, and compile leads—all without needing to leave your office (or your home).
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