Webinar Best Practices that Make Success Absolutely Predictable

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The new normal of corporate gatherings, industry events, and live conferences is through virtual offerings. On any scale, webinars have begun to dominate as an effective way to streamline real-time communications and provide evergreen materials for all types of businesses.

Even though webinars have been around for a while, virtual and hybrid events are now more common, and easier than ever to host. Entire event management platforms exist that can make hosting a webinar an experience with maximum integration and engagement. With the industry at an all-time high, some common webinar best practices are emerging that make it possible to predict success.

Here’s what we’re about to cover:
1. Webinar/Webcast Best Practices
2. The Dos and Don’ts of the Very Best Webinars and Webcasts
3. Webinar Examples
4. The Qualities of Every Good Webinar
5. Webinar Software Platforms
6. The Most Effective Way to Run a Webinar: The Before, During, and After

1. Webinar/Webcast Best Practices

The most effective webinars help build brand identity, boost authority, and generate a ridiculous number of leads. The very best webinars also provide valuable content that your audience really wants, allowing you to repurpose them into on-demand videos, blogs, or other collateral.

If you don’t want a bad webinar to tarnish your brand, or leave audiences feeling like they’ve just wasted their time, keep reading.

There are two “start at the beginning” webinar best practices you should do before anything else:

  1. Start with the right audience: webinars shouldn’t just be blasted into the webiverse; you want to be sure that everything from your webinar title and description to your marketing and presentation is aligned with your existing digital marketing strategies. While webinars feel like a big production (and they can be), you’ll only really succeed if the right people attend.
  2. Develop a webinar strategy with stated goals: what do you ultimately hope to achieve with the webinar? Brand building? Awareness? Education? Ideally, you’ll have a quantifiable conversion metric that tells you: this worked (or, this didn’t work). This strategy should drive your decision-making.

Once you have the general framework for the “who” and the “why,” you can get into the “how.”

webinar best practices

Top 8 Best Practices For Webinar Success That Will Make You Stand Out

We’ve assembled this list of webinar best practices to help you develop and present the most amazing webinar imaginable, from creating a repeatable webinar format to gadgets and software you can use to make your event stand out.

Best Practice #1) Ensure Your Webinar Gives People Exactly What They Came for

While most webinar attendees understand and even expect a little sales, taking a heavy-handed approach to marketing your services and meandering around what you promised to deliver won’t make your audience happy.
Give people real, usable content and commit to delivering more value if they subscribe or buy your product or service offerings. Make them want to give you their money.

Best Practice #2) Create a Repeatable Webinar Format Model That Allows You to Efficiently and Affordably Use Webinars as a Sales and Marketing Tool

Successful webinars don’t continually reinvent the wheel. When you identify tactics that give you the results you want, stick with them to create an efficient, repeatable webinar model. 

Some Common Webinar Formats Include:

  • Q&A Sessions
  • Panels
  • Interview Discussions
  • Course/Class Format
  • Product Demos
  • Keynotes With Breakout Sessions
  • Featured Speakers or Highlights
  • Showcases
Some of these webinar formats will be shaped by your already-decided strategy: do you want to launch something, promote something, encourage people to connect, or establish authority? Any one of these goals can be supported by a unique webinar format.

Best Practice #3) Don’t Just Talk at People, a Webinar in 2021 Must Be Interactive

It’s not enough to just show up and deliver a speech. As a webinar best practice, you need to connect and engage with your audience, including them in the experience to garner interest.
Audience engagement through a Q&A, polls, chats, breakout rooms, etc., cultivates deeper audience relationships. It also helps attendees feel valued, more comfortable with your brand, and that they’re getting their money’s worth.

Best Practice #4) Webinar Content Should Focus On a Specific, Concentrated Topic

Think of your webinar as a deep dive into a specific topic or issue that you might not otherwise have the chance to discuss.

By focusing on a single issue or area, you’ll provide audiences with valuable insight and actionable takeaways, while positioning yourself as an industry or topic authority. You’ll also be able to narrow and engage a specific audience when you target a specific topic.

Best Practice #5) You’re Going to Need an Overarching Event Marketing Strategy That Includes and Leads up to Your Webinar

Successful webinars require careful planning that includes how you’ll promote and publicize the event. Some webinar best practices for promotion include emailing those on your existing mailing list an event invite, conducting social media outreach, as well as other content marketing initiatives that begin well before the webinar. Don’t forget to nurture the relationships made during the event with follow-ups after it takes place.

Best Practice #6) Track Every Webinar Goal

Once you identify webinar goals (which you should, to make your event as intentional as possible), tracking each one is an essential webinar best practice.

