Webinar Best Practices - Part 1 - Planning Your Event


A Webinar is an online presentation and communication tool for your target audience. It is cost-effective and can be highly beneficial to your organization if properly planned. Benefits include:

  • Improves brand awareness
  • Builds loyalty
  • Identifies leads and generates demand
  • Drives web site traffic
  • Trains and educates
  • Increases credibility and reinforces position as an expert
  • Fosters collaboration

In this series, key points will be outlined for developing and conducting webinars utilizing information from a number of organizations, including the American Marketing Association (AMA), Frost and Sullivan and Brainshark (see references for a complete list of sources). Webinars should be part of your organization's strategy. In fact Brainshark, which focuses on web-based applications and products, reports that 69% of technology marketers use webinars.

Like any business presentation, planning is crucial. At least 6 to 8 weeks of preparation is required. During this time, you should consider your target audience, the topic/content, date and time, format, speakers, promotional support and follow-up. Finalize your topic and speakers at least 6 weeks prior to the event. AMA recommends setting up the registration and starting to promote 4 to 6 weeks prior to the event. To maximize attendance, pick a time convenient for your audience. Also make sure you consider the various time zones while giving plenty of advance notice.

Email invitations should be sent 2 weeks prior to your scheduled webinar. Reminder emails should be sent: the first one 24 hours prior the event, and the second one 2 to 3 hours prior the event, accompanied with instructions for joining. Email remains the key motivator for participant registration. A distant second is social media for promoting the event and encouraging registration. You should also promote the event on your web site with a link to a webinar registration form. Keep the registration form simple and capture only the information you need (for example, ways to contact attendees for reminders and promoting future webinars). If you ask for too much information, you discourage participants from registering.

Content is important. Your webinar must have value for your audience and that means understanding your target — this is not a sales pitch. Ask two important questions when developing content:

  • What are your goals (updating, educating, generating sales leads, informational, collaborating, etc.)?
  • Who is your target audience and what are their needs?

You need to meet your goals while helping your target audience by: solving a problem, educating them, and or helping them with some aspect of their business. Use this as your basis for developing your webinar content. Your topic should encourage your target audience to sign-up and actually attend. You need to be an industry expert and provide content of value. Develop a synopsis of your webinar that is brief and attracts the attention of the target by focusing on its value. The content needs to meet your audience's expectation and deliver what is promised. Providing a clear outline of what a participant can expect and the benefits they can get from attending is important.

View other articles from the Webinar Best Practices 3 part series:


American Marketing Association and ReadyTalk Present: Best Practices for Webinar Planning and Execution
Frost and Sullivan: Best Practices for Making your Webinar a Success: Post-Event Evaluation and Leveraging Social Media to Make your Webinar a Success
Brainshark: Re-examining your Webinar Strategy
April 22, 2014 | Categories: , , | Tags: American Marketing Association, brand awareness, online presentation, target audience, web site traffic, webinars


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