Can you believe that it was only 2008 when the term webinar entered the Oxford English Dictionary, as a new word! Now it is everywhere, at least in my world. It does sound a lot sleeker than “web-based seminar,” don’t you think? Webinars offered a way to use video conferencing software to conduct an interactive presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar with global audiences. Now we had a way to give, receive and discuss information in real time, live and seemingly in person, to people who couldn’t be in a room with us.
What a win-win it is for both the person hosting the webinar and the person attending. For the host, it’s a great way to offer people who are interested in what you do, some valuable information, along with a dose of your personality so they can get to know you better which can lead to future sales or services. Free webinars can add a lot of people, targeted people interested in your area of expertise, to you mailing list, giving you an opportunity to continue to interact with them.
For the attendee, it’s a way to gain some valuable information on a burning issue of theirs as well as offering an opportunity to listen to and even interact with, a teacher, coach or thought leader in a personal way.
Know, Like, Trust—and Market
If you are ready to let people know you are an expert, using webinars can help you communicate knowledge, credibility and trust to a large group of people in just an hour. When you can respond in real time to someone’s issue, people can size up your character. You get to demonstrate your expertise through voice, body language and if you do a webinar with a webcam on you, they also get eye contact!
Many times, the drive to do a webinar comes from the frustration that you can only do so much traveling to do live events. Even doing Meetups across a large city becomes tedious and restrictive over time. When you are are comfortable presenting your unique knowledge and being yourself, in a one on one or live event, you are ready to cast a larger net with a webinar.
Webinar software enables you to send a series of autoresponder emails to your visitors about how you can help them. These are more chances for them to get to know you, like you and trust you.
How to Host a Webinar: Steps and Tools
If you’re not sure where to start, or you want to fine tune your skills, here are my best tips for successfully hosting a free webinar.
- Choose a topic that is specific, relevant, engaging and entertaining to your audience. It should solve a common or immediate problem. It should be broad enough to attract a large number of attendees, and it is best to gear your webinar to provide some actionable advice that your attendees can implement the minute they jump off your webinar.
- Create the presentation with slides and examples to show to give people some focus. You can also include video of yourself in some webinars to build connection further.
- Include Call to Action Think about the fact that at the end of the presentation, people will be ready to take action so be sure to include the next step that you want them to take. Create a call to action offering them the opportunity to purchase something related to your presentation, perhaps a workbook on the same subject or a more detailed coaching program.
- Practice your presentation. Give it to someone or record it yourself in a dry run. Some webinar platforms give you the ability to record the actual webinar but be there for questions and such. It is referred to a hybrid webinar. It’s a great option if you don’t do well under pressure.
Choose a Date and Time for Your Webinar
- Think about your audience. Your best date and time for the webinar will depend in part on your audience. What do they do? Are they self employed? Are they say at home moms? Are they too busy during the day? What time zones are they in?
- Not on weekend. It is not a good idea to host your webinar on a weekend. And since Monday and Friday are getting started and wrapping up days, it is best not to plan your webinar for those days. That leaves you Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday!
- Decide on a time. Remember time zones. A lot of people do their webinars at 1 or 2 EST. That give left coast people time to wake up and get to work and get a couple of cups of coffee first. But, I have found that evenings at 7:30 EST work well too. That gives Californians time to finish the work day, and gives the rest of us time to get home, eat dinner and attend the webinar rather than watch TV. So you may want to take the TV shows into account to choose the day. Not on Thursday when Grays Anatomy and Scandal are in season.
- Offer more than one time. If you have no clue what time and date to have your webinar offer them two of three times to sign up for and plan to do it more than once.
Landing Page for Registration
- Create a landing page for your webinar where you can direct people to go to find out the specifics of the webinar and give them a place to register. Create them on your own website by creatin a new plain page, without a sidebar and maybe no navigation menu – if you can wrangle that to happen. No need to buy expensive landing page software if you are are just getting your feet wet. You could also use Instapage or Lead Pages to create your landing pages. Or use a full functioning webinar product like Webinar Jam. Webinar Jam offers landing page templates you can use along with their conferencing solution, making the whole process more seamless.
- Compose compelling copy. You can’t get around the need to to compose copy that makes your webinar look like something that your prospect will want very much. Writing in an engaging way with liberal use of the word, You, will increase the likelihood of people actually signing up.
In addition to writing the description of the webinar content as well as the benefits that your prospect will get from attending, cover the basics (date and time) and include any details that will make it more enticing. Make sure there will be actionable steps people can take after the webinar and mention them in your copy.
- The landing page must include a sign-up form that will add each person to your webinar email list. The list could be in the webinar platform itself and be on autopilot sending out reminders, or to start off you can create a special list for your webinar in MailChimp (or other email program you are already using).
On the landing page near the form, let them know they will get the added benefit of receiving more of your valuable information through your weekly or monthly updates.
How to Get People to Register
Here are several ways to spread the word. You could do some or all of these things.
- Write a blog post about it.
