The best webinars put the building blocks of success in the right place at the right time — before, during, and after your virtual event.
Before the webinar, you need solid planning. During the virtual event, you need high production values. Afterward, you need follow-up that delivers business results.
After all, there’s no point producing a webinar where everybody bails out after five minutes or, worse yet, nobody shows up at all. You’ve got to devote time, energy and attention to a webinar. Why not focus on getting the best outcomes for yourself and your business?
These 11 webinar features represent the virtual conference best practices that will raise your odds of success in your next webinar.
Before the event
Whether your webinar is for marketing or training, it needs a clear goal, a specific topic and engaging content. Getting these fundamentals right is the biggest challenge — make sure you plan carefully.
Success in a virtual event requires these pre-production tools:
1. Easy registration forms and scheduling
Every webinar has a data-input form and a schedule. The registration form collects critical visitor data you’ll use for marketing and support. Scheduling tools ensure the webinar starts at a specific date and time.
Your webinar production software must make it easy for your team to create registration forms and to schedule the event.
2. Webcast mode
A webinar can be as small as a half-dozen managers meeting online to demo the features of a new software release. But sometimes you’ve got to go bigger, reaching out to hundreds or perhaps thousands.
A large audience requires webcast mode, which mutes visitors’ voices by default. Corporate meetings and virtual marketing events are the best candidates for webcasts.
3. Pre-recorded capability
There’s no rule that a webinar must be a live virtual event. Pre-recording a webinar helps avoid real-time glitches and lets you polish the production values. Moreover, your viewers can check out your webinar whenever it’s practical for them.
Best of both worlds: Record your live webinar and make it available to everybody afterwards.
If you don’t tell the world about your webinar, don’t be surprised if nobody shows up. You must promote your virtual event to people who will benefit from the content.
One of the best webinar promotion tools is a production platform that hosts the event and all of its supporting content.
During the event
A successful webinar has natural, intuitive flow that keeps the audience tuned in and helps guests tell their stories. During a virtual event, you need:
5. Multiple-presenter tools
Your presenters should be able to share their screens easily without worrying about something going wrong. You also want the ability to share your camera and draw on your screen.
And make sure each audience member has a virtual way to raise their hand and pose a question.
6. Engagement dashboard
You’ll want real-time insight on how many people are logged in and what they’re up to during your webinar. An engagement dashboard shows this visually with real-time graphics.
7. Polls and surveys
Successful webinar leaders often kick things off with a poll or survey to read the room. Put some thought into poll questions and use the results to get your discussion up and running. (Don’t read too much into the results, however. It’s not a scientific poll. It’s more like a virtual version of asking for a show of hands in a public meeting).
8. Event support
Webinar hosts should produce one themselves so they understand the full volume of things that have to go right — and how easy it is for things to go wrong. You may decide it makes more sense to invest in webinar production services and let professionals handle logistical details.
If you’re already overworked, think about enlisting a producer to help with surveys/polls, conduct technical dry runs and run a pre-webinar check to make sure you’re not missing anything.
After the event
The webinar isn’t over when the last visitor logs off. A well-done virtual event has long-lasting value:
9. Evergreen content
Make a transcript of the webinar and hand it over to your content team. With most of the words in front of them, writers can easily turn the transcript into blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers, product guides and other text-based marketing/educational collateral.
Take a cue from popular podcasters and edit two- to three-minute video highlights of the conversation for posts on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook groups.
10. Evaluation data
Analytics data from your webinar can tell you the point where people asked the most questions (the good news) and started logging off early (the bad news). You need all the measurement you can get for guidance on future webinars.
A high-quality webinar platform will show you what it takes to keep people engaged and avoid the boring bits that cause them to tune out.
11. Lead growth
This is the tricky part. The whole purpose of a webinar is to attract potential customers or to help out the ones you already have. Your webinar forms will give you email addresses. Your webinar data will offer clues to prospects’ behavior.
Just be smart about using this data for lead growth. Don’t overwhelm people with “Buy now before it’s too late!” pitches. Give them useful information that builds trust and makes them more apt to choose you over a competitor.
With webinars, it’s all about the ROI
Successfully producing a 30-minute webinar could easily require 300 minutes of planning and practice. If you’re investing that kind of time in a webinar, you have good reason to expect a strong return. Following our 11 best practices for virtual conferences gives you a better chance at making that happen.