The ABC’s of Webinars
~Learn the Basics from Delivery to Promoting
Webinars have become a universal method for delivering education & training programs as well as generating sales leads – and you need to know how they work and what is involved in making them a success.
Welcome everyone I want to thank you for spending a few minutes with me learning about webinars – and what it takes to put one on. My presentation will run about 30 minutes, and then we’ll have a question and answer session that will run for as long as you have questions. (The nice thing about webinars is that you can drop off any time you need to without disturbing anyone). When I’m done you will understand the components of delivering a webinar. The discussion will be at a fairly general level – though I’m happy to get into more detail during the Question & Answer session. However, I’ll warn you now that I will be keeping my answers brief in order to cover as many questions as possible. We asked folks if they had specific questions they wanted answered. We got a number back – several included a list of specifics that likely wouldn’t be of interest to the whole group. I’ve asked one of my colleagues to follow-up with those individuals after the webinar to get their specific questions answered in full. Alright, with that said, let’s get started.
First, let’s quickly summarize what you’re going to learn in the next ½ hour. Obviously a key takeaway is knowing just what a webinar is – and that includes understanding all the various steps in putting one on – because it is much more than just creating a power point and sharing it. I’m going to give you a simple revenue example to show you the kind of money you can generate – if that is your purpose. Then I’m going to give you some insight on how to get the most people possible to register for your event. Now I’m assuming that most of you will not be the actual presenter – so I’m not going to talk about presentation skills. We hosted a webinar on March 23 rd that dealt specifically with Presentation Skills and we can send you a link to the recording of that presentation if you would like. We also have other resources we can provide you if you’re interested in the finer points of webinar presenting. I will, however, along the way, let you in on a closely guarded secret in the webinar business – something WebEx, Go-To-Meeting, Adobe and the others don’t want you to know, so stay tuned for that about ½ way through my presentation.
Obviously you are attending this webinar …. And what you’re experiencing is exactly what your audience will experience when you deliver a webinar. You dialed into a conference call You clicked on a web link … and,- voila - its kind of like watching TV … you see the presentation and you hear the presenter - me. For this webinar we also gave you the option of listening through your computer speakers so you didn’t need to use your phone if you weren’t inclined. No fuss, no muss, no travel, no traffic – you can just sit there, have a coffee and relax. Same goes for the presenter – they can be any where in the world. As a matter of fact I’m on the road in Vancouver as we speak. And nobody needs anything other than their phone and computer. So, great – its easy on everyone …. But before we get into the details of what is involved in producing one Let’s first ask ourselves ~ why bother?
There can be a number of reasons - depending on who you are or what kind of organization you’re in. For corporations, the main purposes are (i) lead generation for sales, and (ii) staff & customer training. If you’re a member-based association, educational programming, best practices, and certification programs are all more cost effectively done via webinar than having everyone travel to a single location. Basically webinars work well anytime you need to communicate with a group that is spread out. Webinars are also a great way to generate non-dues revenue – and I’ll show you what those numbers can look like in a few minutes. But here’s something to think about. The beauty of webinars is that you can get the best and brightest speakers – wherever they are, and bring their expertise directly to the desk of your audience.
The benefits of webinars are pretty obvious. They are the most efficient, yet compelling method of reaching people scattered around the country, or even the world. Interestingly - the research shows that having voice, visuals and text, increases retention by up to 2-3 times over any one of them alone. And without a doubt, avoiding fixed location costs, as well as the travel time and expense for everyone involved, is a huge benefit.
OK – so what does it take to produce a webinar. There are a number of steps – and I’m going to quickly walk through each of them with you. Once you have your purpose clearly defined – you need to select a Presenter and a date…. no big surprise there – and I’m not going to take up your time discussing these. I will speak on best practices for when to hold your webinar in a couple of minutes, but with respect to choosing a speaker, depending on your purpose, having a household name is not important - and we’ll touch on that in a moment. Obviously the email invitation is a critical piece and I’ll be speaking a little more about that after we’ve reviewed the rest of the webinar components.
But before you can send out your invitation, you need a method for registering your guests. I highly recommend against doing this manually – both for your sake and your attendees. Online registration where the attendee simply clicks on a “Register Now” button and can register within 30 seconds (just as you did for this event) is far preferable than printing and mailing the registration form, along with a check. …. You don’t even want to think about going in that direction
In many cases this won’t apply. However, if you are charging your audience to attend the presentation, you’re going to need to process their payment. You pretty much have 3 choices: Do it manually by mail (which, again, you don’t even want to think about) Use a 3 rd party payment processor (a la PayPal) or you can choose a webinar service provider that integrates the payment processing with the online registration process. Unfortunately WebEx, Go-To-Meeting and most of the webinar technology companies don’t provide this. If you’re not charging attendees (maybe it’s a training session for customers or employees, or for sales lead generation), you’ll still want people to register because you want to know who these folks are – but you can avoid the payment part. This is called a ‘sponsored’ webinar because it is free to attend.
