Can Webinars really work for your business? Some people might be sceptical after hearing this newfangled word which came from that good old fashioned concept of the seminar, except it is being held online. Some might feel that having no real face to face interaction is a big loss and will take a toll on the traditional seminar’s effectiveness. But be warned, you cannot hold onto traditional minded views in today’s digital world.
The new online landscape has created more opportunities for businesses to create marketing events that cost a mere fraction of what they used to. Tradeshows, face to face training and conferences are no longer the first choice in many circumstances since web based technology has made such things possible without having to fly everyone into a single expensive location. It is also the tool of choice when engaging possible customers so if you ignore this, then you will be left behind by the digital savvy competition.
The beauty of webinars and virtual meetings is that it opens up business opportunities to a wider geographical area. If you are in Sydney, you can now talk to a client or do online training in Perth very easily. Whenever you have a new product to launch, a service to offer, a solution to advise, an event to promote or training to offer you can now reach your target market instantaneously and en-mass. Why continue making lots of wasted sales calls if you can reach more people at once?
Face-Time Through The Screen
There is still a need for intimate face time in order to establish trust and get a conversation going with customers and prospective clients. Without the possibility of a virtual face to face interaction, you will still struggle to convert in most cases. This is why new platforms for Webinars and Virtual Meetings have efficient system for communication such as polls and live statistical data.
Some free programs to enable you to participate in face to face meetings are Skype and the G+ Hangout function which have both improved in leaps and bounds since their original inception. There is also Facetime on iPhones, iPods, iPads and now even from your Mac which is great if you are talking another person with the same capability.
For professional paid services that will help you create and host webinars, virtual events and online training you can use services like ON24 or GoToWebinar. I found this great review of the Top 10 Webinar Services which is handy if you want to compare and do your research.
You can easily learn how to properly engage your prospects and keep the conversation alive and insightful for both the participant and yourself. Here are a few tips on how to do this:
- Understand your target prospects, what are their pain points, what problems do they need solving and how can you address these effectively via a webinar. Sending them the invitation will be the first step, but to get their interest you have to understand what makes them tick. Be sure to put some effort in the invitation, if your invite does not peak their interest at all, your Webinar will be all for naught. One good thing to keep in mind is that most people who attend such online events do so because 1) they want to find out more about a certain product / service or 2) they have certain industry topics they want to learn more about in-depth.
- It’s good practice to acquire their profile information during the sign up process. Get them to fill out a form where their contact number and other important information can be collected. Know what they want to buy or understand and what they are interested in. Once you get all this, you can customise your Webinar to fit your audience and you have the details to follow up with after the webinar. At the end of the day it is all about the database and the leads you will have on record once the webinar is over.
- Market the Webinar exactly as you would a live event; send the information out to your database, promote it on Social Media and PPC Adverting is a great way to get the word out fast, particularly if it is a webinar that will make you money or provide quality leads, it is worth setting aside a budget to advertise it.
Keep Things Engaging
- Find a Guest Speaker:
One thing that usually makes Webinars successful is having a popular or authoritative guest speaker to pull in attendees. If you can find a subject matter authority then you can keep your Webinar engaging and you can market it better. The great thing is that you don’t have to pay your speaker’s plane tickets. All they need is a computer and a good internet connection.
- Keep Track of Participation:
Webinars allow you to monitor the attendees, a lot of platforms have this special feature so you should make use of it to keep people on track. You will be able to see how many are active, so if you see any changes, you can tailor your webinar content as necessary. TIP: Always have some extra points or content to use if things go pear shaped, if people suddenly drop off and become inactive, switch gears by doing something that will get their interest back up. You can ask them a question or start a demonstration in order to get them to speak up or join in.
It is worthwhile having a facilitator on the line as well as the presenter. The facilitator can keep track of participants questions and comments, making sure the webinar is clear and muting attendees if their line is causing feedback etc and leave the presenter to do just that – present!
- Get Their Feedback:
The purpose of a webinar should not just be education or selling, it is beneficial to promote genuine conversation and engagement. If you are just going to feed them information without getting feedback then you won’t know if you have done a good job or what parts they enjoyed the most and the bits that they felt didn’t work well? Either during or after the webinar you can start a poll or have your attendees answer questions (there is normally a thumbs up function in the system that allows you to ask “does everyone understand, give a thumbs up if you are okay”. Always try and get feedback to make sure they understand and are on the same page as the presenter. This is not only going to strengthen your bond with them, it will also give you valuable first hand insight into your customer’s needs and issues.
By getting feedback you can test out new ideas, design offers specific to the needs of your audience and create great value by delivering exactly what they are asking for.
- Start A Demonstration:
This is another good reason for conducting a webinar. With a live demonstration, you will be able to not only educate your audience, you will also gain their trust. A live demonstration is, after all more trustworthy than a recorded one.
- What Happens Next:
It is a must that you should record your webinar as you go along, so when you are done you are left with an amazing piece of content that can be used over and over. If you are looking for content that plays a major part in your content marketing strategy, then webinars and online training etc are perfect.
If the information is educational and complimentary then you can consider doing the following:
- Send out your webinar to those who may have registered and did not attend the call, people expect an archived version now days.
- Write a blog post about it and embed the video into your post.
- Strip out the audio and then you have a podcast!
- Upload the webinar to YouTube, SlideShare and promote it via your Social Media platforms.
- Send it out in your next eNewsletter to your database to showcase your knowledge and capabilities.
- Embed the webinar onto your website as part of a training and education tool.
- If the topic is newsworthy enough, you can write a Press Release and submit the details to the press channels
If attendees paid to be part of your webinar then you now have a product to sell in the marketplace as a recorded version. In this case you can do some nearly all of the above suggestions, however, you would be promoting the recorded webinar product instead of distributing the actual webinar.
Do you have any other Webinar or Virtual Meeting tips you can share?