Webinar Wisdom: 3 best practices for webinars that wow and get results

Aug 1, 2018

I have a confession. I’m not ashamed. It’s my truth. I love a webinar. I love everything about it. I love writing the title and description. I love promoting it and watching the registration count rise each day. I love when the day finally arrives and the presentation comes to life.

I even love the items on the post-webinar to-do list like sending the follow-up emails to keep the audience engaged, warming up the leads for the sales team or converting them into new sales opportunities. Yes, that’s really why I love webinars. I love the results and by that, I mean the results when everything is done right.

However, I’ve found that many marketing and PR professionals don’t share my pro-webinar passion. In fact, much to my horror and astonishment, many of them are firmly planted in the anti-webinar camp. But I understand their point of view. Most likely, they have been discouraged by a webinar that fell flat, or they simply don’t understand how to harness the true power of a webinar.

As a lover of webinars, with a successful track record over the last decade, I’m here to help with some tried-and-true best practices.

Create customer-focused content

There is almost no better forum than a webinar to highlight your customer’s successes. Why? It’s much different to just read a case study than to have your customers verbally share their stories. On a webinar, attendees can experience that case study live, identify with the challenges and celebrate in the successes which could soon become their own successes with the help of your company.

Now, having a customer co-presenter is the best-case scenario. We know that complete, fully baked customer case studies can be hard to come by or even nearly impossible when companies are launching new products. But there is incredible power in a customer case study that’s still in progress as well. Whether the journey has just begun or the results are preliminary, it’s still better for attendees to hear from their peer rather than just your team.

Webinars with customer co-presenters are almost always more well-attended and more successful. Plus, with customer co-presenters, your company also benefits from being associated with your customer names and brands. Even if someone doesn’t attend your webinar, they may remember that you work with that top hospital.

Prepare for an interactive experience

Even though a webinar is somewhat similar to any other speaking engagement, it’s technically much different. It’s challenging to speak into the phone rather than speak into a crowd of faces that may be either nodding their heads in agreement or nodding off out of boredom. That’s why it’s so important to leverage the technology to create an interactive experience that benefits both your attendees and your speakers.

Even the most basic webinar platforms offer a polling feature which should be used 2-4 times throughout the webinar. We often recommend to clients that they start with a poll question to get a better understanding of what the attendees are looking to learn or why they chose to attend. It can also be helpful for the initial poll question to serve as a gauge for understanding the “level” of attendees. For example, how would they rate their organization’s progress on the journey to value?

Also, did you know that one of the easiest, most painless ways to drive future registrations is right at your fingertips during each webinar? At the end of your presentation, while you still have a captive and hopefully happy audience, simply invite attendees to the next relevant session in your webinar series. When sessions are monthly or quarterly, attendees who enjoyed your webinar usually will vote “yes” via a poll to be automatically registered for the next session.

Focus on follow-up, not just promotion

Lastly, it’s incredibly common for even some of the savviest marketers to focus almost entirely on webinar promotion rather than placing equal importance on the webinar follow-up communications. Don’t neglect the attendees who just spent 30-minutes or an hour with you! They are now primed and ready for more so it’s mission critical to send timely (ideally within 24 hours or less but 48 hours max) follow-up emails to attendees and those who registered but didn’t attend.

It’s also important to send them more than just the webinar recording or the slides. Perhaps you can offer them a new eBook about best practices featured on the webinar or you may have a written case study to share on the same topic. It’s not always about having new content to share. It’s about having relevant content to share and becoming a go-to expert.

Regardless, it’s important for your follow-up communication to be educational and informative to drive continued engagement. After all, once someone spends an hour with you via a webinar, they are more invested. Now it’s about keeping them invested in your content, your customers and most importantly, your company.

Lisa Chernikoff

Lisa Chernikoff has over a decade of experience in marketing and public relations. She began her career at the University of Michigan Health System where she worked closely with communications leaders and subject matter experts to write press releases on hospital news and industry hot topics. After spending a short time in consumer PR, Lisa returned to her healthcare roots, spending 4 years at the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). At AHIMA, she drove communication strategy for certification initiatives like the association's clinical documentation improvement credential. She also led new initiatives to engage student members, including a career prep webinar series and a ground-breaking healthcare IT career map to advance the HIM profession. Then, as the marketing leader at Strata Decision Technology, a Chicago-based healthcare IT company, Lisa collaborated with the executive team to support the company's rapid growth with a strong integrated marketing and communications plan. Most recently, at Procured Health, a Chicago-based startup, she launched a content marketing and media relations program to emphasize the company's thought leadership. At Procured Health, Lisa also launched a new executive webinar series and secured countless speaking engagements to increase brand awareness. Lisa has a bachelor's degree in communications studies from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.