9 Best Practices to Host a Webinar for Beginners
Congratulations! You’ve decided that hosting a webinar may be the next profitable move for your company.
You may have attended webinars yourself, but now you’re ready to take the leap and produce your own. An online event that allows you to educate your audience about your product or service and the problems it solves. Webinars can be a gold mine.
They have the potential to reach hundreds or thousands of potential customers. And once created, you can use them repeatedly to drive consistent sales.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the nine best practices to help you host your first successful webinar.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
1. Outline your goals for the webinar
As Simon Sinek argues, the “why” of a thing is what sets it apart. So, before you create your webinar, you must know why you’re hosting the webinar and what you want it to achieve.
To determine your goals for the webinar, you should consider questions like:
- How does this webinar fit into your overall marketing strategy?
- Why is hosting a webinar a good business decision?
- Are webinars a common/successful strategy in your niche?
- What are your key performance indicators (KPIs) for this webinar?
- Number of registered persons
- Number of attendees
- Number of conversions/purchases made during and after the webinar
- How will you track/measure these KPIs?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll be ready to begin planning your first webinar.
2. Choose a topic
Now that you’ve figured out your goals, it’s time to choose a topic. Remember, your webinar attendees are there to learn, so your topic should provide value to them. The topic and your delivery must blend education, inspiration, and entertainment.
For example, say your goal is to grow awareness and drive sales of a customer relationship management (CRM) product you specifically designed for users in a particular industry.
You might tackle a specific use case of the CRM that’s super-relevant to your target audience. Highlight the unique benefits your CRM offers that alternatives don’t.
That’s the kind of topic your audience will happily stay glued to their screens to learn more about. Keep in mind that webinars are typically between 30 and 45 minutes long, so make sure your topic is one you can speak on for that length of time, or you get subject matter experts (SMEs) to help.
3. Select your guest speakers
Your choice of guest speakers can make or break your event. We’re not saying you need to hire someone famous, but you do need to invite subject matter experts your audience will trust.
Before adding anyone to your speaker list, ask yourself:
- How can they add value to your webinar?
- What makes this person qualified to speak on your topic?
- Why would your audience want to hear from them?
Providing satisfactory answers to these questions is the first step to assembling a powerful list of speakers for your webinar.
4. Decide on your webinar format
First, you’ll need to decide whether to host a live webinar or record it. There are pros and cons to both.
By recording a webinar, you have the opportunity to correct mistakes and refine the finished product. A live webinar lets you interact and engage with your audience in real time, leading to better sales.
Next, you’ll choose your format. There are several webinar formats to choose from. Ultimately, you must choose the best option for your goal, topic, and audience.
Here are three webinar formats to consider:
- The Interview Webinar – Exactly what it sounds like, an interview webinar is an interview between the host and an SME. It can also include a Q&A session with the attendees via the chat if it’s live instead of recorded. It offers insights and is fun to watch because it’s spontaneous and not rehearsed.
- Expert Panel Webinar – A panel webinar doesn’t fit the same time frame as the others. It lasts longer (usually a few hours) since multiple experts offer advice. Each SME will speak on a subtopic. For instance, if the overall topic is an industry-specific CRM, one SME may speak on integrating the CRM with your current systems, while another may speak on troubleshooting common issues and questions.
- Masterclass webinar – During a masterclass, the attendees learn the process for doing something specific and may actually practice it during the webinar. Whatever you teach, ensure the steps are clear and simple enough to guarantee success – you want everyone to feel accomplished by the end.
5. Be prepared (especially for live webinars)
It always pays to be prepared, but if you plan to host a live webinar, it’s essential.
Curate your webinar content and materials. Create your slides, decide on your icebreakers and poll questions, and create a script (or outline) to stay on track, or even better, use a speaker checklist.
If you’re inviting guest speakers or collaborating with partners from other companies, collect their materials in advance so you can review them before the webinar.
6. Choose your webinar platform
There are several free and paid webinar platforms you can use to host your webinar. When choosing a platform, the first step is comparing features and benefits lists.
Which of these are must-haves, and which are nice-to-haves?
Then, consider the following:
- Your budget
- Expected number of participants
- Level of customization needed
- Integrations and functions needed
- Other important features (e.g., accessibility)
7. Promote your webinar
It’s finally time to tell the world about your webinar. But you don’t just want to get your webinar in front of anyone.
You want to get it in front of the right people — your target audience. That means you have to create a plan to reach them wherever they are.
Before the day of your webinar, you could send multiple reminder emails to keep your webinar top of mind. You could also engage influencers in your target industry to spread the word about your event.
Or you can tap into the power of your own social media profiles. For example, Jeremy Moser, the CEO of uSERP, leverages LinkedIn to promote upcoming webinars.
Why? It’s the perfect social media platform to reach B2B brands and professionals interested in SEO and digital marketing. But LinkedIn is not the only social media useful for promoting webinars. Especially if you decide to sponsor it through a collaboration with external social influencers. In this case, the use of other platform such as TikTok or throught to the possibility of scheduling Instagram posts is certainly much more profitable in terms of visibility and webinar registrations.
If you want more inspiration, check out our in-depth guide on webinar promotion tactics to learn everything you need to know about promoting your upcoming webinar.
Pro tip: If your primary communication channel is WhatsApp, you can utilise WhatsApp Promotional Messages to further boost the promotion of your webinar.
8. Actively engage with your audience during your webinar
Don’t just provide content to those attending your webinar. Actively engage them with interactive content sprinkled throughout the event.
And don’t wait to inject it. Start running polls and asking questions from the beginning. Fire up the chats with an icebreaker that’ll get your audience exchanging experiences and ideas.
Let your audience know there’ll be a dedicated Q&A session at the end to ask the speakers all their burning questions.
9. Follow up with attendees and non-attendees
After your webinar, it’s important to follow up with attendees. Send a quick email to thank them for taking the time to attend your event.
If you have a more streamlined webinar strategy, your follow-up process may involve more personalized outreach to attendees who performed a specific action, like participating in a poll during your webinar.
If you recorded your webinar (hint: you should always record webinars), the post-event follow-up is also the perfect opportunity to offer the webinar recording to registrants who didn’t attend the webinar.
Don’t be limited to emails, though. There are other ways you can use to follow up with your webinar attendees, and one of the most effective would be reaching out through social media. Sending automated Instagram messages to your followers, with links to your recorded webinar, can help you increase the reach of your masterpiece.
You can also use follow-ups for promotional and limited-time offers, which only apply to webinar attendees.
Webinars can be challenging to organize and execute. But they’re also a great way to get high-quality leads that your sales team will thank you for.
Bookmark this article and reference it as needed as you embark on your webinar journey.
With these best practices in mind, you’re well on your way to planning and hosting a successful webinar that wows your audience and drives ROI.
To your success!
The author Catalina Grigoriev is a incurable optimist with a bubbly personality. That’s what my colleagues say. Secret mission: cat lover disguised as a dog person. Ex law student who switched into the digital marketing lane. Currently delving into the depths of SEO and content marketing at Planable.