How to Create and Host Your First Webinar
Hosting a webinar is still one of the most significant — if not slightly daunting — tactics for engaging your existing audience, building a new one, and growing your business online.
Especially in this new era of working from home, online events have proliferated, with a threefold increase in webinar audience reported in 2020 compared to 2019.
If the very mention of a webinar works you up into a cold sweat, you’re not alone. Webinars can be super scary if you’ve never created and hosted one before.
But take a few breaths. Relax. Stay calm.
We’re here to break it down for you and make sure you’re extra-prepared for hosting your very first webinar.
To save you scrolling through this entire article, here are the things we’re going to cover so you can jump down to the bits you want:
- What is a webinar anyway?
- Why you should host a webinar
- Identify your topic
- Choose your format
- Build your toolkit
- Produce the content
- Set up a landing page
- Determine the date and time
- Promote your webinar
- Prepare and practice
- After your webinar
A webinar is simply a video workshop or presentation. It’s often live (but not always) and is usually interactive and largely unscripted.
The point isn’t to sell, sell, sell to the webinar attendee. It’s about providing information and advice to encourage and inspire your audience to solve issues themselves. Of course, there’s no harm in promoting your service and product somewhere along the way, but making it your primary focus won’t go down well with most audiences.
Our take: The best webinar marketing focuses on building brand awareness and engagement with attendees rather than hard sells.
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Here are some important reasons for you to host your first webinar:
They’re Cheap and Easy
For a start, webinars are a lot less hassle than they seem. They’re relatively straightforward to create, as long as you find the right hosting software and have a good strategy. That said, you’ll still need to put in the hard work to make it a success.
They can also be done on a shoestring budget, using just your smartphone. So, while you can splash out and buy all the fancy gear, there’s absolutely no reason you can’t do it on the smallest of budgets.
They Make Great Evergreen Content
These days, a lot of visual content is here today, gone tomorrow, but an evergreen webinar can live on and on!
If you record your webinar, you can reuse it in the future, either by reposting it or repurposing it for different audiences.
For example, you might try chopping your webinar into smaller pieces and posting them in a series on your social media or blog. Or you could put it on your website in full to be downloaded in return for a sign-up to your newsletter.
They Add Value
By providing something informative, valuable, and high-quality, you’re both helping your customers solve a problem while simultaneously promoting your own brand. It’s a win-win.
So whether you’re demonstrating your latest product or educating about a certain technique or issue, make sure you focus it on your audience’s real — rather than perceived — need.
It’s Great for Your Brand
Along with social media, interactive content like a live webinar is a good way to connect with your audience and potential customers.
Not only do webinars help put a human face to your brand — they’re a great way of showing your customers a sneak peek behind the curtain — but they can also set you up as a thought leader in your industry.
By providing your audience with actionable tips and valuable knowledge, you can come across as an authority, not just another brand.
They Can Boost Conversions
Whether the goal for your webinar is to directly increase your revenue or whether conversions are a happy by-product, there’s good evidence to demonstrate that webinars have a great ROI.
By establishing yourself as an authoritative, trustworthy brand and by reaching your audience more directly, you can expect to increase sales on your website.
Choosing your topic isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. Should you talk about what you know? Of course.
But first, consider this: What does your audience want to know?
After all, you can spend all day talking about things you’re passionate about. But if those topics don’t help your audience, they’ll drop out fast.
If you’re looking to provide value to your audience, your webinar needs to match up with what your audience is asking for. Your expertise needs to answer their questions.
But how do you know what your audience wants to hear about?
The most obvious answer is to ask them directly. Use your social channels to directly ask your audience what questions they need answers to. You could also send out a survey to your email list to gather more details.
Alternatively, you can search through your data to see which social posts or blog articles get the most traction. Or, you can look at your Google Analytics to identify some of the search queries that bring people to your website.
There are several options for how you conduct your webinar.
You could go down the traditional route of a webinar presentation or take on a more dynamic Q&A interview format. Just keep in mind that the best webinars always find a way to solicit audience participation.
What’s most important for your first webinar is that you choose a format that you think will work best for your goals. You can always iterate for future webinars based on what you learn from the first attempt.
Most webinars are done as presentations simply because presentations are the most straightforward format. They’re also a good option if you’re targeting a small audience.
Usually, the host will address the camera while delivering a presentation that can be followed on a PowerPoint, whiteboard, or video running in the background.
If you want to inject a bit more interactivity into this option, you could enable a chat box so your audience can ask questions throughout the webinar for you to answer at the end.
