No matter how great the content of your webinar is, though, it doesn't mean much if there's nobody there to hear it. So what do you do to ensure people actually, you know ... show up?
Turns out, there's at least 17 things you can do to get people aware of, excited about, and attending your next webinar. Here's a guide to making your next webinar a rousing success.
What Is a Webinar/Webcast?
A webinar (also known as a webcast) is a live, online seminar or workshop that's delivered over the internet. A host -- that's you -- organizes the event and invites attendees. The beauty of a virtual event? The host and the attendees can be located anywhere in the world.
The most successful webinars are ...
Education is one of the most powerful tools you can use to make change happen. Webinars need to have some type of educational component to it -- whether you're educating your audience about a product, a service, a new piece of content, how to use a tool, and so on.
... clearly communicated.
Webinars are great ways to scale your communication. Provide value to your audience by communicating your message clearly. This includes how you organize the content of the webinar, how you present it verbally, and how you present it visually in your PowerPoint deck.
Finally, a great webinar needs to be entertaining. Otherwise, your attendees might as well think of your webinar as 40 minutes to catch up on email. After all, that verbal component is what makes webinars so unique: There are few other mediums where you can deliver content that lets your personality shine through to such an extent.
It's really easy to create webinar content with only your end goals in mind -- that point you want to get across, or those things you want to talk about -- but that won't keep your audience engaged. Think carefully about who your audience is while crafting your webinar content, because at the end of the day, your webinar is about building connections and relationships with your audience so they trust you that much more.
17 Ways to Get People to Show Up to Your Webinars
1) Pick a killer topic.
It's really, really hard to get people to attend your webinar if your topic stinks. Try to select a topic that's broad enough to attract a large audience, yet targeted enough to provide actionable advice that attendees can implement the second they hop off your webinar.
For our recent webinar with Unbounce, for example, we decided that we wanted conversion rate optimization to be the overarching theme (because what marketer doesn’t want to optimize?), but with a focus on landing page copy and design.
When titling your webinar landing page, do some SEO research to see which keywords you want to rank for. Use that same title for subsequent blog posts and SlideShares, and you'll end up with a slew of assets to back up that keyword ranking.
2) Set a registration goal.
Having a goal will inspire you to hit it, and help you measure success. In order for us to break the Guinness World Record for webinar attendees, for example, we knew we had to hit almost 50,000 registrants. You should track performance on at least a weekly basis to see whether your marketing efforts are moving the needle. That way, if you need to dial up your promotion due to low initial registration numbers, you'll know what to do to fix it.
Note: Just because people register for your webinar does not mean they will attend your webinar. Which brings us to our next tip ...
3) Set an attendee goal.
Webinars typically get a 25% attendance rate. To determine how many registrants you need, you should think ahead to how many actual attendees you want.
Continuing with our Guinness World Record example, we knew we needed 12,500 attendees to break the record. So doing a little backwards math, we took the 25% attendance rate into account and figured out that we needed at least 50,000 registrants in order to hit 12,500 attendees.
You will see the word “remind” quite a bit in the rest of this post. That's because getting people to attend your webinar requires lots and lots (and lots) of registrant reminders. People often sign up for webinars weeks in advance, so it's critical that you're making an effort to keep your webinar top-of-mind during that time.
4) Give attendees something special.
Try to think of things that will get people excited, feeling special, talking with colleagues, and remembering their experience on your webinar in the future. Excited registrants turn into excited attendees.
At HubSpot, we’ve given away tickets to events, free marketing assessments, and ad spend coupons to Facebook and LinkedIn. We’ve also inspired the audience by asking them to be a part of something huge, like breaking a world record.
Another example of a contest you could run? Ask them to tweet something related to the webinar a week in advance, and pick the winner at the beginning of the webinar. At HubSpot, we held a #WorkRemote hashtag challenge to support our webinar on working remote effectively, and we built this landing page to explain the rules and how a winner would be picked. (Note: Be sure to work with your legal team when planning any challenge or contest.)
You could note in the promotional and reminder emails that "attendees are getting a special 25% discount on X," and include that discount code in the final slide of your webinar.
5) Choose the right day of week.
Don't host your webinar during the weekend. Okay, you probably knew that one. But did you also know that it's best to host your webinars on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday?
Monday and Friday always seem to get filled up with “catch-up” and “last-minute emergency” happenings around the office. In WhatCounts poll, the data suggested that their audience preferred Wednesday or Thursday for webinars -- and we tend to agree.
6) Choose the right time of day.
HubSpot typically runs webinars at 1 p.m. EST or 2 p.m. EST, because it's the most convenient time for the largest chunk of our audience. But if you have a huge audience in ... I don't know ... Jakarta, you might want to reevaluate your timing. Right? Right.
However, like any variable in marketing, the best time (and day) will depend on your audience. Which time zone(s) do they live in? Do they work nine-to-five jobs, or are their daytime schedules more open? To maximize attendance, experiment with different days and times, compare attendance rates and conversion rates, and tweak your timing accordingly.
If you're just starting out or have no clue what time works best, you can always ask. Include a field on your registration form that asks attendees to confirm the time slots that work best for them, and schedule your webinar based on that feedback.
7) Create an informative landing page.
