Webinars have been around for a while now and have slowly gained momentum as a marketing tool. However, people still don’t realize the benefits of an excellent webinar experience, especially for B2B marketing. Not only are webinars a refreshing marketing strategy, but they also generate tangible results. Here are some interesting statistics that testify to the growing popularity and power of webinars:73% of B2B Marketers and Sales Leaders say that webinars are the best way to generate high-quality leads.Webinars experienced an increase in viewership of about 47% last year.44% of marketers have hosted or participated in a webinar. Out of those, 87% found it to be an effective strategy.As the approval ratings of webinars surge, you might want to consider leveraging this tool to get ahead of the game. Read this article on how Webinars are a Top Tool to Amp Up Marketing Efforts in 2019. Not sure where to start, though? Don’t worry, we have it all spelled out for you. Here’s a comprehensive step-by-step guide you can use to conduct webinars and optimize their value.1.0 What is a Webinar? A webinar, or a web-based seminar, is an interactive session conducted over the internet. It uses a webinar software to connect the host with a live audience from all over the world. The host can present a video of them speaking, or instead share their desktop screen. Webinars are highly versatile, and allow the presenter to integrate a range of interactive media tools. These tools include video, audio, graphics, and slideshows.They also enable quick and efficient information sharing. The content presenters share is available not only for live viewing but can also be downloaded. Another great way in which a webinar experience engages the audience is through a Q&A session, which is typically held toward the end. Viewers submit questions and receive answers in real time and can even participate in surveys and polls. In some cases, in fact, viewers also have the option of recording the session on their devices.1.1 Uses of a WebinarAs a platform, webinars are extremely flexible and can be adapted to respond to a range of business purposes across industries, from corporate training to the marketing of products and services. Mostly employed as a marketing strategy, webinars can be arranged for the demonstration of a specific product or service, to share product-specific content or to simply venture into a discussion on industry-related topical issues. Read this article on How to Make Your Message Matter to find out more about various purposes you can use a webinar for.1.2 Advantages of WebinarsWebinars do not only drive high impact but can also deliver positive results for your business, irrespective of the purpose you are conducting them for. Here are some noteworthy advantages of a good webinar experience that point to their growing appeal within the B2B marketing space: Bring Value to your Audience’s webinar experience:With content high on quality, you can add to your viewers’ knowledge and enlighten them about things they weren’t previously aware of. A content-driven webinar can inspire thought, dialogue and action in equal measure, and leave your viewers feeling mentally stimulated.Get in on Audience Viewpoint:Webinars allow you to sense what your audience is thinking, what they feel about your product and how they are responding to it. This is also a valuable opportunity for you to answer any questions or queries they have, and resolve their confusion in real time. There are hardly any avenues where you can connect with an audience from all over the world and receive immediate feedback. Webinars are thus a real winner on this front.You can Generate Leads:Webinars can be great for generating new leads. The people who register and tune in are obviously displaying some interest in your product and would want to know more about it. With persuasive content and delivery, you have the opportunity to engage them further and ultimately convince them of your product’s value proposition. Furthermore, you can also build an email list of attendees, and stay in touch with them in the future.Relationship Building:Webinars give you the chance to connect with people from all over the world, understand what exactly they are looking for and provide them with the relevant solution. This is a great exercise in relationship building – far more personalized and intimate than an email or a phone call- and can markedly enhance your prospects of capturing leads.Quicker Sales:Webinars, by compressing multiple steps in the lead conversion funnel, can dramatically accelerate your sales process. In fact, up to 40% of viewers of webinars can go on to become qualified leads.Brand Awareness:Conducting a webinar about your products and services naturally raises awareness about your brand, which ultimately always bodes well for the business’s future prospects.Establish yourself as an Expert:A webinar can allow you to posture yourself as a thought leader, or an expert in the field, and can thus lend you credibility and the trust of the audience.Cost-Effectiveness:Because webinars are conducted within the virtual space, they reduce the costs associated with conducting a physical marketing event, such as venue booking, accommodation, travel etc. for both the parties.Lasting Content:Moreover, webinars continue to exist long after the webinar is over, and hence can continue to drive leads in the future as well.Yes, the advantages of webinars are many and far-ranging. In fact, most virtual events almost always incorporate webinars because there’s so much to be gained from them. You might want to read our article on Why You Need to Complement a Virtual Event with a Webinar to know more about the various benefits they hold. However, to be able to deliver a great webinar, you must be thoroughly prepared and should plan out the details to a T. Sure, webinars can be great for improving business prospects, but only if done right.2.0 Pre-Webinar PlanningHow you plan your webinar will be critical in determining the value it brings for your audience and how effective it is in generating leads for you. A poorly executed webinar is often the result of insufficient or thoughtless planning, and doesn’t just turn off the audience, but can also significantly damage the employer brand.2.1 The Ultimate Webinar Checklist! Develop your webinar strategy well ahead of the big day. If you’ll be conducting a webinar for the first time, you need to be extra diligent about your preparations. When planning out your webinar, it’s best to come up with an exhaustive list for everything you must address and arrange in advance.To make your life simpler, and ensure your webinar hits the bull’s eye, we’ve done half the work for you. Here’s a preparatory checklist for you to follow so you can put up a