Event Marketing

How to Manage Successful Webinars: A Checklist

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What does it take to produce a successful webinar, one which executes flawlessly and provides an enchanting experience for your audience?

Webinars can’t be taken lightly. Even though online events have established themselves as a staple in the marketer’s diet, managing successful webinars goes way beyond meat and potatoes.
The audience is granting you their time and attention, two of the most valuable things a busy executive has to offer. In exchange, your event should provide significant value to those that have chosen to participate.
Two of the best ways to provide value in a webinar include: giving the audience something they can take and make their own and being a facilitator for social connections.
With this in mind, we have been constantly evolving our webinars up to a point where we would like to share our tips. The following is a checklist of things we do pre-webinar to help ensure a successful event.
Pre-Webinar Checklist
  1. Create the event in your webinar platform
    After you’ve chosen your topic, speaker, and event date, this is the first small milestone in planning a successful webinar.  There are numerous webinar platforms available, covering a range features. Some now also integrate with next-generation API’s and connectors, allowing them to easily sync registration information with select marketing automation platforms.
  2. Build a webinar landing page
    This is the main interface between your potential attendee and your webinar’s value proposition. Choose a catchy title, and in the messaging, focus on how this will specifically benefit the person deciding whether they should register or not. Make the registration process as simple as possible. Don’t ask too many questions on the form.  Consider giving users the option to only get the slides without attending. From tests we’ve conducted at Marketo, we’ve found that 1/3 of registrants like to choose this option.
  3. Create the registration flow
    A typical registration flow involves the user getting a follow-up email with access instructions to the webinar. Don’t forget to set up a lead scoring campaign to measure this engagement. Depending on the type of webinar, registering for the event could be a mild or strong sign of future buying intent.
  4. Enable social sharing
    The follow-up email, and the ‘thank you’ page that appears after the registration form, should allow for social sharing. At this moment, you have the full attention of the newly-registered lead. Let them help you promote the event to their peers, who will likely be just as qualified as they are.
  5. Make it easy for registrants to add it to their calendar
    Using Outlook, or your preferred email/calendar client, create a Calendar (.ics) file which contains the date, time, login information, plus a quick summary of the webinar. This file should be included in the registration follow-up email and/or thank you page. A lot of marketers forget that this calendar event description is a deciding factor in whether a registrant will ignore the calendar reminder on the day of the event, or attend.
  6. Create email promotional schedule
    We find that 2 to 3 emails, spread out over around 8 – 10 days, are most effective in generating registrations from an email database. A typical email schedule is T – 8 days, T – 4 days, and T – 2 days.
  7. Build promotional emails
    The promotional emails, like the webinar landing page, should quickly and clearly communicate the value of attending the event. Explicit targeting tends to work well, e.g. “This webinar is recommended for (name job titles, industry, etc.)” When sending out emails, use the opportunity to A/B test your subject lines, messaging, and images. Consider adding incentives for registering and/or attending, e.g. a prize draw during the event.
  8. Build reminder emails
    Even though a lot of registrants will choose to add the event to their calendar – either by clicking on a calendar link you send them, or adding it themselves – a reminder email in advance of the webinar is an easy way to solidify attendance.
  9. Promote in social media.
    Leverage your existing social networks – and your webinar presenters – to get the word out on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and any other relevant channel. Especially here, where you’re limited to a sentence or two, it is important that you can keep the message concise. When sharing the registration link, use URL tracking parameters so you can later measure exactly where registrations came from.
  10. Arrange a calling campaign
    Increase engagement with your potential audience by using different mediums to reach out. In a previous post of mine which looked at ways to increase webinar attendance, I shared results from a test we conducted with automated voice mail reminders to boost attendance.
  11. Design follow-up emails
    A successful webinar experience doesn’t end after the last slide. Prepare your follow-up emails well in advance of the event so you can move quickly once the webinar is done. Create three different versions: one for those that attended, one for those that couldn’t make it, and one for the group that was interested but requested ‘slides-only’. The content of the emails should include the presentation take-aways, a link to the slides/recording, plus access to further information on your website related to the topic.
  12. Build webinar slides
    The topic of slide presentations could be a whole separate blog post, but in short, don’t forget these details: include an event Twitter hashtag, and a clear call to action on the last slide.
  13. Conduct dress rehearsal
    Use the webinar dress rehearsal to become comfortable with the webinar platform. Perform a sound check, advance through slides, and practice sending chat messages amongst the presenting team.
  14. Build poll into webinar
    Most webinar platforms allow you to build custom polls into your presentation. See this as an opportunity to a) make the event engaging through audience participation, and b) gather aggregate information on your audience.
  15. Build an exit poll
    Use this to ask attendees what they thought of the content, how they liked the speaker, and what they’re interested in for future webinar topics.
  16. Upload slides to SlideShare.net
    SlideShare is ideally suited to host webinar slides. When posting your content, set privacy settings for the time being to: [Private Only me], and check “Allow embedding outside SlideShare”. Remember to optimize the SlideShare post, title, and description for SEO. For more information, see our SlideShare cheat sheet.
  17. Prepare a new page to house the archived asset on your site
    Your archived webinar, with its related online assets, will need a home base. On this page, you can embed the SlideShare presentation. Prepare this page and keep it private for now.
  18. Build a lead scoring campaign for the archived webinar
    In your marketing automation platform, set up a lead scoring campaign which measures engagement with the new page.
  19. Prepare moderator notes
    With all of the details you need to take care of on the day of the event, a set of moderator notes gives the added security you need. Prepare a few seed questions in advance for the webinar’s Q&A. And write out, word-for-word, the first and last few sentences of the webinar script. It is usually these parts which can make a speaker most nervous.
  20. Print out a hard copy of the slides
    Have a paper copy of the slides ready for the event. If your Internet connection ever goes down, a co-presenter could still forward the slides while you speak from your printed copy.

This is the first in a series of three posts on how to manage successful webinars. In parts two and three, we will dive in to the day-of webinar checklist, plus walk through how to best follow-up after the event.