How to Run a Webinar: The Simple 9 Steps Guide
Are webinars part of your inbound strategy? They should be. And if you procrastinate because you don’t know how to run a webinar, after reading this post you will have no more excuses.
A research shows that 62% of B2B marketers use webinars in their content marketing strategy to entice new leads and move existing ones further down the sales funnel.
In this post, we’re going to take you through the process we used to create, promote, and run our last webinar, which ended up getting the highest number of webinar registrations and attendees of any AdEspresso webinar to date.
Feel free to copy and apply the strategies we used to your own content and replicate our great results for yourself.
Last month, I hosted my first webinar ever with AdEspresso’s own wonderful Paul Fairbrother.
The webinar was about how to quickly write high-converting Facebook Ad copy, which is obviously directly relevant to AdEspresso’s readers and customers, and it actually was a great success.
Attendance increased through the webinar instead of dropping off, and the feedback we’ve received since has been overwhelmingly positive.
Within the first six hours after the webinar ended, I had 17 people who wanted to hire me for ad copy, many of whom asked about getting started with AdEspresso’s tool, too.
So now, because it’s what we do, we want to show you how you can do this too.
Step 1: Choose Your Topic
Choosing a relevant topic that you can really deliver on is so important for a webinar.
I have zero doubts that the topic of our webinar– which essentially assured attendees we’d demystify the copywriting process– was so crucial in getting all those sign-ups.
The copy is essential to create strong ads, after all, but very few businesses know how to write great copy, or even what it looks like.
This means that this topic was going to be valuable to our audience.
We also knew early on that we wanted the content to be actionable, which shaped the specific angle that we chose.
We didn’t just want to go over what made copy strong or weak; we knew that offering specific steps and maybe even a formula for writing great copy would be a good starting place.
This would help everyone, regardless of skill level, be able to apply the knowledge right away.
This specific angle was also a good choice, because it would be impossible for me to fit everything that people needed to know about copywriting into a single hour, because it’s just too big of a topic and it’s something I’ve spent close to a decade learning and fine-tuning.
A quick step-by-step formula was the way to go, and we knew that early on.
When choosing your topic, think about what your customers are asking you most, and what they’re searching for online.
Is there something in your industry they’re struggling with most? That’s typically a good place to start.
Step 2: Set Up the Webinar Software
This was something that Paul and the AdEspresso team did on their end. You need to choose the best webinar software that you want to use, and go ahead and actually create the event. This will allow you to immediately send registered users information with the link to check out the webinar, and to go ahead and set up the basics ahead of time.
AdEspresso uses GotoWebinar for our webinars, and it’s pretty much the industry standard. It’s what the majority of my clients use across the board. This software lets you create your event in advance, adding a title, description, and start and end dates. You can also choose what goals you want to optimize for.
Here, if you’ll be having multiple “hosts” to the webinar, you can also add additional organizers or panelists. Paul added me as one so that I would be able to share my screen and give the presentation.
Step 3: Create Your Landing Page
You’ve now got the webinar set up, the dates chosen, and the topic selected.
Even though you likely don’t have the full presentation completed (or even really fleshed out, period) yet, that’s ok.
You should know enough to have bullet points of what you’ll be talking about, and what your attendees will get from the webinar.
Take that knowledge, and create a landing page that features a summary explaining how the webinar will benefit attendees.
This is important because, otherwise, you won’t get the registrations you need, even if it’s free.
Ideally, your landing page should:
- Have the event sign-up options clearly listed, and easy for users to complete
- Position the event host as an authority on the subject (preferably without exaggerating titles or experience– it’s not needed)
- Explain what the webinar will cover, what makes it different from other content, and how it will benefit users
This is the page where you’ll send users to sign-up, so remember to make it good.
Step 4: Create the Content
Ok, now it’s time to create the content.
I created a rough outline of what I’d be talking about, and sent it over to Paul to see what he thought.
You may be able to guess this already, but I can’t even begin to say how helpful it is to have at least two sets of eyes on everything to make sure you’re on the right track.
And, because I’m used to writing written content, I found that it was easier to create an outline, and then fill in the blanks as I physically created the presentation instead of trying to write it all out first.
Here’s what that outline looked like:
Paul recommended early on that I use Keynote to actually create the presentation.
Choose a neutral background, and make sure that your branding and contact information is available on every single slide.
I knew right away that the goal was going to be easily digestible, actionable, specific steps that users could take to write effective copy, start to finish.
This meant not getting bogged down by unnecessary details, but instead looking at big-picture tips with just enough information to use them correctly.
I focused a lot on finding examples with AdEspresso’s Ad Gallery, and then breaking down how the examples worked, so that we weren’t stuck in that awful theoretical place that some webinars leave you in, where you feel like you’ve learned everything and nothing at once.
I got an English degree in college, so trust me when I say I’ve been there.
It’s helpful to incorporate humor, pop culture elements, or famous figures in order to break up the presentation and keep users engaged.
In our copywriting webinar, I attached some laughably bad copy at Paul’s suggestion, and I also had a slide of Edgar Allen Poe to remind advertisers to focus on a single emotional effect.
Small details like that can help.
One more thing I want to note.
