You want to host a webinar, but you don't know where to start. This is more common than you think it is. Lots of people have asked us, how do we get started with webinars and how do we choose the right format? What are the best ideas you have for hosting webinars in 2023?
We collected all of the webinars that we've ever seen on Contrast and asked the people behind them what the benefits are of them. That's this article.
But first, you should understand why you want to host a webinar. Most of the ideas that we share in this article work with both webinars for lead generation and thought-leadership. But one approach requires a different strategy and ways of measuring success than the other. So let's explore both first.
Webinars to generate new leads
This is probably the most common reason why you should run webinars: lead generation. It works like this, you host a webinar on a topic that your target audience is interested in and of course relates to your business. Now you promote this webinar to your target audience through channels like newsletters and social media. We wrote more about promoting your webinars and scheduling your first webinar here.
Our best tips for generating new leads with webinars
Define your audience
Understanding your audience is the key to developing great content that resonates with them.
Create interesting and compelling content
Create content around problems your potential customers have. They will sign up to your webinar in order to get the answer to their problems. You'll of course later connect your solution to solving that problem.
Promote your webinar
Use your marketing channels to promote your webinar. Think of your newsletter and social media accounts as the more traditional channels. Don't hesitate to ask people to spread the word about your webinar in communities you're a part of. Finally, we have seen mixed results with using ads, but they can work for your business. So if you have the budget, try it out.
Optimize the registration process
Make the registration process simple and quick. Only collect important information to reduce friction and increase sign-ups. We generally recommend people to only ask for name and email address. Tools like Clearbit make it incredibly easy today to enrich your data, without hurting your conversion rate.
A great webinar platform like Contrast will offer branded and high-converting registration pages out of the box.
Partner with influencers, industry leaders, or organizations to co-host webinars. You'll benefit from their network and later on you can share the leads.
Create interaction and engagement
Engagement is what makes and breaks a webinar. Without it, people will drop off before the end and they will feel they didn't get value out of the webinar. You should of course use Q&A, Polls and other engagement feature to make sure your audience is engaged until the end. Choosing the right webinar platform helps you do that.
Use a strong call-to-action (CTA)
Tell your audience what you want them to do next. Don't worry about being too direct, you just gave them valuable information, for free.
- Sign up to our newsletter
- Book a demo
- Create a free account
Follow up immediately
Always follow up with the people that registered to your webinar. Here are Contrast, we like to make the distinction between people that watched it or not. People that watched it, we'll send a thank you and a follow up with a clear CTA. The ones that didn't have time yet, we send them the replay of the event. As soon as they watched it, we'll also email them with the CTA.
Webinars to build thought-leadership
You and your company are likely experts in a certain domain and it is your job to educate potential customers in that domain. Webinars are a great format for doing that, because you can reach lots of people in a cost-efficient way. The added benefit is that you have a real opportunity to showcase authenticity by showing the people behind your brand.
This is why we always recommend to have a webinar series with the purpose of building thought-leadership. What we found out is that they typically tend to work for lead-generation as well. We don't know exactly why, but we think it has to do with a more natural way of presenting that feels like sales-y.
What's a webinar series?
A webinar series is a series of multiple webinars around a single topic. They are often organized on a schedule, of let's say a webinar each week. There's no right or wrong about how many webinars there should be in a series. But we believe 4 is a great number to start with and it can go up to 12 episodes.
Alright, now we got that out of the way. Let's dive into all the different ideas we have for you to organize your next webinar.
Product announcement webinars
Who doesn't remember Steve Jobs pulling the iPhone out of his pocket during the Apple Keynote? Well that could be you. Lots of people use webinars to announce a new product to thousands of people across the globe all at once. Webinars make it incredibly easy to do this without the cost of a physical event.
Another benefit is that it's far easier to reach a larger audience than you would normally would with an in-person event.
Product demo webinar
Be careful with this one, as it very will quickly will turn too much into a sales pitch. When you host product demo webinars, make sure to show how to solve certain problems with your software, rather than showing every single feature of the product.
Like with product announcement webinars, the benefit of these is that you can reach many people across the globe in different timezones. You don't have to visit everyone's office personally, saving you lots of time and money.
Product onboarding webinar
Lots of people today use product onboarding webinars to make their new customers familiar with their product. And it makes sense, because you organizing a webinar vs. a meeting gives the benefit that you can onboard multiple people at once, instead of the one-by-one approach. That saves you a lot of time!
But more importantly, using webinars instead of let's say documentation, can show the people behind your brand and creates that personal relationships. Research shows that this will ultimately lead to higher retention.
These are quite similar in their nature to product onboarding webinars, with similar benefits. Here at Contrast, we use internal and also external training webinars.
What is a co-hosted webinar? Very simply put, it's a webinar that you host with another company. The benefit of that is that, if done correctly, you'll end up with twice the number of leads you normally would. But you can also think of other benefits, such as creating extra trust. Especially if you're a small company that's hosting a webinar with a more reputable business in your industry.
Panel discussion webinars
These are a great form of thought-leadership webinars. The benefit is that they're quite easy to host as well, as you can simply let the conversation flow around a couple of key points or questions from the audience.
Here's an article from us that explains you how to moderate a panel discussion.
A Q&A webinar is where the content is purely created by registrants. It's important you ask your registrants to submit questions upfront, so that you can prepare a little.
It's one of the webinar format that truly lends itself for authenticity and audience interaction. We're a fan!
How to run a Q&A webinar? We got you covered.
Ask me anything webinar
We actually hosted one ourselves. You can view it here.
Make sure you have someone somewhat famous or known in your industry! This is the key to doing an ask me anything webinar. This person needs to be interesting enough for your target audience so that they will send in their questions before hand. During the webinar you'll then answer their questions. This often creates a lot of engagement and delivers real value to your audience.
Having a person like this is likely to attract a larger audience than you normally would. And associating a person like that with your brand is great for building trust with your target audience.
These are difficult to organize. Because what often ends up happening is that it reminds us about those old days back in university. That's right, a lecture. Of course there's lots of use cases where you'll find that education your audience works better doing it the traditional way, so if that's you, go for it!
How to choose the best webinar format
As with everything in life, it depends. It's important you firstly decide why you're running webinars. Is it to generate leads, or simply to build brand authority in your industry? Or maybe it's both. That's possible too.
You'll find that if for example, you're looking to generate leads with your webinars that metrics like number of registrations become an important metric to look at. Especially over time you'll want to increase these.
With thought-leadership webinars, it's also important to look at registration but even more so at the engagement during your webinars. Engagement is a sign if people are getting value out of your webinar and thus will better resonate with your brand.
Test different webinar ideas to find out what works best for you
Remember we told you about carefully choosing a topic that resonates with your target audience? Well, the same applies to the type of webinar of webinar you run. Today, people expect to be entertained. They expect that you're innovate and don't simply show a PowerPoint deck. So be creative, use one format, combine it with another. Get crazy and find out what works best for your brand.