Is it getting more difficult to get people to attend your company’s webcasts? Are your messages no longer inspiring people to action? Is your attendee retention rate dropping each time you run a webcast? It’s time to rethink your strategy.
A webcast is an excellent way to educate prospective customers and, more importantly, open a dialogue with them. But how you spend that hour will make the difference between engaging customers and having them answering email and doing other tasks while only half listening in.
In this installment of Best Practices for Tech Marketers, we’ll outline 13 ways to reinvigorate your webcasts — a valuable component of your multimedia marketing strategy.
1. First Impressions Count. When inviting potential attendees to register for your webcast, don’t underestimate the power of the headline. It may be the single most important vehicle for getting people to attend your event; it’s not more informative than the event summary, and not as valuable as your speaker lineup, but it’s the first and best chance for you to hook people into considering attending. If the headline doesn’t grab them, they won’t even get to the point of reading the excellent summary or seeing the great lineup of speakers. A headline that says, Company X Offers New Business Process Management Tool s is not particularly interesting and it sounds like attendees will be hit with a sales pitch. But a headline that says, Five Ways Business Process Management Tools Can Transform Productivity in Your Business sounds like the attendee will get useful, actionable tips.
2. Abstract Thinking. A good headline should be followed by a brief abstract — an executive summary, if you will — that tells prospective attendees what they can expect to learn from the webcast. Consider this line: Join us for one hour discussion and you’ll walk away with (fill in the blank)… If you can’t answer that question in your abstract, you probably won’t be leaving attendees with actionable information or a lasting impression.
3. What Matters is the Business Benefit. As the headline-alteration example above demonstrates, many companies tend to use webcasts to talk about the latest and greatest features of their products. That’s fine, but at the end of the day, it’s the impact on their business that matters. Provide an adequate balance between business and technical benefits so that the attendee can not only understand the innovations you are bringing to the market, but how they will actually help increase revenue, decrease costs, improve collaboration, etc.
4. Get Concrete. You say your product or service will improve collaboration? Then give attendees specific examples in the event summary and during the event itself of how that’ll happen. Provide customer examples, or better yet, invite a customer to speak.
5. The “Who Cares” Factor: If you want to talk about the features of your product, stick to innovation. What is it that makes your product unique? What can customers do now that they couldn’t do before? Why should they care? Answer those questions and attendees will be satisfied.
6. Break it Down. You’ve only got an hour or less to keep your audience interested. Break the hour into easily consumable parts. At UBM Tech, we know from experience that webcast attendees tend to absorb information in groups of three. So we recommend you create three distinct parts to your webcast – for example, a keynote (preferably focusing on the business impact of your announcement or message); a customer testimonial or case study; and a Q&A panel discussion. There are other three-part combinations you can consider, like an industry overview, a product demo, and a Q&A session. But definitely mix up the components — spend part of the time on presentations and part on an interactive Q&A. Have an experienced moderator filtering the questions so that the most relevant ones are asked. Make sure the moderator is armed with some frequently asked questions to help get the Q-A started, if necessary.
7. Eye Candy. We won’t go into PowerPoint 101, but suffice it to say, your presentation needs to be visually interesting to keep the viewer from checking Facebook or getting a fresh cup of coffee while listening in. Use graphics, integrate video, include a short demo, etc. Once attendees tune out, it’s hard to pull them back in, so keep their eyes on the screen.
8. Don’t Script It! A script sometimes comforts the marketing folks who want the speakers to stay on message, but a conversational tone keeps attendees interested. Make it feel like you are talking to customers one-on-one, and they will feel more comfortable asking questions and steering the conversation toward their needs.
9. Don’t Be Afraid to Have FUN! Don’t assume webcasts have to always sound like a business meeting. Good moderators put the audience at ease by starting off with an appropriate amusing comment or current event, which we find invariably leads to more audience engagement throughout. Your company’s speaker should be loose, enjoy him or herself, banter with each other and the moderator, and feel free to throw in a few amusing anecdotes from their experiences on the road talking to customers.
10. Attention Grabbers. How do you not only get people to join your webcast on time but also stay glued to it throughout? Consider offering a prize for the best question. Invite attendees in your pre-webcast e-mail reminder to join a few minutes early to take a brief 3-minute quiz to win a prize at the end.
11. Give Them Answers. Be sure the moderator informs the attendees to ask questions early and often and not to wait until you start Q&A. Inevitably we get questions we don’t have time to respond to on the webcast. But arrange ahead of time for someone on the client side to directly respond to questions you don’t get to during the event by contacting them afterwards by e-mail with an answer, and have the moderator make mention of that.
12. Don’t Leave Them Empty Handed. Just as school kids expect a goody bag when they leave a birthday party, give your webcast attendees something to chew on after the webcast – a report that goes into more depth on the subject, an invitation to an upcoming conference, a Twitter link to keep the conversation going, etc. And be sure at the end of the webcast that the moderator informs the attendees that the PPT presentations will be made available via a link in that follow-up e-mail; one of the most commonly asked questions we get is “will you make the presentation available?”
13. Archive! Make sure you not only archive the webcast for later viewing, but have the moderator encourage attendees to let their colleagues who couldn’t make the event know they can still view it.
Follow these webcast guidelines and start engaging, educating, and entertaining customers.