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How to do webinars right

This blog is meant for people in the analytical equipment business, so I will discuss common webinar mistakes I see in this industry and how to do it right.

If you want to understand why you should do webinars, plenty of blog articles address the reasons. Here are some examples:

For general good practices, tips, and trends, I recommend The Webinar Blog by Ken Molay.

The term webinar became common in early 2000. When I started presenting webinars regularly in 2019, I didn’t see many competitors running webinars. Then the pandemic happened. As all conferences and tradeshows were canceled, everyone started running online events, mostly in a webinar format. In 2020, 67% of marketers increased their investment in webinars.

I jumped on the webinar bandwagon, too, and have presented and hosted more than thirty webinars since. I made mistakes. I saw others make mistakes. Here are the lessons I learned, and I hope this article will help you avoid making these mistakes and do it right.

What does “doing webinars right” mean?

When using webinars as a marketing tool in the analytical equipment business, doing it right means your webinars are:

  • Part of inbound marketing and provided for free
  • Attracting the right audience (your potential customers)
  • Promoted to the right audience (your potential customers)
  • Growing your contact list
  • Educational
  • Clear and easy to understand
  • Engaging

Now let’s see how we tend to do these things wrong and how to do them right.

Webinars are part of inbound marketing and are provided for free

I’ve seen companies charging people for webinars. That kills their conversion rate right away.

Remember why you are doing webinars. You are not doing them to generate revenue. You are doing them to attract potential customers and make them start their buyer’s journey with your brand. So, webinars should be free and easy to register for.

To make it easy to register, you need to:

  • Keep the registration form short (The longer form correlates with a lower conversion rate. In most cases, you need just the first name and email address.)
  • Have the registration form towards the top of the landing page, ideally above the fold.
  • State the title of the webinar, date and time, timezone, and presenters clearly on the landing page and provide a summary of the webinar and about three bullet points about what people will learn in the webinar.
  • State that the recording will be available and explain how people can access it.
  • Make sure people who heard about your webinar can find it by Google search

I heard about a good webinar from my colleague the other day. Then I went on Google to find it and register. You wouldn’t believe how impossible it was. Anyway, I finally found the landing page listing the date and time but not the timezone or a registration form. It said, “registration coming soon.”

Don’t make people figure out your physical location and time zone. Don’t make people set an outlook reminder to check on the progress of your registration page. They won’t do it. They will just not register for your webinar if you make them work for it.

Make it easy to register. That’s the least you can do when asking people to sit and listen to you for an hour.

Webinars are attracting the right audience

In other words, don’t do webinars about something YOU think is interesting. Think hard about what your potential customers want to learn and the questions they often ask. Examples in the analytical equipment business include:

  • What is X-ray computed tomography?
  • Drug identification using Raman spectroscopy
  • How to prepare biological samples for SEM
  • How to analyze trace constituents in Li-ion battery electrolyte solutions using ICP-OES
  • Introduction to FIB/SEM – How it works and common applications

You can do webinars about your product or new technology. But don’t try to disguise them as purely educational and non-sales webinars. Make it clear that the webinar is about new product introduction, for example. Good for you if you can still attract an audience while being open about it.

What you want to avoid is making it look like an educational webinar, making people register, and giving a sales pitch when they show up. It makes people feel disappointed at best and cheated at worst.

Webinars are promoted to the right audience

People are not going to show up just because you built a webinar. You need to promote it. There are many ways to promote your webinar.

But first thing first. To make any promotion work, you need a good landing page. You might think it’s just a landing page, but you can do it wrong. Go through the “make it easy to register” checklist mentioned in the previous section.

With a solid landing page, you can start promoting your webinar.

Send an email invitation to your relevant contact list. (I hope you have an email list. If you don’t, you need to start building one.) Here are a few tips on email invitations:

  • Make sure you send the invitation emails legally.
  • Send the first invitation two to three weeks before the event to give people plenty of time to plan.
  • Send two to three invitations as you get closer to the event because many people dismiss the first invitation. Make sure not to send the invitation to people who have already registered.
  • Send the email from a real person instead of something like If you have a popular presenter or thought leader at your company, use their name.
  • State the title of the webinar, date and time, timezone, and presenters clearly in the email and provide a summary of the webinar and about three bullet points about what people will learn in the webinar.
  • Put a link to the registration page at the top, middle, and end of the email so people can click it the second they decide to register. Don’t make them scroll up and down looking for it.
  • Encourage people to register even if they will miss the live event so that they will know when a recording becomes available.

Once people register, don’t forget:

  • Send a confirmation email with a webinar and add-to-calendar links.
  • Send a reminder email as you get closer to the event, one day and one hour before, for example.
  • Send a follow-up email for attendees and absentees, preferably different messages, after the webinar to thank them, give them links to a recording and other resources, invite them to connect with the presenters, and recommend future webinars.

