Any marketing and sales professional knows that most buyers don’t make a purchase decision right away. As WebAttract co-founder Mike Agron puts it: “77% or more of today’s B2B buyers will research you before they even want to speak with you. In B2B, most people are on a journey to get more educated.” There is no better way to educate leads on your value proposition than webinars. They provide huge amounts of value to your audience, all while positioning you as an authority. You can demonstrate that you’re the right person to help them.
The problem is: Many marketers create webinars that deliver little value. Worse, they don’t know how to create webinars that turn leads into ready-to-buy opportunities.
In this blog, I will outline the formula that successful brands use to turn leads into sales with webinars.
How to Choose a Topic that Draws an Audience
Webinars have become so common that there’s a lot of noise around the format. To cut through this noise, you must choose a killer topic. This means discovering the challenges people in your audience are trying to overcome. Picking topics can no longer come from an internal brainstorm alone. The main objective of webinars is usually to convert leads into sales. Therefore, when brainstorming a topic, you should get your sales team involved from the beginning.
To find topic ideas, ask yourselves:
- What are the most common questions that prospects ask?
- What would we enjoy teaching?
- What are we most knowledgeable in?
- Which area could we deliver the most value in 60 minutes?
The topic you pick can be broad, diving into several subtopics. Or you can go deep and talk about a specific topic in a granular fashion. Your approach will depend on the nature of your offering.
To find specific topics for your webinar, start with a broad topic and brainstorm subtopics. For example, if Pipedrive were going to talk about sales challenges, here’s what a brainstorming session might look like:
You should also look outside of your organization to get an educated direction of which topic to choose.
Four sources of topic information you can go for:
Your best customers already understand the problem you solve. They “get” your proposition and understand your industry. Ask them what challenges your solution helped them to overcome, and why they decided to do business with you in the first place.
Your most engaged leads are those who are consuming your content on a regular basis. They’re engaged, but they need nudging into the sales cycle. Ask them what challenges they’re trying to overcome and what they’d like to learn more about. Find out which topics would get them to attend a webinar.
Setting up a survey campaign can yield quantitative data from your entire list of leads and subscribers. Ask them multiple-choice questions, as well as one or two open-ended questions where they can add nuance or express their opinions in more detail.
In this great example from Udemy Fast Track, their founder, Scott Britton asks for only necessary information:
Your own data can provide great topic insights. What are your top-performing blog posts and most downloaded ebooks? Your most popular content can be sure-fire hits for webinars.
Choosing the Right Webinar Format
Now that you have a topic, you need to decide your webinar’s format. There are plenty to choose from. Our favorites:
Prospects want to know how their peers overcame the same challenges they face. They want to know what was implemented and the results they generated. Therefore, case studies are the best way to convince and persuade before beginning the sales process. Customer stories like these add credibility. Getting a client to share their experiences on a webinar proves that they’re advocates and excited about the results you bring them. Your attendees will empathize with the journey.
One of WebAttract’s clients wanted to show how their target audience, automobile dealerships, could increase their sales. Instead of talking about the topic, they got one of their customers to tell the story instead. By targeting a pain point and introducing a customer case study, they attracted more than 600 decision makers to the webinar. They collected more than 180 leads that wanted more info and closed 30 deals. If you haven’t created case study content, webinars are a great way to get started. You can repurpose the webinar into a blog post, making for great sales enablement content.
Expert panel discussions
With Pipedrive, we collaborated on webinars with companies like PandaDoc and Sales Hacker. This form of marketing brings credibility from outside sources. If all you have is internal experts, your webinar will look like a sales pitch. Collaboration also adds a new perspective to your webinars.
Check out this webinar by Pipedrive and Sales Hacker to see this in action:
The best part, however, is the expanded audience you’ll tap into. It’s a win-win scenario for you and the brand you collaborate with. You both get access to a new source of leads, borrowing and boosting each other’s authority.
Don’t underestimate the power of thought leaders. Influencer marketing can be difficult. But if you can build relationships with one or two industry leaders and conduct a webinar with them, the results can be outstanding.
