The Webinar Strategy That Works

I’m in New York for Blog World Expo! As a result, I’m working hard rehearsing my presentations to make sure they are top notch this week. In the mean time, I’m happy to welcome back Lain Ehmann in a guest post today.

She’s actually here in New York with me, so I’ll try to get a picture of us together and post it here later. and we took a picture together!

Lain was a recent guest on SPI Podcast Session #37: How to Monetize a Hobby, and to refresh your memory she shared her success story about creating a six-figure business out of her passion for scrapbooking. 

After the episode aired, a lot of people contacted both Lain and me about how she did her webinar events, so I asked her to come back with more information.

Please welcome back, Lain from LayoutaDay.com.

After sharing my success story with Pat, I got a lot of questions about how I do what I’m doing. One of the biggest areas of interest was about the webinars (or “scrapinars” as I call them) and how I use them to generate qualified traffic and subscribers. People wanted to know specifics like:

  • What’s the best webinar platform?
  • How do you choose a topic?
  • How do you promote your webinars?
  • How do you convert viewers to subscribers?

So Pat invited me back to share answers to those questions and more, in excruciating detail. :)

The idea of hosting a webinar sounds good. You invite a bunch of people to come hang out, you spend an hour or two online with them, and they become raving fans, sign up for your mailing list, and buy every product and offer you send their way. Right?

Well, it’s not quite that easy. But it is straightforward. The principles I use can be transferred to other industries, other channels (like a teleseminar if you prefer voice-only), or even a Twitter chat party. So, boys and girls, let’s get started…

Overview:

This isn’t as slick as the videos Pat makes but I’m still getting used to my Wacom tablet! ;)

To summarize, I create a high-value free item (the webinar), which I advertise and encourage others to advertise for me. When people register for the free webinar, they’re automatically added to my main email list (with its 62 weeks’ worth of autoresponder messages!) and sent into my sales funnel.

Let’s break that into steps:

Step One. Know Your Market. 

Before you can determine a proper topic for a webinar and choose the right platform, you need to know your market. What will they think is valuable? What questions do they have? Are they audial or visual learners? How many people do you think will attend your event? Will they want to chat with each other during the event, or are they less social? Having a good target market profile is essential.

I AM my target market – that makes it easy! I follow the chatter in the industry and know what questions people have, and what topics and products are trending. Then I can choose a narrow topic to share with them at the webinar (see more on topic selection below).

Step Two. Choose a Topic. 

Topic selection is critical because you need a subject that is appealing, new or unique, and easily covered in a single session.

DON’T PICK SOMETHING THAT “EVERYONE ELSE” IS DOING. Use this as an opportunity to strut your stuff. Pick a topic that is one you personally can blow out of the water. Give away your best stuff – or a portion of it – and leave ‘em begging for more!

Note: I often invite others to contribute their expertise to my free webinars. I won’t cover that too much here, as it’s sort of an advanced topic, but maybe Pat will invite me back in the future to talk more about “producing” events for others to “perform” at (hint, hint – Pat, are you paying attention? Yeah, I’m like the Billy Graham of scrapbooking.). Producing events can be successful and profitable, but today let’s talk about what YOU can do without anyone else’s involvement.

Let’s use the internet marketing niche, since that’s one most will be familiar with, even if you’re not in it yourself.

Instead of: Choose:

“How to Build Traffic” “Building Traffic with Pinterest in 10 Minutes a Day”

“Social Media for Business Owners” “How to Turn Twitter into Your Personal Referral Machine TODAY!”

“Better Productivity” “How to Invest 30 Minutes and Gain 4 Hours for Your Business Every Day

Are you getting the hang of it? Targeted, snappy, appealing, benefit-driven. Let your audience know that spending an hour with you is going to drastically improve their life.

Step Three. Pick Your Poison.

