Doing something new can be scary. Embarking on a journey through uncharted territory almost never feels like a walk in the park, but it does almost always lead to valuable lessons learned. Our marketing team at Influence & Co. has found this to be true, especially for webinars.
In the past, we hosted webinars occasionally but never made them a cornerstone of our lead generation strategy. Now, we host an average of one webinar each month, and we've seen the kinds of benefits that make it hard to believe we didn't start hosting more of them sooner.
If you're looking for ways to generate leads with content, then webinars might be the solution you've been seeking. As a company that uses webinars as our biggest source of lead generation (we even had 1,776 new leads come from just one webinar), we can attest that making webinars part of your content marketing strategy is almost a no-brainer.
Plus, webinars give you the opportunity to directly interact with your audience in a way that written content, like blog posts or guest posts, doesn't. You get to put a face, a name, and a voice to your brand and provide your audience with actual solutions in real time, and that's a great way to reinforce trust with your audience.
As we've expanded our approach to content marketing to include webinars and worked alongside numerous partners to co-host them, we’ve learned a few things that can help you start using webinars to generate leads — or take your game to the next level if you've already begun.
Here are four steps to develop a webinar strategy that will generate leads for your business:
No one here is doubting your team's ability to host a webinar on its own. You can definitely do that and still find success. That said, we've found that if you're looking for new, qualified leads, then it's best to join forces with another company.
When you partner strategically with someone to co-host a webinar, four clear winners emerge: you, your partner, and both of your audiences. Not only are your followers exposed to new and valuable ideas, but you and your partner also gain access to each other’s lists.
Before you start reaching out to anyone you think might say yes, make sure you're thinking strategically. The company you choose to partner with shouldn't be just any brand willing to give you the time of day — that will only result in a disjointed webinar and unqualified leads.
Instead, do some research, and partner with brands that are experts in your industry or one related to it. Maybe one of your clients makes sense for a webinar partnership, or maybe you recently attended a webinar you really loved and that brand could be a potential partner. Make a list of all the companies that fit the bill, and keep it updated to make partner prospecting easier over time.
With a list in hand, carve out some time for outreach. Don't be afraid to be persistent, and make sure you send potential partners some loose ideas or links to your content to give them an idea of who your brand is and why a partnership makes sense.
Managing expectations is a big part of any project, especially one that involves input from people outside your own team. It's no fun to put a lot of work into a project with the belief that your partner is doing the same, only to find out later that it didn't. That creates unnecessary stress and can damage your chances of success.
To avoid this, our team has put together a simple agreement we send to our partners that outlines two essential elements of a successful webinar: promotion and deliverables.
Promotion: Just as with any other content, your webinar needs to be actively promoted. The agreement asks both parties to send at least three emails to promote the webinar, including the link to register, to their full subscriber base and via all social media channels leading up to the broadcast. If you're going to create any other content around your webinar, like a blog post swap, then plan to promote it, too.
This division of labor allows you to more easily share the work between your teams so the responsibilities of ideating topics, creating content, promoting the webinar, and hosting it don’t all fall on one poor chump.
Listing out these details — along with due dates, a designated point person for each step, and actual signatures from everyone involved — ensures both parties are accountable for their responsibilities and that everything will run much more smoothly.
We’re all for repurposing content, but that doesn’t mean republishing old and unoriginal material. Content thrives on original ideas, and webinars are no different.
If you want attendees to be excited about what you have to say (and to tune in for future webinars), you have to cover interesting topics, discuss strategies, outline tactics, present data, and share unique takeaways for your audience. You obviously want to discuss something they’ll find accessible, but it can’t be so simple that they could just as easily have Googled the answer.
Think about how you approach gated content. You wouldn’t string together basic articles that anyone could have written into a whitepaper, put it behind a gate, and request precious contact info from your audience to access it. So, just like you’d make your gated content worth the download, make your webinar content worth the listen.
And remember, there's a time and a place to be promotional on webinars. Reserve a slide for your resources and one for your partner's, but don't let your promotion dominate your webinar. If your attendees didn't sign up for a demo, then don't try to sneak one in. Save any promotional content about your products or services for the end, and as a courtesy, give your attendees a heads up before you start your pitch.
During every webinar, members of your audience will request access to the slides and recording. It's something we've been asked every single time ... and at least 10 times per webinar. #WebinarProblems
Prepare a follow-up email in advance so you can quickly send it out afterward, giving your registrants those precious slides and recording and everything else they might need from the webinar. Remember the resources slide I said you can use for promotion? Your follow-up email should include links to resources from that page, too.
This email is a simple way to thank people for tuning in and to keep them engaged with your brand after the webinar is over. It allows you to stay top of mind, offer continued education about your webinar topic and area of expertise, and even nurture qualified leads through your funnel.
If you’re already creating content for your brand, webinars are simply another tactic within your content marketing strategy. Make sure you partner with a company you trust to tap into new audiences; plan, outline, and present original work; and execute your promotion and follow-up plan to unlock your webinar's lead generation potential.
Natalie Slyman is a content marketing and social media professional. She enjoys reading her favorite blogs, perusing Instagram, and talking about her cats (even when no one is listening).