Marketing Webinar Optimization: Five questions to ask yourself about webinars

Whether you are planning to host a lead generation webinar, training webinar or just a plain ‘ol informational webinar for your members or staff, it’s important to first ask yourself, “Why am I hosting this webinar in the first place?”  Hopefully, by asking yourself the five questions below you’ll know the answer to that question.

Am I providing value?

Your knee-jerk reaction might be, “Of course my products or services provide value.  I always have something important to say.” However, it will better serve your efforts if you take an honest self-assessment of your possible content, and decide who (if anyone) would give something for this content. Because attendees are paying with their time.

Am I communicating that value?

Your title, the description of your webinar, promotion blog posts, tweets, social media conversation – these all must be focused on a challenge or objective your prospective attendee has, not on what your objectives are.  All of your pre-webinar activity must create a solution to that challenge on three levels.

  • It must be relevant. If your audience is mid-level warehouse managers, telling them how to recreate an entire manufacturing process over which they have no control is not relevant to their challenge of meeting their production goals within the current process.
  • It must be urgent. Your attendees will not spend an hour with you to solve a problem that is 15 months away. They have to meet this quarter’s goals and numbers and that is where their greatest motivation lies. In the long run there is no long run if they don’t fix short-term problems. Or, as noted economist John Maynard Keynes has said, “In the long run we are all dead.”
  • It must be important. Your audience likely has many challenges in their job. But if you are only addressing something minor, why should they spend an hour with you?

Take an unbiased look at your efforts and make sure you truly are addressing your attendee’s most pressing issues, and not just, like many organizations, putting new wrapping on the same content.

Am I constantly engaging my audience?

For the host, the key is value, value, value. Why start the webinar with an ad for yourself, as so many do?  As Flint McGlaughlin, the Director of MECLABS Group, teaches, “Dazzle me gradually.”  Continuously provide value to your audience to overcome the inherent friction of staying on any webinar.

From a technology standpoint, have a conversation with them using polls and answering submitted questions throughout. Have staff on hand to conduct Q&A through your platform since you won’t likely have the time to address every question on the call. Encourage them to have a conversation with each other by using a Twitter hashtag.  Again, your focus is helping and providing value to your audience.

Am I listening to my audience?

Beyond ROI and independent of leads, make sure you keep a finger on the pulse of your webinars themselves by making sure your audience has a way to provide you feedback and let you know how much value and help you provide through them. By keeping an eye on this soft metric, you can use your webinars to help educate a community instead of alienating potential customers or members.

Am I building a community?

Before, during and after a webinar, social media and other content marketing is an excellent fit to building a community around your organization.  Before a webinar, solicit feedback through LinkedIn or your Facebook page to understand what topics your customers, members or staff want more information about. Then, perhaps release a juicy whitepaper that you can dissect live on the webinar. During the webinar, use a Twitter hashtag to facilitate conversation with (and between) attendees. After the webinar, write follow-up blog posts (with audio and video replays) to share information with those who couldn’t attend, and interest them in attending your next webinar

Ultimately, a webinar – just like social media – is a channel. It has no inherent value. Your job is to provide that value.

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