If you identify new customers as a primary goal, tracking attendees is excellent, but won’t help you evaluate webinar success. On the other hand, if you snag 50% of a below-capacity crowd as new customers, you’ve been exceptionally successful. Be specific with your goals so you can determine exactly how to track them.

Best Practice #7) A Great Webinar Teases Other Valuable Services and Tools That Are a Must-Have

During your webinar, don’t forget to entice your audience with additional value-add services and products they can buy.

Seeing your brand in action is a powerful method of attracting new customers and building excitement. Think of all the times you’ve seen someone pull out a new app or feature to resolve an issue, only to ask yourself, “how do I get that?” Just make sure the add-on or tool makes sense for your focused topic.

Best Practice #8) From Gadgets to Software Platforms – High Production With the Right Tech Equipment Matters

There’s obviously a lot of components that go into a successful webinar, but the final product can only be as good as the software platform you choose to host it.

You may have the best product or service, a killer event promotion strategy, top name sponsors or speakers, and a sell-out crowd, but without the right software platform, you could be in trouble. 

Audio or video gaps, no audience engagement, or attendees who can’t make purchases means not only a sub-par webinar experience but also potential brand and authority blowback.

Equipment to Consider

Cameras, lights, microphones, or props are just some of the equipment you’ll need to consider when designing your webinar to ensure your audience can clearly see and hear you. Set all of your speakers up for success to increase your chances for a greater return.

2. The Dos and Don’ts of the Very Best Webinars and Webcasts

Webinar best practices keep your team from making mistakes, plain and simple. There are some right ways, and a bunch of wrong ways, to host a webinar. Let’s go through both.

DO:

Practice — You may think, “we know all of the software for our webinar, we’re good,” but without a dry-run, you are risking some public goods that could be easily avoided.

Vet your presenters — It’s easy to think that because someone is a good communicator, or good in person, they’ll be a good webinar presenter. Sometimes true. Not always. Be sure everyone can handle the camera presence and presentation skills required to do this well.

Interact with the audience — Q & As are a great way to do this, but you have plenty of options for making a webinar engaging. Leverage every digital interface, chat features, breakouts, and two-way videos to draw people in.

DON’T:

Use too much text — People who attend a webinar are largely coming to watch. For most people, this is perceived as an inherently passive exercise, so be sure you don’t ask too much of attendees, or assume too much about reading speed or reading comprehension level. Opt for graphics and white space.

Underestimate the tech — There are a lot of moving parts to pull off a live virtual event, and a similar amount of moving parts for pulling off a recorded webinar (although maybe with less pressure). Learn it all, and use a digital event management platform if you can.

With more and more webinars happening, there are a ton of gold standard examples to choose from, so let’s peek at how each webinar best practice impact our favorite virtual events this year.

3. Webinar Examples

Three of the best webinar examples we’ve seen lately are:

SXSW: Live Events Turned Into Webinars

SXSW is a good example of this. The enormous conference was turned into an interactive online event in March 2021. They had daily programming schedules and an entire SXSW online interface to facilitate the event. While, of course, it may not rival the energy of the real thing, they made a real effort to turn it into an unforgettable experience.

NFL Draft 2020: Industry Events Turned Into Webinars

The NFL draft 2020 was the first-ever virtual draft. It was a hybrid event, with some onsite presence and most attendees coming in virtually. It’s been described as a pretty challenging operation and was run by NFL media. Challenging or not, the production was impressive and gave people the opportunity to view the beginning of the football season while still under social distancing or stay-at-home orders.

Webinars: Series and Regularly Scheduled Events

Training, education, classes, and both internal and external company events all are being delivered via webinar.

  • Google Digital Garage webinars give anyone free opportunities and training for digital skills.
  • AWS re: Invent is a learning conference for global cloud computing professionals, but AWS itself has ongoing webinars, summits, and more that connect a wider body of leaders in this field.
  • The Fashion Institute of Technology has ongoing webinars, info sessions, and panel discussions that are open to the public but support people pursuing a career in fashion.

The bottom line is that webinars are impacting everybody in every field around the world, providing an unrivaled opportunity to connect and collaborate.

