When it comes to webinars, attracting a certain number of attendees to view an event is usually pretty high on the list of objectives. So how do you maximise your chances of getting as many viewers as possible?
Here are some of our top tips for boosting attendance to your virtual events:
Make your topic shareable, incredibly useful or controversial
Choosing the right topic for your webinar is crucial to its success — which means attracting enough of the right sort of attendees.
Your topic should spark interest and be relevant enough to motivate your audience to register to attend. It should also be robust and interesting enough to carry you through a whole webinar, while provoking discussion and debate.
A good approach is to make your topic shareable. Dig deep and put yourself in your audience’s shoes. A New York Times study found that we share content to bring valuable, enlightening and entertaining content to others, to define ourselves to others and to ourselves, to get and stay connected to others, to support causes we believe in and brands that we like, and for self-fulfillment.
Is your topic something you can see your audience posting in their social newsfeed and sharing with friends and colleagues?
Offering something incredibly useful for your audience to take away from your event, is an excellent way to attract the attention of an audience, and keep it.
Not only do we like to share things that make us look informed, clever, connected and cool, if you can provide something that makes a difference to the everyday personal or business life of your participants you’ll go a long way to making a strong connection — and people will be grateful for it.
A changing regulatory environment, new skills development and training are great places to start looking for useful topics.
We all love a bit of controversy. Not only is it an attention grabber, it makes things more interesting to talk about because it can get pretty boring if everyone is just sitting around agreeing with each other. Controversy can provoke debate and encourage conversation.
Just make sure you don’t offend anyone by talking about highly-controversial subjects.
Invite partners or experts with their own followers to present
Take advantage of the networks of your partners, experts or other stakeholders by asking them to present at your webinar.
Spend some time identifying which possible presenters have a strong following on their social media and other channels, and target them.
Ask your presenters to share information about the event on their social channels, and take advantage of any partnerships by sending your partners information about relevant events for posting on their social channels.
If your event features a well-known speaker, exclusive content or research, or a topical issue, consider advertising it on relevant channels or pitching it to the media. If your information is newsworthy, consider inviting the media to attend.
Market your webinar effectively using email
Email marketing is a powerful tool when it comes to capturing your audience’s attention. It’s also cheap and a good way to expand your contact database.
Marketing your webinar via email should be a standardised, step-by-step process from your first email promoting your event until the last reminder to attend.
Your email invitation to attend should include the title, time, topic, presenters and cost of your event, with a brief description and a link to register that takes people to your landing page. Solus invitation emails should be sent a maximum of two weeks before the event. We generally recommend around 7 to 10 days prior to help create urgency and importance.
Follow up recipients who haven’t responded with a ‘last chance’ email. Send a call for final registrations two days before your event and include the same information as your invitation email, perhaps with a different call to action. We recommend using a text-based email to mix it up a little.
People are busy so it doesn’t hurt to refresh their memory if they’ve already committed to attend. Send a reminder email on the day before or morning of your event. Include a link to your event and joining instructions. These emails usually have the highest open rate of all, which means you should consider adding any additional important information you may need to stipulate. It’s also a good idea to include a retweet button.
Use all your free, paid and social channels to promote it
There’s a range of free and paid marketing channels you can use to boost webinar attendance. Here are a few of the most effective:
- Customer newsletters: Talk directly to a captive audience and include content that is relevant to your webinar to boost interest.
- Email signature: Adding a tagline or banner to your email signature (and, if appropriate, that of everyone else in your organisation) is a simple, free and effective way to promote an upcoming event.
- Company website: Target existing and prospective customers on your homepage, events/promotions page, and any other relevant pages.
- Webinar series: If you are running a webinar series, create future landing pages ahead of time and market your upcoming webinars through your registration page redirect links and within the webinars you host.
- Google Ads: If your topic contains popular keywords consider investing in Google Ads which will allow you to more specifically target your audience.
- Twitter: Determine your hashtags. Promote your webinar in tweets when you launch your marketing campaign and include a link to your registration page. Include hashtags and tag your presenters. Consider live-tweeting the webinar if you have the resources, or pre-write and schedule some tweets in advance of the event.
- Facebook: Promote your webinars and post quotes and images from the event. Consider extending your reach with Facebook Advertising.
- YouTube: Record your webinars and upload them to your YouTube channel. Consider a live simulcast. YouTube will rank your content more highly as a result.
- LinkedIn: Target a specific audience based on their interests and the hashtags you use. Encourage your presenters and colleagues to share your LinkedIn content. Advertising your event on LinkedIn will enable you to target specific job titles and boost your reach.
- Instagram: Instagram is a very visual platform but consider posting tiles or quotes from your event.
Optimise the title for search (seo) and publish a transcript
While you shouldn’t let keywords get in the way of your choice of topic or take precedence over a catchy webinar title, Google is still the primary traffic source to the majority of websites so it doesn’t hurt to optimise your title for search if you can.
Establish a catchy topic first, and then see if you can work any of your primary keywords into it.
Publishing a transcript after the event can also help you rank highly for those keywords.
Make it available on-demand
Making your event available on-demand so people can view it in their own time is an effective way to maximise your potential audience. It’s important to make sure it’s integrated with, and promoted via links, from as much of your other content as possible.
Edit out any references to upcoming events or dates as required, and remove any instructions on how to interact with the webinar platform’s interactive features.
You can host your webinars on-demand on your own website, user-generated content sites such as YouTube, or via webinar or video hosting platforms.
Live-stream and live-tweet it
Live-streaming your webinars on your social channels boosts exposure and engagement, and creates a sense of immediacy and occasion.
Social platforms also let you reach a whole new audience that can join as they like and don’t have to be viewing your webinar on a stand-alone video conferencing platform.
YouTube is not the only channel that prioritises live content — all of the big social platforms do — so live-streaming will help you rank higher in your community’s news feeds, as well as attract more views.
Live-streamed videos also generate six times as much engagement as on-demand video on Facebook.
A good way to facilitate a more interactive live event is to assign a staff member to monitor your social simulcast for live questions that can be fed back into the webinar.
Another good way to attract more viewers is to live-tweet your event. Focus on key points of interest, quotes from your presenters and compelling visual content. Engage and retweet attendees and speakers, and make sure you use the presenter’s Twitter handle where possible. Don’t forget to check everything twice before you post it, including any facts.
Repurpose it as a podcast and use video snippets to keep promoting it
Repurposing your webinar as a podcast is a great way to boost your audience numbers and extend the life of your content.
While it won’t work for every event, try listening to your webinar without video and you’ll be able to identify if it works in an audio-only format.
If you already have a branded podcast, or you want to produce one, think about how your webinar could be best tailored for audio-only.
Select short, punchy quotes from your webinar and edit them down into short promotional snippets which can be used to promote your podcast. They can also be used to promote your next webinar if they’re relevant.
Video snippets can be used across a variety of channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, newsletters and emails.
For more tips on boosting your webinar audience read our Webinar Organiser’s Handbook.