Web-based seminars, or webinars, is one of the marketing strategies that you can use for your small business. Like many big businesses that use this marketing strategy, webinars can be used to conduct presentations, host online conferences or seminars, and promote a product or simply to maintain close relationships with existing clients.
Benefits of Webinars
Webinars offer a number of benefits to small businesses. It can be an effective tool to capture leads and generate sales for your business. Through webinars, you can get people to know more about your business, especially if your webinar is geared towards discussing your new products.
You can also use webinars to provide information or discuss topics of which you are an expert, thus helping establish your business as a thought leader in the field. It can help build your reputation as the “go-to person” in your industry. Webinars can even be a profit machine for you: if your webinar is focused on a hot industry topic or strives to answer important questions, you can even charge attendees or offer recorded downloads for sale.
According to the Institute of Management Consultants, webinars provide 10 key benefits for businesses:
- Short Lead Time – A webinar can be up and running in 4-6 weeks. Logistics are not complicated and you don’t need to plan months in advance.
- Run webinars with small numbers or large numbers – You don’t need to worry about minimum number of attendees; meeting venues; catering; or parking.
- Build loyalty with existing clients/customers – It’s an easy, low-cost leveraged way to add value and maintain your relationship.
- Conduct market research – Prior to the webinar survey the participants to identify their concerns, issues and challenges about the topic. This information provides invaluable research for your business.
- Create instant products through recordings – Many webinar services have a recording function built in. Use the recording to turn it into a product such as a DVD, video podcast or on-line video.
- Invite prospects to attend – It’s a low-cost way to give them an experience of you before they “buy” you.
- No geographical boundaries – You are not limited to your city, state or country. Because of the global possibilities you can reach people beyond your borders.
- Provide product support – Use webinars to answer customer questions, explain how they can use the product more effectively, and get feedback for future enhancements.
- Expose attendees to guest experts – You do not need to be the speaker of all your webinars. Invite a guest presenter to share the stage. Same market, but with a different area of expertise.
- Give people more access to you – A webinar is an inexpensive way to interact with many people at the same time, while still offering value.
Webinar Sales Funnel
Webinars can be used to move the right customers from prospects into loyal customers. It is one thing to find people who may be interested in your business or products; but an entirely different process to turn these people into paying (and even loyal) customers. Marketo has produced an informative graphic that depicts how a sales funnel for webinars may look like:
The webinar above is intended to increase awareness and inform about a new product. It identifies the steps involved to shepherding the prospect into the sales process. The sales funnel follows the shape of an inverted pyramid as it starts with a wide net (e.g. the marketing the webinar) and then narrowing down to capture interested users willing to do product demos, with the final goal to turning them into paying customers.
The top of the funnel is the number of reach based on how you market your webinar. You can get the word out about the webinar through:
- Your website (or network of sites) by leveraging your homepage and creating a killer landing page
- Blog posts or articles
- Your existing email list
- Followers and fans in social media
- Links from webinar directories
- News or third party site mentions
- Advertisement in third party sites, search engines and social media
- Get the help of your presenters or co-host in marketing your webinar
- Partner with other businesses who also reach the same target audience
- Create related visual aids such as infographics
- Mention the webinar in your podcast
- Create promotional videos about your webinar
- Use flyers, especially if your target audience is local
- Sign up for event listings by local newspapers, websites or blogs that offer free event calendars
The funnel narrows down to your webinar sign-ups and followed by webinar attendance. Note, however, that marketing through webinars does not stop after the conduct of the webinar. It is crucial to follow up with participants by asking them to take the next step – in this case, attend the product demo – and eventually to your final goal of winning the customer.
Tips to Increase Effectiveness of Webinars
Webinars are extremely powerful for drawing in and keeping in touch with prospects. But there are a number of things you can do to increase the effectiveness of webinars as a marketing tool for your business. Forbes.com in their article 5 Killer Tips for Marketing with Webinars in 2015 suggests the following:
• Remember it’s about them = focus on offering your audience genuine value
• Leverage alliances = consider partnering and co-presenting with someone whose brand complements your or who caters to a similar audience
• Find the right platform = webinar platform should make it easy for participants to register and join, offering multiple ways to join in such as through a phone call or a smartphone app
• Give yourself lead time = make sure you give enough notice and allocate time for pre-webinar promotion
• Reward RSVPs = sweeten the deal of joining the webinar through extras like special offers, related eBooks, transcripts, replays on demand, etc.
Hubspot.com’s article “10 Things That Take a Webinar from Good to Great” builds on the above recommendations:
- Interact with your audience before the webinar = get your audience excited by writing blog posts promoting it, tweeting about it or asking for questions prior to the event
- Create a kick-ass deck = slide deck must be visually appealing preferably with image-heavy slides
- Use a hashtag dedicated to the webinar
- Have one or more awesome speakers
- Use speaker and company Twitter handles
- Have at least one host or moderator = to help liven the conversation
- Try out various types of media.
- Perform a thorough sound check.
- Take other time zones into consideration.
- Find a quiet place to talk.
Your webinar can be one of the most effective tools in drawing in prospective customers. However, it is important to plan precisely how you are going to move these prospects into loyal customers. Before you launch a webinar, set up a plan that clarifies your goals, and provides the specific activities you will run to hit your goals.