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The Complete Guide to Running a Killer Webinar

Olga Andrienko
The Complete Guide to Running a Killer Webinar

As marketers, we’re under constant pressure. We have to continuously improve engagement with the audience, spread the word on our brands, attract leads and convert them into customers. And achieve millions of other things, right? So, a while ago when looking for new ways to market SEMrush we decided to give webinars a chance and it was a great success.

Running webinars has helped us make new friends, attract leads and gain new fantastic users, connect with great industry leaders, many of whom we “shared the stage” with to tell more people about our product. And today I want to share with you what we’ve learned after delivering almost 500 webinars. I hope this will help you deliver killer webinars too. Ready? Let’s roll!

Part I: Organize the Event

1. The Speaker Matters Most

To attract the audience, you need either a really trending topic, something your audience feels they must know about or a popular speaker, a person whose name will automatically attract large numbers of people to the event.

From our experience, the speaker matters more than the topic. To guarantee a strong attendance, invite a speaker your audience identifies with and are likely to want to learn from again.

2. Build Shareability Into the Webinar from the Start

Face it, you want the word about your event to spread, and the best way to achieve it is by designing it to go viral. Here’s how:

Write a catchy headline to quickly tell the audience what the webinar is about. From our experience, headlines with maximum of 6 words work best. Our community manager Elizaveta shares some tips on how she structures headlines in this post.

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Specify a hashtag your attendees could use to share the webinar on social media. Make it topic or brand-related. If you’re going to run regular webinars, you could focus on your brand – for example, our company uses hashtag #semrushlive. With less frequent events, topic-related hashtag would probably work better.

Encourage people to share their intention to attend. Add share buttons to the registration confirmation page. Also, include calls to action that entice them to share, i.e. “See what magnificent free webinar I’m attending!” Make sure to set the social media buttons to include the event’s headline, your brand’s Twitter handle and hashtag you’re using for the event.

3. Structure the Event

Just like any educational event, your webinar must follow a predefined structure. This way your speaker will know what to do and when while the audience will know what to expect as well.

I recommend that your event includes at least these elements:

  • Meet and Greet to test the setup, have an informal chat with early attendees and warm everyone up to the event.
  • The Official Welcome during which you should thank participants for coming, introduce the speaker and share the agenda.
  • A Personal Story that gives a background for running the webinar but also, builds a rapport with the audience.
  • Main Content
  • Q&A
  • Closing remarks to wrap the whole event up.

To find out more about this structure, listen to this fantastic podcast with Lewis Howes in which he explains each step.

4. Promote the Event to the Current Audience Too

How To Promote the Webinar to Your Current Audience

Even though your goal is to expand the audience, you shouldn’t neglect your current followers too. After all, a webinar is your chance to deepen the relationship with them and convert many leads into customers.

  • Invite email subscribers to the event. Send a dedicated newsletter announcing the webinar and linking to the registration page.
  • Announce the event on social media and post more than once about it.
  • Write blog post with related info. Offer quality information about the problem your webinar is going to solve and include a call to action to the registration page.
  • Target the speaker’s audience too. Tag your guest in social media messages. Also, ask them to share the event with their audience.

Part II: Run the Webinar

5. Meet the Speaker 30 Minutes Prior to Kick-Off Time

Never jump into the event right away. Schedule to connect online 30 minutes before the webinar starts. Go through the schedule, fine tune the presentation and discuss a couple of last minute ideas both of you will certainly have. Trust me, these final moments before the kick off will help you strengthen the relationship with them!

6. Connect with the Audience

Don’t launch into the main topic right away. Give the audience some time to warm up. Here are few things I recommend for that:

  • Introduce yourself and the speaker. Have a quick informal chat about you both, break the ice. Check if everything works ok.
  • Test if audio and slides work. The last thing you want is to start seeing comments about poor sound half way through the event.
  • Connect with the attendees. Ask them few questions to learn more about them. For instance, ask where they’re from, then read all the country names aloud to give others a feeling they’re part of a massive, global event.
  • Finally, introduce the webinar. Run through the planned schedule. Tell attendees about the hashtag. And ask them 2-3 questions that would get them into thinking about the main topic.

