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How to Use Webinars to Stay Resilient During COVID-19

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How to Use Webinars to Stay Resilient During COVID-19

Many of our clients plan to attend events like conferences and summits, every year, as part of their marketing pipeline goals. In addition to that, many of them plan networking gatherings and cocktail parties during the conference as an extra way to network and get meetings.

With COVID-19 and social distancing, none of that is going to happen for the foreseeable future. For many of our clients, they’ve already invested significantly in the planning of these events and can’t afford to just throw out that investment.

The good news is, you don’t have to!

In addition to pivoting to some digital marketing tactics to fill your new pipeline gaps, you can adapt to virtual events or webinars that can be just as effective as the events you were planning to attend. That’s what we’ll discuss today. For those of you who are starting from the beginning with digital events like webinars, we have some pointers here for you as well.

By the end of this article, you’ll know everything you need to know about repurposing your in-person event or creating an event from scratch, as well as where to host it and get the most out of your webinars.

Where to Host Virtual Events or Webinars

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There are numerous video conference and software platforms for webinars available to help you host your virtual event. We’ve prepared a breakdown of some of the most popular virtual meeting platforms in the chart below based on their features.

GoToWebinar WebinarJam Zoom Webinars Join.me Zoho Meeting Livestorm Demio
Price (per year) $588-$4788 $499-$999 $149 $120 – $360 $180-$756 $1,188 $408 – $1956
Participants up to 3000 up to 5000 up to 1000 up to 250 up to 250 up to $1000 up to $500
Alerts Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes
Custom Branding Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Event Management Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes
Live Chat Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Multi-hosts Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
On-Demand Webinars Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes
Polls/Voting Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Q & A Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Reporting/Analytics Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes
Screen Sharing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Social Promotion Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes

For smaller meetings, you skip the big investment and use Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Skype.

Repurpose Assets from Your Cancelled Event

There’s no need to throw away the assets that you’ve created for your big event. If you’ve prepared a powerpoint slide deck to share at your event, you can just as easily use it during a webinar. But what about your other event assets? Here are some suggestions.

*Note: If you don’t have any assets for an event and are starting out from scratch, you can skip to the next section of this post.

  • Live Presentation
    Again, you can easily do this via webinar. However, we highly recommend creating a slide deck to go along with your presentation to make it more engaging.
  • Booth Collateral
    Any documentation you created for your booth can be repurposed as part of your webinar slides or as a downloadable asset available to folks who attend and stay for the whole presentation.
  • Explainer Videos
    An explainer video could be added to the beginning of your virtual event as a kind of introduction, or it could be added to your webinar registration landing page as sort of a preview for the virtual event depending on how relevant it is.
  • Booth Graphics
    Reuse the visual styles for your webinar slides and registration landing page. Or, repurpose as an infographic supplement for webinar attendees to download.
  • Booth Swag
    Collect mailing addresses from your webinar attendees and send your swag to them in the mail as a thank you for attending! Again, promise it as an added bonus for those who attend and stay through to the end.

Best Practices For Webinars

If you don’t have assets from an in-person event and are starting from scratch, we recommend creating a slide deck to use while you’re speaking as opposed to just talking to the camera.

Webinars that feature a visual in addition to the presenter are more effective and engaging because they offer attendees multiple points of focus. If you’re not a great public speaker, slides can serve as notes to guide your conversation and keep you on topic.

PowerPoint is the industry leader for slide presentations and you can use it via Office365 for your business starting at $8.25 per month. At Interrupt Media, we use Google Slides as Google Drive is our main source of communications software.

Some other alternatives include Microsoft Sway, Canva, Zoho Show, and Adobe Spark.

How-to-Use-Webinars-During-COVID-19-2

When creating slide decks for webinars, you want to use a proven methodology for your slide deck to make sure you get the best results from it. Here are some tips you can employ to make sure your presentation is as effective as possible.

  1. Start with an introduction to yourself and the presentation.
  2. Identify the problem you’ll be addressing in the webinar.
  3. Detail the problem with proof: statistics, quotes, etc.
  4. Present your solution(s) in detail.
  5. Quote testimonials from those who’ve implemented these solutions.
  6. Introduce your offer.
  7. Give a CTA (call to action).

How to Promote Webinars

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One of the first things you should do is ask the host of your cancelled event if they will share the list of sponsors and attendees. If the event host agrees to it, invite these folks to your virtual event through an email campaign. We’ll touch on that a bit more as well as some other tactics for promoting your event.

