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Show Don’t Sell: Here’s Everything We’ve Learned from Co-Hosting 21 Webinars (Case Study)

  • Conversion Rate Optimization

Online education has grown dramatically in recent years. More brands are adapting to this trend and creating online education materials for their target audience. 

You can find online trainings for almost anything—from advanced science to easy makeup tutorials.

In online marketing, however, there’s one media that continues to be particularly effective in educating audiences:

Webinars.

Anyone can create and host webinars, but only a few can create and host successful webinars.

And that’s what you’ll learn in this post. In it, I’ll share our biggest learnings and mistakes from co-hosting more than a dozen webinars over the past 12-months.

I’ll also share how to find potential partners, and profit from webinar marketing so you can win new audiences and engage existing customers using an easy 5-step process you can model for your business.

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Why We’re Doing Webinars (and Why You Should Too)

I can’t write about webinar marketing without sharing our results with you, first.

Using webinars, we’ve been able to:

  • Tap into new markets and generate more leads;
  • Increase our existing subscribers’ lead score;
  • Retain existing customers through teaching them how to better use our product; and
  • Build new partnerships with authority brands.

With 200-300 signups on average per webinar, that’s a lot of potential customers we can follow up with.

Before getting into webinars, though, you need to be clear on your goals and expectations. What do you want to achieve with your webinars?

Do you want more signups or free trials? Are you hoping to increase the lead score of existing subscribers?

Once you’re clear on what you’re trying to achieve, you can get started with the first step of the webinar creation process: Prospecting.

1. Partner with Authority Businesses to Reach New Audiences

Many businesses do webinars on their own. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But we’ve found partnering with other SaaS companies has many benefits, including: 

  • Establishing new relationships with potential partners;
  • Reach new audiences;
  • Create better webinar content; and
  • Getting more signups.

Finding the right businesses to partner up with can be challenging, though. After all, what is a good partner? We use the following criteria when considering webinar partners:

  1. Do they have the same target audience?
  2. Do they have authority in their field?
  3. Do their products complement ours?

To find good webinar prospects, look for businesses that complement yours. Here’s what I saw when I googled “email automation software” + “e-commerce”:

Go through the results on the first page and see if any companies fit your criteria. Look through the company’s case studies, blog, and more to determine if they’re a good match.

Once you’ve found a company you like, use Ahrefs’ “competing domains” tool to find similar businesses that you can add to your prospect list. 

Here’s what I found when I looked up Campaign Monitor:

Once you have a list of promising webinar prospects, reach out to them and ask if they would be interested in doing a webinar with you.

When you reach out, make sure to pitch the webinar to the prospect. Answer questions like who the host will be, potential topics you could present, the benefits of partnering, and more. 

Key Learnings

  • Look at a company’s blog to get a good indication of their content quality and expertise
  • Organize all webinar prospecting in Google Sheets to track your progress
  • Use personalized videos in your outreach emails

2. Create Webinar Content That Converts

I could write an entire post on how to create webinar content. But, here, I’ll focus on the essential elements of good webinar content and how to promote your product(s) without being salesy.

You first need to determine your webinar’s length. This will inform the amount of content needed. In our experience, 45 minutes is effective. This includes five minutes for the introduction, 30 minutes for presentation, and 10 minutes for a Q&A session (more on this later).

It’s long enough to provide value to viewers, but short enough to keep them engaged.

Then, create an outline detailing the strategies you want to share. It’s important to mention here the need to include a few strategies that relate—but are not limited to—using your product.

For example, we recently partnered with AdRoll for a webinar on “Full-Funnel Marketing Personalization.” In it, we shared how online retailers can optimize their site to convince first-time visitors to make a purchase without hurting the user experience. 

Your product needs to exemplify the strategies you will discuss. Doing so will introduce your product to the viewer without turning it into a sales pitch.

Here’s an example, sharing a popup slide-in strategy, from our webinar with AdRoll:

The above strategy for promoting product guides isn’t limited to Sleeknote customers—you can use any popup software. But we used an example from a Sleeknote customer to showcase our product.

Finally, at the end of the webinar, we included a call-to-action to invite users to try Sleeknote for free.

Key Learnings

  • Make your webinar content actionable so attendees having something they can try after the webinar
  • Include examples for each strategy
  • Include a call-to-action at the end of the webinar
  • Send your outline to the webinar partner and schedule a few calls to align on the content
  • Use as little text as possible in your presentation slides—you want viewers to listen to you, not focus on reading your slides

3. Use These 3 Webinar Promotion Strategies to Drive More Signups

Before promoting your webinar, you need to agree on expectations with the webinar partner, such as:

  • How will you both promote the webinar? 
  • Who will you promote it to? 
  • The webinar’s promotion budget

This is important because you don’t want to spend $500 on paid advertising (if that’s your preference) if the partner only plans to spend $50.

We’ve found three promotion strategies work well for us:

  1. Paid advertising;
  2. (Personal) social media promotion; and
  3. Newsletter promotion

Let’s take a look at each promotion strategy in detail.

