By Shahin Shadfar

You have once again managed to gather dozens of potential customers in one virtual space at the same time, ready to attend your marketing webinar! This was a tough one – your mailing list response was less than stellar, but you got lucky with a masterfully executed Facebook ad campaign and the percentage of invitees that actually showed up was way higher than you expected!

Now what? Show the same old boring PowerPoint deck and screen share demo? Or do you find yourself wondering what more you could do to get the most out of this golden opportunity of having potential buyers live and present at the other end of the wire? After all, they opted to take time out of their busy schedule to listen to you!

Although a majority of webinars out there are static, uninspiring and flat out BORING, savvy marketers have developed a new generation of engaging, media-rich and result-oriented presentation techniques over the past few years that have proven to be much more effective. More effective presentations mean more money in your pocket! What are these new techniques, you may ask. Well, we’re going to spill the secrets here.

First…Look More Exciting!

Your website conveys your image to your customers. The colors, logos and banners you choose bring your brand to life. Why shouldn’t you convey that same image in your webinars? By integrating the same color schemes and custom banners across your event registration page, login pages and live webinar environment, your attendees will feel a sense of familiarity and further be immersed in your brand identity and messaging.

One easy way to make a big impact is to set a poster for your event registration page. This is the very first contact your registrants will have with the webinar, so you’re getting your branding in front of them from the get go! Need some help with this? Ask your graphic designer to create a poster (a rectangular image with about a 4:3 ratio) and a banner (a long, thin graphic) to anchor at the top of your webinar room.

Speaking of event registration, you can learn more about your potential customers by adding custom questions to your event registration form. The more you know about your attendees, the better you can prepare for your presentation. An added bonus of doing this is that you’ll know how to better engage the attendees before you even start the show from having this information!

Get Media Rich (Or Die Trying!)

Did we just say ‘show’? Yes! Think of your webinar as your very own TV show! You want your show to be of HBO quality, not public access quality! The more sophisticated webinar platforms allows you to mix in audio, video and other exciting content without making it too complex to manage. That means saying so long to boring PowerPoint presentations! YOU are the producer and the director! (Watch out, Speilberg!)

Believe it or not, attendees care about you too! Start your presentation with live or pre-recorded video. It’s always nice to put a face to a name, and your audience will feel more connected with the content you’re presenting. Camera shy? You don’t have to keep the video on the entire time, but even a few minutes of face time helps!

Talking-head videos and other short clips such as funny YouTube videos or testimonials create a more inspiring and more entertaining environment. Keep these short and sweet, you don’t want to lose your audience’s attention.

Share your location! Show a map with location markers of attendees at the beginning of your webinar. People love to know they are not the only ones attending! The map brings social proof to your webinar and makes attendees feel more comfortable. Plus, it’s pretty cool to know you are engaging with someone across the entire country! Or, in the same city as you!

It’s All About Engagement

Remember day dreaming (or even sleeping!) during college lectures? You don’t want your attendees to get distracted, or worse – bored! But unlike that college professor, you can’t see them, so you have no idea if they are checking emails, browsing the web for a new pair of shoes, or talking to a colleague! So how can you keep them engaged? Turn them into participants, not just viewers!

Before the presentation:

– Encourage them to post an introductory message or even chat with others
– Pop up a couple of content-related polls

During the presentation:

– Pop up other polls relevant to your demo
– Ask attendees to download a PDF file such as a list of all your services

After the presentation:

– Launch a more formal Q&A session
– Ask attendees to take a short survey during the actual webinar
– Ask for a virtual “hand raise”
– Ask for comments about your content and share some with everyone in real-time

This level of interactivity presents two major advantages.

1. Your message gets across better
2. You collect more useful information from your attendees that you can use in follow-ups and/or to feed your marketing automation engines.

Choosing a webinar system that lets you manage these interactive tasks efficiently so you can launch one activity after another without any hassles will save you time and make life a whole lot easier.

But Wait, If You Act Now…!

A great marketer always defines a clear call to action at the end of a webinar. The call to action may be to request your attendees to sign up for your monthly newsletter, ‘like’ your Facebook page, register for the next event, or even something more ambitious like asking for an on the spot purchase or a purchase within a limited period of time.

A powerful presentation followed by a limited-time offer with a bonus is a proven and particularly persuasive marketing tool. Take your attendees to a live webpage where they can take the desired action before they leave your presentation. A little pressure never hurt anybody! Encourage them to ask any questions they may have and take the time to answer them live to bring the comfort level they need to take the leap. Announce your promotion at the beginning of the event for extra assurance attendees will stick around til the end of the presentation for the promo code.

Go Green! Recycle Your Marketing Webinars.

Advanced webinar platforms let you record or pre-record your events and replay them multiple times in front of different audiences while preserving the interactivity of the live event. This means you could create a 20-minute presentation with polls and present it at different times for various time zones or on different days. You could also add real-time activities such as Q&A at the end, all without attendees realizing that part of the presentation was pre-recorded. This means you could essentially go for a coffee run during that time and your webinar would run seamlessly. You aren’t just playing a long and unresponsive video, everything is interactive and dynamic.

Recycling a webinar in this manner saves you a tremendous amount of time, and we all know time equals money.

Planning is Everything

Plan your future events! You don’t have to combine all these suggestions into your next marketing webinar (unless you’re ready to reach rockstar status, that is). However, with the right tools, you’ll be converting leads like no one’s business. Engaged attendees means more sales, and more sales means a happy CEO.

marketing webinars

Shahin Shadfar is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Webinato, an advanced webinar platform enabling more engaging training and marketing webinars through rich-media and interactivity. Shahin was part of the team that invented the new generation of Smart Cards with on-board Java and cryptography now used as mobile SIM cards and in modern credit cards. Shahin holds a Masters in Computer Science from Supelec in Paris and a Masters in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech in Atlanta.