Be clear. Be honest. Set expectations. Take a look at the landing page we created for our webinar with Rajan Kapoor of Dropbox (which you can view on-demand here):
On this landing page, we’ve clearly outlined a few things:
- Who? Introduce presenters on the landing page, with brief bios that explain who they are and why they matter. (Well, why they matter for this webinar, at least.)
- What? Include an explanation of what the webinar is about and some of the topics it will cover. Bullet points are best. Pick a dedicated hashtag for your webinar and include it, too.
- When? Seemingly obvious, but ensure you provide a date and time so people can mark their calendars.
- Where? Clearly explain when and how the webinar will be accessible. Typically, webinars are accessible via links, and can be joined 30 minutes prior to the start time.
- Why? Explain the value of your webinar. What will people be able to do after they leave your webinar that they weren’t able to prior to attending?
8) Send a thank-you email and registration confirmation.
Sending a thank-you email isn't just good manners -- it also gives you a chance to confirm your attendees' registration (so they know that their form submission worked) and, you know, remind them about your webinar. Some people will delete it. Some people will save the email in their inbox, serving as a periodic reminder of your webinar. Some people will take the details in the email and input it on their calendar. If any of your registrants fall into those last two groups of people, you're sittin' pretty.
We recommend including a call-to-action to "Add this webinar to your calendar" as the #1 CTA in both your thank-you and follow-up emails. (More on this later.)
9) Send value-building reminder emails.
Send these two weeks in advance, and one week in advance on your webinar. They not only serve to remind registrants about the webinar's date and time, but rebuild the value that you established with them on your registration landing page. Many of your registrants may have not only forgotten that they registered for your webinar ... they may have forgotten why they registered in the first place.
Include relevant blog posts or previous ebooks or webinars that cover similar topics. You might frame this as content your team has recently updated, which they can learn more about in the webinar. Include the webinar's hashtag and tell people to tweet if they have any questions.
10) Send two final reminder emails.
People forget. Things come up. Last-minute reminder emails -- specifically, one the day before, and one the day of -- give people enough time to finagle attendance around meetings and other items on their to-do list, but also not too much time that they'll forget about the webinar. It's only a day (or less!) away, after all. Again, include the webinar's hashtag and tell people to tweet if they have any questions.
11) Market your webinar using social media.
You know what's awesome about social media? It's much more difficult to oversaturate your social audience than your email audience. And there's a really, really good chance much of your email audience is connected with you socially, too. That affords you the opportunity to use social media to remind your audience about your webinar.
If you're using a social media publishing schedule, you can pepper in updates for every social channel that remind your audience you have an upcoming webinar. Increase the number of reminder updates as the date approaches, particularly the day before and day of. Make sure you pick a dedicated hashtag for your webinar and include it on the landing page, in your emails, and everywhere else you're promoting it.
12) Market your webinar through your speakers.
Of course you'll be promoting your webinar, but what about the presenters? You know, the ones with a different audience than yours right at their fingertips? Are they leveraging their personal connections, social accounts, and email lists to make sure they have a giant audience? If they're not, they sure-as-shootin' should.
13) Don't be afraid of paid media.
If you’re looking to drive more attendees to your webinar and have the budget, a little paid media to supplement your organic efforts can always help. For instance, you might run a PPC ad on Google for a search term that aligns with your webinar content in order to get the word out and drive attendance.
By bidding on a long-tail term such as “aligning sales and marketing” you can also keep your PPC costs low, promoting your webinar in a cost effective way. Just make sure your paid media team and organic team are aligned, so your company is organically publishing terms like "aligning sales and marketing" while you bid on the same term, resulting in total dominance in the SERPs for that keyword phrase.
For more detailed tips, download our free guide to social media advertising.
14) Blog about your webinar.
Use your blog (and other blogs if you have the relationships) to promote your webinar and the topic it covers. Create a "launch blog post" for your webinar indicating the excitement of new content/data in the webinar. Obviously, you'll want to provide links to the registration landing page within the blog post, too -- including a webinar-specific CTA to include at the end of your post, like we did in the post below:
You can also get your audience warmed up to the topic of the webinar by creating blog content that discusses that topic at different angles. Include the webinar CTA in these posts as well, but be sure to swap it out with a different CTA once the webinar is over.
Bonus: If you start writing posts about the webinar topic far enough in advance, you can use the questions readers ask in the comments section to beef up your presentation, too.
15) Set calendar reminders.
Some uber-organized people will put your webinar right on their calendar, but there are tools out there that let you take it a step further.
16) Partner up.
If you want more people to attend your webinar, you can always consider working with another brand. But while additional attendees is one benefit, it shouldn’t be the main focus of partnering up -- relevancy, however, should be.
HubSpot has partnered with numerous partners specifically for co-marketing purposes because we believe that two well-aligned brands have the power to be truly amazing together -- much more amazing than they can be apart. It's also helpful for your audience if they can hear another perspective once in a while, particularly when that perspective comes from a specialist's point of view.
17) Leverage your homepage.
Your homepage is likely one of the most visited pages on your website. So why wouldn’t you leverage your homepage real estate to promote upcoming webinars?
It's a great way to show people that your entire company is behind the webinar and sees the value in it for site visitors. Don’t hide behind your webinars; get them out in public and show people that your company believes in the initiative. (HubSpot customers: Learn how to create smart CTAs for your homepage here.)
What do you do to ensure registrants don't forget about your upcoming webinars? Share with us in the comments.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in September 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.