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12 ideas for promoting the engagement you want in virtual audiences

Roger Courville, CSP

In a nutshell: If your objective is engagement during an event, marketers can help the cause.


If your version of webinar promotion strategy is “thank you for your email address,” you’re missing out.

What follows are tactics we've seen our most successful clients use, all with results that are worth mentioning. They may not all be for you, but they should poke you in the creativity bone.

Before the event

Combine the webinar with an “infokit” (or paper, or…)

Registering for a webinar is almost always in advance of the date/time. Something additional also rewards behavior with something immediate.

Come interact with a luminary/expert

Webinar advertisers frequently say “come to this live, interactive webinar.” The trouble is that a little Q&A at the end doesn’t count…the presentation itself is still something we’d never stand for in an in-person seminar.

Sometimes the ability to connect with and/or get a question answered by a subject matter expert is as powerful (or more) than all the content. It’s live and realtime. Promote it as such, but not with the same old language that every one else uses and nobody believes.

Promote well in advance and immediately before

Social media is part of nearly every webinar promotion plan. The problem is that you don’t have perfect reach — only a part of your social following will see any one post. Promote too much at once and you’ll blow fans/followers out of the water. Lose the idea of a perfect time to send an email or drop a tweet. Spread out both timing and tactics.

Use registration pages as mini-surveys

Gather feedback! Use it in advance to dial in the presentation. Use it like a mini-research project to learn more about audience wants, needs, fears -- in advance.

Create a custom email signature

Have the sales/services teams append it to their existing email signatures. Now every communication indirectly increases exposure. A lot.

After they’ve registered

"Attend to win…"

It doesn’t have to be gimmicky or expensive, and it can boost attendance rates. The key is that the messaging is that participants have to be in attendance to win. Obviously you can do this when promoting the webinar, but what if you tested adding it to the messaging you send after they’ve registered to increase the value you’re delivering? This leads to…

Customize the system-generated confirmation and reminder emails

For an extra boost, kick those generic system-generated confirmation and reminder emails to the curb. Nobody pays attention to them in an overflowing inbox because they all look the same. Use your Tweet-writing skills to change the headline to something catchier. Tweak the body copy to remind people of the benefits of attending (that they’ve probably forgotten since they registered three days ago).

While the event is live

"Stay to the end to win (the live drawing for…)"

It only makes sense to encourage the behavior you want right? Super strategy: do it more than once (not just at the beginning) to make sure you catch the late-comers. Extra-super strategy: do it both verbally and visually (on a slide) to hit multiple senses. Rock-your-everything strategy: have the moderator mention it at more than one natural transition points (e.g., while waiting for people to vote in a poll).

Why mention it more than once? Don’t YOU tune out that “blah blah blah” at the beginning of the webinar? So does a big chunk of your audience. Or what happens if they show up four minutes late?

"Fill out the exit survey to receive…"

It’s only fair to give value to get value. Make it clear what you want (feedback), and reward those who participate. One client saw a 71% increase in their survey responses by adding a three-slide sequence at the end of the presentation. They cycled through those slides during Q&A, visually reinforcing the benefit of participating. Too, they asked respondents in that survey if they wanted to be opted into the next webinar in the series. 

At the end or after the event

Have the moderator ask for what they’ve learned and tie it to future webinars

A powerful seminar technique that reminds people of the value they received is to ask them what their takeaway was.

Here’s the extra step: use a transition as an opportunity to mention the call to action you desire. 

Example: “…that’s great, and if you appreciate how today’s tips will prepare you to launch widgets, be sure to check out…”

It doesn’t have to be a long sales pitch to get additional exposure for other calls to action.

Customize your follow up emails to include invitations to connect

Examples: "Connect with us on Twitter at…" or "If you liked this webinar, be sure to check out the next one here…"

Give the sales team a warm followup

A lead is wasted money if it doesn’t turn into generate the desired future outcome. And an opportunity to call a client with a personalized reason for calling is always a powerful value to them. 

Properly prepared, reps can follow up with, “You asked a question during yesterday’s webinar…did that get answered? By the way, you might also find <whatever it is> useful…”

The bottom line

Unlike most content marketing assets, webinars have a lifecycle. This gives you unique opportunities to deliver messages and influence outcomes. It’s a little different than what most people do, but that’s the opportunity, right?

A little bit of prep can go a long way. Now go forth and rock it. And as always, give us a call -- we can take a ton of work off your plate to let you focus elsewhere.

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