If You Build It, Will They Come?

“If we build it, they will come”… Right? MarCom experts tend to lean more towards the optimistic side when it comes to conducting webinars. We believe we have a hot topic to present which will result with the masses flocking to their computer screens. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. So, how do we drive engaged attendees to our webinars?
 
I recently attended a webinar, conducted by Katharine Farrell from the email list service Constant Contact, titled – ‘How to Run Engaging Webinars’. It was a very informative and interesting session with nearly 1600 registrants. The webinar was structured into a plan called the ’30-Day Plan to Engage, Entertain, Educate and Motivate Attendees to Act’. The presentation was organized to demonstrate the timeline of how to effectively prepare and promote your webinar. Explained below are some basic tips acquired from the webinar.
 
One of the key points discussed in the presentation included the importance of the topic for your webinar. The webinar emphasized selecting a topic that is specific, engaging, motivating and able to be learned within 45 minutes. The webinar highlighted the fact that the purpose of the webinar is not about you - it is about what you want your attendees to learn, their benefit. Hard for some of us marketing pros to hear I know, but it’s true. To get attendees to your webinar, you must ‘think like an attendee’ and pose the question: why should I attend? You must also provide attendees with a chance to ask questions to presenters whether before or after the presentation so that their voices will be heard.
 
From our experience in conducting webinars for our clients, we have learned the webinar topic determines whether or not we will see the attendance numbers we expect. We have conducted and presented in a number of webinars and we have determined that understanding the needs and interests of the audience is key. We have presented webinars to various HVAC professionals that attracted the desired audience that included contractors, engineers and wholesalers. Our webinars have had up to more than 1500 registrants with 40-65% attendance rates.
 
Another key element discussed to attract attendees involves the actual timing of the webinar. How many times have we missed webinars because they failed to comply with our busy schedules? A number of webinar presenters tend to overlook the importance of selecting the time, the presentation suggests the best times for conducting webinars as: 11am, 2pm, 3pm and 4 pm eastern time, between Tuesdays and Thursdays, to ensure the best attendance.
 
Once you have established the logistics for your webinar, the next crucial steps involve: promotion, promotion and more promotion. You must spread the word to reach your audience, not only utilizing your own channels and resources, but the channels and resources of your invitees as well. This includes websites, social media channels, blogs, event sites, etc. One effective resource we utilize with our clients includes partnerships with associations, as well as industry magazines. These strategic partnerships allow you to expand the reach for potential webinar attendees with additional promotion via outlets from the association or magazine.  
 
The webinar highlights the idea of getting your invitees to spread the word for you based on the fact that people respond to personal recommendations from friends and co-workers than from companies they may not know. The suggestion is made to first invite the people you know; because these people know you they are more likely to spread the word along, thus creating a chain reaction of ‘buzz’ for your webinar.
 
For more information on tips to drive attendance to your webinars check out: 6 Tips for Running a Webinar Without Having to Call the Cops by webinar presenter: Katharine Farrell 
 
What have been your recent results with webinars?
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