Choosing a webinar platform has caused me more grey hairs than my kids – and I have three! (kids, not grey hairs). I’ve looked at all the major ones including:

I currently use Webex, but to be honest, I’m not thrilled with it. I chose it because it was the best option at the time for what I was trying to do (stream pre-recorded video live to an audience of over 500, allowing chat functions for all, and enabled recording). Because I invested in that technology for my paid events (and when I say “invested,” I mean I pay $400 a month), I wanted to leverage it for other uses, so I use it for my free webinars. I would NOT recommend it for those who are technologically shy, who don’t need the robust system, or who don’t have a bottle of hair dye on-hand.

Instead, I’d make a list of your requirements and choose accordingly. Most offer a free trial of some sort, so make use of it! One size does NOT fit all, and though I’d love to tell you that Brand XYZ is the absolute BEST option for EVERYONE, I can’t. You’re going to have to do some legwork. Don’t hate me.

Step Four. Set Your Infrastructure.

There are many reasons for holding a webinar, but we’re aiming to build our email list. That means we need a way to capture people who sign up for the webinar and usher them to our main list. I use Aweber, and this is how I do it (you may want to enlarge the video using the Full Screen icon in the bottom right of the video screen):

I’m not going to get into the details of creating opt-in pages and setting up email lists, as it depends on  what autoresponder service and theme you have. But I will say that WPSales Engine is a paid plug-in for WordPress blogs that makes creating sales pages and opt-in pages fairly painless. That’s what I used to create the page in the following video (you may want to enlarge the video using the Full Screen icon in the bottom right of the video screen):

One hint: I don’t put the time of the event on the opt-in page. They have to register to see what time it will be held. Since I always make a replay available for a short period of time after the webinar, it doesn’t really matter if they can attend or not. I want to capture them even if they are unable to attend. Sometimes people might say, “Oh, it’s at 5 PM. I can’t be there so I won’t register.” I’d rather have them realize AFTER they’ve signed up that they can’t attend live. ;)

Step Five. Communicate. 

I start communicating IMMEDIATELY with my attendees. As soon as they sign up for the list, they get an enthusiastic message from me:

I make sure to highlight the date and time, as well as the fact that a replay will be available for a limited time. I also give them a few hints about the technology we’ll be using.

Then I send two more reminders, one the day before the event and one the day of the event, just as reminders. This might seem like overkill, but every time I get emails saying, “Thanks so much for sending the reminder this morning! I would’ve forgotten!”

Step Six. Promote!

There are tons of ways to promote your events. Take Pat’s advice and “be everywhere!”. Here is a list of places I promote my event. Not all of these may apply to you, but it’s a starting point to get your imagination going!

  • On my blog – dedicated blog post
  • On my podcast – mentioned several times before the actual event
  • In the sidebars of others’ blogs – I create a cool sidebar image and encourage others to include it on their blogs, with a link back to the opt-in page
  • On Pinterest – I pin the sidebar image and edit the link to direct to the opt-in page
  • On Facebook – on my private group as well as on my own personal timeline
  • On LinkedIn – I’m the moderator of an industry-specific group and members of several others, and I post the event there
  • Through my affiliates – they can tag the link to the event with their own affiliate code, so if someone registers for the event through their link and purchases something in the future, they get credit
  • Through my email list – I send an invitation to my main list and encourage them to invite their friends
  • Through YouTube and Vimeo – I post the promo video on both sites
  • Through Twitter – I tweet about the event multiple times a week during the month before the event. You can use Hootsuite or BufferApp to schedule the tweets so you don’t have to remember to do it daily. I change up the language and the time of day I tweet so it doesn’t look repetitive.

Step Seven. Strut Your Stuff.

I won’t get into the details of your actual event because that will rely largely on your topic, your market, and the platform you chose. But just make sure of a few things:

  • Practice beforehand. Make sure you know how the technology works!
  • Engage the audience. Chat ‘em up as they start to trickle in. Mention them by name. Ask questions like, “Where are you from?” Work the room!
  • Have fun. The more you enjoy the event, the more your audience will.
  • Stay calm. Something ALWAYS goes wrong with technology. Just stay calm and carry on. If you freak, everyone else will, too. It also makes you look unprofessional. Whatever happens, keep your cool.
  • Don’t forget to record! Put a big note next to your monitor if you need to!

