Build brand awareness. Generate leads. Engage buyers. Create urgency. You name the sales cycle problem and webinars can solve it.
Marketing and sales pros can boost closing rates and increase revenue with the right webinar content at the right time.
“The modern webinar is all about engagement,” says Mark Bornstein, VP of Content Marketing at ON24 on B2B Marketing. “They’re multi-media, interactive experiences, where the goal is to get your audience members to take as many actions as possible which then provides you with actionable information about your prospects.”
The best part: Webinars work at every stage. Three-quarters of buyers took part in webinars in a the past year. More than half said a webinar was the most valuable content they consumed in that time, according to research from ClickMeeting.
Here are top strategies to build, execute and maximize webinars that lead to more sales.
Hit your target
Most importantly, your webinar needs to provide a benefit for prospects and customers needs’ now.
For instance, if there’s a problem in the economy, industry or community, your webinar needs to be titled and geared toward the solutions to those overriding issues. Or if there’s a need to get ahead, your webinar should appeal to customers’ need to know more, gain skills or have an advantage in their space.
Nearly any authority can host and/or facilitate the webinar. For example, if a salesperson is an industry expert, she can take the lead for a regulation change webinar. Or you might tap a financial expert for a session on how your customers and prospects can save money or increase cash flow. When COVID-19 disrupted the large conference industry, some companies brought on celebrity entrepreneurs to share business tips and humor with customers and prospects.
Title it well
To attract a large pool of participants, try one of these proven title formulas from experts at GoToMeetings:
- Lists. Give people a clear idea of what to expect. Examples:
- 10 Little Known Ways to Save …
- 12 Ways to Increase …
- Top 15 Factors that Impact …
- How to. These titles show your authority on a subject and tell attendees they’ll walk away knowing how to do something new. Examples:
- How to Do (X) like a Pro
- Here’s how to Build the Best …
- How to Gain the (X) You Always Wanted
- 101. When you want to attract an audience new to what you have to offer or cover an emergin topic, intrigue them with baseline information. Examples:
- Financial Freedom 101: The Basics to …
- Gaining a Social Media Following 101: Where and How to Start
- Building Rapport 101: How To Engage People Like a Pro
- New. This is especially effective when there’s new or fresh information that will help prospects and customers live or work better. Examples:
- 7 New Techniques to …
- New Strategies for Improving …
- New Tech Tips All Salespeople Need to Know Now
- Trends. Gain an audience by helping prospects and customers recognize and jump into trends that affect them. Examples:
- The Trend in Decision-Making and How It Affects Next Quarter
- Online Search Trends: What Your Website Needs Now
- Buyer Trends that Will Have You Winning More Deals
Promote your webinar
Whether you have a marketing team with the ability to reach an audience, a third party promoter or a grassroots effort, you want to target the right people to attend the webinar – buyers who are a good fit for the information and your solutions.
To promote the webinar, reach out with the title, brief details and a link to a well-poised, optimized landing page to sign up. Try to:
- Email your current customers or subscribers personal invitations
- Include the details around all relevant blog posts with a link to registration
- Add it to your email signature and social media header
- Post it on your personal and company social media pages
- Get it posted on webinar listing sites, and
- Use pay-per-click advertising to promote your ads on related pages and websites.
Another approach is to charge a small fee – $10 or so – for the webinar. It might deter a larger crowd, but it builds higher commitment from people who are more likely to be your ideal customer.
Get the timing right
Webinar topics and content will be more effective if they’re scheduled for the right time for buyers along their buying journey.
“What other chance do you get to be in front of your prospects for up to an hour at a time? An hour where you can not only present content to them but where you can also interact with them in meaningful ways,” says Bornstein. “And this interaction is going to give you the insights you need to find and convert your best leads.”
Here’s a timeline and webinar content guideline to work with:
Early stages: Brand awareness and introduction
You want to get attention from buyers who aren’t familiar with you, your company and/or solutions.
Keys to webinars for buyers in this early stage:
- Skip the pitch. Avoid talking about yourself and your organization (beyond an introduction) and selling hard. Instead, choose a topic and presenter to prove you’re trustworthy and an authority in the industry.
- Learn about the audience. Invite email questions ahead of time, add real-time surveys and polls to the presentation and include a Q&A at the end. Use the feedback to identify ideal prospects and personalize future contacts.
- Market together. If necessary, and when possible, team up with another company or industry influencer to reach more buyers, get more leads and improve early stage expert content. Drill down both networks to increase registration and variety of attendees.
Mid-stages: Qualifying and education
In the middle stages, both you and buyers are figuring out if you have the solution and support that’s right for them. You’ll want your webinars to be as much about education as reality – the proven successes and what the future could look like.
Keys to mid-stage webinars:
- Time it right. By the time buyers reach the middle stages in the buying cycle, they’ll commit time to education – as much as an hour. But their expectations are high: They expect to learn something they can do almost immediately that will make them a better person or professional.
- Emphasize best practices, trends and new information. Use relevant research and stats, engaging visuals and real-life, vivid stories to relay the information.
- Be part of the story, but not the main character. It’s OK to position yourself and solution in the webinar now, but don’t go deep into product features and ROI. Instead, focus on a story subject’s challenge and the solution, which you were part of, and the result.
Late stage: Partnering, decision-making and closing
Buyers who are still with you in late-stage webinars recognize the value you bring to the table. Customers who’ve experienced your solutions, and are signing up for these late-stage webinars, are likely recognizing needs you can fulfill, but don’t yet.
Keys to late-stage webinars:
- Get specific. At this point, you likely have helped buyers recognize specific problems. You want to give them specific solutions to the issues, which include implementing your product or service.
- Create intimacy. Because you’ve earned buyers’ trust through other meaningful webinars, they’ll be open to information and praise from other sources, specifically your customers with success stories. Invite customers and advocates to share and interact in late-stage webinars.
- Get technical. Try live demonstrations, on-site walk-throughs and/or trial usage during webinars to give buyers unprecedented access to your solutions.
Post-sale: On-boarding, customer success and retention
Don’t think you can give up webinars when you win the sale! They’re a powerful tool to create customer loyalty and referrals.
- Educate. Use webinars to walk customers through installation, ramp-up and training. Do webinars live and create a library of useful on-boarding sessions for them to use on-demand.
- Stimulate. You want to regularly give customers content that helps them maximize the use of your solutions. Focus on strategies to save time, effort and money.
- Update. Offer short webinars to introduce new features, updates and best practices.
Best practices for making sales in webinars
Regardless of the timing or content, follow these best practices for successful, revenue-generating webinars:
Focus on one learning objective and call to action
You can keep the webinar on track by regularly referring back to the top-priority objective (or set of learning objectives under one umbrella). Then clearly explain how the action you want the audience to take will help them achieve the objective.
Limit your offer
Give people who sign on for the next step or commit to buying before the end of the webinar a bonus for their fast action.
For instance, you might offer an exclusive service package for a product or one-on-one coaching time with you, free add-ons or special partnering. Include something they’ll only get if they act fast. Don’t offer it to anyone later.
Make it simple
If you want buyers to make a decision while you’re still delivering the webinar, make it as easy as possible for them to finalize the purchase.
Make a URL easy to see, spell and click on as soon as you make a limited offer. Your best bet is a checkout page, rather than a product landing page or long-form sales document.
Don’t apologize for selling
Webinar presenters want to give buyers information to make a smart decision, and they’re sometimes afraid that sounds too much like a sales pitch.
As long as you deliver useful, relevant and unique information, you earn the right to ask attendees to act. Do it with confidence.