So you've been asked to run your first webinar but don't know anything about hosting webinars or lead generation. Don't stress - I've got you covered. 

This beginners guide to webinars outlines the basic components of a webinar, explains how to set your lead generation goals, and offers tips on how to increase engagement levels with your audience (and collect some interesting data at the same time!).   

I've included links to checklists, how-to guides, and in-depth resources that will walk you through the most complicated aspects of running your first webinars, so you'll want to click those links.

Preparing For Your First Webinar

The first step with any webinar or virtual event is to set clear goals and KPIs. This will help you be an effective decision-maker throughout the webinar creation process and allow you to run a successful event. 

You will also want to conduct some basic SEO research around your topic to ensure your event is titled in a Google-friendly way

There are six components that make up your first webinar experience:

  1. Webinar platform - This is the software you'll use to host your event. Learn how to find the right webinar platform for your first webinar here.
  2. Webinar script - Your presenters will use your webinar script to stay on topic during a live event, or they can read from it verbatim while pre-recording if you have opted for a simulive or on-demand webinar.
  3. Webinar slides - You will use presentation slides or other visual content to help communicate key points and facts from your content, this is often what plays on screen during the webinar. 
  4. Audience engagement opportunities - Webinars should engage your audience in two-way communication by using polling questions, Q&A sessions and other engagement tactics to help keep your audience captivated throughout the event. 
  5. Registration page - This is the landing page where people will provide you with their personal information to register for your webinar. 
  6. Promotion strategy - Implementing an integrated marketing strategy is crucial to maximizing your reach and achieving your lead generation goals for the webinar. 

For a step-by-step checklist on how to create your first webinar, click the link below for access to our public Trello board. 

Access Webinar Checklist

Generating Leads From Your First Webinar

Most webinars involve a lead generation goal or KPI, but not all marketing teams treat lead generation the same way.

Some webinar campaigns are created to target new audiences, while others can be used primarily for lead nurturing and conversion within the sales funnel.

It is important to understand whether you want to generate new leads or nurture existing leads when designing your event, so don't forget to have that conversation with your team before diving into your first webinar. You will also want to consider quality vs. quantity of leads when setting your goals.

Here's a quick breakdown of how your goal selection will impact the execution of your event:

Goal 1: Generate high-quality new leads 

  • Use a topic that appeals to your top funnel audience - this should not be a sales pitch disguised as a webinar. Focus on being helpful and positioning your brand as a thought-leader.
  • Keep registration steps simple to improve conversion rate - this could be the first time a lot of people are hearing about your company so you will want to make sure this page is optimized for conversion and is mobile friendly.
  • Consider "what's in it for me" as an audience member. Try to include guest speakers, free trials, insider advice, or something that is enticing enough to capture their attention and get them to register.
  • Make sure you're promoting your event outside of your existing audience.
  • Make it easy to attend. Choose a platform that doesn't require downloads, plugins, or other steps that cause friction for your audience to attend the event and don't forget to send email reminders out with links to add the event into their calendars.

Goal 2: Nurture existing prospects, leads, and MQLs 

  • Focus on mid-funnel topics. This still should not be a sales pitch, but you can incorporate the benefits of your product/service into the conversation since the audience is familiar with your brand.
  • Personalize the email communications, invitation confirmations, and overall experience as much as you can to help people feel valued.
  • Learn more about the challenges and preferences of your attendees by including strategic polling questions and lots of opportunities for people to submit their questions for the Q&A.
  • Don't forget to include an internal communication plan that informs your sales team about the event before it takes place, and identifies highly engaged leads and those most likely to convert after the webinar (you'll be able to identify these by reviewing the webinar data and analytics).

Increasing Engagement At Your First Webinar

There are three easy ways to increase engagement during your first webinar:

  1. Include a live Q&A session - be sure to give both verbal and visual prompts for people to submit their questions using the question function in your webinar platform.
  2. Ask thoughtful polling questions - polls can be used for engagement but also for data collection and lead prioritizing. I recommend sharing your poll results with the audience so they're more incentivized to participate.
  3. Provide exclusive content in your resource section - this is a great way to add value for attendees and get them to browse the resources you've included in the resource section (don't forget to include links to trials, product demos, etc. to encourage lead conversion).

Following these steps will help ensure that your audience has an enjoyable webinar experience and positive impression of your brand.

Whether you're a one-person marketing team handling the project start-to-finish or have a team in place to help you out, the most important thing is to set your goals and have a plan in place for your first webinar. I personally love a checklist to keep myself organized, but whatever use any organization strategy that works for you to help ensure your first webinar is a huge success.  

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