10 smart ways of hosting your first webinar


When you are planning a webinar, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by everything that you can do with it. A smart way of hosting a webinar not only helps to channelize your efforts in the right direction but also helps you achieve your objective at the end of it.

But first, let me reiterate what is a Webinar:
Webinars are online seminars which allow you to connect with a wider audience. Most of them provide valuable information and rest are just bla..bla.

Personally, I think they are intended to be lead generation or branding ‘magnets’. To make this magnet effect here is a ‘smart’ approach especially when it’s your first webinar.

1: Choosing the Right Message and Time
No, it’s not about the title yet. What is it that you would like to educate/share with your audience? Who is it most relevant for? How soon do you want this message to be delivered? Defining all this should help you move towards finalizing your webinar goal. It would also define who is the right person to conduct your webinar and secondly, which is the right audience? Eg. I would like to organize a webinar to remove misconceptions around Cloud Computing or IoT for SMBs. This message will help in defining your theme while promoting on social channels as well. Even the title would be written to address the message.

2: Choosing the Right Tool
There are a host of tools available online viz. GoToWebinar, Google Hangouts, Cisco WebEx, Adobe Connect, Mega Meeting, and many more. The flexibility and feature list on each one of them can easily confuse the hell out of you. Remember – it’s not about choosing the cheapest one or the best rated one. Understand its utility from the perspective of your business. Just because a tool is free does not mean it is secure or allows downloading the webinar or allows more than your intended set of audience. The tool you choose should allow these minimum features:

  1. Minimum audience of 100
  2. Webinar recording/downloading
  3. Email automation
  4. Mobile support
  5. Analytics
  6. Network security

3: Choosing the Title
What’s the first thing that would draw people’s attention? Ofcourse, the title of your webinar. It is not only the most crucial step but also kind of simple (pun intended!). Here’s are some options while writing your title:

  1. Do I want to raise curiosity or incite some action?
  2. Do I want to share benefits by solving some problem?
  3. Do I want to make it educational and give content based clues/guides/freebies etc.?

Your choice will define the audience interaction you will get.

4: Promoting the Webinar
You need at least 3 weeks to promote your webinar on social media channels and also the maximum relevant audience. ‘3 weeks’ is not an industry standard but a fact which many would agree. Choosing the right time of the webinar also defines if people would attend it or not. In Digital Marketing, there is no such thing as a stroke of luck. If you are aiming for success, a well-defined strategy is your only saviour. Rely on combination of email marketing techniques, amalgamation of social media, traditional marketing methods and some tried and tested business strategies as well. There is only one keyword though: ‘be organized’. A smart way would be to prepare a back tracking calendar from the date of the webinar. Schedule all your posts based on this calendar. Keep an eye out for replies and queries and answer them immediately. Make sure all registrants gets an email confirmation with the link and time of the webinar. A successful promotion is a best combination of high quality content, listening to your audience and being proactive. For a smarter recipe, make a note of all registrants and prepare a persona of the webinar. (We will talk about its use later in the blog)

5: Presentation, Sample Script and Testing
Being organized demands good preparation. A Microsoft PowerPoint presentation or Prezi is usually preferred in such cases. An ideal size of 15-20 slides is enough for a 1 hour webinar (2 min avg/slide). Include a pre-title slide with webinar related instructions/guidelines for the audience. Once your presentation is ready prepare a sample script for rehearsal. Sample scripts and mock/test webinar sessions go a long way in making the presenter comfortable and builds up confidence. The presenter also becomes aware of the tool features. It also helps to understand how much time each slide would take. Make sure you test all the features in the tool such as – How to mute the audience, how to take/answer questions, how to add another screen, how to redirect questions, how to check whether the webinar is being recorded or not, etc.