Step Eight. Follow Up.

After the event is over, your work doesn’t end! I immediately follow up with a “thank you” email, reiterating how fun the event was, and then the next day I send out the replay link. Capture testimonials via Twitter, Facebook, and email, and make sure you add them to your testimonials file. (You do have a testimonials file, don’t you?)

If you’ve set up the process correctly, all those webinar registrants are now cozily embedded in your mail email list. Yeah, some won’t stick around long, but each time you hold a webinar, your main list will grow. Case in point: As of this writing, I’ve hosted four free webinars with a total of 1602 registrants. In that same period of time, my main list grew by almost 31 percent. Not all the growth is due to the free webinars, but I know a large part is.

Conclusion:

Creating webinars like this and recording them results in a bunch of amazing benefits:

  • Product creation. I eventually turn these recordings into products and sell them.
  • Expert status. When you position yourself as a teacher, you’re an expert. And experts are cool! (Just ask Pat!)
  • Market research. You get to know your market better through connecting with them live, and you also hear their questions, concerns, and problems first-hand. You don’t have to guess what’s on their mind; you hear it.
  • Community involvement. The more your community connects with you and with others, the greater a sense of cohesion they’ll develop. And they’ll also start to see you as their leader!

I know this is a lot of information to digest, and that you’ve probably got more questions. I’ll be popping in over the next few days to answer, so ask away.

Lain Ehmann inspires women to document their personal stories through project ideas, online classes,   podcast, and blog, http://www.layoutaday.com. She also teaches online business owners how to make their audiences fall in love with them through the Business Love Potion podcast at  http://www.businesslovepotion.com

  • http://www.detailedsuccess.com Kris @ Detailed Success

    Awesome post Lain!

    I love the fact that you can make a great living online with your passion. You don’t always have to pick things just because they are known to make money. Do what you love and success will come.

    I got a really nice marketing tip as well with the opt-in box. The less information you ask the better.

    Thanks!

    • http://www.layoutaday.com Lain Ehmann

      Kris, I’m so glad you liked it! I ended up with over **850** people for May’s webinar… this works!

      • http://www.earningforever.com/ Mike@EarningForever

        WOW! Over 850 people for a single webinar? That is insane! I was considering hosting some webinars, but after reading this I am pretty much set on the fact that I am going to do it! Thanks for the advice Lain!

  • http://NewClientsEachMonth.com Kate@New Clients Each Month

    Thanks for this great list Lain! We haven’t done any webinars yet, but it’s on the list for 2012. I will save this post and use it as a blueprint when we get ready to implement. Thanks again!

    • http://www.layoutaday.com Lain Ehmann

      Fantastic! I’m so pleased with my results that webinars are an integral part of my marketing plan for the foreseeable future!

  • http://NationalAssociationofEntrepreneurs.com Linda Barnby

    Hi, Lain,
    I thoroughly enjoyed your podcast with Pat and this post is incredible awesomeness! Thank you for your willingness to share your methods. I am just getting into podcasting after having my own live radio show on WDBO in Orlando. And I want to interview people with success stories just like you! (Those were my favorite shows when I did the live radio show.)

    And I am inspired to create webinars. Your post today is infinitely helpful. Congratulations on your success – and how much fun you’re having with it!

    Wish I could be there in New York with you at BlogWorld! Knock it out of the park!

    • http://www.layoutaday.com Lain Ehmann

      Thank you, Linda! Podcasting is a blast. I’m up to show #50 for my scrapbooking podcast and have done about half-dozen with interviews with people like Pat. :) It’s a great way to make contacts and share great info.
      Keep up the great work!