Education, tutorials and product demos
This format works great if you have a freemium version of your product or a technical solution that requires some explanation.
Pipedrive uses product tutorial webinars to empower users to educate themselves on the CRM software. They help us to retain and onboard new customers in a scalable manner.
BuzzSumo has a similar approach, conducting regular webinars to help users get the most out of their software. They also run them whenever a new feature goes live. This helps boost retention and reduce churn. Your webinar’s format will depend on the topic you choose. You should also be careful to map the topic and format to the right stage of your funnel and sales cycle. As mentioned above, product demos are only useful for those using (or ready to use) your product.
How to Keep Your Audience Engaged
Getting registrations to attend your webinar can be challenging. Encouraging them to stick around to the end is even harder. Not every attendee will turn into a sale. But you can deliver enough value for them to remember you and become raving fans of your content.
1. Hook them with storytelling
All great content has a compelling hook. It’s no different with webinars. Begin your webinar with a story. Create a narrative the leads into the value that you’re about to deliver. Are you skeptical about the power of storytelling? Alex Turnbull of Groove A/B tested two different versions of his blog post. One that began with a story, and one that dove straight into the content.
The post with the story had 300% more people finish the entire post and average time on page was five times higher than the version without the story. Storytelling works with every form of content especially webinars.
2. Get your audience involved
You may have lots of energy and a voice as smooth as butter. But nobody likes being talked at for an hour. To get the audience involved, try breaking the webinar up with short Q&A sessions. Take two or three questions after you’ve covered a specific topic. Seek a moderator’s help to pick these questions to keep things running smoothly.
Better yet, get your audience to interact with each other using a chat box. Multiple-choice polls can add an extra layer of interactivity to keep your audience engaged while learning more about their interests.
3. Make it visual
Even marketers with little design skills can create great-looking content. Tools like Canva make it easy, so there’s no excuse to use boring webinar slides anymore:
According to the Social Science Research Network, 65% of people are visual learners. Therefore, your slides should be light on text. Walls of text are intimidating and won’t reinforce what you’re trying to teach. Create slides that contain fewer words and strong visuals. Inject some humor using GIFs where it’s relevant. Use graphs and screenshots to back up your points.
4. Use third-party data
With the right Google search, you can find statistics on virtually any topic. Use this data to back up the information you provide in your webinars. Using data from recognized third-party sources lends credibility and authority to your content. Backing up your content with statistics will inspire trust.
But don’t overdo it. Use one or two key data points that you want your audience to remember throughout the webinar.
Creating the Webinar Content
Now you have a topic and understand the format your webinar must be in—it’s time to create the content. As we’ve already covered, your webinar needs to be visually engaging. Use a tool such as Canva or recruit the help of a designer.
Outline and script
Before writing a script, create an outline of what you will cover. This will dictate the flow of the webinar, so make sure the order makes sense.
An example outline might look like this:
- Brief introduction (30 seconds is fine)
- Storytime—hook the audience in
- Three to five subtopics to deliver value
- Call to action
Then it’s time to write your script. Get everything you want to talk about on paper. However, don’t write out what you’ll say word-for-word. This will sound scripted and robotic. Instead, write down short bullet points of what you want to cover under each sub-section, which will allow you to sound natural while staying on track.
Offer and call to action
The ultimate goal of your webinar is to sell. So, part of your webinar should be reserved for your pitch:
Depending on your audience, as well as your product or service, your pitch may be as short as a ‘quick plug,’ but should be no longer than five to 10 minutes—and even then, you must offer value. The majority of your webinar should be dedicated to educational content.
Of course, reciprocation is essential to developing strong relationships, so create an offer that’s exclusive to your webinar attendees to thank them for their time and attention.
This can come in several forms:
- Discount on your product/service
- Extended trial of software
- Your offer + webinar exclusive bonuses
Make the offer time sensitive to create a sense of urgency to take action. In some webinars, I’ve seen people offer bonuses for those who act within an hour of the webinar’s end time. Find an offer that’s right for your business and your audience, as well as any collaborators with whom you conduct the webinar.
