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How to Host a Webinar 101

Duo on March 29, 2014

We're hosting our first webinar "Better Websites by Design" on April 30, 2014.
Why webinars? Why now? Over the past year we have spent a lot of time planning and hosting our @DUO events focused on digital marketing, development, and design in our Chicago office.
Time and time again we get regretful emails from registrants the day of the event that look something like this: I'm so sorry I can't make the event tonight because of x,y,z...any chance you will share the event slides?"
We're going a step further. We realize that people are busy. Your lives, or your geographic location, may prevent you from coming to an @DUO event. Although we believe that nothing can replace that face-to-face interaction, webinars come in at as a close-second. 

Follow along as we share our insights and lessons learned on planning, promoting, and executing a successful webinar in this three-part series. 

How to Host a Webinar 101: Getting Started

how to host a webinar 101Webinars are a great way to engage in live, real-time interaction with your audience while simultaneously creating valuable content for them. 

Hosting your event online erases geographic and time barriers, allowing anyone to attend whether they are an hour or a continent away. During our research and planning process, we’ve come across a few tips that we believe would be of value to you for your own future webinar endeavors. In the first part of this three-blog series, we introduce you to a few initial tasks to put on your pre-webinar checklist.

The first three preliminary steps you need to take in order to get started include:

1.     Picking a hosting tool
2.     Deciding which type of webinar is best for you
3.     Planning your pre-webinar promotion 

Picking A Hosting Tool

Similar to building a house, you must lay the foundation before you can begin building. Picking a platform is the first step to determining all of the other elements of your webinar. A few of popular webinar tools include:

o   Join.Me

o   WebEx Meeting Center

o   GotoWebinar

o   Adobe Connect

Each of these platforms offers a host of different features, allowing you to modify your webinar to fit your specific needs. A few considerations to look at when choosing your tool include:

·      Broadcast Type: Are you interested in sharing your desktop with your audience?

·      Audio Options: Will you be speaking to attendees through phone? Internet?

·      Interactivity: Do you want to be able to live chat viewers or create polls?

·      Video: Do you want your audience to be able to see you? Do you want to see them?

·      Reporting/Recording: Are you interested in gathering analytics from the webinar and keeping it for future publication?

·      Number of Attendees Supported: How many people are you planning on hosting?

Spending a little time researching various sites to see what features they offer will provide you with insight into if their platform is the right fit for you. 

Which Webinar is Best for You?

Once you have selected your webinar tool, you need to decide how you want to structure your webinar. This is the stage of your house-building process in which you create the framework. Here are four different types of webinars you can host, each with its own positives and negatives. 

which type of webinar is best for you?

4 Pre-Webinar Promotion Tips

You should start promoting your webinar six weeks before its scheduled to begin notifying your audience and generating hype about it. Likely most of your audience won’t sign up until right before, however fueling conversation about it weeks beforehand is key to maximizing your reach to achieve the best attendance possible. Employ a combination of the following four promotional methods in order to optimize your webinar’s turnout.  

1.     Social Media

Making use of your social media accounts is perhaps the best thing that you could do for your webinar. Post about it two or three times a week beginning 6 weeks before the event date, and then four or five times in the two weeks leading up to it. Be wary of sounding too “sales-y” – your posts should always be amicable and interesting. Avoid it by utilizing your webinar presenters and having them promote the webinar as well (you can then retweet them or share their posts on your own social accounts).

2.     Email Your Leads

Likely, many of these leads will be in at least one of your social networks; however you should include them in your promotional emails regardless. Email is a great way to provide your contacts with a more detailed description of your webinar and how attending it will benefit them. Your campaign blasts should be less frequent, but more informational than your social ones: 
6-week mark: 1 email announcing the webinar
4-week mark: 1 email announcing the webinar in more depth
2-week mark: 1 email reminding leads to sign up with details about the event
Week of: 1 "last-call" email at the beginning of the week, 1 reminder email a few hours before the webinar

3.     Sneak-Peek Blog Posts

Blogging for your webinar will not only increase your SEO, but it’s also a great way to give your audience an idea of what to expect from the webinar itself. Pick a topic or two that you’ll be discussing in the webinar and write a few blog posts about them – if they capture your readers’ interest, they’ll be likely to sign up to hear more in your webinar.

4.     Make use of your website

Ensure that you are utilizing banner & side-panel space throughout your website for promotion –it’s free space, and you can be sure that site visitors are informed no matter what web page they’re on. Link all promotional buttons, blogs, social posts and emails to an optimized landing page that answers these questions: Who is the presenter? What topics will be covered? When will it take place? Where can it be accessed? Why should I attend?

Stay tuned…

Laying the preliminary groundwork is essential to successfully gathering a relevant audience for your upcoming webinar. Look out for the second part of the series, “Hosting A Webinar 102”, in which we discuss hosting best practices and how to promote your webinar during the event. 

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