Webcasts are on the rise and being used more often as key elements of strategic plans in marketing, communications, trainings and much more. A webcast is one of the most effective vehicles you can use to connect with key audiences, but like any tool, it must be used strategically in order to achieve your goals.
The following are some tips to help you and your audiences get the most out of your webcasts:
Tip One: Create a webcast strategy, plan and goal
Often organizations are so focused on trying to present their webcast that they forget about putting together a basic strategy and plan. When business professionals first started implementing webcasts a few years ago, it was mainly to reduce costs (save time and money on travel). Now, corporate leaders are embedding webcasts into business processes, including: product rollouts, trainings, sales, marketing, channel education, HR, recruiting and much more.
These same leaders were diligent in creating both a strategy and a plan as well as setting goals around every webcast. The list below might help you think about all the possibilities and give you some ideas to build your strategy and set your goals. Below are the top responses compiled from a recent survey of 341 business leaders about how they use virtual solutions to impact business and the bottom line inside their organizations.
• Get products & services to market faster
• Reach more audiences at a lower cost
• Develop more effective & efficient sales teams & channel partners
• Shorten sales cycles by educating prospects & customers faster
• Create stronger relationships with prospects, customers & partners
• Reduce support costs by training customers
• Protect the company by staying compliant
• Subject matter experts can now interact with audiences globally
Tip Two: Use a catchy title and description
Now that you have your strategy and plan in place, you need to create your first webcast and it should grab the attention of your target audience. The hook could be a snappy title, a special offer or a relevant topic that hits home. Next your prospects need to be motivated to register—that’s where a compelling description is critical.
Advertising copywriters know the power of action verbs. Take a cue from them to amp up the wattage in your title. Include searchable key words if you’re promoting your webcast to people outside of your invitee list, so the search engines will pick up your content. Describe the value that attendees will get out of your webcast; for example, “Learn How to Produce Better Webcasts”.
The description is your selling device. Action verbs work well here too. Use them liberally to describe what benefits your audience will enjoy. Emphasize takeaways and use words that are meaningful to your audience. Keep your description concise and to the point. Use bullet points so it’s easy to read and understand. You can add an incentive for everyone who registers, such as a whitepaper download or a special promotion.
Tip Three: Use slides as visual aids instead of visual points
It’s tempting to include every bit of information on your slides so your audience doesn’t miss a thing. In fact, the opposite happens. When presented with too much visual information, attendees understand and remember less.
Instead, use your slides to guide your conversation. The slides should include only your main points, which you can further expand on and illustrate as you speak. Your presentation will be more natural and attendees will be able to focus on your message.
Tip Four: Use storytelling
The most effective speakers tell stories to hold attention and illustrate concepts. Common analogies and specific examples like case studies help your audience visualize and understand the points you’re making. While telling the story, include one or two facts or data points to transform your example from the theoretical to reality. Be careful not to use too many details or you’ll lose their attention—you can always make additional detail available after the webcast for those who are interested.
Tip Five: Create a promotional plan
Promoting your event early and often will ensure a high registration rate. Here are some ideas to get you started. First, look to execute an integrated campaign using vehicles that have little to no cost, like your website, intranet and email blasts to prospect lists. If you have a budget, look to leverage e-newsletters, paid email blasts, Google Adwords, local event sections in newspapers and other PR efforts. Work directly with partners for promotional opportunities. Depending on your promotion period, send out at least two to three invitation emails for your campaign. Create a robust and engaging event microsite to attract registration. Activate social media options as part of the registration fields with your webcast platform.
Implement a social media strategy using tools such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to promote your event. Create a Facebook event and invite all your fans, find LinkedIn groups relevant to your audience, and schedule weekly tweets to create interest before the event. Create a hashtag for the event so people can find and reference it as they tweet.
Send reminders to all registrants one to three days before, and send one o
n the day of the event. Track the progress of different campaigns/marketing vehicles by embedding a ‘promo code’ to the event URL link. This way, you can monitor the progress and gauge the effectiveness of each vehicle to learn what worked and what didn’t.
Tip Six: Keep the session interactive
Involve your audience to keep them interested, to minimize “multitasking” and to encourage them to contribute, yielding a richer experience for all. Make it clear in your introduction that the session will be collaborative. Encourage questions throughout the webcast rather than waiting for a separate Q&A at the end.
Within the first two to three minutes, offer one or two poll questions to learn about the audience. You’ll set the tone and gain information that can help you tailor your delivery so it’s most relevant to those present. Each time you transition to a new topic, push out a new poll question about that particular topic.
At predetermined points throughout the webcast ask questions, and then you can “call on” attendees to respond, or push out a quiz. Ask them if they have any questions. Always be ready with “seed questions” that will help clarify a topic or move the narrative along.
A formal Q&A to wrap up is always helpful. Offering to extend the conversation to a forum that you moderate and respond to encourages ongoing interaction and relationship-building.
Tip Seven: Create memorable content
In the virtual world, content is king. Select interesting speakers, engaging subjects, and timely themes that will resonate with your audience. Consider inviting one or more industry experts or customers or even a high profile speaker who can draw a crowd. Avoid talking specifically about your products or services unless your stated objective is product training. Adding to your attendees’ knowledge base with information about trends, the industry and best practices will attract more interest and more attendees than a sales pitch.
Limit your webcast to 60 minutes or less. If attendees are engaged, the conversation can continue offline or in another venue.
Tip Eight: Extend the conversation before and after the event
Use your webcast as a conversation driver, not an isolated event. Create interest in advance by blogging and posting to discussion boards or groups so attendees are attracted to your topic, begin thinking and communicating about it, and are prepared to actively participate in the webcast.
Engage attendees by creating a Twitter hashtag before your event and keep it active after.
Create a centralized place such as a virtual environment or conference center (e.g. intranet site) where those interested can obtain information, “meet” and network, exchange ideas and participate in the conversation. Have subject matter experts continue the conversation inside a virtual environment or conference center if you have one, on Facebook and on Twitter, and have them available to answer questions that come from the archived event.
Tip Nine: Remember the folks who register but do not attend
The event isn’t over when it’s over. Although not everyone who registers will be able to attend, everyone who registers is interested in your topic. Follow up diligently with all. Send attendees a “thank you for attending” note. Send no-shows a “sorry we missed you” note and encourage them to access your content on demand. Include the on demand link to both, as well as dates of future events and contact information.
Archived events are a convenience to registrants and keep your content working after the event has ended. The on demand period can generate 40% or more of your total attendees, so do not take it for granted.
Tip Ten: Conduct post-event analysis
Evaluate your content, presentation and event from your own perspective and your attendees’ perspective. Read attendee feedback, survey results and ratings. Review chats, polls and Q&A from the session. How many actively participated? Were their questions and comments appropriate to the topic? If not, examine your promotions, content and audience composition to determine whether they’re aligned. Did most attend the entire session? If not, at what point(s) did they drop off? Talk with colleagues and attendees to get their input.
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