For organisations that have never held a webinar, it can seem daunting. You may be on camera for the first time, trying to move slides, answer questions from the audience and operate online polls. We totally get it. There are a lot of moving parts.
But when you break it down, it’s really not that complicated. If you’ve never done a webinar before, all you need to start off with is a few weeks to get it organised, a couple of people to help pull it together, and something to discuss that your audience wants to hear about.
That doesn’t seem so hard, does it?
Then there’s the technology. You may also decide to dive in and run your webinar remotely, operating the technology and handling attendee access issues yourself. Or if you like, you can leave that part of it to us.
Either way, there are 15 essential elements when it comes to the anatomy of a successful webinar. Let’s break it down to make it as easy as possible for you to become an expert.
1. The content
First, you need something to say. If you’ve never held a webinar before, recent research you may have conducted, your most popular blog posts or a topical issue is a good place to start. Have some key points to make and some insights to share on a topic of interest to your target audience. Consider bringing in an outside expert to share their expertise or be part of a panel discussion. With a webinar your presenters can make an appearance from the other side of the world — distance is no barrier. If you can, tie it into your overall content strategy to ensure you make the most efficient use of the time it takes to create a great webinar.
2. Web page
Every webinar needs a web page containing all the key information about your event.
The reader should be able to see at a glance what it’s all about — without scrolling down — as well as view key details, such as the scheduled date and time it will be broadcast.
Use an engaging image or graphic to bring the page to life and don’t forget to include more details — such as speaker bios or a longer description of your topic — further down the page.
3. Promotional messaging
Promoting a digital event such as a webinar is very similar to promoting a face-to-face event. If you want people to attend, you need to market it thoroughly.
At a minimum, send an initial email inviting people to register and a reminder.
Include it in any regular newsletters to customers or prospects, and ask any organisations that may be involved to share it as well.
If you can, ask your presenter to pre-record a short video snippet and send this out to your database to boost attendance — if they’re an engaging presenter with a hot topic this can work wonders.
Promote it on your social channels and include the link back to your registration page. But remember — if you’re going to tweet or post during the event, pre-prepare and schedule whatever you can in advance so you’re free to watch the event closely.
Not everyone has a sponsor, but if you are bringing in sponsors to help cover the cost of the event don’t forget to build them into your promotional messaging, as well as into the event itself. There are many ways to involve sponsors, from on-screen call-to-action buttons and resources made available during the event, to inviting someone from the sponsoring company to be the moderator or facilitator.
Check out our blog on 21 ways to build value for sponsors into your digital event for some more ideas.
5. Registration mechanism
In addition to your messaging and web page, you need a registration mechanism. You may be able to do this in your marketing automation system. Or Redback can build and handle your webinar web page and registration process for you.
Ensure you capture all the details you need in your registration page — company name, job title, industry, and so on — and ask a question to help inform your content.
If you’re charging for your webinar, you need to be able to accept payment.
And everyone that registers should get an email immediately with their login link and instructions for how to access the event.
This autoresponder email should also include an add-to-calendar link but don’t forget to send a reminder the day before or morning of the webcast so those access details are close-at-hand and your event remains top-of-mind.
6. Webinar platform
Choose your webinar platform technology provider. You may decide to go with a do-it-yourself platform and present remotely — in which case you need to be confident ‘driving it’ yourself and troubleshooting any internet connectivity issues.
Don’t forget that attendees may have trouble joining and may also need help.
You may decide to broadcast from a studio for a more professional look, reliable internet and a green-screen background, in which case you’ll need to choose a webinar provider that can manage the webcast for you.
Don’t forget to brand the webinar platform appropriately. Click here to view the Redback Platform
We recommend you have a moderator and a presenter to make your webinar as engaging as possible. Your moderator may simply introduce the presenter and drive the tech, such as handling questions from the audience, or they may interact with your presenter via a fireside chat-style interview.
You can also have more than one speaker if you’re presenting remotely or in a broadcast studio. Ask your technology partner in advance how they’re handling social distancing to ensure your presenters are comfortable going into a studio to present.
You may wish to pre-record some of your speakers if their internet connection is unstable, it’s their first webinar, or your speaker wants to present using video and you want to be able to edit it before the event.
8. Slides and resources
Most webinars require an opening slide containing the event title, bio slides if you have more than one presenter, or you need to transition between presenters, and a closing slide.
If your presenters are going to be talking to slides, you may choose to show video of them speaking, alongside their slide deck, or stick with audio-and-slides for slow connections.
You can also play pre-recorded video during the event, as well as making your slides, links, documents and other resources available to viewers on your webinar platform.
It’s also good practice to have a holding slide that you can put up in case of technical difficulties.
One of the key benefits of a virtual event such as a webinar is that it’s made for interactivity.
There’s no need for a half-hearted show of hands in answer to a question from the presenter.
You can — and you should — make use of the online polling feature on your webinar platform to ask your audience questions about the topic you’re discussing.
Run at least one poll per webinar — and if you’re really good, you may wish to include a second one.
Similarly, webinar platforms feature private and public chat functions that are tailor-made for interacting with your audience by taking questions that are sent in during the event and responded to live.
You can also ask for questions during your registration process, to give you more time to answer them thoroughly, and if you’re pre-recording the event, you can call for questions live and answer them in an FAQ provided with the on-demand recording later.
We recommend you call for questions early in the webinar, mention that you’ll have a Q&A after your presenter has finished speaking, and have the moderator relay the best questions to them to be answered live.
A week before the event, go through the content and agreed format with your moderator and speakers and have a dry run so you’re all clear on how the event will be run, and how transitions between speakers will be handled.
Moderators and remote presenters need to be trained on the webinar platform you’re going to use, particularly if they’re going to launch a poll or respond to questions, and they need to be clear on what you will do if something goes wrong. This may be rare — but hey, it’s technology — we’ve all been there. It’s best to be prepared.
With home broadband infrastructure under pressure, test your presenters’ local internet connection at least a week in advance of the event to ensure it’s stable enough for your chosen format — particularly if they will be appearing in a video feed. Then run a technical check just prior to the event to make sure nothing’s changed.
Make sure you have a back-up plan if there is a glitch — such as if your video feed freezes or the internet connection drops out. Your webinar provider may be able to switch to a web audio feed and slides, or even provide a conference line to dial your presenter back in if that happens.
If you go with a managed webinar provider, such as Redback, you’ll be able to relax knowing that someone else is looking after this for you.
13. Post-event survey
Most face-to-face events these days conclude with a request to rate the topic, speakers and format so you can collect some data on what your audience thought.
With a virtual event, you can collect this via an online poll or survey straight after the event concludes.
14. On-demand recording
Don’t forget to make a recording of the event available to your attendees after the event. You can host this on your own site or ask a third party to handle that for you.
Some organisations charge for people to view valuable content on demand. Or you may wish to gate it and use it as an additional lead generator. Either way, your digital events can live on, online, for up to a year.
Before your webinar, ask your webinar provider what reporting they can make available to you, so you can assess the effectiveness of the event. You should be able to get data such as the number of live and on-demand attendees, any details you collected in your registration form, average viewing time, number of people who voted or asked a question and who accessed your online resources.
And if you’re capturing feedback on how to improve the event, as well as tracking leads that convert to a sale after your webinar, you’re well on your way to measuring and improving the ROI of your webinar program.
Include all these elements in your webinar or virtual event and you’ll go from newbie to expert in just a few short weeks.
Contact a Redback representative if we can help take the pain out of running your first webinar.