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How B2B Marketers Can Get the Most Out of Webinars in 2020

There has to be a word for the creeping dread B2B marketers have been feeling this year, preferably something German with a ton of umlauts.

As we watched events in the spring cancel, postpone, or go virtual, we held out hope that summer would be different. Then July’s events moved out. Now it’s looking like the type of large-scale events B2B marketers depend on will have to wait until 2021… at the earliest.

But we don’t have to despair! We can close the gap with virtual events. The speaking gig at an industry conference can become a webinar, as can a planned panel discussion or product demonstration. 

The good news is plenty of people have more spare time than before to watch your webinar.

The bad news is that everyone who makes webinars has time on their hands, too. So, your webinar has to have a little extra oomph to stand out in the crowd. 

Here’s how you can level up your webinar creation and promotion.

How to Get the Most from Your B2B Webinar

It’s no longer enough to put up a slide deck and talk through bullet points. These tips will help you make a more compelling webinar — and make sure that people attend it.

Start with Content Research

No marketer worth their salt would make a blog post without doing content research. Why should your webinar be different? 

To determine the best subject matter for your webinar, bring all of your research tools to bear:

  • SEO research via SEMRush and Google Analytics
  • Question research via BuzzSumo and AnswerthePublic
  • Prospect feedback from your sales team
  • Competitor content evaluation

All of these resources will help you home in on the topics that your audience most wants to hear about. Your research might even drive what type of webinar you create: If your audience needs how-to advice, you might do a live demonstration. If they’re looking for thought leadership, you might partner with influencers. Speaking of the latter…

Reach Out to Influencers

In case you missed the headline yesterday, B2B Influencer Marketing is kind of a big deal. There’s no greater boost to your credibility (and your potential audience) than adding industry thought leaders to your webinar. 

Look for people who are influential with your audience — those who are regularly producing content and engaging with anyone who posts a comment. They don’t have to have Taylor Swift-level follower counts to make a difference. They just have to be able to get a relevant audience’s attention and hold it.

Also, it’s not enough to just have someone appear with you on camera, though — it’s important to ask meaningful questions that will enable a substantive discussion. Keep your content research in mind as you plan the interview.

Create a Landing Page & Promote

Give your audience plenty of time to prepare for your webinar. We recommend starting outreach at least two weeks beforehand, and up to a month if you can swing it. 

Create a short landing page to collect sign-ups — include a few key points you plan to cover, and introduce yourself and your guests. You can promote the landing page via social media — image-led social works well — and blog content that builds anticipation for your topic.

Don’t forget to include the webinar in your newsletter, and to enlist your influencers to drive pre-registration.

One great way to promote the webinar, and focus your content at the same time, is to poll your audience via social media. Ask for their thoughts on your topic. Ask what they most want to know about it. Ask what they would like to ask your thought leader guest. These posts can help drive registration while also making sure the content will be more relevant to the audience.

“One great way to promote the webinar, and focus your content at the same time, is to poll your audience via social media. Ask for their thoughts on your topic. Ask what they most want to know about it.” @NiteWrites Click To Tweet

Change Up the Format

The Q&A, the panel discussion, the lecture — there are a few tried-and-true formats for webinars. But as the market gets flooded with content, we need to be more creative. For example, what about a working session instead of a discussion, where your panel collaboratively creates something? Or what about spicing up an interview with interstitial, pre-produced video content? 

You could even host the webinar on a platform like LinkedIn Live (while recording it for later publication, of course) and interact in real time with the audience. Just make sure to have a moderator to help keep the questions flowing smoothly.

Plan and Practice, But Be Flexible

It’s always a good idea to run through your entire webinar a few times before you go live. If you’re doing a lecture or presentation format, that means practicing all the content you plan to put across. For a panel discussion or interview, you may not be able to do a full run-through with your influencer, but you can still test the technology you will be using.

Don’t let your practicing and planning make your presentation too rigid, though. You should be able to follow an interesting conversational thread in your interview, or incorporate an audience comment in your presentation, without the whole thing going off the rails.

Of course, it’s always going to be tricky to run a live presentation, especially if you or your guests don’t do this type of presenting for a living. It can be challenging to think on your feet, come across as engaging, and keep a conversation focused and interesting to your audience.

Which is why I’m going to court controversy and say…

You Don’t Have to Be Live

As we think about changing up the format and offering a higher-quality experience to the audience, it may be time to let go of the idea that webinars have to be live. 

After all, editing is the gift that you give to your audience. You wouldn’t write a blog post in real time with a hundred people watching. You wouldn’t record a podcast episode and publish the raw audio. So why not pre-record and edit your webinar?

It’s true there is an immediacy to a live presentation that would be lost with a pre-recorded one. But the boost in quality for the audience could cover that loss. And you can still have an interactive experience with the audience through chat. You could even play the pre-recorded portion first, then hop on the video stream live for an audience Q&A.

There’s an enormous gap between the standard slideshow & lecture webinar and the produced, polished video that audiences appreciate most. Pre-recording and editing is one way to start closing that gap. 

Follow Up with Extra Content

What should your audience do next after attending the webinar? That’s a question to answer before you take your first registration. Once you have a next step in mind, create a content bundle to send to each registrant after the webinar airs. This bundle could include a normally gated eBook or two, some recommended reading from your blog, or more content from your influencer guests.

You can also create extra content from the webinar to help fill out your editorial calendar. Use excerpts from your discussion to fuel blog posts. Repurpose the audio as a podcast. Pull the best quotes to use as video posts on social media that drive to a gated version of the recorded webinar. Essentially, it’s about getting the most value possible from your content asset — the same thing you do with eBooks or blogs.

Webinars Killed the Radio Star

The pandemic has made webinars a go-to tactic for marketers who are missing out on face-to-face events. But as more marketers get into the webinar game, your content needs to be extraordinarily valuable and extremely well-promoted. If you plan, produce and promote your webinar with the same strategic care that you use for the rest of your content marketing, you’ll bring your audience more value and earn their attention in return.

Check out our CEO Lee Odden in a recent webinar: Social Media in the Times of Social Distancing.

Joshua Nite:
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