How to Promote Your Webinar
Like every aspect of content marketing, creating your webinar content is only half the battle. The other half is promoting the webinar itself.
Now I’ll cover how to get people registering and attending your webinar in droves.
Setting up a landing page
You’ll need a landing page to drive traffic and convert registrations. Include a form that asks for a name and email address. From our experience, extra fields result in losing 5% of your prospects per field. Running A/B tests will help you to optimize messaging, and ultimately, to maximize conversions. There may not be sufficient data to get great results the first time around, and you won’t know your typical audience until you have a few webinars under your belt. But you can optimize the messaging for future webinars.
Your webinar should include:
- Title: An impactful summary of the value your webinar offers to potential listeners. This is what will hook your audience in, and is considered the most important factor as you promote your webinar.
- Bios: Include information on the presenters so your attendees know who they are and why it’s worth listening to.
- Topic: Provide a brief explanation of the topic, including what they’ll learn by attending.
- Value: Use a “Key takeaways” or “You’ll learn” section to be clear about why they should attend. And if you are targeting a discrete type of listener, be specific—“Executives will learn…”, “Marketers will learn…”, and so on. The point is: What will the webinar empower them to do after they leave?
- Time: Make the time and date of the webinar clear and even add an auto-scheduler so attendees can easily add it to their calendars.
- Accessibility: Inform your potential listener how they can join the webinar, including any links, with concise instructions.
Tools like Unbounce and Leadpages come with webinar registration pages out of the box. Both solutions have powerful features that integrate with all major email marketing and webinar platforms.
Creating your email sequence
When acquiring signups for your webinar, it’s key to have an intelligent email marketing sequence set up before a single email goes out. The majority of signups will come from your list of leads, as well as those of whomever you partner with. Sharing lists can be one of the biggest benefits of collaborating with other brands, but you need to make sure that you have clear guidelines and opt-in consent from your audience. Best practice typically includes sending two to three registration emails that direct your audience(s) to your landing page. (A quick note about best practices: Always test them!)
Here’s an example from Teachable’s registration mail about choosing course topics:
You’ll also need reminder emails should include date and time, agenda, information on the speakers, and a way to get in touch. Having this information will help registrants attend, allow you to jump straight into the story once you go live, and let them know they can still get the value of the webinar should they have to miss the live event. Depending on time, you should send two at least 24 hours and one hour before the webinar goes live. Go one step further by sending value-added emails in the days leading up to the webinar, where the webinar is advertised subtly alongside relevant or appealing content.
Finally, send out follow-up emails thanking attendees and drawing them to your call to action. Include links to any resources mentioned in the webinar and remind them of the deadline you set for your offer. You will likely need a few versions of each follow-up email—for example, you should avoid email copy that says, “Thank you for attending,” to non-attending—and should segment your email list into at least these two segments.
How to Generate Registrations
Beyond your email lists, there are other channels to source webinar signups. First and most obvious, make it visible on all of your owned media channels. This includes pinned social media posts as well as your homepage.
Here’s a good example of this in action from BuzzSumo:
Use your company blog to talk about the topics your webinar covers. Write about the topic in broad strokes. Tease the webinar as the place they can learn more. Make sure to include a call to action at the end of the post, driving traffic to your landing page. (You can include links to relevant blog content in your pre-webinar and post-webinar emails). Consider promoting these blogs using content amplification or use paid advertising, such as Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook Ads. Target long-tail keywords using AdWords to keep your cost-per-click low. And never underestimate the power of timing. Day of the week and time of day can have a huge impact on not only signups but actual attendees, especially if you’re targeting audiences in one or more time zones.
Webinars have proven to be a successful driver of leads and sales. I expect the number of brands conducting webinars is going to increase in the years to come. Be sure to pick a topic that people will find hard to ignore. This is what will differentiate you from your competition this year and beyond. Not only that, but you must always offer and deliver educational or business value at the same time. Make sure your audience goes away armed and ready with the knowledge and tools they need to act on your advice.
What are your experiences with webinars? What successes and lessons have you learned? Share your story in the comments below.