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!

My Brainstorming way to Digital Marketing


Brainstorming is a cliché in today’s industry and often considered as one of the ‘leisure’ activities in office. Infact, it’s imbibed deep into our systems and we use it many times often unknowingly. We talk about its techniques and often jump over them to finish the task at hand. The race to finish our tasks never ends! We even forget that quality of deliverables is more important that quantity.

There are tons of Brainstorming techniques on the internet which can guide us. During our leisure times, we ponder over some of them and just like new year resolutions, they are forgotten by the first month end. Are these techniques really helpful? Why take the trouble of even reading when they are not going to be implemented? But the question is not so simple. Its not a matter of whether or just how to use these techniques but how we make the best use of them.

 

dictionaryThe definition states Brainstorming to be series of discussions done in a group for gathering creative/innovative/multiple solutions to a defined problem. It helps you to generate radical solutions. The participants also get encouraged to commit to solutions as they were part of the input process – a sense of ownership.

 

Digital Marketing requires a lot of reading and an eye for opportunities. I have always been a keen reader and love it when an innovative technique serves this purpose. Infact, many times I get to a level where it is then used almost everywhere possible.

Classy Brainstorming techniques that I have used include – “Brainwriting”, “Reverse Brainstorming”, “Rolestorming”, etc. and some Self defined one’s like – “A-Book-A-Month”, “A-Presentation-A-Month”, “Mock Webinars”, “Tic Tock Gong”, “It’s the Client’s Eyeball”, “Don’t make me think”, “Made to stick”, “#Infographics”, “Run with the team” and many more.

All of them have benefited in the need of the hour but there was one thing that helped me to bring out most from these collective ideas. A mean through which helped I was able to deliver many successful Digital Marketing campaigns/initiatives. I call it, “Leveraging Brainstorming with – Whiteboards“. Be it think-tank sessions or individual #mindpalaces (for those who watch #SherlockHolmes series) it has helped me to align stuff as per my need – key to my objective’s success. Whiteboards do not need a fancy hardware or software or any digital aspect for that matter to connect threads for digital marketing campaigns. Just a plain white canvas with a marker and almost 60% of your tasks are complete in no time.

We have leveraged whiteboards for Training sessions, Task allocations, Quote of the day, Sales figures & forecasts, Google Adwords planning, Appreciations, Project plans and almost all activities that are included in digital marketing. We have even finalized entire website designs and elements using whiteboards! Just like a database with lot of tables and one unique field to connect them, whiteboards help you to connect all threads in a project via ideas.

whiteboard

I have been fortunate to visit quite a few leaders in industry and have observed that 90% of them have a dedicated wall or even a room in their cabins for whiteboards. Some of them have gone to an extent of having whiteboards on every pillar of the office and every wall of the meeting rooms.

To sum up, Brainstorming is of no use if the ideas collected are not used. However, not all ideas are used so what do we do with the remaining one’s? A whiteboard can help you leverage these ideas which were not used today but would surely come handy next time. My digital marketing bag pack would always have space for a white board!