Presentation Software is the tool that allows the presenter to push his or her Power Point to the computers of all the attendees – as I’m doing with you now. OK – so now we come to the point where I let you in on a closely guarded secret in the webinar industry. It has to do with which web conferencing technology you should choose. Most of you will have heard of the major vendors: WebEx, Go-To-Meeting, Adobe, Microsoft’s Live Meeting and ConferTel’s i-Present . Are any of you lying awake at night wondering which one you should go with? Well don’t …. and I’ll tell you why. .. And this is the secret that none of them wants you to know: If you have a straight forward presentation using power point, their technologies are all pretty much the same. Each of these companies is trying to tell you that their technology is better than the others … but the fact is – for the usual stuff, it isn’t. They have the same functionality, they cost about the same, and they’re all pretty simple to use. It doesn’t matter which one you choose. Now I say this with one caveat, if you want to embed video, or you have wild animation in your presentation, or your demonstrating software, then there is a difference in performance and you need to do your homework. But for 95% of you, it won’t matter which one you choose. You do have an important decision to make, however – but which screen sharing technology to use - isn’t it. I’ll explain what that decision is in just a second, but first let’s get through the rest of the webinar components.
You can have the audio portion of the presentation be delivered over the phone or through the computer speakers of your audience – most of you in the audience chose to listen today through your computer speakers. If you’re going via a conference call there are lots of phone conferencing companies out there - including whoever provides your long distance for you. However, if you want to record the presentation, you will want the phone and web pieces integrated. Normally, all of the attendees are muted during the presentation (just like now) . This avoids interruptions and background noise which can be very disruptive. At the end of the presentation you will likely want a Question & Answer session. Attendees can queue up to ask a question over the phone … or they can send a chat question. You’ll have a chance to experience how both work in just a couple of minutes.
OK - Someone needs to facilitate the webinar. This person familiarizes the presenter with the process, makes introductions, explains to attendees how and when they can ask questions, troubleshoots any technical issues and facilitates the Q&A process. They also bring the session to a professional close. If you’re on your own putting on the webinar – this is likely you. An alternative is to go the ‘fully managed’ route where this person comes with the service, which we’ll talk about in a minute.
But first – let’s look at a couple of the optional features you should consider when putting on a webinar. Virtually all web conferencing software has the ability to ask the audience polling questions during a presentation. This helps to keep your audience engaged and can also be used to ensure people are paying attention – especially if the content of the course is for certification. Just so you’re clear on how simple it is, I’m going to pop a polling question right now so you can see how it works. --Insert Poll— Its also a good idea to pop a survey immediately after the session to gather attendee feedback. You’ll get a chance to experience how the post-event survey works – right after this presentation. You can also have a webcam streaming video of your presenter …. And while this might seem like a good idea at first, it has its drawbacks. If you use a webcam, your presenter has to remain still and looking at the camera during the presentation – which means no walking around and very little gesturing. It also means they can’t be referring to notes or other delivery assistance. You’ll note that I’m not using a webcam for this delivery – but the main reason for that is that I have a face that is made for radio – not TV.
OK – so here is a list of the components for delivering a webinar. Now, remember I said you had a decision to make – but it wasn’t about which technology to use? Well the decision you need to make is - do you want to handle all of these steps yourself – or do you want some help. Some people will want help, some people won’t. It depends on a number of factors like (i) how technically savvy you are, (ii) how much time you have to commit to the process, (iii) do you have internal resources you can rely on.
If you’re going it alone, you need to pull together each of the pieces on your screen. If you’re going to get help from a fully managed provider, you only have to worry about choosing your speaker and marketing your webinar – your provider looks after the rest. Here’s my advice: until you’ve been through the process a time or two, it’s helpful to have someone who is going to hold your hand through each step. There are 2 reasons for this: First - they ensure that nothing falls through the cracks and that the event runs smoothly, and Second - it allows you to focus on more strategic issues – like getting more people to attend – and we’re going to discuss some ways to do that coming up.
