b173-1Webinars offer marketers a unique platform for qualifying leads, gathering valuable information, and building brand credibility. A poorly run one, however, is a wasted opportunity and can even damage a company’s reputation. While there are no strict rules to hosting webinars, there are some best practices that all businesses should follow to make the most of the opportunity. Here are five best practices to ensure your webinar runs smoothly and you fulfil your marketing objectives.

1. Clarify Your Goals

Before you even begin planning the event, you should have a clear objective in mind. What is the benefit your company receives if the webinar is successful? For example, if you want to educate your audience about a new service, your actual goal is to reduce the amount of calls your customer service team receives by making customers more knowledgeable about the service. Your goals influence the actual content of your webinar, so if you don’t have a clear strategy you will ultimately fail to engage your audience. Have a clear purpose from the outset and you are more likely to fufil the needs of your audience.

2. Prepare Your Webinar Well In Advance

A successful webinar is the result of careful planning. It involves preparing the actual content, scheduling and promotion, presenting and moderating the event, and all the technical aspects of delivering a professional webinar. If your teleconference is only an hour long, it needs to run as smoothly as possible. Try asking participants in advance for their questions. This will ensure you know your audience and you can tailor the content to address specific questions.

Rehearsing the webinar is crucial. Try to run it through a few times before the live event. You’ll discover improvements that can be made, especially if there are two or more speakers. There are also the technical aspects to manage, so practice is key to delivering a successful event.

3. Schedule Enough Time for Q&As

Some marketers recommend spending half the time on presentation and the other half on questions, but it depends on your marketing goals. You can devote an entire webinar to a Q&A session if that is what your audience demands. Just remember to tell your audience early on in the session when you will be taking questions. If you don’t schedule enough time for Q&As it can often overrun the time slot, which may not fit with the schedules of the participants.

A Q&A session helps you achieve two things – it means you can address specific questions from potential clients, and it gives you the opportunity to interact on a more personal level with your audience. The social aspect of Q&As can help build valuable long-term relationships.

4. Include a Call-to-Action

Once prospects are actually participating in your webinar, they are further down the sales process and more receptive to calls-to-action. Take this important opportunity to tell them what you would like them to do next. Do you want them to visit your website for more information? You might want them to download a white paper, or simply fill out a survey. Make it clear how taking that action will benefit them.

There are three opportunities to include a call-to-action – before the Q&A session, after the Q&A session, and in follow-up emails to participants. You never know when attendees will leave a webinar session, so it’s a good idea to use all three opportunities.

5. Follow Up Quickly

Webinars are a highly effective way to generate leads, but only if you follow up quickly. After the event, send a thank you email to attendees. Here you can reinforce the call-to-action. If you delivered an effective presentation, prospects will be more willing to offer their personal information and time. Don’t wait a week to send follow-up emails.

Remember to also email non-attendees who registered. They obviously have an interest in your topic, so point them toward the recording of the session or invite them to register for future events. If you know the subject of your next webinar, have the registration forms already prepared and inform all participants.

It takes careful planning and hard work to create a webinar that is enjoyable, educational, and persuasive. But if you take into consideration your ideal audience member at every stage of your planning, presentation, and follow-through, you have more chance of achieving your marketing goals.

Watch Our Lean Marketing Webinar

Watch a recorded version of our webinar from November 20 to learn about new customer and business behaviour; how lean business needs apply to marketing; inbound marketing as a suitable response; and how to create customers online through blogging, social media and search. We looked at how lean marketing has the power to improve your marketing and business efficiency and help develop market leadership.

Written by
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Julien Renaud

Founding Partner - Julien molds client visions into well-defined digital solutions by applying the inbound marketing methodology. He started an online branding agency in 2005 working with several real estate companies and launching a large digital campaign for the City of New York.
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