I’ve had several people tell me that they liked that the webinar didn’t feel too salesy. They liked the content because it was helpful, and it didn’t feel like we just put it together to aggressively sell AdEspresso or try to trick people into hiring me.
Keep that in mind, and focus on great content; that will be what helps you get more leads in the end.
You can see the full webinar here:
Step 5: Promote, Promote, Promote
As you’re writing the content, you also want to start to promote the webinar.
Actually, steps four and five can really take place at the same time.
Email your customers to let them know that there’s more content on the way, share it on social media, and even run ad campaigns.
AdEspresso posted in our University Group, all of the main social media profiles, included it in the newsletter and ran ad campaigns to encourage webinar sign-ups.
I also reached out to several professional writing groups I’m in and posted on my main page, knowing that I had a lot of connections who could benefit from it.
The more shares you can get, the better, because it means more leads will be signing up.
Only a small portion of users who actually sign-up will actually attend, so keep that in mind. That’s ok, though, because you still get their lead information, and they can always catch the replay later.
Step 6: Get the Equipment
Get your equipment ahead of time.
For best results, you should ideally have a microphone that isn’t the one that belongs to your laptop.
Paul also recommends getting a second screen to hook up to your primary computer, so you can easily see your notes and/or questions that users are asking.
Short, simple advice, so this is a short and simple section.
Step 7: Do a Trial Run
Before you actually just go live, it’s so important to do a trial run.
At this point, you should have your presentation down, and have practiced it several times to make sure you know what you want to say.
I’d run the presentation by two copywriter friends the day before to make sure they thought the content itself was good, and Paul and I did a trial webinar a few hours before the main event.
GoToWebinar actually lets you do a practice run, and treat it like it’s the actual webinar.
Paul immediately showed me the ropes of the system, and reminded me to NOT press “start broadcast” until we were ready to go live.
Make sure you see where the recording is, that your microphone works, and that your internet quality seems to be good.
I’m so glad we did this. Not only did it give me a chance to learn the system, we also identified a glitch early on.
My screen took about five minutes to sync with GoToWebinar, so we just both joined the webinar early before broadcasting to get that resolved.
Step 8: Prepare for Everything To Go Wrong
I can’t overstate this enough, and I’d put this subhead in all caps if it didn’t look too obnoxious. I pride myself being exceptionally prepared as a person. I go to doctors appointments with my lists of medications and detailed notes of any concerns that I have, and I have three backup phone chargers in my house in case one is misplaced and another breaks. If something can come up, I want to be ready for whatever it is.
Here’s the thing though. With webinars, you just have to roll with the punches. They’re live, and they rely on technology that no matter what can always turn glitchy at the last second, and it’s not really possible to prepare for everything.
We had a few bumps in the road with the webinar we did, including:
- I’d ordered not one but two different microphones (remember what I said about being prepared?).
They arrived late, the night before the webinar, and they were both broken. I had to go the morning of the webinar to a store thirty-five minutes away to get a new pair, rushing around to test them and get things situated.
- Maybe ten minutes before the webinar started, I somehow managed to delete 75% of the slides in the presentation.
Thank God I’d emailed the final version to Paul two hours earlier, so I was able to download it again quickly. And, if I hadn’t been able to, he had it loaded and ready to go.
- My fully-charged iPad, which had all of my notes for what I was going to say, completely shut down less than two minutes into the presentation.
I had to go off memory. The iPad had never done that before, though it has done it several times since.
- GoToWebinar was glitchy for some reason.
Poor Paul (who was moderating) was only able to guess at what most of the questions were because the second half was getting cut off. For whatever it’s worth, I think he killed it.
Practice, practice, practice. I wanted to represent AdEspresso well and was a little nervous, but being as prepared as possible helped things run smoothly even when disaster struck.
And when things go wrong, you’ll be ready, so you can keep rolling with it.
Step 9: Make Sure You Record It
Now it’s time for the main event.
Go live right when you say you will (if possible), but open the event early so that users can interact in the “waiting room.”
Make sure that you record the webinar so that you can upload it to YouTube or other social media channels later, making it an evergreen resource that will be valuable for a long time to come.
Here are a few best practices to consider when actually running the webinar:
- Take questions during the webinar; if you need a breather during the presentation, you can always take questions then, but an extended Q&A session at the end is a good call
- Let users know at the beginning that the recording will be online later, and where to find it
- Include an offer at the end to your products or services, but don’t aggressively sell them throughout
- Watch your chat box, or have someone there to do it (which Paul did for me); if all of your event attendees are saying they can’t hear you, you want to identify that immediately
Creating and running the webinar was a lot of work, and I wasn’t even the one who did the setup, landing page creation, and promotions.
I also had Paul giving me feedback so we could make sure it was the perfect fit for the medium and our specific audience, so I was pretty lucky with the resources at hand.
That being said, it was a great experience, and worth it.
I know that we had record sign-ups, which means a lot of leads, and I had a lot of webinar attendees reach out to hire me directly for copywriting services as soon as it was over.
It showed me that great content with actionable tips and a bigger focus on helping instead of just selling is, ironically enough, the best way to sell your product and services, and a webinar is a great way to do that.