OK – so that is each step required to deliver a webinar. Now I’ve inserted this slide because when I’ve given this presentation before - people say, look, we know what it costs to license the technology from WebEx or whoever, so what is the cost of getting someone to manage the process. Well for those that haven’t priced the web sharing technology, you can get that component for $100 per month – you shouldn’t pay more than that. As for the fully managed service option, there are not many companies that provide it - and those that do have different pricing models. One wants upfront payment, another has fairly high minimums, but I can give you the details on how ConferTel works and you can use this as a reference point when looking at other providers. ConferTel charges a fee per registrant. They collect the money on your behalf, deduct a per attendee fee, and pay the balance to you within 10 days. (That’s right – they write you a cheque).The nice thing about this is there no up-front cost or minimum number of attendees, so you don’t have to sweat it if you’re not sure you can draw a crowd. If you’re holding a sponsored webinar – that is, one that is free to attend – say for lead generation, then you pay after the event for the number of leads you receive. And here’s a quick tip - When you’re dealing with anyone regarding a managed service, make sure there are No Minimums No term contract No gotchas So the obvious question is – “so how much more does it cost to have someone do all this instead of doing it myself?” And here is the answer: Since I don’t know how much you or your staff get paid or how long it would take you to do each of these steps I can’t answer the “how much more” question. But what I can say is that whether you do it yourself, have a staff member do it, or have a vendor do the work – it all has to get done – and get done right. The work and the associated cost is there no matter what. And it stands to reason that an experienced vendor can accomplish the tasks more efficiently than someone in your office that only does it occasionally – or perhaps has never done it before.
“ Alright – so I said I would show you what kind of revenue can be generated from a webinar. On your screen you see an example. Obviously if you increase the number of attendees - or increase your registration fee – your net proceeds will go up. In a minute I’ll give you a little insight on how much various organizations charge their attendees. You should also be aware that if you’re putting on education based webinars for the purpose of generating sales leads – then the cost is only $9 per lead … but of course the leads aren’t paying to attend so the $9 is coming out of your pocket in terms of a marketing cost. I will be giving a presentation in a couple of weeks on How to Generate Qualified Sales Leads – Using Webinars . If you’re interested in learning how that works – you’re welcome to join me.
Who you market to – and how - is the most important element in the process. There are 2 main marketing options you have (i) email marketing, and (ii) social media marketing. If you don’t have a list of prospects – with email addresses – then you need to get one before you can email market. You can build it yourself or there are hundreds of list brokers around with a variety of lists. If you’re stuck I can provide you with a handful of suggestions. You should also look around and try to find a marketing partner. This could be a trade organization or publication in your industry. The other main marketing channel is marketing through social media sites such as Linked-in, Facebook, and others ….. and this can be done without the use of an email list. As a matter of fact most of you here right now were invited in this manner. Now this is new stuff and not something most people know how to do currently. As part of its turn-key solution, ConferTel (the sponsor of this presentation) can deliver the audience to your event through social media marketing. If you have an interest in learning more about this we can cover it during the Q&A session. And as I mentioned, if you’re looking to generate leads then social media is definitely a marketing medium you need to explore. And I have to tell you – 3 months ago I would not have believed I would be saying this to you now. But here is something that will bring this point home. We had 228 people register for this webinar and 179 of you came through social media. That’s over 75%. Now of course, if you’re a member-based organization, you’ve got your membership list which you’re going to with email and you don’t need to be marketing your event through social media sites.
So now let’s figure out how we measure the success of a webinar. Well it’s simple - How many people attended. Its important to ‘know’ your audience. You need to deliver something they want. Something they will spend not just their money on – but their Time – which is even more precious to them. When looking to maximize attendance, having a ‘brand name’ speaker is far less important than the content of the presentation. Many webinars don’t even mention who the presenter is going to be. Take this webinar for example. You don’t know who I am, never heard of me. But you wanted to learn the basics of webinars – that’s why you’re here. …. and hopefully I’m meeting your expectations. As far as when to hold the webinar – most presentations targeting office workers are delivered mid-day. The experts will tell you to avoid Mondays and Fridays – but quite honestly I’ve seen customers enjoy some very good success on Fridays ….. maybe not at 5 in the afternoon …. but it is often a day where people feel less stress and feel they can afford the time. The Best Practice people will tell you to hold your webinar mid day on a Thursday. But it depends on your audience. If they are doctors or nurses, for instance, then early evening, would be best. The same might also go for individual consumers – if your presentation is not business related.
