Webinars and events are trusted as an essential part of a healthy marketing-mix. They are used to build new contact lists, engage with leads, and cement relationships with existing customers. Yet a webinar might be something you only do a couple of times a year. Here are some tips on using marketing automation and email to ensure your event is packed.
Getting your audience and life cycle stage well-defined
In marketing automation we often talk about delivering value and following up with behavioural messaging. But none of that matters if we attract the wrong audience.
So let’s start with “the” attendee. What is their profile and interests? If you are applying Marketing Automatbion tactics, make sure you are appealing to the intended persona(s) and in the stage of the buyers journey / sales funnel.
Of course you might already have an idea of what your webinar should be about, but it is never a bad idea to see if the type of topic is synchronized with the type of audience you are trying to attract and the descision making stage they are in.
Then create a selection or list with customers and leads you would like to visit your event. Based on your “must attend” list you can personally invite them or automated using a personalised email flow.
If there are external speakers or sponsors, ask them to also invite attendants. That way you can drastically increase your reach. Let them possibly give something to their audience, like for instance a discount on tickets or a book giveaway.
Of course your own goals are important – we will get to that later – but the value to your intended audience should be the starting point for everything from initial planning, content, delivery style all the way to the follow-through after the event.
With that in mind:
1. Pick the perfect topic and make it a must-attend title
Real life events might be paid or not, but they certainly take a chunk of time to attend. Webinars are typically free to attend, so there is no purchase barrier there, but you are competing with a lot of them. So get ready to show value up front.
It is impossible to get people to attend your event if your topic sucks. Try to select a topic that’s broad enough to appeal a large enough audience, yet targeted enough it doesn’t end up being too ‘high level’. The more specific it is, the more value and actionable advice your attendees can take with them.
It is a big plus if the topic is directly related to your product, the problem you are solving or a niche you are targeting. Mainly because this allows you to follow up more simply and can easily measure interest from registration and attendance.
Your event title (and sub title) is crucial. It needs to be crafted to get the audience’s attention and to also ensure it clearly communicates what the value is for the attendee. An ideal event title should spell out ‘I MUST know this’. You can hook potential attendees with that title and then lead into copy or a landing page and provide more detail.
Your ideal webinar topic and title:
- Appeals to a large enough audience
- Targeted enough to measure intent
- Directly related to audience, niche or product
- Communicates WIIFM (what’s in it for me)
You can get inspiration from youtube to find similar event titles or browse through per category what presentations there have been on bright talk.
A case for choosing a narrow topic
Just like choosing your products or blog, you have to choose your topic to match your audience. Pick a topic too broad won’t get the kind of traction and interest that you really need. Niel Patel shares some insights into the virtue of finding the right level of specificity in his “guide to creating a successful blog”. Here is the example he uses to illustrate:
A (too) wide topic: Carpentry
Narrower topic(s): trim carpentry, log carpentry, construction carpentry, cabinetry, ship building, furniture carpentry, restoration carpentry or Japanese carpentry.
But even Japanese carpentry could be too wide, why not Miyadaiku carpentry. Now we are getting specific, which is the key to getting noticed (inside the audience that matters). Within that topic, there is enough depth that resonates with the audience. You can talk about the tools used, techniques used, wood, trying to sell this carpentry, mixing it up, show examples, interviews, etc, etc. The combination of specific and shallow is quaranteed to not fare well.
A successful webinar is…
Educational, informational, entertaining… it is obvious you want to inform and possibly teach something to your audience. But is it the right measure of success? Taking your goals one level beyond the obvious makes it more concrete and allows you to measure success using the definition you wrote down.
Write down what the desired upside is to your organization after successfully completing the webinar.
Goal and Benefits of your webinar
Here are some global benefits that your event could provide, if you write them out these will define not only how you will measure success, but also who to promote and the way you follow up with attendees and no-shows.
- Introduce customers to our new [product release / feature / service etc].
- Reduce the strain on customer service by making customers more familiar with the new product.
- Get additional sales.
- Learn more about our contacts, lead scoring and grading
- Loyalty and customer relationship focussed.
- Get in touch with new prospects and get them excited about the content matter to introduce them (subscribe) in our lead management program.
Never oversell, not even your webinar
Even if sales is the end goal you don’t want your webinar to be too self-promotional. Webinars often work best for thought leadership and educational content. So don’t be afraid to get guest speakers from outside your company, you want to be seen as the Jarek Wasielewski of Clickmeeting lists 6 benefits of running a webinar with a guest speaker.
1. Widens Your Audience Base (promotion)
2. Establishes Your Webinar Authority
3. Makes Your Content More Exciting
4. Adds A New Perspective
5. Takes Pressure Off You
6. Improves Credibility Of The Host
We don’t want to oversell anything during a webinar. So yes, a guest speaker is definitely something to keep in mind, but do make sure it is a good one for without quality, all authority / credibility claims and excitement goes out the door.
Promoting your event the right way
Obviously to get people to attend, we have to promote the webinar. You can use your own email list and blog to focus on the topic of your webinar and end with a Call to Action driving people to register.
There is nothing against mentioning the webinar in your regular newsletter, but sending dedicated emails for webinars will results in much higher number of registrations. It is focus applied to your email marketing. You want to go over all your touchpoints and see which will work best for boosting attendance.
Plan your email campaign sequence and triggered campaign
Make sure you cover all the steps that lead up to, but also are result of the event, consider that an attendee has different needs at different stages and each has great opportunities to use dynamic content, triggered mail and personalization to drive the desired behaviour.
- During promotion, Give attention to the event and lead to registrations
- Post-registration but pre-event, Inform about the content and practicalities of the event, build anticipation, reduce no-show.
- On the day of the event
It is happening right now (or any last minute reminder for that matter, doesn’t hurt)
Thank you, send slides or video and follow up.
Even if they have already registered, no-shows are a pain, so send a reminder the day before a live event, possibly to print their ticket or to add to their agenda. Consider adding a no-show fee even if your physical event is free, to give people a real reason to not cancel last minute.
Offer a recording or slides for registrants
For people that can’t attend, you can consider recording the webinar and mailing the recorded webinar to the people that signed up. If you do, be sure to mention it in your announcement emails, because the number of registrations will surely be higher. If you are not recording, offering to send the slides might be a quick-win alternative.
A webinar replay can also be made available for a limited time. This can even help you by creating a sense of urgency. Something like one week is an appropriate timeline. Up to 39% might watch webinar recordings and by setting a deadline you will have another valid contact reason once the deadline is about to expire.
Image by Pierre Metivier