4. The Qualities of Every Good Webinar

There are a few qualities of every good webinar. If these tasks take place, chances are a webinar will go smoothly:

  • Create and distribute invites and marketing materials
  • Have a clear objective and value proposition statement
  • Create branded imagery specific to the event
  • Draft short descriptions not only of the event but each session
  • Craft a list of objectives and outcomes to share with attendees
  • Schedule your webinar at a good time for your attendees in every time zone
  • Set your webinar timeline and duration, and stick to it
  • Send scheduling emails, confirmation emails, reminder emails, and follow up emails
  • Write out the scripts for all sessions, and plan for transitions
  • Use pre and post-webinar slides
  • Do a dress rehearsal for the full webinar
  • Be ready in advance, and plan for troubleshooting during the webinar
  • End on a high note

What We Learned About Webinars in 2021

There are a few takeaways that became clear during the many webinars of 2021. Here’s what we learned:

  • Live webinars almost always have tech glitches and surprises
  • Attendees are pretty good about helping with tech issues, as long as they have some information on how to troubleshoot
  • Coordinating with all presenters is a must if you want streamlined, non-overlapping content
  • Moderators are essential to managing transitions
  • You should always have a backup plan

Of course, most of the major issues webinars face can be solved by choosing the right tools.

The Very Best Webinar Tools From Simple to Fully Integrated

Because so many types of companies are now running webinars, there is a major spectrum of webinar tools that are required and used. Some of these are super simple: think, YouTube live, or Zoom. Some offer a lot more integration and allow you to do a lot more. As webinars become more popular, people’s expectations increase too. Because webinars aren’t going away, it may be useful to do some due diligence and investigate the best webinar software platform for your company.

5. Webinar Software Platforms

1. SpotMe

SpotMe is all about functionality, interaction, networking, and audience engagement. 

Combining live and on-demand features like Q&As, polls, and applause, SpotMe’s user-friendly, adaptable platform makes hosting dynamic webinars easier than ever. From integrations to customizable marketing tools, SpotMe partners with you to turn your ideas into a webinar that makes a lasting impression.

webinar best practices

2. Zoom Webinar

Zoom Webinar offers several popular event features, including Q&As, polls, and livestream videos. Popular for lectures, town halls, and corporate updates, Zoom Webinar best practices include streaming to live platforms such as YouTube and Facebook Live. Zoom webinars also allow planners to create smaller breakout sessions and can be a great free option offering the basics for limited audiences.

3. GoToWebinar

GoToWebinar is old faithful for many in the webinar space and has provided reliable webinar services for many organizations since 2004. Offering features such as file sharing, HD video, Q&As, and polling, GoToWebinar supports up to 2,000 webinar participants.

Using Existing Software to Improve Webinars

Chances are, your business already has a tech stack that can handle some of the functions and features of webinar hosting. For example, you probably have a customer relationship management (CRM) platform like Salesforce, HubSpot, Mailchimp, etc. that can handle automated messaging and reminders. 

For webinars, two of the other components to consider (beyond the audio/video and live stream) are calendar integrations and sign-up features. People need a near-frictionless (read: easy) experience if they’re going to actually sign up for and then make it to your event. Again, you may already have website form builders and calendar apps that can handle those tasks.

webinar best practices

6. The Most Effective Way to Run a Webinar: The Before, During, and After

Webinar best practices address every stage in the game: before a webinar, during a webinar, and after a webinar. That’s right: there is a different task list for each. This may sound daunting but, actually, breaking it down into steps this way can be super helpful. After all, you don’t want to be mid-presentation and have your dog burst in (see: preparation, below). Here’s what’s on your plate if you want to run the best webinar ever:

To-Do List: Before a Webinar

  • Marketing tasks:
    • Landing page
    • Sign up forms
    • Invites
    • Email flow
    • Social media posts
    • Share requests
    • DMs
  • Presentations:
    • Invite presenters
    • Write or review all scripts
    • Create graphics and slides
    • Load all presentations and test them
    • Practice all presentations
  • Technology:
    • Figure out the event management app or software you will use
    • Integrate all of your tech
    • Test everything: mics, cameras, recording, etc.

To-Do List: During a Webinar

  • Attendees:
    • Assign a team member for assisting attendees
    • Get logins and registrations verified
    • Welcome everyone
  • Presentations:
    • Assign a team member to standby for tech troubleshooting during presentations
    • Manage camera switching and audio as needed
    • Manage slides and graphics as needed
    • Set and coordinate transitions 

To-Do List: After a Webinar

  • Post-event marketing:
    • Follow up emails and cross-sells
    • Ask for feedback
    • Ask for referrals or recommendations
  • Presenters:
    • Send special thank yous to presenters
    • Ask for feedback
    • Ask for referrals or recommendations
  • Your team:
    • Debrief the event and identify what was great and what needs to be improved

Host Better Webinars

With SpotMe’s virtual event platform, you can put these webinar best practices to the test and exceed your expectations. Request your free demo and see for yourself just how successful a webinar marketing strategy can be.

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