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If you’ve ever done a webinar, you know that it’s not so easy to get people to sign up and show up. And yet, professional webinar hosts routinely present to audiences of 1,000 or more. How do they it? Here are a few helpful ideas.

Webinars have become a mainstream communication tool. Today’s customers have become accustomed to them and know what to expect. The novelty has worn off. So if you’re disappointed with your early attempts at webinar marketing, you need to come to grips with this concept: “Free” is tough to sell! It’s a very unsettling idea, isn’t it? And yet, it’s true. Why is it so difficult?

 

The Cost of “Free”

As it turns out, “free” isn’t free at all. You’re asking people to pay with a very scarce commodity. You’re asking them to pay attention. And we live in a world where people are bombarded by requests for attention: TV, billboards, bus stops and, of course, online. So to command attention, you need something special.

 

The Most Important Feature

At ClickMeeting we’re very proud of our feature set. We believe it’s the most comprehensive and cost-effective in the industry. And yet there’s one feature we don’t include — and it’s by far the most important. That feature is . . . you. You are the one thing no one else can offer — the most important differentiator of your business.

 

Kickstarting Your Webinar

So before you even begin to try to attract webinar participants, you need to give your audience a glimpse of who you are and what your content is all about. The best way to do that is — over a period of time. In a perfect world, you’d just tell them all about your webinar and those who are interested would sign up on the spot. And some people might. But the vast majority need time to process your message internally. So it helps to deliver your message in bite-size, digestible chunks — tasty morsels they can savor.

 

Delivering Your Value Message

One easy tool for doing this is an email autoresponder. It makes it pretty simple to chunk your marketing story into a series of messages and deliver them at a frequency you choose. Another way is to create a series of landing pages, each with a chunk of your message. People are more likely to read lengthy text on an HTML page than in an email. And they have the option to bookmark it for repeated study.

Best of all is the combination of brief messages delivered via autoresponder, each with a link to a landing page that tells the complete segment of the story. Professional marketers who use webinars have been using this technique for years. Why? Because it works.

 

Getting Potential Attendees Interested

As it turns out, your webinar isn’t the ideal place to deliver a complete version of your content. Better by far is to include some of your content as teasers then deliver the rest of the story in your webinar. But what to include? What to withhold for later?

Online marketer Sean D’Souza uses something he calls the bikini concept: the parts you reveal are highly interesting but not nearly as interesting as those you conceal. This blog is rated G for general audiences, so let’s leave it at that 😉

 

Getting Sign-ups

Your teaser content can be extensive or minimal. It can be delivered over a few days or a few weeks. Then at some point, you need to ask people to sign up for your webinar. If you’ve done a good job with your teaser content, potential participants will welcome your call to action. So be crystal clear in your invitations, letting them know the who, what, when, where, why and how. Bolster you call to action by restating the benefits they’ll receive by attending your webinar. If possible, include testimonials from previous attendees.

 

During the Sign-up Period

To add urgency, include a deadline. This can be a date and time or a cut-off point for maximum attendee count. To maintain credibility, stick to your deadline. Smart marketers don’t stop marketing between the initial call to action and the deadline. In fact, they intensify it. You can continue to publish your teaser content as the sign-ups roll in. Just be sure to include a call to action and a reminder of the deadline.

 

The Reminder Period

After the deadline, it’s good to congratulate those who signed up. You can even send them some special content not available to those who did not sign up. This makes them feel special and keeps them interested in attending your webinar.

To maximize attendance, send a reminder at the beginning of the week when he webinar is scheduled. Send another the day before the webinar. Send one or more reminders on the day of the webinar. Some promoters even send a reminder a few minutes before the webinar, something like, “Hey the webinar is about to start. Click here to log in.”

 

After the Webinar

The best prospects for your next webinar may be the ones who just attended this one. So make sure you send them a “Thank You for Attending” email. This is also the perfect time to ask for testimonials you can use to promote your next webinar.

 

Refine Your Strategy

Webinars are big business. So make them a continuing part of your business plan. Pay attention to things like attendance and conversion rates. Test and tweak everything, to maximize their effectiveness.

 

Posted by Agnes Jozwiak

Agnes is the Marketing Director at ClickMeeting.