7. Time the Main Content

Any expert could go on for hours about their topic. But to keep the webinar interesting, limit the main section to no more than half an hour. That’s long enough to present the key points without boring the users.

A good trick to keep the engagement up is to allow attendees ask questions during the event. For that to work, however, you’ll need someone to monitor incoming questions, pick the best ones and relate them to the speaker.

8. Monitor the Hashtag

All throughout the event people will use the hashtag to comment or discuss the webinar on social media. Designate a person to monitor those comments and keep conversations going. Keep note of any questions they ask and relay the most interesting ones to the speaker too.

9. Close the Event

It’s only natural to thank the speaker for their time. But don’t forget to do the same with the audience. To many people your event might be happening at night, depending on their time zone. So thank them for the dedication and interest. Also, offer information where they could find more about the speaker, yourself and the company.

And finally, let the audience know where and when they’ll be able to find recording and slides from the presentation.

Part III: Get More Out of the Webinar

10. Share the Recording

Not everyone interested in your event might have had a chance to attend it. Record the webinar and embed the recording on a dedicated page, then share it on social media. Make it easy to access it from your site. And ask the speaker to help promote it to their audience as well.

11. Repurpose Webinar Slides

Not everyone likes to attend webinars. But that doesn’t mean they’re not interested in the topic! Therefore, repurpose slides from the event into other content types, a SlideShare presentation for instance to reach new audiences.

12. Post a Summary of the Event to Your Blog

Collect the key takeaways from the webinar along with 5-6 best questions into a blog post. Publish it together with the embedded recording and slides to promote the event to blog subscribers.

Doing so will help you in a number of ways:

  • Give your audience a chance to learn from the webinar.
  • Open opportunities to attract relevant organic traffic.
  • Attract the speaker’s audience that didn’t get a chance to see the webinar to your site.

What about you?

Are you running webinars to promote your brand? What other tips and advice could you offer to others? Share them with us in the comments!

Interested in learning more about SEMrush webinars? Check out our webinar page today!

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Olga Andrienko is the Head of Global Marketing at SEMrush. Olga specializes in conversion and relationship marketing and has increased SEMrush social engagement by 400% in one year together with her team.
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faisal saleem
Super article Olga, these tips are highly amazing
Lindsay Schuster
Hi Olga,

This is a great post and you brought up some things I hadn't even thought of!

One small tip that I wanted to add is before you are about to do the webinar, listen to a song that really pumps you up- that way your energy is high and gives you some confidence going into it. Once I started doing this, I didn't sound as boring :)

Great tips!
Olga Andrienko
Lindsay Schuster
Lindsay, thank you for this awesome tip! Will definitely do this next time :) It might also work for conferences. Speaking in front of the audience always makes me more nervous than presenting online :)
Kathleen Burns
Lindsay Schuster
Music is definitely the key to high energy. Great tip Lindsay!
Don Purdum
Hi Olga,

Webinars have been HUGE for me!!!! I Have experienced major success and the webinars I did with you guys were huge for my business.

I really think when these are done right there are no marketing comparisons. When I do mine I make sure to have a clear call-to-action and tell them exactly what they can get from me. It works!

Also, a freebie chock full of value helps as well.

Value is the key. If a webinar is not full of it then it will fall flat. It's all about building competency and relating to the audience. Speaking of relating, I also like to ask questions and engage during the webinar. I find it wakes people up and they love to provide feedback. It really enhances the experience and turns it into an engaging environment.

Thanks for sharing some ideas in here I hadn't given as much thought to, especially on the social sharing side. It is so obvious, but it's always the obvious that escapes us.

Have a great end to your week.

~ Don Purdum
Olga Andrienko
Don Purdum
Thank you for the comment, Don! Happy to hear you've discovered some new tips, you're doing a great job with webinars and I admire how engaged your audience always is!