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I first heard about webinars a few years ago as a way for marketers and sales teams to convert Web traffic and social media connections into sales leads.

I naively jumped right in to see how webinars can help build my business.

Unfortunately, the first time I hosted a webinar, or attempted to, two people showed up. Needless to say, I was less than excited.

I actually managed to get about 100 people to attend the second webinar I hosted. However, not a single person hired me at the end of the webinar.

We've all been there. At some point, we've all asked "What if I host a webinar and no one shows up?" And we've all hosted webinars that generated an underwhelming number of sales.

In the three years since I hosted my first webinar, I've worked relentlessly to improve my attendance and conversion percentage.

I've boiled the winning formula down to a five-step process:

  1. Be credible.
  2. Create an interesting topic.
  3. Create great content.
  4. Send out an offer page.
  5. Follow up with an email sequence.

Here's the breakdown.

1. Be credible

When you ask someone to sign up for a webinar, you are asking for an hour of her day. Even if the webinar is free, that one hour could be quite expensive.

You are asking a lawyer, for example, to give up a billable hour that could be worth $300. Or you might be asking a marketer to stop generating leads for that hour, or a busy executive to give up a precious hour with her children.

The best way to get people to attend your webinar is to prove that you provide sufficient value in return for their time.

If you are new to content marketing, blogging, or social media—or you don't have a clearly defined marketing process in place—gaining credibility with your target will take about 6-8 weeks (depending on the audience).

Start by creating an email list using an e-book or whitepaper as "bait." That will give your audience members a sampling of what type of information they can expect from you. Once you've created the e-book, start blogging consistently. Doing so will prove to your audience that you know what you are talking about.

2. Create an interesting topic

Many marketers think of webinars as infomercials. They create webinars around their product or service, and not around the problems and needs of their intended audience.

For instance, if your product is accounting software, your webinar could be titled "Five Ways to Increase Your Company's Profitability." That is much more likely to excite your audience than a title such as "How Our Software Can Benefit Your Business."

3. Create great content

I know that the phrase "create great content" is a bit clichéd in the online marketing world, but I've developed a process that has worked for me and might work for you, too.

First, introduce the problem that members of your audience are experiencing, and really spell it out for them. In the "Five Ways to Increase Your Company's Profitability" webinar, for example, discuss how low profitability kills company growth and limits their ability to create new products and services. Really drive home that pain point.

After the audience understands your point, introduce the solution to the problem: the "Five Tips" or "How-to" section of the webinar.

To keep the interest of the audience, load your webinar with case studies that demonstrate how other people are succeeding with your solution. Doing so will allow those in the audience to visualize how their lives can be improved.

Finally, at the end of the webinar, spend about 7-10 minutes making a pitch. You have just convinced audience members that they have a problem; they understand what their lives will be like once that problem is solved; and they even have some idea of how that problem can be solved.

Now, you need to explain that they will see drastic, positive results after applying your product or service to their problem.

4. Send out a landing page after the pitch

Most webinars I attend show a link on a slide for the audience to use to sign up for the offer. If your webinar is good, that technique will generate sales.

However, if you have audience members who are unable to type in your link at that time, you may have lost them forever. So, immediately after your webinar, email that link to all attendees.

That may seem trivial, but every time we send that email, we increase our conversions 10-20%.

5. Send follow-up emails

In the days and weeks following your webinar, keep in touch with everyone on your list. When you write a new blog post, shoot them an email. Or, if you write a new whitepaper, share it with them. Doing so will ensure that when you host your next webinar, you won't be starting from scratch.

Continue reading "A Five-Step Process for Hosting a Webinar That Generates Sales" ... Read the full article

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Greg Digneo is author of the blog SalesLeadsinThirtyDays.com, where he writes about how to use blogs, public relations, and direct marketing to generate sales leads within 30 days. Reach him via GregDigneo@gmail.com.