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7 Practical Steps to Host Webinars That Drive Sales ClickMeeting's Simon Grabowski shares his webinar secrets, including the best time of day and how to keep viewers until the end.

Simon Grabowski
Simon Grabowski, CEO of ClickMeeting

This article is written by Simon Grabowski, CEO of ClickMeeting, who is an Advisor in The Oracles.

If you're in B2B sales, there's one channel you can't ignore: webinars. Half of B2B buyers say webinars are the most valuable form of content in the mid-stages of decision-making. They spend longer with webinars than any other type of content and are more willing to share their contact details in exchange. Whether you're in products, services, or coaching, webinars can increase your authority as an expert — and ultimately increase your revenue.

Once you have a hosting platform, webinars only cost as much as you want to spend promoting them; so they're cost-effective. More importantly, they work. For example, at ClickMeeting, our average conversion rate is 54 percent. Webinars have a lot of potential if they are prepared, promoted, and conducted well.

Here are my seven steps to creating a winning webinar.

1. Make the content impactful.

The best webinars educate their audience and provide specific, tangible benefits. For example, don't just explain how to start a blog — explain "10 ways to drive visitors to your new blog." Focus on the problem you're addressing and why. Will blog visitors drive sales and thus financial security? Or will a profitable blog provide the freedom to work from home?

Viewers will leave if you hit them with a sales pitch. But after you give them value, they will be more willing to buy from you. For example, if you provide valuable information from your online course but also leave them wanting more, you entice them to dive deeper into the full course. You should also give viewers access to exclusive bonus content, such as a discount for the course or an ebook.

Make your webinar visual using audio and video or a whiteboard activity — don't just use a presentation. Live video is impactful for product demonstrations, as is screen sharing for software or services demos.

2. Design your registration page.

Keep your registration page simple. Describe the key ideas your audience will learn and highlight the presenter, especially if they're a recognized expert.

Make it easy to sign up with a clear call to action. Use large fields in the registration form and don't ask for too much information; their name and email may be all you need.

Don't forget to include the date and time, as well as the time zone if viewers are dispersed. Our research has found that Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. are best. An hour is ideal, which allows 40 minutes for the presentation and 20 minutes for Q&A.

3. Generate buzz.

Start your promotional campaign a month beforehand to attract crowds to your webinar. This can be as simple or in-depth as your time and budget allow.

Leverage your social media, email, and other channels, as well as those of the presenters. Ask them to prepare and share a 30-second video invitation, including the topic, date, and time. A personal invitation with a warm smile and energy puts a human face on your marketing. Include a unique, recognizable hashtag to keep the conversation consistent. To reach a broader audience, allocate a budget to Google and social media advertising.

Send the first email to your contacts two weeks before the webinar. Schedule reminders for a week and then a day before the event. Create urgency with subject lines like "Last chance to register" or "Only a few seats left." When the webinar is starting, send a reminder to those who have registered, and those who haven't, so they have a final chance to join.

4. Prepare the room and technology.

All you need are a hosting platform, stable internet, and a device with a camera and microphone. Even a smartphone or tablet will do. While you can use the microphone built into your device, headsets provide higher-quality audio and prevent feedback.

If you plan to share your screen during the presentation, clear your desktop of distractions. Close apps and programs you don't need and organize your browser tabs.

Find a quiet space with an uncluttered background where no one will disturb you. Then set up a trial run at least a day before. Test the lighting at the same time of day as the webinar to ensure your audience will be able to see you. Use your hosting platform to test the internet connection for speed issues.

5. Go live (and keep your audience engaged).

Begin the webinar by teasing your exclusive content. To discourage viewers from leaving early, don't reveal it until the end. Keep viewers engaged by polling them or encouraging questions in the chat area. Invite a moderator to manage this, and leave time at the end to answer questions.

Don't worry if you make mistakes. While going live on camera is intimidating, this creates a personal connection with your audience. They understand that mistakes happen.

6. Follow up with leads.

Send a thank-you email with the bonus content as soon as the webinar ends. This is the best time to gather feedback for future webinars, so include a survey as well. Then compile questions from the webinar and share the answers in another email.

Last-minute conflicts happen, so it's normal if about half of those who register actually attend. The ones who don't are still valuable leads; so follow up with the recording and offer to answer their questions. Send it to those who joined the live event too.

7. Keep it up!

Webinars are like blogging or email marketing: you need to deliver content regularly to be successful. Start monthly and go from there, but don't overwhelm your audience with more than one each week.

Regular webinars build a community of loyal viewers and prospective customers. Consistently engaging them with valuable content establishes you as a trustworthy source of knowledge. This ultimately builds trust, relationships, and sales. So get your webinars out there, and good luck!

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