With large trade shows and even small, in-person events being canceled, organizations are flocking to webinars to maintain business continuity. Webinars are a time-tested way to (virtually) educate and engage your prospects and customers.
Amid the coronavirus crisis, the usage of webinars has skyrocketed. Companies are using them to further their thought leadership and growth agenda. They are leveraging the opportunity to teach while their target audience is in learning mode. Teachers that share insights earn trust, making it easier to ultimately sell.
Membership organizations also use webinars to generate training hours to support their members as they earn continuing education credits.
Even in private situations that require discretion — such as quarterly investor/board meetings — secure webinars are now being used to drive education and engagement.
Webinars are not just about the one-hour live event. Much more value is created over a much longer period of time — before and after the webinar. In fact, when the content is effectively repurposed, the number of people actually attending the live webinar becomes irrelevant.
Here are the three phases of winning with webinars; each has unique value.
Phase 1: The Promotion and Registration Phase (7-21 days)
The primary goals of the registration phase are to generate valuable and compelling topic and interest in registering (not necessarily attending). Once the title and description are developed, and the presenting team is selected, there are many valuable ways to promote attendance.
- Publish a preview article on what to expect. This article, if crafted by a media partner, can be distributed through channels with an existing audience such as email newsletters, social media platforms, print publications, and video.
- Send a link to the preview article in your own email newsletter to drive awareness and interest.
- Go LIVE on Facebook and/or YouTube with a preview conversation about what to expect. This preview conversation achieves distribution in the feed. It also can be downloaded, edited and then uploaded to LinkedIn as a video post to further drive interest to followers and connections.
- Pick up the phone. A great reason – even an “excuse” – to call a prospect or customer is to invite him/her to an educational event such as a webinar.
- Social Media promotion: Set up image thumbnails for activation on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These images contain the headline, pictures of presenters, and a compelling call to action. It’s not necessary to include the time/date – as you want someone to CLICK to find out more.
- Buy ad placements. Create print and digital ad units and rotate them across your media partner’s website and publication.
This phase, typically lasting 7-21 days, is valuable in and of itself. It drives awareness and interest in your company. It puts your organization in a positive light as it’s committed to furthering the industry dialogue.
Phase 2: LIVE EVENT PHASE (3-5 hours)
This is your opportunity to deliver educational insights and information in real-time via a virtual event. Showcasing the presenters’ knowledge, expertise and dexterity helps to further position the organization in the role of teacher and thought leader.
The countdown leading to the start time adds a degree of excitement. In the few hours leading up to the event, make last-minute calls to drive registrations and attendance.
- To maximize the exposure of the content and make the most of the event, bridge the meeting to a live streaming platform like Facebook or YouTube. It’s likely more people will see it on Facebook LIVE stream than would ever register for the webinar itself.
- Acknowledge the webinar attendees and encourage them to use the Q&A and chat functions to drive an interactive experience.
- Acknowledge the live-streaming Facebook audience too. Encourage them to put comments on the post by asking them where they are watching from and if they have any questions. You’ll want to stage a team member on the social media feed to drive the engagement.
Attendees to the webinar are often the most engaged prospects and customers. These attendees can be prioritized for additional follow up.
Phase 3: KEY TAKEAWAYS PHASE (90+ days)
The goal of this phase is to make the most of the “long-form content asset” you just created during the webinar. Don’t let it sit on the shelf. There are amazing atomization opportunities that will feed your blog and social media for months.
Among the ways to leverage this phase:
- Download the Q&A and address specific questions that were not answered.
- Send an email thanking the attendees for attending.
- Send “sorry you missed it” email to those who registered but did not attend.
- Download the video from the webinar platform and create a time-stamped index of the topics discussed. Webinars are amazing sources of video/audio vignettes.
- Extract important soundbites. For those who actually attended, chances are they were multitasking and may not have heard the compelling insight the presenter shared at minute 17. That two-minute insight can stand on its own as a vignette shared with prospects and customers. It can stand on its own “as seen on” or used to drive traffic back to the full replay. There are a number of image/video/audio options available to drive further engagement. These vignettes are perfect elements for distribution across the company blog or on your social media platform.
- Engage your media partner to publish a round-up article of what was covered. This article once again can be distributed across your partner’s entire digital, social media, and email platforms.
The main tools used in this phase are video editing tools, Canva for image creation, and WAVVE.APP for audio pulse video files.
Webinars are amazing tools to engage your prospects and customers over the course of a year. Just two or three webinars can feed your content and social media strategy for a long time.
If you’d like more information about any of the items mentioned above, or want help running a webinar, please message me.
This article was originally published on The Business Journal, which is locally owned and operated by the Youngstown Publishing Company. The author is a member and shareholder of the organization.