Content marketing is becoming the best way to cheaply and easily generate leads. It’s no surprise: creating compelling content that works is one of the most effective ways of finding people interested in your industry. Among the different forms content you can produce, webinars are proven to be both compelling and effective.
But creating a truly great webinar can be an arduous process. In fact, I recently hosted a webinar entitled ‘The Top 5 Places to Find Social Media ROI in 2015’ and I can safely say that there are many facets of webinar creation and presentation that I wish I'd known beforehand.
So I’d like to share some takeaways with you as well as pose questions you should ask yourself along the way so you can produce the best webinar possible.
Define Your Topic
The first thing you need to do is understand what audience you want to attract. Who are you marketing this towards? Once you know, you can define a topic that resonates with that audience. To help, try answering these questions:
- Are you hosting an in-depth technical webinar or a holistic, general one?
- Keeping audience in mind, how long do you want this webinar to run?
- How long do you have to promote it?
For my webinar, the target audiences were social media managers and digital communications organizations – a huge audience size. So, we decided to keep things very holistic and make the presentation short and sweet (about 15 minutes). If you plan on having a deep dive into one specific topic, you might want to increase the duration of the webinar accordingly.
We gave ourselves a little over a month of prep time. This is a good window because it leaves about two weeks for some serious updating and asset creation as well as extra time to tie up any loose ends.
Outline Your Message
Once you have figured out the topic, I highly suggest, before doing any promotion, you outline your messaging. Along with that, develop most of your key visual assets BEFORE you start blasting it to audiences. This will make the rest of your work in promotion and content creation a lot easier. Develop your plan of attack and be sure to address all of these questions:
- What channels will you use to promote this webinar?
- How do you intend to track these channels?
- What/who can you leverage to amplify your promotion?
- How often will you promote on each channel?
Once I had written out all the separate areas I wanted to cover in my webinar, I began creating banner assets and curating content for the presentation. This allowed me to leverage these assets for both my slides and my promo materials.
I then wrote out messaging for each social network I wanted to promote on and also designed the promotional e-mail.
Along with the e-mail, we also contacted an influencer in the UK to blast out the invite to his respective contacts, thus allowing our company to hit more people interested in our topic. Having a partnership for your presentation, or at least a handful of other influential parties, can go a long way for viewership and new leads. Press releases and shout outs in relevant industry blogs are other great ways of getting the word out.
Ultimately, we decided on three notification e-mails: one that was two weeks from the webinar, another the week of, and a ‘last chance’ email the day before. Using my created visual assets among all of these e-mails, as well as adding them to the sign-up page, allowed for a consistent, professional look.
Create Your Deck
A good deck needs to be three things: engaging, informative and simplistic. You should always keep your slides consistent with a theme/style and address these questions on each:
- What is the topic I’m addressing on this slide?
- What are the main thesis words/phrases I need to convey?
- How do these slides go together to tell an ongoing narrative?
The first thing I did was develop and stylize my slides. This means having standardized fonts, spacing, image placement and header and footer styles. Once that was complete, I used my outline as a guide to address each topic. I then went slide-by-slide and added the assets I had already created. Creating all my messaging and assets beforehand saved me a ton of time because I already knew how my slides would look like. With the time saved I was able to tweak and add additional images and copy quickly.
It’s important to note that you want to keep your copy simple and explain through visuals. This means taking your speech and narrowing it down the key words and phrases that you want to stick in the audience’s head. A general rule of thumb is: if your audience can comprehend your point through the slide then they wont need to listen to you. Remember, you’re controlling this presentation; don’t lose control to your own slides.
Finally, if you want to go the extra mile, add a method of engagement to your slides. For our webinar, for instance, we created a hashtag so our audience could discuss the webinar on social media. You could hold a brief Q&A at the end of your presentation or even provide your audience with a marketing guide as complimentary information to go along with the webinar.
When the presentation day arrives, you better be practiced. At this point, you should know the slides like the back of your hand. But before you start the webinar consider these quick questions:
- Do I know how to work all the equipment?
- If my slides don’t load properly, do I have a back up?
- Am I prepared to improvise if anything goes wrong?
Luckily for me, I had rehearsed this presentation enough to know exactly what I was doing. But just in case, I had another laptop ready with a similar version of my slides.
Now, being prepared doesn’t just mean know what points your going to say and when to click ‘next slide’ but also how to effectively transition from one point to another. If you’re not good off the cuff, writing a deeper technical script might be needed. Although, try not to sound like you’re reading off the page. You want to have accessible language that isn’t muddled with jargon. Match your business tone with your own to communicate effectively.
Finally, follow the presentation with any assets you want to share as well as contact any people who could not make it. Normally, a few of your attendees will want a copy of the deck so provide that as a link on your website along with the recorded webinar. Most importantly, be sure to log all relevant metrics in regards to which channels received the most sign-ups as well as how many people overall attended your webinar for adequate benchmarking.
Just like writers improve by reading quality content, aspiring webinar hosts can observe best practices by listening to the pros. View the list of free upcoming SEMrush webinars here.
Do you have any additional tips on webinars? Let us know about them in the comments!