Life Sciences Technical Marketing: Tips on Organizing Successful Webinars For Scientific Audiences
In an age of constrained event budgets but near-universal broadband internet access, webinars have become an important option for engaging technical audiences.
If you haven’t been taking webinars seriously, you should now. Marketing executives now rank webinars 3 out of 5 (above social media and print media) as lead generation tools, and 50% of people who register go on to attend, 30% of whom turn into qualified leads. Impressive eh?
That said, webinars do require careful planning to pull off. This is because of their potential to attract huge audiences in the absence of the usual overhead costs of physical seminars.
So here is my list of important considerations to pull off a successful event. It is by no means exhaustive, however, I have included the key to guarantee you attract quality leads from your event.
#1. Select a topic and a compelling headline to maximizes SEO
Although the content of the webinar is critical, the topic and its headline are what people see in the first place. A well-thought through topic and headline are what will give you exposure, and compel people to register and eventually attend.
By way of an example, here is a webinar announcement on pharma industry quality trends that I received in my inbox sometime back: “Top Quality Trends for 2018 Pharma Quality Survey Report” I will leave you to judge its suitability. However, a more catchy title for me would have been “Important Quality Trends That Will Impact Pharma Businesses In 2018”. The later is more captivating and makes one want to know more.
#2. Select a web conferencing platform
Selecting the right webinar platform is the next most important consideration (after the topic and headline). Be clear on what it is you want, namely the number of participants, integration with other applications, such as CRM, ability to record proceedings and on-demand capabilities, screen sharing, compatibility with windows/android/IOS, security and encryption, etc.
Once you’ve established your requirements, it’s worthwhile evaluating free versions to know if a particular solution meets your needs before you go on to commit resources. Some of the most common providers to consider include Citrix GoToWebinar, Adobe Connect, Cisco WebEx, Google+ Hangouts, Skype for Business, and BlueJeans.
#3. Get an expert in the field to be a guest speaker
Between selecting a topic and a web conferencing platform, the other important consideration is getting a speaker for your webinar. With all of the other issues to arrange, it is not difficult to see why the speaker is the last thing on people’s minds. Don’t fall into this trap.
So unless of course you’re the main peg in your industry, consider inviting an external speaker: from the movers and influencers in your field, people you’ve previously worked with to those from within your target audience. Having a guest speaker will amplify the webinar’s effectiveness, widen your audience base, increase the webinar’s authority and enrich its content.
#4. Create a landing page
A landing page is a dedicated web page designed to support a specific marketing objective. The idea is that a visitor can be directed seamlessly, upon clicking on call-to-action, to convert. Effective landing pages should be free of distractions, have a clear reason to be a cause for conversion and at the same time provide just about enough information to appeal to prospects without overwhelming them.
#5. Create a system for following-up registrants
Having a system to follow-up those who register is a great way to engage with your target audience and assure them that they’ve done the right thing by registering.
Therefore, after you test your landing page and registration form, ensure you have automated follow-up emails from your webinar platform. Spend time to customise these emails so they suit your audience needs.
You may also want to have a Thank You page that reassures registrants that they will receive reminders with details on how and when to join the webinar. The Thank You page is an opportunity for another point of contact or engagement, or perhaps watch a video, subscribe to a newsletter or blog.
#6. Promote the webinar
You’ve done very well up to this point and feeling a million dollars: You’ve identified a topic you’re passionate about, come up with a killer headline, sorted the webinar platform, landing page and a system for registering participants and following them up.
What you now need is people to start registering. You could sit it out and hope they find about your webinar organically. However, the chances of this happening are very slim. What you need to do is start spreading the word. So start with a marketing strategy and plan, setting out how you’ll increase awareness of your webinar among the target audience and benefits of attending. Some of the channels you should consider using include:
Social media is your billboard so use it to maximum effect. Try out different images and or messages, with a link back to your landing page.
Participants appreciate an educative blog about what your webinar and it usually motivates them to register. Share any insights that the webinar will bring and why you’re looking forward to the event.
Email list and newsletter
Your email list is invaluable source of webinar participants. From my own experience three to four emails are most effective, with the last two being text only. Don’t forget to filter out people who have already registered.
If you have an allocated budget, paid media is a good option. A paid Facebook post can create a great deal of publicity and is relatively affordable. LinkedIn is also worth a look, although more expensive. Budget around £250/$300.
Being a virtual equivalent of a physical store, your company’s website is the most important marketing channel for your webinar. So take advantage of all those people coming to your company’s website and convert them into participants.
A video trailer is essentially a short snappy video outlining the most important information about your webinar. If you do it well it will create a powerful buzz and inspire visitors to register. The goal of a trailer is to drive traffic back to your landing site – so include link in the video that visitors can use to access the registration form.
An email signature is a much prized marketing asset that you can use to showcase your webinar to colleagues, customers and prospects. So why not have all your co-workers insert a tag in their email signature about your webinar (pre- or post-event)? This much-overlooked channel is not only effective and free, but it has a high RoI! Just think about all the people who receive email from your company each single day!
Other people’s networks
It is no secret that successful companies like Facebook, Airbnb and Uber have grown on the back of other people’s networks (Facebook = Harvard; Airbnb = Graigslist). The easiest wins are to have your guest speaker send out an email to their network but if you have a partner, are a member of a Linkedin or Facebook group that fit together with your webinar aims, consider approaching them to co-promote the webinar with you.
Do not forget to send invites to all your customers (telephone, email, social media). Ask them to invite their contacts as well. Every little helps and it all adds up.
If you are headed to a tradeshow or other event, consider printing fliers about the webinar and handing them out to visitors.
Countdown and checklist
If you’re into campaign analytics, consider gathering data about campaign effectiveness from day the day you go live. Google URL Builder will allow you analyse traffic sources by tactic so that you can know which tactic is working best at converting.
1 month to the webinar
- Distribute a news announcement (using your media relations URL in the body) on the wire (PR Newswire, BusinessWire, or Pitch Engine). Also upload the release to the newsroom on your website.
- If you distribute a newsletter, include a mention about the webinar in the email one month prior to its date. If you don’t, do four emails. One a month before, one three weeks before, one a week before, and one the day before. It will seem like a lot of emails to you, but most people get the information and sit on it and then register the day before the event. The URL you use in the emails will be different to what you use in the newsletter so you can track the effectiveness of each.
- You can also go really old school and send a postcard to your database. Because that’s rarely done these days, it can be pretty effective. Do this a month out and make sure your URL is specific to direct mail so you can track whether or not it works.
Day 14 – Day 1 before the webinar
- Facebook or Google ads are both very inexpensive ways for attracting new visitors who don’t already know about you and your business. Do this two weeks out.
- A week before the webinar, invest time in social media. Most companies find success in email campaigns however; if you have an active social media presence it can be very effective for ramping up awareness.
- Using the social media URL you created, begin to post the webinar on your social networks. Ask your team to do the same.
- If you’re having a guest speaker, ask them to share on their respective profiles. If you have a corporate LinkedIn page, share it there and ask people for recommendations.
- Write a blog about what people can expect to learn if they attend.
On the day of the webinar
You’re now set. Run a quick mock test to ensure things are running smoothly. Ensure you’re able to record proceedings since approximately half of people who register don’t join the live event.
On the day of the webinar
- After the webinar, send out a quick email to everyone who registered with a link to the recording.
- Include a link to the recording on your company website so you can continue tracking people who visit and download.
So there you have it. My recipe for organizing and hosting a webinar for a technical audience. Let me know what you think.