      • http://NationalAssociationofEntrepreneurs.com Linda Barnby

        Lain,

        I noticed the SpeakPipe.com plug in on your site Layoutaday.com and I immediately installed it on my two sites. It is so very cool!

        Anything to make encouraging people to reach back to you is a wonderful thing. I expect I will have different results from my two very different sites: Adoption Match Book and National Association of Entrepreneurs. The plug in is notice-able yet unobtrusive and I hope it makes the invitation to communicate with me more welcoming. How is SpeakPipe working for you? What kind of numbers are you seeing from it?

        I also am thinking I would like to incorporate your offerings on my Adoption site. My adoptive parents all create scrapbooks of one sort or another (all too often digital books) in preparation for being presented to a birth mother for choosing a forever family. Then, of course, they have many years ahead of them for documenting their child’s life.

        I am just about to launch an interview series for my adoption site. Maybe you would be interested in being interviewed?

        My mother just finished a mammoth double scrapbook for my youngest daughter’s high school graduation project. She would say scrapbooking is fun and worthwhile.

        Thanks for these great webinar instructions!

        Linda Barnby

  • http://libeltyseo.com TomL

    Too bad our schedules didn’t match or we’d hang out at the party. I’m in Atlanta on business now and will be going back to NY next week… lol

    Good luck at the expo!

    Regards,

    TomL

  • http://wpthemesdaily.com/ Robert

    Thank you for these tips. I have thought of webminars for a while, but haven’t really gotten into this detailed infos :) Maybe I’ll try, teat and make my own webminars soon.

    • http://www.layoutaday.com Lain Ehmann

      Definitely give them a shot!

  • http://platinumpresenter.com Paul Evans

    Hi Lain!

    Awesome article! Love that you’re making your market better and stronger as you make a profit as well. Keep up the great work!

    • http://www.layoutaday.com Lain Ehmann

      Thanks, Paul!
      I hope I can inspire others to do the same.

  • http://www.ramblingsofawahm.com/ Allie

    Lain,

    I heard your podcast with Pat and I am so happy you came by to give us more information.

    To host a webinar just simply scares me. Being live scares me. But like you said if I am prepared I think I would do fine. I am not ready to teach and I am far from being an expert so it will be a while until I gather to courage to do something like this. BUT I know Pat has a post here now and I can reference back to it whenever I need to. THX!

    ~Alllie

    • http://www.layoutaday.com Lain Ehmann

      Hey Allie!
      You don’t have to start with hundreds of people. I might start by recording a few audios to get used to speaking into a microphone. You could even just re-record blog posts, but ad lib a bit so you get used to the off-the-cuff talking.
      Build small! And keep pushing your comfort zone. :)

  • http://www.realbiztips.com Kenneth

    Wow! This is great stuff! Thank you so much for sharing Lain!

  • http://www.extramoneyblog.com Sunil from The Extra Money Blog

    Excellent stuff Lain

    Definitely an underutilized method of building the list. Thanks for a detailed, practical approach – will definitely try this when I am ready to hit video avenues.

    Thanks for featuring it Pat.

    • http://www.layoutaday.com Lain Ehmann

      Glad you like it – thank you!

  • http://talesofwork.com Kimanzi Constable

    I’m all over this Lain, I got the eBooks and created my first product, I’m coaching and speaking publicly. I know the next natural step is to start having Webinars on my material, this post has everything I need. Thanks and great post:)

    • http://www.layoutaday.com Lain Ehmann

      Sounds like you’re off to a great start!

  • Tim

    Great post Pat. You inspire me day after day.

    • http://www.layoutaday.com Lain Ehmann

      Tim, I’ll assume you meant to direct that at me. LOL. ;)

  • http://Www.whataremangroves.com Tansey Louis

    I have always loved webinars, and this information you shared has made me fall in love with them all over again. Thanks for the hints.

    • http://www.layoutaday.com Lain Ehmann

      Tansey (love your name!) -
      you are so very welcome!