6: Landing pages
One of the most important element in a webinar campaign is a landing page. A webinar specific landing page allows registrations and gives a brief of the webinar. It can also introduce the host/presenter and provide freebies for registrants. Importantly, it helps in analytics of the webinar campaign and branding. The video of the webinar can also be showcased on this page once the webinar is over for further promotions. (Marketing tip – Make sure to collect information of the viewer before allowing him to view the video)

7: Webinar Ethics
You are all set now and about to start your first webinar. Here are some webinar ethics to help you through besides the webinar presentation.

  • Always log in to the webinar before the audience arrives
  • Log off from your email or other communication channels to avoid pop ups during the webinar
  • Change the message on the landing page to ‘webinar active’
  • Welcome everyone and introduce yourself
  • Give instructions about the webinar
  • Introduce the presenter and allow him to take over
  • Keep everyone else on ‘mute’ during the webinar
  • All queries raised during the webinar should be addressed at the end and those unanswered should be replied via email
  • Thank everyone for joining the webinar
  • Stop the recording and change the message on landing page to ‘webinar complete’

8: During the Webinar
I know it is very difficult to talk when you cannot see anyone in front of you but since you have geared up here’s a quick way of delivering a smart webinar.

  • Keep smiling, your voice will emulate the same warm feeling
  • Maintain a conversational tone
  • Break your script into possible questions at the end of each slide and answer them
  • Sentences with the mention of ‘You’ work better than ‘I’
  • State facts without any ambiguity
  • Give credit to all those whose data points you have used
  • Remember your voice is the connection – so don’t lose focus

9: Post Webinar To-Dos
A smart webinar is not complete by just making sure you have promoted your webinar and delivered the right message. A final nail is still required to ensure there are no loose ends. Post your webinar, it is recommended to download your webinar video and keep it as a backup. Always keep the webinar page active even after the webinar ends. The social channels circle of a link can be as short as a min to as long as a year. If your webinar is relevant even after a year, this landing page would be generating leads or promoting your brand for days to come.

10: Analytics
Anything and everything in digital marketing starts and ends with analytics. Track all possible points in your webinar from clicks to your landing page, to social shares to funneling of leads. Give it a value and reap the dividends of your webinar efforts.

 

Congratulations, you are now a webinar expert! Don’t loosing this momentum now. Start expanding your connects and get noticed for your valuable experience. Maintain communication and plan your next webinar now!

Top 5 things in a Digital Marketing Strategy for Startups


Do you have a digital marketing strategy or are you just relying on your business sense? The problem is that most of us don’t know where to begin. It seems most of the traditional means would suffice given their success rate over the years. But actually speaking most of them are failing because they lack tracking the trajectory of the graph they are relying on. The new means of communication and thinking demands a new thought process to market and grow. That’s where the new era of digital marketing begins. Yes, you need a Digital Marketing Strategy.

You business-success-strategycan find a billion ways of marketing yourself online and with so many tools at disposal, it is actually difficult to choose which one is the best suited one. Recently, I had a chat with an avid marketer & a businessman with decades of experience. He said, “most of the companies do not know how to use automation and ultimately waste time and money on wrong things“. That is so true! I have had similar discussions with many other fellows marketers and they all agree to one thing.

“Marketing Automation tools are beneficial for startups and big co’s alike but are costly. Startups can’t afford it and Big Co’s hardly use most of the features”.

I am trying to analyse how startups can gather such an arsenal with which they can slowly move towards automation without having to buy costly products. We need a lot of research around this one but for now here are top 5 things which should help a company plan their digital marketing strategy.

  1. Goals – Define client centric plans every quarter and devise an achievable road map with small review points (digital marketing calendar). Analyze your past and accept your limitations and leverage your strengths.
  2. Focus on Inbound as well as outbound – Common message across the channels would go a long way in covering a bigger market. Branding is also a key component along with Lead Generation.
  3. Integrate marketing activities – Connect marketing with all business units. Anything that comes in and goes out of the company should follow pre-approved marketing & business guidelines.
  4. Invest & leverage automation – Increase study of search engines, social media & any other free online marketing automation tools. Accept marketing demands an investment and there would some investments worth the returns. Your resources need more creative time.
  5. Measure and Optimize marketing activities – Track everything possible. Start from day 1 and never stop doing it. Look 6 months beyond & back but keep an active eye on the current.