great show!1) What is your Objective?Think about the specific purpose for which you want to arrange the webinar and try to determine what you hope to achieve out of it.2) Who are you speaking to?Zero in on the segment that the webinar is catering to so your content can be tailored to your targeted viewers.3) What is your Topic?Have a clear, concrete topic in mind. The webinar must have a clear focus and direction to sustain the viewers’ attention.4) Decide on a Webinar Software Do some research on the top webinar software in the market. Go over their features and services and identify which one fits your budget and requirements. A software with interactive features, customizable landing pages, a 24/7 helpline and a simple registration method would obviously be ideal.5) Pick a PresenterBe sure to pick confident, articulate and enthusiastic presenters who are well-versed in the topic and have enough time to prepare.6) Pick a Date and TimeSet a date and time for the webinar. If you’re trying to connect with a global audience, you’ll have to pick a time that can accommodate people belonging to different time zones.7) Develop the ContentDon’t rely on improvisation. It’s important to deliver a webinar experience that is meaningful and to the point. Do some research and then make extensive and organized notes. Also be sure to use different media formats instead of just relying on speech.Incorporate interesting slideshows, images and videos to add some flavor and stir up the audience’s interest. Read the Planning Guide for Webinars for a more comprehensive checklist.2.2 Building the AudienceFor your webinar to achieve the desired results, you need to make sure enough people are tuning in. You can be spot on with your preparations but there won’t be any point if nobody knows about it. So how can you drive a sizable amount of traffic to your webinar?· RegistrationMake sure there is an option to register, so you can get a general idea of how many people intend to tune in. Check with your software provides options for branded landing pages and a direct and easy method to register. This is important; you don’t want a lengthy or complicated process acting as a deterrent to registrations.· Webinar Marketing Plan Decide on a promotional plan for your webinar. You could do promotions across a couple of channels. First, write emails to existing and prospective clients and include a visually compelling virtual invitation. A few days prior to your webinar, be sure to send a friendly reminder email. Next, leading up to the days of the webinar, you should do daily promotions on your social media pages. Sharing and posting topic related content in the form of articles, images and videos is often a great way to create some hype. Additionally, you could also run paid advertising on Facebook or LinkedIn. For some amazing tips on promoting your webinar, you might want to check out our Virtual Events Marketing Playbook.2.3 A Few Days Before the Event· Do a Test RunThis is of prime significance. Make sure your net connection is steady and your equipment reliable. Pick a quiet and distraction-free place where you’ll be holding the webinar. Test the software to see if it’s functioning seamlessly. · Rehearse!Rehearsing will help you become comfortable with the content. So be sure to practice your delivery a couple of times in front of your webcam.3.0 Some Useful Tips If you’ve been playing by the rule book, rest assured, you’re good to go. Remember, a good webinar can be miraculous for you! On the other hand, a poor webinar experience could do a huge disservice to your brand. So it’s best to be fully prepared! Here are some quick tips that you might want to be mindful of when setting up your webinar: 1. Start on time 2. Start with a great opening statement or hook 3. Use different media formats 4. Send and share content. Have an option for the viewers to download files or presentations. 5. Keep it conversational and ask questions in between to keep the webinar from sounding like an endless monologue. 6. Include a Q&A session in the end 7. Record and document the webinar 8. Follow up and seek feedback 9. Track results 10. Don’t go overboard with the length. Try to not go beyond 60 minutes 11. Wednesdays and Thursdays are the recommended webinar days 12. 11am-2pm is the best time slot for webinars3.1 Following Up after the Webinar ExperienceDon’t expect your leads to magically start converting as soon as you’re done with the webinar. Like always, they need a gentle nudge. Following up is thus a crucial step for lead conversion. Most marketers simply skip this stage, causing them to lose all the leads they gathered during the webinar. You just don’t want to leave your leads in the lurch once the session is over.Here’s how you can follow up with the attendees:– Send them a personalized follow-up email shortly after the webinar is over, thanking them for their attendance. This is also a great way to seek their feedback or send them surveys inquiring about the session’s effectiveness according to them.– You can also utilize this chance to answer questions or queries that any attendee might have had, which you were unable to respond to during the session. Reaching out to them this way is a great way to warm up to these leads and emphasize your commitment to bring them value.– There’ll be some people who registered for your webinar but were not able to attend it either because they forgot about it or because of some unforeseen circumstances. These are not redundant leads, for they clearly had an interest in what you had to say. You don’t want to lose out on them, so an effective way to keep them in the loop is to send them a recording of the webinar and let them know that they should feel free to get in touch with you should they have any questions.3.2 Metric TrackingThis is an important step, which again, many B2B marketers don’t give enough priority to. To determine how successful your webinar was, track its metrics once the session is over. You can track the event ROI, the number of people who tuned into the webinar, how many dropped off midway, and how many made an input in the form of comments or questions to assess its overall effectiveness. For more clarity, you could also send surveys and polls to the attendees in order to get direct feedback on what worked for them and which areas they would like to see an improvement in. We hope the guide was helpful and has allayed your apprehensions about conducting a webinar. For those who have never tried it, it might seem a little daunting but it’s pretty easy and interesting once you get a hang of it. Webinars can be transformative for your business and you don’t want to miss out on the prospects they have in store for you. Make it a part of your marketing plan this instant and see it do wonders!