  • http://www.familyfreelancer.com/blog/ Jon Stone

    I’ve been considering giving something like this a shot for a while. I have done live broadcasts on a hobby level, but have not found the courage to actually attempt to bring it over to the business side of things.

    This post covered a lot of territory very clearly. Great job! I look forward to giving this a try myself.

    • Lain Ehmann

      If you’ve done it even as a “hobby,” then you’re ready! Most people don’t have any experience at all… You’ve got a leg up already. Jump in there, and let me know how it goes.

  • http://mywebmastertips.com Greg

    Great information on webinars. Man, I definitely need to add webinars to my list of marketing tools. I join so many of them and have really learned a lot. Even if I don’t end up selling someone that would join one of mine, at least they can get some good information and maybe some future business later on.

    • Lain Ehmann

      It’s also an unbeatable way to create a strong connection with them. You’ll really feel like you know them, and vice-versa.

  • http://www.dormroomcash.com Adam

    Lain,

    That was a great article. Thanks for sharing it.

    I have been thinking about doing a webinar for a while now but I have just not gotten around to it yet. I was thinking about doing a joint webinar 2 other people, so that we could all promote it and get a much bigger audience. What are your thoughts on that?

    Adam

    • Lain Ehmann

      Hey Adam-
      Multi-person webinars can go very well… Or not. I think the key is to have clear roles, and know why you’re doing it.

      When I bring in someone else, it’s because they’re going to teach my audience something I can’t. I still play “host” (think Oprah) and make it clear it’s my house and my audience they’re presenting to.

      There can be logistical issues with multiple hosts- who gets the email leads? Who is the audience connecting to? How will you split up the sales (if you make any)? If you can work through those, it can be a great way to expand your reach.

  • http://www.mobileapptycoon.com Thomas @ Mobile App Tycoon

    Some really cool tips in here! I like your tip about not including a time on your sales page – I think that’s really smart! I know I completely don’t sign up for webinars if I see an inconvenient time for me right away – even though I should probably look to see if there is a replay.

    Thomas

    • Lain Ehmann

      Thanks, Thomas!
      It’s those little things that can really affect your numbers. Glad it was useful for you!

  • Gary

    What a great post, refreshing and to the point. Hope to say Hi at blog world. Gary

  • http://www.goodpetsforkids.com Cory Buckles

    Very nice post, Lain. I love how specific you were and how so much of your information is immediately actionable. And even without the digital drawing tablet, your videos had a very similar feel to Pat’s–great information, well-executed, and no hint of sleazy hustling like viewers are bombarded with by so many other people online.

    Keep up the great job!

    • http://www.businesslovepotion.com Lain

      Thank you, Cory! Some day I’ll be as cool as Pat and figure out how to use my Wacom. ;)

  • http://www.ushistoryworksheets.com Shane

    Awesome post. I really enjoyed your podcast with pat, I made my wife listen to it! lol. Awesome post, loved the info on Aweber. I’m new to a lot of this stuff and don’t know a lot about Aweber, it was really awesome to see some of that in action. Also enjoyed your promotions list in the post, nice to see kind of a “check list” form of promotion steps. Awesome.

    • http://www.businesslovepotion.com Lain

      Thanks, Shane! Hope your wife liked it too. :)

  • http://www.beginningiosdev.com Shen @ BeginningiOSDev

    I’ll never look at webinars in the same way again. Thanks for the extremely ‘actionable’ tips. I’ll be sure to keep them in mind as I add webinars to my marketing toolbox.

    • http://www.businesslovepotion.com Lain

      Hey Shen, glad you liked it.

  • http://www.digitalnomadjourney.com/ Jeff Bronson

    Great post Pat. It’s informative, gives technical steps to take and generally rocks!