  1. Create a registration landing page
    People need a place to sign up to attend your webinar. Could you just send them the link in an email? Sure, but strategically, you want to know who is interested in attending the meeting so you can be sure to re-target them after, especially if they no-show.In addition, you can use your marketing automation software (if you have one) to set up triggers for the registration form that will send them reminders about the webinar.
  2. Run paid ads on Facebook and/or Linkedin
    If your budget allows, we recommend running paid ads for your webinar. Be sure to be very clear about the topic of the webinar so that it attracts the right people. You may need to tweak the add multiple times if it’s not performing well.It’s also helpful to perform some keyword research via Google Keyword Planner to understand what keywords people are using to look for similar content so that you can maximize the efficacy of your ads.
  3. Create an email campaign to send to your contacts (INCLUDE FOLLOW UP!)
    Another critical component to a successful virtual event is a 4-5 email sequence to promote the event. You’ll want to spread out the emails so you aren’t bombarding your contacts. In each email, speak to why the person should attend the event and what they will get out of it.Be sure your sequence includes follow up for both attendees and no-shows. For anyone on the fence, this could mean the difference between a lost opportunity and a gained opportunity. Don’t just let your leads slip away!You can also send a link to watch a replay of the webinar and/or use software like SlideShare to create an easily shareable version of your slides.

Tips to Boost Attendance and Conversion for Webinars

Getting the most out of your webinar is something we’ve talked about before. It’s a big part of our business and we always want our clients to get the best ROI for their webinars. Here are several ways you can maximize effectiveness for your webinars.

  1. Break the ice!
    Try to get early arrivals to introduce themselves and mention where they’re from. The goal here is to launch a conversation with folks before everything gets started. This creates a tribe-like feeling and a friendlier vibe for your event. It’s also important for the host to introduce him/herself and give a brief background.
  2. Use an engaging tone.
    Again, if you’re a great public speaker, this may not be an issue for you. But if you’re not, you want to make sure you’re not just reading from note cards in a monotone voice. Speak as you would in a conversation, with appropriate inflection and tone.
  3. Make it a discussion.
    Depending on the size of your audience, you could invite attendees to join in the conversation to keep them engaged. We don’t recommend having everyone talk at once, but most webinar software include a feature to unmute attendees one at a time if they’ve expressed an interest in speaking in the chat, or if they’ve pressed the “raise your hand” button.
  4. Take a poll.
    Another alternative is to take a poll. Introducing a poll gets people engaged and gives them a chance to feel like they’re part of the conversation by submitting their own opinions and feelings on a topic.
  5. Have breakout groups.
    For larger events, you can have breakout groups at the end of a presentation similar to how you would at a larger event. You’ll want to make sure to have separate chat rooms available that they can go to for their breakout group. This requires a little planning ahead of time.
  6. Send a pre-webinar questionnaire.
    Another great option is to send registrants a survey a few days before the event and ask them what they’re most interested in hearing about. This is a sure-fire way to boost turnout if they know they’re going to get exactly what they want from the webinar.
  7. Add some entertainment!
    If your event was supposed to be more of a happy hour, consider adding some entertainment. You could hire a comedian or play a game like trivia. Keeping it topical is a great way to keep everyone engaged and focused on the subject matter.
  8. Send a meal or a drink.
    If your event was supposed to include food or cocktails, you might consider shipping a single serve wine or arranging for delivery of food that they can bring to the event to keep it fun and as close to the real thing as possible. DoorDash, Uber Eats, or Postmates are a great option to deliver food that they can enjoy during the presentation.
  9. Have a raffle (at the end of the webinar).
    The best way to get people to show up and stick around for an entire virtual event is by incentivizing them with something that happens at the end of the webinar. You should plan to have a freebie or content-upgrade for everyone who attends and stays for the whole webinar, but you should also include a drawing for a larger prize.
  10. Don’t mention your product/service until the end.
    Webinars should be informative and add value. You don’t want to make this a mass sales presentation. If you’re going to use sales language at all, wait until the end to do it.
  11. Send reminders.
    One really easy thing to do is to plan reminder emails in your automation software. We suggest three: one week before, one day before, and one hour before. This decreases the likelihood of no-shows based on simply forgetting about the webinar.
  12. Use scarcity in your promotion.
    In your emails and in your ads, you want to say something to the effect of a “limited seating” or “limited availability” for registrations so people feel a sense of urgency to attend.
  13. Follow up!
    Our last tip, and this is a big one- make sure to follow up with your attendees within 24-48 hours after the event. This maximizes the likelihood of conversions for those folks who are on the fence.

Need help getting started? We’ve got your back!

We’ve developed a digital marketing resource center on our website to help businesses who are transitioning to digital marketing practices.

While many businesses are just trying to find a way to stay afloat during this uncertain time, we want to provide solutions that will help now, as well as down the road. Digital marketing can be a dependable solution for you now as well a path to sustainability in the long run.

If you need assistance with implementing a virtual event strategy, we can help. Development, planning, and promotion of webinars are just one part of what we do as a digital marketing agency.

If we can be a resource for you, please contact us.

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