An email campaign has been the most effective promotion channel for me, but it is not the only one. You can promote it on social media. Choose the channel your target audience hangs around. The general rules of social media promotion are:

  • State the webinar’s title, date and time, timezone, and presenters clearly in the post.
  • Tag presenters, hosts, panelists, etc., so they can react to and reshare your post.
  • Have simple and clear instructions on how to find more information and register for the event.

One thing to note about using social media is you need to build your presence and have followers to make it effective. If you have only 300 connections and post once every three months on LinkedIn, for example, your post about your next webinar will not get much traction.

Think about where your audience gathers or goes to look for information. Conferences, industry news sites, online forums, etc., can be good places to promote your webinars.

Webinars grow your contact list

People who register for your webinar are not leads. They are merely showing interest in learning something about the technology you sell. They didn’t register because they are funded and ready to buy. So don’t have your salespeople call them.

However, there is a good chance these people will consider buying your product in the future. So you want to keep in touch or stay on top of their mind. By this, I mean you need to make sure people will opt-in for marketing communications when registering for your webinar so that you can send them invitations for the next webinar, links to new blog articles, etc., in the future.

This is how you can grow your list and invite more people to your webinars, which will grow your list, ultimately growing your inbound marketing reach.

Webinars are educational

I went to our competitor’s webinar a couple of years ago. They remain nameless because shaming them is not my intention. But I intend to paint a clear picture of bad webinar practices using this true story.

The webinar title suggested I would learn how an AI algorithm was used for scientific image analysis. I was interested in the topic and joined the webinar to learn more about it. The webinar started on time, which turned out to be the only good part of the webinar.

The host started talking about the company, its history, and all the typical brand promotion, which is just annoying chest-beating to the audience. I didn’t come here to listen to this. He went on and on for good seven minutes.

Then he moved on to running polling for “engagement,” I suppose. But the polling question was about how old their company was. I don’t care. Please.

It took more than fifteen minutes before the speaker started talking about AI algorithms. Then the host kept interrupting the speaker to ask questions to make the discussion all about how great their products are.

It was one of the worst webinars I’ve ever attended. I was disappointed because I felt like I had just wasted 60 minutes of my life. I was annoyed because they promoted the webinar as something educational and tricked me into listening to their sales pitch.

But here is the worst part. The small part of the webinar that was educational lost credibility. It was a promotional presentation. How would I know their opinions are not biased?

Don’t be like them. Instead, do this:

  • Don’t talk about your company. Most attendees probably know what you do already. If not, they can go to your website and learn.
  • Don’t talk about the host, speaker, etc., unless they are invited speakers from outside your company.
  • Keep your introduction within two minutes.
  • Try very hard to stay brand neutral and keep your content educational.
  • You can promote your brand and products. But keep the ratio more than 95% educational and less than 5% promotional.

Webinars are clear and easy to understand

People love to learn. We all love to learn something new, understand how something works, and feel “Ah ha!” But we are also lazy. We don’t want to strain our brains and work hard to get to that “Ah ha!”

A clear and easy-to-understand presentation gives constant bursts of “Ah ha!” moments without making the audience think too hard. It makes them feel good. I believe all presentations should be this way, regardless of the topic.

How to give a clear and easy-to-understand presentation is a topic for another article. But here are the resources I recommend:

Webinars are engaging

A content therapist, Liz Murphy, said, “People have an attention span of a concussed goldfish.” She might have meant it to be a joke, but this is not far from reality. Studies show that our attention span is eight seconds and goldfish nine seconds.

When was the last time you paid full 60-minutes-attention to a webinar or any web presentation? Do you usually check emails, answer Teams messages, or Google something during webinars? I do.

Your webinar needs to be interesting and engaging to keep people’s attention. Don’t confuse engagement with interaction. You need engagement.

Always remember that there are real people on the other end, make them feel acknowledged, and remind them of the presence of the other participants. You can do this by:

  • Asking questions. You can ask a rhetorical question and answer it as a style of speech. Or you can ask the audience a question and pause to let them think about it. When people hear a question, they can’t help but pay attention, try to answer the question, and want to know the answer you will give. You can format your entire presentation in a series of ask-a-question-then-answer-it sections. I find this very effective.
  • Running polling. But do this with the intent to engage, not interact, and keep it relevant. We often ask technical questions relevant to the webinar topic. Our audience said they made them feel they have to pay attention to get them right.
  • Giving the audience a chance to ask questions multiple times throughout the webinar. Don’t save it to the end.

Here are resources I recommend on how to keep the audience engaged:

If you are to take away one thing from this article, I’d say, “Keep improving.” Keep looking for friction to eliminate, barriers to remove, better ways to speak, better slides to create, and values to add. Then, you will start building your audience.

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