Do share your comments and experiences. I would surely like to widen my perspective on digital marketing things and business in today’s changing environment.

Revamping the website – Is there a right time?


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We live in an age surrounded by millions of websites. We browse through them, network through them, play through them, write through them and what not. Be it any device, the use of these online mediums is relentless and never-ending(atleast till AIs takes over). Being a digital marketer I presume the word, WEBSITE has lot more to it than just the above mentioned stuff. A business without any online presence is like showing your back to your biggest potential market place – A crime of sorts! Why miss out on opportunities to expand your reach when they are available?

Now we are not here to talk about the benefits of websites or online presence. We are discussing something which is more important than just the final output. It could be a website or an app but I think the spot boys and technicians are the same. There is a time when we feel that our ship is sailing smoothly but suddenly we realize we are not sailing, we are stationary! (That’s the reason we feel nothing is moving). It’s a difficult decision considering we are comfortable in the space we have created. I know there are other school of thoughts as well. They take this opportunity more positively and some others even plan ahead of this scenario.

There is just one simple truth – Evolution or Change!

 

Right Time to Revamping the Website

Startups – Startups are usually most energetic of the lot. They have tons of ideas and filled with excitement to make a mark in the world. The ideas are quickly brainstormed and decision cycle is very small. They have limited things to showcase on their online channels but they also are adding up new things in their kitty quite frequently. A static website with no change for more than a year is something they cannot afford.

Their customers need something different, something which their bigger counterparts are not offerings. The website design & content should talk about all these things and adapt very fast. An ideal time of revamp for startup should therefore be atleast 1 year.

SMEs/SMBs – By the time a company reaches this stage it has collected lot of material to showcase. Their offers, USP’s are all set and things are going quite smooth. Yes, its the exact ‘smooth’ which I was mentioning earlier. You never know when your business offerings become obsolete or buying trends changed! A startup can forgo a website revamp till its an year or two old but a SME/SMB should not commit such a mistake.

The reason many of the customers cling on to your services is because your delivery/operation’s team is strong but they also feel that you are vibrant and adaptive to changing market conditions. It is assumed that company’s in this stage have resources which encompass all the latest technologies. The online channels should also showcase such strengths(Thought Leadership). A company dealing with mobile solutions cannot have a website which is not mobile optimized or non responsive. The websites/online channels serve as an indicator, how serious the company takes its work.

There are various marketing & sales initiative which are running around for such companies. The service offerings or industry capabilities are their to be leveraged – an opportunity. My suggestion – Website revamp is eminent every 2-3 years.

MNCs – A company in this stage is playing a different ball game altogether. They are not competing continuously for getting people’s attention. Infact, there are eyelids always tracking what they are doing and what not. The online channels for such companies have to be super alert and responsive to every relevant online activity. These companies usually strive to become global leaders in their business. Their aim is not to showcase what they have but how they are making a difference to the world with their resources.

The website is a prime destination where people tap activities of a company and its revamp is a major step here. One cannot just think of revamping such website over the night. Its a big process and usually consumes 6 months of planning. There are tons of pages to update. The ideal time for revamping such website however is not dependent on the planning time. The company websites are usually updated every 3 years while some do it in even less – depending on their goals. Some companies take pride in keeping the structure same & changing just the message while some change their approach and even UX/UI.

 

Benefits of Revamp (Quick Points)

  1. Opportunity to get perfect synergy between design and message of company
  2. Stay updated with the market
  3. Realign more focus on UX
  4. New internal and external Branding opportunity
  5. New Marketing initiatives
  6. Refreshed Sales
  7. Communicate change of direction, vision
  8. Letting go of the old stuff
  9. Give a message that you still care about your website and are still top of your game

We now agree that websites have to be revamped. Now the question is how to optimize the time involved? There should be a planned approach to implement such a change.

Watch out for my next blog on 10 easy ways to do a website revamp.