Lisa, a bright and experienced marketing coordinator, thought getting an audience for a webinar would be easy.
After all, the webinar topic was timely, the presenter was a known thought leader, and her employer was a popular brand. A few emails here, a couple social posts there, she told herself with a shrug. These things sell themselves.
But registration numbers fell far short of the target, and on the big day, only a handful of people even bothered to attend, and nobody engaged during the presentation.
Afterward, Lisa’s boss asked to see her webinar promotion plan.
As it turns out, promoting webinars effectively does take some planning and effort.
Consider these points from Go-to-Meeting’s Big Book of Webinar Stats:
- 57% of webinar registrations come from email.
- More than half of signups happen during the week of the event but promoting at least four weeks in advance results in 12% more registrations on average.
- 63% of people submit their registration on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.
Without a smart promotional plan, you can wind up wasting a lot of your time, effort, and budget on promotion that simply goes unnoticed.
This blog post breaks down the planning process into three distinct parts: before, during and after the webinar.
Before the Webinar: Attracting Your Audience
People are busy and need time to work a webinar into their schedules. The trick is repetition: For a short time, the news about your webinar needs to be everywhere – in a good way.
Plan Your Tactics and Build a Timeline
You’ll want to start planning your strategy about seven weeks before the webinar launch date and begin timing out your promotional tactics 5-6 weeks before. As you consider these tactics, make sure you think about how much time it will take for copy creation, design, and any development needs. There’s no point saying you’ll send out your first email in three days if it takes five days to just get the email copy written and internally approved. Think about when you want each component to launch or be available, and then work backwards from there, being sure to bake in an extra day or two for any unexpected delays.
Here are some key marketing assets and tactics you’ll want to consider when promoting your webinar:
Let people know about the webinar via a call-to-action (CTA) placed on your home page, on blogs, on the thank-you pages of other content offers, in emails, and really, anywhere you can reasonably put it. The CTA should send people to a well-written and organized landing page that gives them even more enticement to register via a clear and user-friendly form. Don’t forget about a thank-you page and a thank-you email, both of which offer registrants additional relevant information like a webinar link, confirmation of the date and time, or any other pertinent details.
Website pop-up window
A regular CTA on your website can attract attention, but a pop-up CTA can really capture their interest while also creating a sense of newness and urgency to the webinar offer.
A short promotional video can be embedded in your registration page and shared via your social media accounts and through email. Include teaser information about what visitors will learn in the webinar.
Email is far and away the most effective promotional channel for webinars, so use this opportunity wisely, with a series of at least three emails:
- Email 1 – A simple heads-up three to four weeks in advance, telling people to save the date.
- Email 2 – A week before, whet the audience’s appetite for learning. Include a video promo like the one on your registration page, outlining the intellectual deliciousness that awaits them in your webinar.
- Email 3 (and beyond) – Since most people will wait to sign up until it’s closer to the webinar date, don’t be shy about promoting the webinar via email right up until the day of the event. And it never hurts to provoke a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) in your audience.
One caveat: Make sure to segment your emails based on whether or not someone has registered. If someone has already registered for the webinar, it’s great to send them a couple of reminder emails when the date draws near. But once they’ve completed their registration, use your marketing automation tool to prevent registrants from receiving further promotional emails, which can harm all that good will you’ve created.
Public relations/external media promotion
If there’s a local connection to your webinar, create and distribute a news release to business news outlets whose audiences might find your topic interesting. Where possible, show editors and reporters how your webinar relates to any trends or hot topics, which answers the why-should-I-care question that drives day-to-day media coverage.
Social media promotion
This is a big one, as it can help you leverage your organization’s networks as well as those of your thought leader guests and their organizations. Create a calendar for posts promoting the webinar to be shared on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram – both on personal feeds and within groups that would find your webinar discussion helpful. Be sure to ask your webinar guests to also share these posts, to generate the fullest possible exposure.
Want to attract new faces? Consider springing for some targeted digital advertising. LinkedIn is particularly helpful if you want to target your ads to people whose job roles or industries make them a likely fit for your webinar’s content.
During the Webinar: Engaging Your Audience in Real Time
The webinar has started and you’ve remembered to record it. Is it time to sit back and rest on your laurels? Not yet. You still need to engage your webinar audience and even the people who didn’t sign up or show up.
Fielding questions/live chat
Engaging your audience through live chat is a great way to build connections. Establish someone who will focus on moderating the chat room. Their job is to screen questions for presenters and help with information sharing, such as posting links to resources mentioned in the presentation. Note: Make visitors aware of the chat option during your lead-in or housekeeping matters before introducing the speakers.
Live social media monitoring and posting
This is another great way to promote the webinar, associate your brand with a topic and strengthen your connection to a noted thought leader. Assign this task to someone on your team. Encourage them to include topical hashtags, post selected points made in the presentation, share graphics, and direct relevant audience questions and comments back to the presenters. This is also an opportunity to publicly thank your presenters and strengthen the relationship.
After the Webinar: Ensuring Your Audience Takes Action
Work’s done once the show’s over, right?
Not quite. In fact, not at all. These next tactics not only create excitement about the webinar that just ended, they also give people who signed up but missed your webinar added incentive to check out the recording.
Transcribe the webinar recording
Your webinar transcription is a gold mine for follow-up content. You can expand on points in future blogs, turn the entire webinar into a pillar page, share highlights in social posts and pull from the transcript to promote the recorded webinar (or webinar-on-demand).
Take stock of your day’s work
Review top questions and answers, chat content and social media chatter. Look at audience size and how they found their way to the webinar. Was it through a Facebook ad? A blog post CTA? Click-through on a promo email – which one? This analysis can help you better prepare and promote future webinars.
Follow-up email campaign
Strike while the iron is hot by sending some follow-up emails. Attendees can get the recording and a survey, followed by an email with links to relevant articles and resources. Non-attendees or non-registrants can get an offer to watch the webinar on demand, and perhaps a survey asking what other kind of webinar content they’d like to see.
Social media promotion
Build your community with quotes and highlights from the webinar. Tag attendees, thought leaders, and brands involved with the presentation. These posts spur follow-up communication and actions among attendees and serve as a nice reminder of time well spent with your organization.
Here’s a chance to repackage the webinar content in an easy-to-read article that can feature highlights from the webinar, show notes, and links to resources mentioned. This gives you one more touch point with the audience to associate your brand with thought leadership and help them move toward their goals.
The Big Payoff
Webinars and the promotion of webinars are acts of generosity. After all, you’re giving your audience free information they can use to make something better: their jobs, their lives, their world.
If, in the process of giving away free information, people recognize your brand as the go-to resource on a certain topic – say plumbing, bird houses, or plumbing for bird houses – you create the kind of trust and brand recognition that turns strangers into leads, leads into customers, and customers into evangelists.
But they can’t get that free information if they don’t know about it. By creating a comprehensive webinar promotion plan, you maximize the chances of reaching as many people as possible, so you can share helpful information with them and strengthen their relationship with your organization.