More than other types of content, webinars give marketers the power to connect with audiences in a personal and immersive way. A firm favourite amongst B2B marketers, webinars are often touted as a top source for leads and ideal for all aspects of the customer journey.
But how can you keep people engaged? According to new research in GoToWebinar’s 2017 Big Book of Webinar Stats, only 40% of marketing webinars are taking advantage of engagement features. There is a tremendous opportunity for marketers to take webinars beyond a speaker and a few slides and engage audiences on a much deeper level.
Preparation is paramount
We’ve all been told that failing to prepare is preparing to fail – but planning really is the key to a successful webinar! It’s important to get ahead of the technology and check all the equipment before the presenter starts. Make sure the webinar software, headset/phone, internet connection and webcam, if your using one, are all working.
Secondly, ensure that everyone involved and attending has the correct dial-in details, it’s a simple step but can prevent a variety of issues.
To gain the audience’s trust and maintain interest, it’s important that the presenter is comfortable with the presentation. Presenters should run through the format beforehand and aim to shake off any last-minute nerves or uncertainty. Alternatively, if your webinar software has pre-recording capabilities, then this can be an easy way to prepare the bulk of the webinar. Once it’s been recorded, it’s easy to play back sections to the audience and removes the pressure and effort involved in live-hosting.
Interact with the audience
Webinars give marketers the power to have real two-way conversations with their attendees. The best way to engage an audience and get them learning new information is to encourage active participation. Before the webinar, create polls and surveys to keep your audience involved. You can also weave in more informal interactions by asking impromptu questions and having attendees respond with a “hand raise” or a message.
At GoToWebinar, we like to keep webinars loose and fun, and we’ll usually begin with an ice-breaker question, just to get everyone’s attention and set the foundation for future interaction.
All these opportunities for interaction give attendees the ability to take part in the webinar and do more than just watch and listen. Not only will this keep the participation high but also provides marketers with instant feedback on the audience’s engagement and insight into topics.
Another creative way to interact with audiences during webinars is to invite attendees to appear on video side-by-side with the presenter. Perhaps to ask a question or to discuss topics which needed further discussion. This is a very visual way to attract the attention of those who have become disinterested and produce interactive content.
Work on your delivery skills
We’ve all listened back to voice recordings and questioned whether that’s really what we sound like. Every voice is unique so it’s not a case of trying to sound perfect, although there are certain techniques which can enhance public speaking. Keep in mind that it’s best to speak loudly and clearly, and talk naturally. No one will pay attention if you’re mumbling or talking in a flat, monotone voice.
Tone is an important way to convey sentiment, so make sure this is consistent throughout as it will help to gain the audiences trust. Pausing can also be a very effective way of emphasising specific points, as the sudden silence can often surprise listeners and pull them back in.
Make it fun
Incentives can be a great way to encourage audience participation and increase engagement during webinars. Offering a prize which matches the audience’s interests, is a good way to ensure attendees remain focused. This encourages active participation and gives them a good reason to keep thinking about the webinar in the weeks that follow.
You can also infuse a lot of fun into your webinar with the visuals and formatting of your slides and presentation. Use GIFs, videos, and striking or familiar images that elicit emotion. Make important information stand out with non-standard fonts. And if you’re really feeling creative, you can add life to your presentation by giving it some kind of visual theme or including gamifying elements. Why just show bullet points of data when you can make it fun with a multiple choice or true or false question?
Judge your performance
Creating a simple exit survey can help marketers to judge the performance of the presenters and assess what content and format works well. The questions can be as simple as: How would you rate this webinar?
Many webinar platforms offer in-built analytics which can help you to evaluate success and gauge audience interest. Tracking metrics such as number of registrants is a good measure of how successful a topic is in signing up new registrants.
Another good metric to take note of is, the number of attendees in comparison to the number of registrants. Data gathered over the last year shows that the average attendance rate for marketing webinars is 37%. While this is relatively low, it does provide a great opportunity to continue the conversation with those who didn’t attend, nurturing them to explore other webinars and additional content.
Evaluation is key for improvement, so comparing previous webinars will allow you to gather insights and learn what captivates the audience and what causes them to stop paying attention.
– by Daniel Waas