By Thomas Griffin, co-founder and president of OptinMonster

A webinar is a web seminar where audience members from all over the world can tune into your video conference. It’s a great way to present information to your audience, teach them about your products and services and introduce them to your brand. However, I’ve found that not enough marketers are taking advantage of this medium when trying to achieve their business goals.

Why host a webinar?

Webinars can do wonders for your business because they’re a way to share information both visually and audibly. Research by GoToWebinar found that 73 percent of marketers consider webinars the best way to generate leads. You can use them as lead magnets to grow your subscriber list and move visitors further down the conversion funnel.

Hosting webinars builds your credibility as a brand that knows its products and the industry it’s in. When people start seeing you as a thought leader in your niche, it’ll be easier to gain their trust and persuade them to take the action you want.

If you want to ensure that your next webinar is successful, here are a few ways to get started.

Promote it in advance.

It’s unrealistic to expect that you can tell your audience about your webinar the day of and they’ll come swarming in by the hundreds. Without preparing them for the day and telling them about it in advance, you’re setting yourself up for failure. People lead busy lives and few of them will be able to throw a webinar into their schedule at the last minute.

You need to promote your webinar weeks in advance if you want to receive the traction you want. According to data from the same GoToWebinar study, 15 percent of registrations occur three to four weeks before a webinar’s live date, so it’s essential to plan ahead. Post about your upcoming webinar on social media and your website, as well as email your subscriber list and tell them when it’s going to be, for how long and what topic it’ll cover.

Choose the right topic.

It’s essential that the topic you choose for your webinar gives your audience value and insight. If it makes them think about something differently or teaches them something they didn’t previously know, there’s a good chance they’ll find your webinar useful and attend it in the future.

Use keyword research to collect topics your target audience is searching online. Scour social media and hashtags on different platforms to find out what’s currently trending and what hot topics people want to know about.

It’s also important that the physical aspect of your presentation is interesting enough to keep users’ attention. Spend time making it cohesive, understandable and visually appealing so users have a better, more positive learning experience. Each slide should be relevant to what you’re talking about in that time frame so users can easily follow along and ask questions afterward.

Allow users to interact.

If you host a webinar, allow your audience to openly engage with you and your content. Interactive webinars allow you to get to know your target audience. The more you know about them, the easier the process of creating products and services relevant to their needs and interests will be. It allows for open communication between brand and audience and can tell you more about the products and content you need to create to boost your business and return on investment.

Depending on the platform on which you host your webinar, it might offer an option to create polls for your audience that can be answered during your presentation. You should also have regular touchpoints throughout the webinar where you check in with your audience and ask if they’re following along and understanding everything OK. Most webinars will put aside at least 30 minutes afterward to host a Q&A for users to get all the information they need.

Wrapping up.

If your last webinar was a dud, there are countless ways you can prepare better so that next time, you see success. Webinars can do wonders for your brand if you know how to properly implement them into your conversion strategy. For this to happen, however, you need to have a plan in place to pick the right topics, give users the option to engage as much as they’d like and promote it well before the day of its launch. 

Thomas Griffin is co-founder and president of OptinMonster. He is an expert software architect with a deep knowledge of building products for the mass market.

Published on: Jul 3, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.