Devin Cleary is the VP of Global Events at Bizzabo, the world's fastest-growing event technology platform for hybrid, virtual and in-person events. Devin is a passionate, results-driven event producer and marketing executive with experience leading the creation and active management of diverse experiential marketing programs for B2B, nonprofit and consumer markets.
When successfully executed, webinars contribute significantly to demand generation efforts and offer a valuable experience for the audience. More than half of marketers cite webinars as generating the most qualified leads of any content format they use. But to maximize a webinar’s impact on the marketing funnel, event professionals must treat webinars as true events with the same attention to planning, goal-setting and follow-up given to other events.
According to an analysis of business events hosted with Bizzabo’s Event Experience OS, 18% of events are webinars, and 25% of Bizzabo customers run webinars. Typically less than two hours long, webinars have a more specific focus than multi-session events or virtual conferences. They’re typically free for participants to attend and serve to educate and engage attendees. Webinars have many use cases, including speaker series, presentations, interviews, customer success webinars, lead generation webinars and AMAs (ask me anything) sessions.
Webinars need to deliver on the promises made during registration. Often, the team decides to take a new direction or approach after registration opens, resulting in these all-too-common scenarios:
We’ve seen an emphasis on attendee experience during virtual events these last two-plus years, and that attention must transfer to the webinar experience. Here are six guidelines for planning effective, memorable webinars.
During planning, determine your target audience. Which personas do they represent? Understanding your audience’s motivations for attending will enable your team to align messaging with attendee goals and interests and build stakeholder buy-in. The better event professionals understand their attendees, the better they can cater their event, registration and follow-ups.
To determine webinar success, outline key performance indicators (KPIs) and goals using the SMART and CLEAR guidelines, tying each goal to specific success metrics. If KPIs feel constraining, consider objectives and key results (OKRs). Developing practical and measurable goals will reveal whether you’ve delivered on your promises and satisfied attendee and stakeholder expectations.
A run of show is crucial to account for every minute of a webinar, as dead air will kill momentum. Share an agenda on the webinar’s event page, no matter the webinar’s length, so attendees can plan accordingly. Include all aspects of your event, including activities like mindfulness breaks or Q&As. Additionally, a detailed FAQ ensures attendees know what they can expect during the webinar.
Webinars must strike a balance between information and engagement. Too much engagement will distract from the goals of the webinar, whereas too much information can lead to a bored audience. To achieve that balance, try incorporating interactive elements like polls, reactions, chat features and live Q&A sessions. These elements allow attendees to engage at their own pace. Planning a longer webinar? Add in breakouts or networking sessions to liven things up.
Webinar data not only reveals success but will also inform and improve your future webinars. Your event management software should enable you to measure and track success with metrics. Valuable metrics to analyze include page views, total engagement, registrants, registration-to-attendance rates, click-through rates and retention. Pair these insights with post-event surveys for a mix of qualitative and quantitative feedback.
Diversity and accessibility must play a role in webinar strategy to deliver an inclusive experience. Webinar speakers should be as diverse as your audience. Ensure your webinar software allows attendees to set their pronouns and name pronunciation details and share accessibility needs during the registration process. Consider offering live sign language during the event and subtitles for on-demand content. And while most webinars are free, consider pricing tiers or scholarships if necessary to be inclusive of various socioeconomic needs.
Webinars are one of the most impactful and affordable event marketing vehicles. Yet they still require mindful planning to execute successfully. With the proper preparation, event organizers can host impactful webinars for attendees.
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