  • http://TimsMinions.com Andi the Minion

    hi Lain, great article, very helpful, I have already shared it on Twitter, I am a webinar junkie, I find they have made me open my wallet on more than one occasion. It is live and interactive, it is like watching a film on TV when you have the DVD right next to the machine, you cannot be bothered to put the DVD on but when it comes on TV it is like ‘whoooa yeah I’m gonna watch that’ I think it is down to having a ‘shared experience’ I get the same from a webinar. I also like it when my name is mentioned around the world lol. I must be a megalomaniac or something.
    Cheers
    Andi

    • http://www.businesslovepotion.com Lain

      I think everyone likes hearing their name mentioned! I sure do. :)
      Thanks for checking this out.

  • http://easyretweet.com Enstine [email protected]

    This is impressive. Webinars is the way to go buy these days. It’s definitely the best way to learn a new thing.

  • Peter

    Great video!

  • http://www.buckets-o-fun.com Sheri E.

    Thanks Lain! I’ve just been over to your business website and learned a lot. I always enjoy your podcasts, webinars, LOAD, and of course True Scrap but I may want to apply some of your techniques to my own company. You might be hearing from me.

    • http://www.businesslovepotion.com Lain

      Sheri, if you’re in the scrapbooking/crafting industry, you should check out the new free report I just released. It includes 12 ways to make money from scrapbooking (can be applied to just about any craft). It’s here:

      http://www.lainloves.com/money

  • http://www.geemoneytalk.com Ryan Gee

    I have to admit I skipped over this post – partly due to time constraints, and partly because the webinar idea didn’t really interest me. I’m happy to say that you’ve changed my mind and I’m really excited about the potential for hosting a webinar. Hmm, now if only I knew how to get people to sign up… ok, ready for your next post, Lain! lol

    • http://www.layoutaday.com Lain Ehmann

      Which part of the signing up are you talking about? The actual technical aspect (how to get them on the list) or how to drive traffic to your webinar?

  • http://onlinebusinesssystemshub.org Geert

    More valuable information here than in many Ebooks I saw.
    To me, the ‘promotion’ part is the hardest. It takes a lot of time and well.. it’s boring!

  • http://trucklicense.net/Get-CDL Mike Jones

    Too bad our schedules didn’t match or we’d hang out at the party. I’m in Atlanta on business now and will be going back to NY next week… lol

    Good luck at the expo!

  • http://digitalscrapbookinghq.com Melissa Shanhun

    Lain – how did I not see this till today!

    I love this! I’d actually started doing a similar thing in March 2011 and was pretty excited when I saw you doing free webinars too.
    But you have got the system down pat (no pun intended lol!) – I’m bookmarking this page to help me promote my upcoming workshops

    Thanks for this post Lain
    :) Melissa

  • http://all-indian-moviez.blogspot.com/ razzak

    I like this website because here have valuable information what are needed to me.

  • http://empoweredwebinars.enterthemeeting.com/join Rossmore

    Lain, you might want to take a look at the meeting burner click on my name. It has all the features you mentioned and its easy to use and a lot less money! Great post!

  • http://1570716.talkfusion.com/product/ Candice

    Hi Lain, I read/watched your post with Pat about webinar strategies and it was GREAT information! Thank you! Here’s another webinar platform that you can check out that’s WAY less per month ($35), has video conferencing and live broadcasting for an unlimited audience and has a branding video email system included. This could help save you money on hair dye, lol. If you have any questions about it feel free to ask me, I love it!

    http://1570716.talkfusion.com/product/

  • http://www.layoutaday.com Lain Ehmann

    Thanks, Christopher! Let me know how it goes when you put it to use. :)

  • http://www.businesslovepotion.com Lain

    Thank you! When people ask me if EVERYONE should incorporate webinars in their marketing plan, I say No — only if you love them and it makes sense to you. If you’re drawn to it, you’ll be good at it — or at least have fun doing it! :)

  • http://www.businesslovepotion.com Lain

    Thanks, SI – someday my videos will be as cool as Pat’s! ;)

  • http://www.internetmarketing-advice.net The Secret Insider

    Seems like me genuine comment that you replied to was removed, :-(
    Regards again
    SI