Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian

Webinars grew so much during the COVID-19 pandemic that 42 percent of marketers, according to a Wyzowl survey, said they now plan to host or participate in them this year. What’s interesting is that 83 percent think webinars are an effective strategy even though less than half (41 percent) had actually hosted or participated in any. There’s a mountain of reasons for marketers to get aboard today.

Be aware that simply announcing and promoting a webinar doesn’t ensure a flood of participants. According to Search Engine Journal, only two percent have more than 500 attendees. Identifying the brand’s target audience and reaching them where they frequent is important in alerting them to the webinar.

Understanding their major concerns, issues, interests, goals and/or challenges is also critical. Although the range of topics available may be wide, start with those that will be most likely to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. Identify the top traffic pages by identifying or confirming the most popular searched topics that align with the brand or company using Google Analytics. Polling current customers also helps.

Unlike brochures, ads and social posts, webinars humanize the brand or company. And unlike pre-produced videos, webinars not only allow consumers to hear and see the folks behind the scenes, but they also get to know and interact with them. And when the host is passionate and energetic, attendees are engaged. Not reading from a script and even ad-libbing or improvising at times makes it even more human. Humor, of course, also works.

An advantage of webinars is that it helps position a company as a thought leader in its field through its free and generous sharing of knowledge and expertise. Granting attendees access to supplemental material and information through links adds even more value. Providing and sharing information and data that answers consumer questions or concerns not only establishes the company as an expert but also instills trust and a reason to participate again and again.

Webinars shouldn’t be a now or never sales pitch since it’s the first time many attendees will have become acquainted with the brand. This doesn’t preclude next steps and a softer pitch like a special offer or discount. Another option is to send an email afterwards that extends the same.

Review information from those attendees who stayed with the webinar all the way and who participated in the Q&A. If they invested 45-60 minutes to attend, they’re prime prospects. Leverage what’s learned about them as well as any data gathered when they registered to personalize future communications and lead them through the sales funnel.

For now, most attendees view webinars with the laptops but plan to use a platform to accommodate those on digital devices. This also means increasing the size of visuals and text. Before the pandemic, SEJ reported that seven percent of webinar attendees were on digital devices. That number, however, has likely risen since then. When to schedule? Based on Serendipit data, the best days to host a webinar are Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Don’t worry if registration seems sluggish. Serendipit reports that 58 percent of registrants register the same week as the webinar with 28 percent on the same day. The top interactive tool before and after the webinar is the Q&A.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading NY PR firm.