Web seminars are a great content marketing tool to help establish your brand and your people as industry and thought leaders. The ability to present an idea or concept and then interact with web seminar participants adds a lively, engaging element that cannot be accomplished with a white paper. While the content may be similar as what’s written, presenting it in real time creates a different dynamic that helps build relationships.
Not only do you have a more engaged audience, you are also able to capture more information about those attendees. Although most web seminars are free, many companies charge the price of information: name, email, company, title, etc. Some even go a step further and ask how you heard about the web seminar, or ask you to fill out a brief questionnaire at the end of the seminar. It’s a great method of learning more about customers and potential customers.
So how do you start? Here are some steps to follow:
- Choose and test a platform to host your web seminars. It needs to be technologically sound and user friendly. There’s nothing worse than tuning in to learn and having technical difficulties. Cisco Webex and GoToMeeting are both standard, and pretty self-explanatory. Having a platform that will record your presentations is also a good idea so you can share it later.
- Present interesting topics. You can recycle information from an interesting white paper, survey or blog post. Some people really do respond better when they listen vs. when they read. You can also host a round table of industry thought leaders or explore new or trending topics of your industry.
- Make sure your presenter is enjoyable to listen to. Yes, Ben Stein is intelligent and insightful, but he’ll also put you to sleep in five minutes. Being an expert alone isn’t enough to sustain attention in a web seminar. A lively, animated personality is a must.
- Have a moderator to field, ask and sometimes answer questions to keep the seminar running smoothly. You don’t want your presenter stopping every few minutes because one person out of hundreds is having trouble dialing in to the conference bridge.
- Be consistent. Depending on your resources you may only be able to do a web seminar every two months, or you may be able to do it weekly.
- Keep the length to one hour long, starting and ending on time. People are busy and they’re taking time to listen to you. Let them know you value their time as well.
- Open it up for questions at the end. Allow 5-15 minutes for questions. You want to start a dialogue with the people listening. Let them participate. If you need to stop questions because time is running low, be sure to advise them how to get in touch so they can ask their questions.
- Follow up with attendees afterward. At the very least, thank them for attending and make the presentation slides available. ASPE-ROI sends an email letting attendees know that the recorded presentation and slides are ready for download after all of our web seminars. That email also has other information those attendees may be interested in such as discount offers or upcoming events.
People are bombarded with offers, so your web seminar has to contain something that’s relevant and interesting to get through the clutter. Michael Kolowich had some interesting ideas as well at the beginning of 2012 in a CMI blog post about how content marketers could reinvent web seminars. And finally, keep in mind that even people who are interested and sign up may not attend for a multitude of reasons. Don’t be discouraged – if half the people attend, that’s pretty good.
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