There are various factors that can effect the number of attendees, but THE most important is the invitation – whether its in an email or a landing page from a social media site. It needs to jump out with the benefit to the reader right up front – first line or two. The headline needs be attention grabbing. Tell them who should be attending and what benefit they’ll get from it. And do it with bullets – not boring looking text. Oh, and by the way, with email - you need to send it out more than once – I’ll get to that in a minute.
You want to get the word out as far and wide as you can. You want to promote it on your web site, newsletters, any live events that you may be doing. But remember – these are only secondary measures – they will not work on their own. Email, or using social media if you are marketing to the public, has got to be your main stay for marketing your event. You can also think about who has an interest in the same topic ? Maybe it’s members of a sister organization in another state, maybe it’s the local Chamber of Commerce … or the one in the next city, maybe a company in your supply chain. These are the sort of strategic ideas you can work on – if you’re not bogged down worrying about all the details of delivering the webinar.
So - Let’s talk about promotion. The popular belief in advertising is that you need at least 7 impressions before an advertiser registers with a consumer. I’m not recommending that you go that far with your webinar promotion – however, if you are marketing via email, a minimum of 2 - 3 emails is necessary for success. I can say unequivocally – you will not succeed if you don’t send out your email invitation at least twice. You don’t run into the same issue with Social Media marketing. And here is the interesting thing (which is very different from an ‘in-person’ meeting) – almost ½ your attendees will register in the last couple of days – especially if your webinar is free. So, counter-intuitively, don’t start our marketing too far in advance. As a general rule, 10 days before your event is sufficient. And I can tell you for a fact that this webinar was no different. A full 26% of you registered within the last 48 hours.
I often get asked by people who want to charge their participants - “ How much should I charge” . The answer to that depends on a number of factors, which essentially all tie back to “what is it worth to your audience’? We see Bar Associations charging members $125 and non-members $150 for a 90 minute Continuing Education Program. I see religious groups charging $49 for a 60 minute presentation. Generally the price point is between $50 - $90, but we’ve seen it much higher. What I can say is this - If your content is compelling and has value, people won’t quibble about 10 bucks here or there. The optimal length for a webinar is 45 – 60 minutes, with a question and answer session of 10 – 20 minutes after that. The key is to keep it short and keep it interesting.
As I wrap up this presentation I want leave you with some nuggets that you can walk away from this webinar with and actually start to plan your first webinar using the quick tips I have outlined here. These tips are brief, and there is work involved in each step so you really should allow yourself 4-6 weeks from concept to event to really put on a first class webinar that you can feel is successful and achieves your goals. We are working on a timeline here and you will start your 4-6wk process by identifying your topic and getting your speaker lined up. Then start working on your email invitations, you will want to send 3 starting around 21 days to 1 day before your event. Hopefully the platform you choose will automatically setup your email reminders to the registrants, you should send 2 reminders, one the day before and one 1-2 hrs before the webinar Create your PowerPoint that will be visually pleasing to your audience, you don’t want to bore them with lots of text
Keep your audience listening by having them answer polling questions during your event, they can also double as qualifiers in addition to the post event survey. For paid webinars you should keep your webinar to 90 minutes or less (that includes the Q&A session). If you are doing a lead gen webinar then you should keep it to 30 minutes plus Q&A to a max of 60 minutes. Well that’s it in a nutshell, I have lots of information to help you make your event a success, just put that on the survey comments and I would be happy to follow up with you to get you what you need.
Later today I will send you a bullet-form checklist of the steps to take to deliver a webinar. I don’t want to bury you with information which you may not want. In the quick survey you’ll receive immediately after we sign-off here, you’ll have an opportunity to request additional materials - which I’ll will be happy to send you.
OK - I’ve prattled on long enough. Now we’re going to open this up to questions. Heather – please give instructions on how our guests can ask questions – including using the Chat Function. (move to next slide )
I want to thank everyone for joining me today . I hope you felt your time was well spent and that you’re leaving with the basic information on producing a webinar that you were looking for. We covered : 1. some of the main reasons for holding webinars (educational programming, lead generation) 2. each step of the process – from choosing a speaker to a post webinar survey 3. the methods and timing of marketing your webinar – either by email or social media 4. how much you should consider charging (if you plan to charge attendees) and the kind of revenue that you can generate As I mentioned, the screen-sharing technology is all pretty much the same unless you’re embedding video or some other technical component into the presentation. For most of you the biggest decision you need to make is whether you’re going to pull the pieces together yourself - or get some help. So that’s it. Please take a minute and give me some feedback via the survey. Also let me know if you would like additional materials from our resource library. Thanks again for your time.