- Send out an email to your mailing list all about the webinar and why they should attend and tell others.
- Publicize your event on social media. Get it out there on updates on Facebook and Twitter, more than once. In fact many times. Ask your friends to share it to their followers.
- Post on your Facebook Page and remember to add a link to your landing page and Boost the Post. It does not cost much and you can see whether that is an effective technique.
- Create a Facebook ad if you are looking to find a wider audience. It isn’t as hard as you think and their are cool ways to nail down who the ad should be presented to. For example, if you know someone in your field with a huge following that is comprised of your ideal audience, you can have Facebook direct your ad to people like that person’s followers. You could then limit it to a particular state or age group.
- Send an email to friends and colleagues to invite them to share your webinar with their lists. To make it easier for them to get it out without having to think much, provide them with a sample tweet or write a paragraph with your link to the webinar sign up for them to put in an email or blog post.
- Consider collaborating with a partner in your field or related field, who has a bigger list than yours. Plan to do the webinar together and send out notifications to people on their list as well as yours. As people from your partners list sign up, they will be added to your list. Way to go!
Choose You Webinar Platform
Choose your webinar conference software based on features you want and your budget. Here are some I recommend.
FreeConferencing.com: If you are just starting out with webinar hosting, this is a good option because you can try at no cost. FreeConferencing.com works for audio conference calls up to 1000 participants. You can also use it to share your screen, but it will only make recordings of your audio presentation.
If you are using FreeConferecing.com and want to record the screen too, you will have to create your own screencast and audio recording of the webinar using ScreenFlow for MAC (about $99) or Camtasia for PC ($249).
If you want to do a recording of the screen and audio your best bet, price wise is to use Webinar Jam for the whole thing.
Webinar Jams: If you are serious about doing webinars, Webinar Jam offers amazing options such as infinite number of attendees, easy interface control, billing for paid webinars, prerecorded evergreen webinars, and hybrid webinars (where you offer your polished pre-recorded webinar and hop on for the live Q and A). Webinar Jams ($397.00 for one year) beats the cost of Go to Webinar ($499 per month) while offering many more features with more recent technology. If you are planning on recording your audio and screen-sharing, Webinar Jams gives you all the functionality in one easy-to-use software.
Remember to send Reminders
- Several days before the webinar send something out reminding people that it is coming and why they should add that day and time to their caledars.
- The day before the webinar send out a reminder and tell people that you will send out the sign-on information several hours before the session. Let them know that it will be recorded, so if they can’t make it you will send them a recording afterwards.
- The day of your webinar send out two reminders to your webinar list. Send one several hours before and another right before it is to start. Include the specific information on how they will get on the call.
Conducting the Webinar
- It is good to have someone with you who can help with the technology, get you a drink of water or a cocktail and assist in calming your nerves. It can be a bit daunting to do webinars with managing the recording and giving your presentation too.
- Line up your materials. Have all your materials, your passwords and callin numbers, your slides and your next step offer all lined up and ready at your fingertips.
- Practice. And for Pete’s sake, make sure you have practiced the whole thing. The more practice, the more relaxed and flexible you will be. You will know that if something happens you can just roll with it and be okay.
I learned this maxim on my very first webinar. I started the webinar and it was going fine but since there was a lot of noise I decided to mute the audience. Little did I know, I had made the mistake of signing in with the code that all the attendees used instead of using my presenter code. So when I muted the attendees, I also muted myself! Thankfully, I had a couple attendees who knew me and texted me that they couldn’t hear me and told me I must have muted myself. I hung up real quick and dialed back in as the presenter. When I got back on the line, I just laughed, which broke the ice and I was then so relaxed that it went very well after that.
After the Call
- Send a Thank You With a Link. If you promised to send the recording to the people who were registered whether they could attend or not, then send them a link with a thanks for attending email. If you want to make sure that they actually attend, then don’t promise the link, just send them a Thank you email without the link. A compromise is to make the recording available to anyone who registered for 24 hours after the webinar time. That way your webinar is not out in the wild giving you the option of repurposing it.
- Get registrants onto your mailing list. When the webinar is over be sure the people that registered get added to your main newsletter list. (You can automate this process with Zapier, if your landing page option does not have an integration with your email newsletter provider)
Repurposing Your Webinar
By addressing topics that are important for your market, your webinars can easily do double duty or triple duty, and should. You can use the recording later as a paid master class available on your website or class. Simply add the description of the class, create some handouts and add the recording to your ecourse page or program where they can be sold as individually or added to a membership site.
If you have managed this well, you will have added quite a few new followers to your list. You hopefully your attendees have signed up for another course or service. You now have these new people on your mailing list. You have the opportunity to send out a series of autoresponder emails on the topic of the webinar as well as them getting your regular newsletter.
But the main thing is you have provided great information and have built connections and relationships with your audience. These people become a loyal following who Know, Like, and Trust you enough to refer people to you or work with you themselves, in the future.
I hope these tips will help you know, like and trust the power of webinars to help your web business grow! Go out and prosper!