Great for e-commerce businesses, a demonstration-style webinar is a good option if you have a new product or service that you’d like to share with users.
Depending on your product, you can simply address the camera while showing your audience how to use the item, or you can screen share if your product is digital.
A Q&A with an industry expert or panel of influencers is guaranteed to give your audience extra value.
Identify and reach out to people who are regarded as thought leaders in your niche and make it an exciting opportunity for them to take part in (after all, it will give them exposure too).
This format might take a bit more preparation. You shouldn’t rehearse the interview ahead of time, as it may come across as stale to your audience. But it would be helpful to create a list of questions and send them to your interviewees in advance so they can be prepared and share informative responses.
Next, it’s time to handle the technical details of creating a webinar.
When choosing your webinar platform, you need to think about a few things:
- How much does it cost?
- How big an audience does it allow?
- How easy is it to use?
- Does it let you record the video?
- Does it allow for Q&As?
- Does it let you screen share or show a PowerPoint presentation?
Once you’ve chosen a webinar service, it’s time to think about the other tools you might need: a camera (although most smartphones have high-resolution cameras), microphones, a recording device (if this isn’t built into your hosting tool), strong internet, and good lighting.
So, you know your topic. You’ve identified your format. You have your webinar tool. Now it’s time to focus on the content.
If you’re hosting a presentation, then you can get started on producing your slide deck. Be careful not to write a formal script, but make a few points on your slide deck to allow your audience to follow along with what you’re saying.
Make your slide deck visually appealing and include images and color. Bright Talk has found that video-based learning is their preferred learning format among its respondents, and 85% prefer the video to be webinars.
A Q&A with an expert or a panel will involve more planning. Ask for questions from your audience in advance so that you can field them to your experts on the day.
Make sure you plan out your speakers and the order of the questions, ensuring you time it so you know how long to allow for your webinar.
Your webinar’s landing page is where you can send your audience to find out more about the event and register to attend. This should be hosted on your website, allowing you to learn more about your attendees and giving your attendees an easy way to learn more about your business by clicking around on your website after they’ve signed up for the webinar.
Your landing page needs to be fully optimized. Include a target keyword in your page title and in the on-page copy. Embed a registration form that captures enough information without being overly complex.
Ideally, you should integrate your form into your other marketing tools so that you can turn an attendee into a prospect (use an opt-in checkbox and watch out for GDPR rules for data privacy).
We suggest letting your own data tell you when’s best. Use Google Analytics to see when people are most engaging with your website. Chances are that when they’re on your website, they’ll also be likely to check out your webinar.
Watch out for time zones if you have an international audience. And steer clear of the start or end of the working day when your audience may be commuting.
Of course, your webinar is nothing without an audience.
But how do you ensure you get people — the right people — to attend?
You’ve already optimized a landing page. You now have to be creative in how you share that link.
First of all, you could set up a series of paid ads, either on Google AdWords or social ads (Facebook Ads, Sponsored Tweets, etc.). This tactic gives you more control over the audience you’re trying to reach, but it does come at a modest cost.
Your free options include promoting your landing page on your free social media accounts. If you already have a regular e-newsletter, create an email campaign inviting your contacts to the webinar.
Send reminder emails as the date approaches, and entice your audience with some information about the webinar, such as the key points you’ll be covering or, for instance, the guest speaker.
When it comes to your first webinar, you won’t want to leave anything to chance.
Set aside time to rehearse your webinar and do a tech run, paying particular attention to details like lighting and sound, camera angles, and your backdrop. Make a note of timing so you don’t run over or, worse, have time to fill. Have a plan in place for any technical issues that might arise on the day.
Most importantly, practice strategies for staying calm and confident. Focus on your breathing and remind yourself that you are the expert and you’re well-prepared.
You just hosted a great webinar — congratulations! Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.
But the job’s not over yet.
The last thing you want to do is let all your hard work go to waste by forgetting to follow up with your audience.
After your webinar ends, send the attendees a thank you email with the webinar recording or slide deck, along with a request for feedback. If your webinar included a product demonstration or special offer, be sure to include those details in a post-webinar email campaign.
Make sure you send the recorded webinar to your audience who registered but who couldn’t attend as well. And don’t forget to repurpose the webinar into a blog post, YouTube video, Twitter series, or ebook as part of your content marketing strategy.
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Now Over to You…
You know that hosting an online webinar is a solid marketing idea. It’ll improve your brand awareness, set you apart as a trusted authority, and drive brand awareness for your business.
These tips will help prepare you to host a successful webinar, but if you need help hosting your website, we’re here to help you with that too. Check out our affordable shared hosting plans today!