How to Plan and Execute a Winning Webinar
Webinars are a great tactic to generate leads and nurture leads through the funnel. The style and delivery can vary in many ways based upon your audience and goals. You may want to focus on thought leadership, live product demos or customer stories or a combination of all scattered throughout your content calendar.
In this post I want to share a step by step guide on managing and executing a winning webinar. My intent is to arm with you a game plan to reach your goals - and avoid 'fire alarms' while you are at it.
6 Weeks Before Webinar - Defining Goals and Setting Budget
First things first, let's define our goal for doing our webinar. Is your goal to connect with partners? Generate new leads? Accelerate leads in the pipeline? Define your goal and add forecast numbers (how many registrants, attendees, meetings, etc.).
If you have budget available, this is where you want to define your promotion plan and allocate budget. Perhaps you are going to promote on paid search, paid social or through a 3rd party. Get approval on your budget and build the promotional timeline.
5 Weeks Before Webinar - Speakers and Topic
It's important to ensure the webinar is not on an island and the topic is aligned with everything else going on. Have a whitepaper being published in the month, consider a topic in the same theme. Have a new product feature being launched, consider a topic in the same theme. You get it :)
The point is to get your topic defined and find a speaker that can deliver the content while ensuring the webinar can be used cohesively to support other content and programs you are working on.
4 Weeks Before Webinar - Registration and Creative Elements
Now that we have our topic and speakers, it's time to create our abstract, get any necessary approvals and build your registration process. This will include the setup of all mechanics needed including your landing page, confirmation emails, website updates, etc.
During this week also develop any creative assets you need to support promotion. This will include images, banner ads, the presentation design.
3 Weeks Before Webinar - Organic and Paid Promotion Starts
Now that you have your page and related assets, you can start promotion. This is a good week to get your organic social media promotion scheduled for the next 4 weeks and communicate with the team that the webinar is scheduled and they can now begin to promote it (perhaps a P.S. in everyone's signature?).
If you have budget allocated to promote the webinar, I would plan to start that promotion during this week. Launch your paid search campaign, start a paid social campaign, send an InMail, send an email through a third party, etc.
2 Weeks Before Webinar - Promotion Continues and Planning Your Next Webinar
I have seen the best results for recruiting attendees when I execute a 3 email invite sequence with the first one dropping 3 weeks prior to the live event. So this week we are starting our email sequence of invites to our database.
Depending upon your cadence for running webinars, this week plan to start thinking about your next one. If you are considering 1x per month, this is where you start Week 1 goals for your next event.
1 Week Before Webinar - Promotion Continues and Final Event Assets
Plan to drop your 2nd email in the sequence to your database. It's important here to make sure it is different including a new layout and new focus on the message. If they didn't respond to the first one, give them a new reason to respond this time around.
I also like to see how we are pacing. Let's look at what has happened so far and what we have spent in relation to our goals. We want to answer the question; Are we still going to reach our forecast? If we have 5 registrants, are we really going to hit our goal of 200? Maybe but I would scale back on the forecast a bit if I was seeing this.
During this week get the final presentation from your speakers so you can review and fix any formatting issues and get a sense for how they plan to present on the topic.
Write your follow-up emails during this week as well.
Webinar Week - Wrapping Up Loose Ends and Live Event
The last chance invite. I have historically seen a huge bump in registrations on this email. I like to send 1 day prior but have also seen companies send the morning of. It's your preference and I would recommend trying both (on different webinars) to see what happens. As for the style, I like to make this super simple - maybe 4 lines - and come from the CEO, CMO or COO.
You also want to have a dryrun scheduled with your speakers during this week to make sure everyone is comfortable with your event platform, we know the flow and can discuss any items that were missed in planning (maybe seed questions?).
Your live event is also happening this week. Congrats you made it happen!!
1 Week After Webinar - Leveraging Your On-Demand Recording and Follow-Up
Upload your leads to your CRM and build a campaign for tracking. Notify your sales team that the leads are in and follow-up can begin. I also provide the sales team with a recap deck. This will include the abstract, a copy of the follow-up email that was sent, talking points and related assets they can share with the leads.
Send you follow-up email with the recording and perhaps a copy of the slide deck. If you have resources available, clean up the recording as needed and then upload to Facebook and/or YouTube.
Update the landing page to promote the webinar as 'on-demand.' Change any button text from Register to Watch Now, ensure your form is triggering the appropriate auto-responder email, check lead source and tracking.
TIP: Don't forget you did all this work! Now you have a new asset to use in nurture programs, for sales to use in their outreach and to promote via paid or organic channels.