Take it from me: Webinars are one of the most powerful ways to build relationships with your audience and grow your business. And in this definitive webinar how-to guide, we'll take you through all the steps you need to follow to succeed with your very own webinars.
But first, what exactly is a webinar—and why would you want to use one?
What Is a Webinar and Why Should We Use Them?
A webinar (derived from “web seminar”) is a content format that allows you to connect with your audience over video, usually live, to educate them about a specific topic. An effective webinar provides a moment in time when people can hear from you, in a focused way, and leave with some new knowledge and inspiration to grow or create something of their own.
The business of webinars is booming! I've been hosting my own webinars consistently for the last four years. I've done over a hundred of them, and I've been a guest on other people's webinars too.
I’ve also attended my fair share of webinars. When you’re logged in and waiting for the presenter, there’s a special anticipation and excitement that you don’t get when you’re just watching a prerecorded YouTube video. It’s almost like the feeling you get before someone goes on stage at a concert. It’s an event!
Here’s the thing, though. With so many people doing webinars these days, some of those webinars are great, while others—well, let’s just say their creators should have read this guide first. It’s designed to help you cut through the clutter and make it simple to create and run your own successful webinars.
What Webinars Can Do for You
Online business owners use webinars in a number of ways. Webinars are typically used to teach and inspire, and sometimes to sell. A webinar gives you a chance to:
- Build your audience and engage with them
- Teach your audience something
- Validate an idea for a product or service
- Make money through the webinar itself
I've used webinars to teach and provide value for free, build my email list, and promote and sell products like my courses—sometimes all in the same webinar. That’s part of the beauty of webinars: you don’t have to stick to one of these things. A single webinar can be used to teach, sell, and engage.
A webinar can also be used to collect feedback from your audience and validate an idea for a product or service you’re thinking of creating. And if you're selling something, especially something that's a little higher-ticket, a webinar can be a great way to make the sale thanks to the intimacy and real-time interaction they provide.
Webinars are simply a great way to build a relationship with your audience, because they allow you to teach and interact in an intimate, event-like environment.
What Does a Webinar Look Like?
A webinar usually consists of three main elements:
- You, the presenter (and any guest presenters)
- Your audience, joining via the internet
- Your presentation, which includes content such as slides and videos
People typically register ahead of time and join the webinar at a predetermined time. Most webinars include some combination of presenters talking on screen, sharing stories and information, plus other content like slide decks, videos, and images. Most webinar platforms also provide a way for the audience to interact by asking questions via chat.
One of the challenges and benefits of a webinar is that you have to actually get people to sign up to join. It’s a challenge because there’s the “friction” of getting them to sign up—but a benefit because it means they’re showing you they’re interested! Not all of the people who sign up will actually attend, but the ones who do attend will be there because they want to be.
And by the way, there will also be people who register and really want to be there but can’t because of scheduling issues or other reasons. You can send them a replay video of the webinar so they have a chance to see it, too.
Compare this to going live on a streaming platform, where anybody can tune in without registering (i.e., validating the topic of the event) and may or may not connect with your message.
In addition to fostering audience connection, webinars are a great way to connect with others in your industry. You can partner with fellow entrepreneurs by bringing them on your webinar and having them share their expertise directly with your audience. It’s like having a podcast guest plus the benefit of audience interaction in a live setting!
Where Webinars Can Go Wrong
With almost any popular technology or format, once marketers get a hold of it, things can go downhill. Unfortunately in a lot of industries, especially in the online business space, many people doing webinars aren’t taking care of their audiences or paying attention to how much value they’re offering.
You may have even joined a webinar you were initially excited about. You were drawn to the topic, and the promotional copy piqued your interest. Then you joined the webinar and had to sit through forty-five minutes of story with no added value. Oh, wait! Here’s the product pitch!
Doing a webinar this way can cause more harm than good—you might make a few sales, but a lot of people are going to feel like they gave you their time and didn’t get much in return. We’ll talk about this and other webinar mistakes you should avoid in chapter 9.
Become a Webinar Rockstar
Getting people to sign up and delivering an excellent experience are hugely important, but follow-up is also key. The opportunities to connect, share, and sell don’t end once the webinar does, and we’ll talk about the post-webinar process in chapter 8.
Who Should Be Hosting Webinars—and Who Shouldn’t
The short answer is that webinars are for everyone (yes, even if you’re uncomfortable getting on camera!). When this guide was written, the COVID pandemic had resulted in a worldwide shift where people cut way back on travel and most in-person events were canceled or moved online. Webinars quickly became a crucial way to connect with audiences and provide event-like experiences in the absence of in-person meetups.
But is a webinar always your best option? Are there times you wouldn't want to use one?
The simple answer here is that sometimes a webinar is more than you need.
If you’re thinking of using a webinar just to talk to your audience—and getting on camera is great for doing that—a webinar is probably overkill. You’re better off using a live streaming platform like YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram. That way, you can also take advantage of the algorithms on those platforms to expand your organic reach.
You also shouldn't use a webinar if you’re just getting started and don't have anything substantial to share with your audience yet.
A webinar can also be a lot to manage, in terms of the logistics and the technology involved—software and hardware—plus the fact that you’re doing it live. So if you’re not feeling ready for that, it might not be time for you to explore putting on your first webinar yet.
This Is Your Guide to Creating High-Impact Webinars
A lot of people are using webinars these days because they’re such a powerful format to teach and connect. The growth in webinars has led to new and excellent choices for webinar hosting platforms and software.
Webinars can be high-impact marketing and teaching tools—but they're not easy to do well. Putting on your own webinar can seem daunting, but it can have a massive positive impact on your brand, your authority, and your online business success. That’s why we created this guide to make the whole process a little more digestible and put you on the path to success with your first webinar.
A webinar should be valuable to your listeners, so to create and host a successful one, you need to tap into the perspective of your potential attendees to come up with an experience they’ll flock to. That's the first and biggest lesson we’ll help you learn and put into practice in this guide. We’ll show you how to create a great webinar, from structuring it to promoting it, conducting it, choosing the right software and hardware, knowing how to follow up, and avoiding common mistakes and pitfalls. You’ll learn how to get engaged audience members to register and show up to your high-quality event, and what to do afterward so you can keep the momentum going.
Here’s what to expect in the SPI Guide to Winning Webinars:
What Goes Into a Great Webinar?Read more
How to Choose a Webinar Topic That WorksRead more
What’s the Best Webinar Software?Read more
What Equipment Do I Need to Run a Successful Webinar?Read more
Webinar Marketing: How to Get People to Show Up to Your WebinarRead more
How to Host a Highly Engaging WebinarRead more
How to Sell a Product on Your Webinar (without Annoying Your Audience)Read more
How to Follow Up After Your WebinarRead more
Webinar Mistakes to AvoidRead more
If you haven't been injecting webinars into your business, give it a shot! I won't lie—it takes some courage and the willingness to get uncomfortable. After all, a webinar is a live event! It's a lot, but we're here to make it easy for you, so let’s get started learning about what goes into a successful webinar.