Webinar Best Practices that Make Success Absolutely Predictable

Webinar Best Practices that Make Success Absolutely Predictable

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 9 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 the gadgets and software you can use to make your event stand out.

Best Practice #1: Start with the Right Audience

First, you need to make sure you’re targeting the right people. A webinar on current trends in the healthcare industry isn’t going to entice someone who works in education. The effort and resources you put into a webinar won’t matter if you don’t have the right people attending. 

Don’t just blast your webinar into the webiverse. Make sure your title, description, and marketing efforts are going to the right audience. If you advertise on social media or Google, target your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram ads, so they are seen by the audience you want. You can also ask your speakers to share your posts with their followers since there’s likely a lot of overlap between your intended audience and theirs.

Best Practice #2: 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 #3: Create a Repeatable Webinar Format to Efficiently and Affordably Use 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 #4: Don’t Just Talk at People — a Webinar 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 Q&As, 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 #5: 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 a chance to discuss.

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

Best Practice #6: Create an Overarching Event Marketing Strategy for 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
  • Creating content related to your webinar, like blog posts and short videos
  • Nurturing the relationships made during the event with follow-up emails

Best Practice #7: Define Specific Webinar Goals and Track Them

What do you ultimately hope to achieve with your webinar? Is it brand building, awareness, education, or a mix? Once you identify your webinar goals (which you should do to make your event as intentional as possible), tracking each one is an essential webinar best practice.

Ideally, you’ll have a metric as your North Star, something tangible to track that will tell you whether or not you’ve reached that goal. 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 #8: Tease 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 for 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 #9: Choose the Right Gadgets and Software Platforms – High Production with the Right Tech Equipment Matters

There are 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, and 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 taking some risks 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 that’s true, but not always. Be sure everyone can handle the camera presence and that they have the 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 feature, breakout, and two-way video 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 involved in pulling off a live event and a similar amount of moving parts in 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 impacts our favorite virtual events this year.

3. Inspiring Webinar Examples to Help You Plan Your Event

Training, education, classes, and both internal and external company events are all being delivered via webinars. Some great webinar examples we’ve seen lately are:

  • 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.
  • Foundry releases webinars on its YouTube channel related to digital art. For example, this one in 2020 explored ways that a digital artist can generate income from alternative sources.
  • In the spring of 2022, the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) offered a series of 11 webinars focusing on topics related to accessibility. 
  • The U.S. Forest Service had a series of seven seminars called “Science You Can Use,” covering topics such as wildfire risk management and desertification.

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 that every good webinar has. If these tasks are performed, chances are the 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 of 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.

There are a few takeaways that became clear during the many webinars that have popped up since the pandemic began. 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 knowledge on how to troubleshoot.
  • Coordinating with all presenters is a must if you want streamlined, non-overlapping content.
  • Moderators are essential for managing transitions.
  • You should always have a backup plan.

5. Webinar Software Platforms

Because so many types of companies are now running webinars, a wide spectrum of webinar tools are required and being 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.

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.

2. Zoom Webinar

Zoom Webinar offers several popular event features, including Q&As, polls, and live stream 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 for offering the basics to a limited audience.

3. GoTo Webinar

GoTo Webinar is an 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, GoTo Webinar 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.

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

Webinar best practices address every stage of 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 can be super helpful. After all, you don’t want to be mid-presentation and have your dog burst in. Here’s what’s on your plate if you want to run the best webinar ever:

To-Do List: Before a Webinar

  • Marketing tasks:
    • Create a landing page where your target audience can sign up for the webinar.
    • Put sign-up forms on your website.
    • Send out invites to your email list.
    • Schedule social media posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other platforms.
    • Send DMs to people in your target audience who might be interested in attending.
    • Launch an event app and share pre-event updates.
  • Presentations:
    • Invite presenters who are subject matter experts to be a part of the webinar.
    • Write or review all scripts.
    • Create or review graphics and slide decks.
    • Load all presentations into your webinar platform 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: Internet connection, mics, cameras, recording, etc.

To-Do List: During a Webinar

  • Attendees:
    • Assign a team member to assist attendees.
    • Get logins and registrations verified.
    • Welcome everyone.
  • Presentations:
    • Assign a team member to stand by for tech troubleshooting during presentations.
    • Manage camera switching and audio as needed.
    • Manage PowerPoints and graphics as needed.
    • Set and coordinate transitions. 
    • Send live poll questions to keep the audience’s attention.

To-Do List: After a Webinar

  • Post-event marketing:
    • Send follow-up emails and cross-sells with clear CTAs.
    • 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.

7. Take Your Webinar to a Whole New Level with Virtual and Hybrid Alternatives

Webinars can be a great source of lead generation and still hold an important place in the marketing department’s strategy. But they’re also only for a fixed amount of time and focus on just one subject matter. We aren’t saying it’s time to wave webinars goodbye forever. However, it might be time for your event planning team to take a look at hosting bigger and better events that keep all the best aspects of a webinar but improve upon the format. Enter virtual and hybrid events. 

Webinars vs. Virtual Events

Essentially, a webinar has all the elements of an on-site seminar but takes it online. Meanwhile, a virtual event happens over multiple days, covers several topics, and gives you a chance to potentially bring in more of an audience than just one webinar would. 

At this point, you likely already know how to pack some punch into your webinars but with a full virtual event, you can take that pizzazz and apply it to exhibitor booths, an on-demand content resource library, breakout sessions, and more. Other benefits of hosting a virtual event instead of a webinar include:

  • Better, more extensive data. A webinar gives you great, surface-level insights. But with a virtual event, you are able to see who attended what session (and which events were most valuable), and you can measure your event KPIs in your event software platform. That data helps your event planning team make the right decisions about your next event and gives you insights into what your attendees were most interested in. Take those interests and market to them with a post-event email drip campaign that shares relevant content.
  • More ways to engage the audience. During a virtual event, you can send out live polls, do Q&A sessions, and offer a mobile event app that gives participants a chance to network and interact with each other more deeply.

Want to know more about how to host successful virtual events? Check out the 14 Best Practices for Hosting Virtual Events.

Hybrid Events vs. Virtual Events

More than a third of event organizers plan to invest more in hybrid events over the next few years. Hopping on this trend now positions your company to be a part of this shifting event landscape. 

A hybrid event provides more options for your attendees — some can choose to attend in person while others can choose the online option. Other benefits of a hybrid event include:

  • A bigger audience. In-person events are great, but there is a limit to how many attendees a venue can hold. Opening the event up to online audiences means that you have no cap on the number of people who can attend.
  • Better opportunities for your event sponsors. When someone agrees to sponsor your event, they do so expecting some kind of return on their investment. They are able to engage with in-person audiences, but again — that number is limited. With a hybrid event, your sponsors can interact with all the online attendees, too. 
  • More flexibility. Attendees may feel uneasy about traveling or simply not have the means or opportunity to do so, especially internationally. With both in-person and online options, you are giving them much-needed flexibility. Plus, it is a bonus for you as well — if in-person events are restricted again at any point, you can quickly shift to a virtual event and not lose the time and money invested.

Host Better Webinars and Expand Your Event Portfolio with an Event Management Platform

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, or find out how we can help you elevate your webinar to an unforgettable virtual or hybrid experience.

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