Webinars are still a thing and they show no signs of not being a thing. Why? Because if you do them right, leads! Conversions! And content you can repurpose for use across different channels.
Curious, I googled “history of the webinar,” and found early versions of the online learning model dating as far back as the 1960s—students collaborating across networked computers to do school stuff. But webinars got real in the mid-90s when Bill Gates sent a memo to Microsoft executive staff: “Our PictureTel screen sharing client allowing Window sharing should work easily across the Internet.”
Boom! In 1996, Microsoft rolled out NetMeeting with IE 3.0 and the Internet’s first real-time data-conferencing capability was born. In short, it’s been a long time since we started using web conferencing as a marketing tool to engage leads.
Why, then, aren’t we better at it? Shouldn’t we have mastered follow-up and conversion by now? Sure, but running a great webinar program is thinky, detailed work, and with today’s marketing automation technology, we’re tempted to switch it to autopilot.
Here are 3 ways to take a step back and improve engagement & conversion of your webinar program:
1. Kill the Sales Pitch
If your audience wants a product demo, they’ll look for it on your website. People register for webinars to learn something practical—usually a thing that helps them do their job better.
Keep the content thought-leadery and demonstrate your company’s expertise in solving problems. Partner with an MVP or someone with strong social presence to establish validation and to tap into their fan base.
The title of your webinar is key:
- How to Use Our Ho-hum Platform to Overcome Functional Silos
- Overcoming 5 Barriers to Digital Transformation
Which one works better? Imagine how your title will resonate in email and social campaigns. Start thinking of cool images for your landing page and social campaigns, but no, just no—not a screenshot of your app.
Remember: it’s not a product pitch. Your webinar is access to special knowledge that helps your audience achieve better results at their job.
Your content must be compelling enough to get registrations, to build trust in your brand, and to drive conversion through post-webinar activities. You’re in this for the long haul.
2. Crush Your Landing Page
Depending on your marketing team, you may have different people writing copy, designing the page, and setting it up in your automation platform. No doubt, you’re also running behind to get the invite out and start promoting. I know how it is—the potential for greatness gets lost along the way. But then, so does your conversion rate.
You already have a great title, take the time to follow it through on your landing page. Blow it out with 3 brief bullets on what the audience can expect—and keep the bullets high impact statements. No one likes to read. Capture attention with few words, always keeping in mind what would work on you. Remember, you’re a person in the world, inundated with invites and spam, what would compel you to register?
Once the pieces are in place, whoever oversees the program HAS to check the invite and landing page across devices—reviewing on mobile and laptop. Does the subject line warrant an opened email? Is the copy compelling enough to click-through to the registration page? Great! That’s half the battle.
Now make sure your landing page has the right amount of copy (like hardly any), an awesome image, the shortest form possible, and a clear call to action to crush conversion and drive registrations.
3. The Follow-Up, OMG the Follow-Up
You guys. This is so important and so overlooked.
Remember what I said about programs running on autopilot? Webinar follow-ups are the easiest thing to bang out and schedule for sending 24-hours after the event takes place—the ultimate set-it and forget-it.
“Thanks for joining us” or “Sorry we missed you” emails with a link to the recording are necessary, but your webinar registrants are signalling a high level of interest in your content and solution. Take the time to notice what your leads are doing.
For webinar attendees, send a plain text email from a human—could be someone in marketing, could be a sales rep, all automation platforms can do this—that not only includes a link to the recording, but to a trial or personalized demo of your solution. With years of experience, I’ve found webinar follow-ups have the highest levels of engagement: the best open & click-through rates of any email marketing campaign. This could be your best chance at moving leads through the funnel.
For registrants who didn’t attend, send a similar email (also from a human), wait a day, then track who viewed the recording. Think about it: these folks were too busy to attend the live event, but their level of interest is high enough to watch it later. In addition to Sales calling on these leads (of course Sales should be calling all webinar registrants, do I need to say that?), build out a nurture program with relevant content and keep them engaged.
A thoughtful, well executed webinar program is the beginning of engagement, optimized to target the right prospects and grow your audience—but it doesn’t end there. Keep the focus and momentum going and nurture these prospects with a mix of content that converts.
If a chunk of your marketing budget, team effort, and time are already going into a webinar program, automate as much as you can, but don’t put valuable prospects on autopilot.