I. Paid Advertising

We recently made a switch from using Facebook ads that link to our webinar registration page to using Facebook lead ads.

The reason we made the switch was to reduce the number of steps a prospect had to take to sign up for the webinar. Plus, integrating our CRM with our webinar tool (Zoom) enabled us to get more data that we can use to lead score new and existing contacts.

Many of our ads, like the one above, are in English. But we have them in Danish, also. 

The English ads target a lookalike audience of our email subscribers with a high lead score. We also target certain geographical areas depending on which countries we want to target for the webinar. 

Similarly, our Danish ads target a lookalike audience of our Danish email subscribers and website visitors.

The content of our ads vary, but we’ve found that the following impacts our webinar signup rates:

  • Long copy describing the webinar
  • Using animations over images
  • Including both company’s logos

Make sure to schedule your ads in good time before the webinar. (We typically start promotion two weeks before we host the webinar.)

II. (Personal) Social Media Promotion

We always promote upcoming webinars on Sleeknote’s social channels as well as our personal accounts to maximize our reach.

We’ve tested many different types of social updates and found that a personal GIF or short video of the host talking about the webinar works best.

Here’s a recent example from a webinar our CEO, Mogens, did with VWO:

What’s great about short personal videos is that you don’t need expensive video equipment; all you need is a smartphone and software to add a call-to-action (CTA) overlay.

III. Newsletter Promotion

You should always promote upcoming webinars to subscribers and customers.

To do that, create a segmented list in your email service provider (ESP) and target relevant subscribers and customers.

We typically target the following segments:

  • Users who joined previous webinars
  • Subscribers with a lead score above 40 (in our system that means they’re a good fit for our product)
  • Active customers (customers who use our product frequently)
  • Danish vs. English users (we sometimes do webinars in Danish for our Danish audience)

Make sure to focus on what people will learn from the webinar when you write your email copy. (Note, for more on how to do that, read my posts on email copywriting and email storytelling.)

Key Learnings

  • Set clear expectations with your webinar partner
  • Target relevant audiences with tested promotion strategies
  • Be personal in your promotion
  • Track your promotion and make sure you’re on track to reach your signup goals

4. Host a Webinar That Captures Your Viewers’ Attention

Hosting the webinar is the exciting part. But you and the partner must be well prepared.

A lot of businesses pre-record webinars and then play the recording during the “live” webinar. (We’ve done that, too.)

But in our experience, hosting the webinar live is better. Not only does it gives the webinar a more personal and authentic feeling, but it also allows you to host a live Q&A at the end. 

If you’re doing a live webinar, join the partner 20 minutes before you’re supposed to go live.

Use this time to run through the presentation and ensure that there are no technical difficulties (e.g. sound, slide presentation, video, etc.). You don’t want to discover ten minutes into the webinar that your viewers can’t hear you.

Next, review your slides in presentation mode and check that your webcam is on so viewers can see who’s talking:

At the end of the webinar, host a Q&A session where viewers can ask questions about the presentation. It’s a good way to elaborate on the finer points you made during the webinar and help viewers overcome any obstacles they might have to take action.

Finally, thank everyone for joining and let them know they’ll get an email afterward with the recording and any other material you’ve promised during the webinar.

Key Learnings

  • Check that the technical setup works as intended before you go live
  • Bring a glass of water to your desk before presenting the webinar—you’ll need it, trust me!
  • Enable the hosts’ webcams during the presentation so viewers can see who’s talking
  • Mute your microphone when you’re not speaking
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Laugh it off and move forward

5. Turn Attendees into Customers with Timely Follow-Up Emails

Once you’re done hosting, your work has only just begun.

You now have to follow up with webinar registrants so you can move them further down your funnel.

When you add webinar registrants to your customer relationship management software (CRM), remember to tag leads by whether they attended.

You’ll need to send two emails: 

  1. One to those who attended, and; 
  2. One to those who signed up but didn’t attend.

The call-to-action for those who did NOT attend should be to watch the recording.

The email for those that DID attend, needs to include a link to the recording, the slides, resources you promised during the webinar, and most importantly, a call-to-action for the offer you presented in the webinar.

Here’s the template we typically use (feel free to adapt it):

After sending the emails, assign your sales department to follow up with those who signed up for the webinar. 

People who just watched a webinar are warm prospects so they’re more likely to try your product now than they will be later.

Key Learnings

  • Tag webinar signups in your CRM
  • Send an email to attendees and non-attendees with different CTAs to move them further down your funnel
  • Assign your sales department to follow up with webinar leads

Free Downloadable Bonus

Want More Conversion Rate Optimization Strategies?

Get access to our free CRO toolkit and skyrocket your organic traffic, on-page conversion rate and more (includes resources not found in the blog post).

Conclusion

Webinar marketing is an effective way to generate new leads and retain existing customers.

Avoid hosting webinars because your competitors are doing it, and make sure you have the time, energy, and resources to create webinars that deliver value to your audience.

Are you using webinars to grow your business? If not, why? Leave a comment below.

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