Consider the last time you attended a webinar and what portions of that webinar bored you and/or had you walking away from your computer to check the fridge. Conversely, consider the few webinars that were actually a good investment of your time. What made these webinars useful?
The answer to these questions is simple: Good webinars pack a lot of non-obvious, insightful and memorable information into a short amount of time- and then get us to take action. Bad webinars waste time on introductions, obvious and/or trivial information, and fail to inspire us to delve deeper into the presented information by taking a course of action.
This is coming from the audience’s perspective, of course, but it also spells success or doom for the marketer too. After all, an audience that is willing to take action may end up buying your advertised product or service. An audience that is ambivalent or uninspired will do nothing.
So, how can you make webinars a critical component of your sales strategy?
1. Don’t waste your audience’s time.
Way too many webinars start off with a good 5-10 minutes of speaker introductions, which puts your webinar at risk of losing attendees through sheer boredom. Honestly, you can place your qualifications at the end of your webinar- or not at all. Your biggest qualifier is that people decided to attend. If an audience member is really curious about how you are an expert, she can read about you on your website.
If you have a co-presenter, keep the presenter-to-presenter chit-chat to a minimum. Aside from summarizing your co-presenter’s talking points, you should be devoting any extra time to answering audience member questions.
Finally, pick a popular topic by first doing some research. Use Google Analytics to find out which keywords are being input most often to locate your website content, then use those keywords in your webinar title and content. Also, research which of your blog posts or web pages have received the most traffic or comments. What new content could be added to these popular content pieces that would attract even more traffic or comments?
2. Deliver on your promises.
Nothing exasperates webinar audiences more than speakers promising to discuss points A, B and C yet only talking about points A and C or going out into left field and talking about points D and E.
To avoid going off on a tangent, create an outline of your talk and present your audience ahead of time with its main points. Then, go through each of those points, veering off only if an audience member brings up a question.
If there are going to be multiple speakers in your webinar, have a timer for each of them and don’t be afraid to limit speakers who tend to blab.
3. Deliver quality content…
Don’t get so bogged down in the promotion of your webinar that you fail to invest the time in creating a quality presentation. Discuss those data that are not readily accessible to the lay public, such as studies published in academic or trade journals. Generate your own graphs, charts or other data summaries based on research you’ve conducted. Consider creating and showcasing an infographic.
In other words, don’t be lazy.
Break down complex concepts into bullet points, then summarize everything at the end. Provide additional references for those audience members who wish to dip deeper. Finally, if you’re going to make bold claims, back them up with hard data. For example, don’t just say that people are increasingly using mobile devices to shop; provide survey results that report that 59% of 300 surveyed shoppers use smartphones to make an online purchase.
4. …but not too much content.
The key to getting people to buy your product or service lies in how you present your information. If your webinar spells out every single concept and how to accomplish every task, in exact detail, there will be no reason for your audience members to buy from you. However, if you present just enough information to whet people’s appetite for more, you’ve now created a need to buy.
To do this, take the following steps:
a. Make your words count and provide back-up data and personal research that proves what you’re saying.
b. Provide clear and short answers to the problems you present or questions that you ask.
c. Be incomplete with your answers, leaving out critical details (e.g., answer the why but not the how of your question).
This is another reason why you want to spend the time presenting quality information up – it provides your audience with an example of what your product or service will offer. Be sure to emphasize that the information you’re presenting is an actual example of what customers can expect from your product.
5. Provide a reason for audience members to stay.
If you have an offer or call to action (CTA) at slide 20 of your webinar, you don’t want half your audience leaving by slide 10. One way to have your audience members stay throughout your entire webinar is to announce that you will be providing a free product or additional information at the end of your talk- and this bonus will only be available to those audience members who hear about it from you during the webinar.
That’s right- instead of posting a slide with a link to or description of your freebie, tell your attendees that they will need to listen for it instead. This way, it’s going to be harder for potential webinar drop-outs to simply come back to your saved slides at a later time and skip to the one with the freebie.
If you don’t want to take this approach, or you have no freebie, at least mention at the start of your webinar that attendees will receive a special discount at the end of the presentation. This way, you at least notify people that there is a perk to siting through the entire webinar.
6. Emphasize that CTA.
Obviously, the point of having a webinar is to encourage your audience members to take some sort of action, whether it be downloading a report, buying a product, or contacting you about your services. To this end, make the time to add your CTA to your webinar copy and discuss it during your talk. Make the CTA seem like the next logical step in the process of listening to and benefiting from your webinar.
Leave enough time for the Q&A section of your webinar to address audience members and answer their questions with those clear and short answers as noted earlier. Again, don’t provide too many critical details- but emphasize that your product or service plan does go into these finer points. When used wisely, your Q&A time can be used to reawaken the audience’s hunger for the product/service you are selling.