Webinars require a huge investment, but they pay off greatly if you deliver the perfect presentation. Here are the best ways to make the most of your webinar.
Many marketers consider webinars to be one of the most effective marketing tools, but only 66% of business-to-business marketers use them to promote their brand. Webinars ranked 11th on the Content Marketing Institute’s list of B2B marketing trends for 2016, yet in the same reports, marketers ranked webinars as the second most effective marketing tactic, bested by only in-person meetings. So, naturally, we must ask: Why don’t marketers use webinars more often?
Marketers cite the high cost of producing a webinar and the short list of leads it generates as the main reasons why they don't invest more in webinars. According to AdAge, “Twice as many people will download a white paper than will attend a webinar on the same topic.” Because the standard webinar is now an hour-long event, it’s no surprise that people would rather download a white paper they can read quickly.
Consumers’ busy workdays don’t afford them the time to watch an hour-long webinar. A 2014 Citrix report showed that 66 percent of viewers prefer webinars that last 30 or 45 minutes, and 88 percent of respondents said they attend only one webinar per week.
If viewers are tuning into only one webinar per week, yours will need to stand out to get them to watch. Here are five tips to make sure your webinar is the one they attend:
1. Timing is everything
According to ON24’s 2017 Webinar Benchmarks Report, webinars hosted on Wednesday and Thursday have the largest audience, and the best time to schedule one is at 2 pm Eastern time.
2. Plan ahead
Create a marketing strategy for your webinar that starts at least three weeks in advance, and make sure you send your invitations in the middle of the work week. ON24 found that 23 percent of registrants RSVP at least 15 days before the webinar, and 25 percent register on the day of. People most often respond to promotional emails on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
3. Know your audience
65 percent of viewers will watch your webinar live, and 28 percent will watch on-demand after the event ends, according to ON24. The number of on-demand viewers is growing, and those viewers are watching for longer: They stay plugged in for an average of 42 minutes, up from 29 minutes in 2015. Consider who will watch the recorded version and make sure you cater to them, too.
4. Manage your expectations
Many marketing leaders agree that webinars will not generate sales-ready leads. Instead, they're an opportunity to educate your audience, increase brand awareness, build relationships, and improve your contact list. Understand that your audience is trying to learn something new, so don’t make your webinar a sales pitch. There are ways to use your webinars to generate sales—you can share it with potential customers who want to learn more, for example—but the day of the event is not the correct time or place.
5. Engage your audience
A typical webinar lasts for one hour, and your audience will watch for an average of 51 minutes. Keeping in mind that your audience prefers a shorter webinar, you'll need to engage viewers throughout the entire event. One way to do this is with interactive content — 82 percent of webinars now include a Q&A session, while engagement tactics such as social media, surveys, and polling are used more sparingly, appearing in 25, 23, and 16 percent of webinars, respectively.
Amp up your webinar with surveys and polls, and examine the results live with your audience; this keeps them engaged and gives you a chance to amaze them with your expertise. Integrate video into your webinars, or have experts make guest appearances. Your objective is to educate your audience and pique their curiosity and interest in your topic — so much so that they contact you after the webinar to learn more.