Webinars…they are known for their insane conversion rates.
You might have even heard about them from me. I’ve shared before how Kissmetrics used webinars (when I was still working there) to generate approximately $1,638,000 in revenue from just 77 webinars.
And those results are good but not that unusual.
A survey of marketers who regularly conduct webinars found that between 20% and 40% of attendees turned into qualified leads.
Overall, webinars are currently producing the second best ROI (return on investment) of any content for marketers.
It seems that marketers and business owners have finally started realizing how powerful webinars are. A fairly recent survey found that just over 60% of content marketers are incorporating webinars into their marketing strategies (at least occasionally).
That’s all great stuff, but…
How come your webinars aren’t producing those results?
While a lot of people are having success with webinars, know that these results take time to achieve.
You’ll make a lot of mistakes at first.
The faster you fix those, the faster you’ll have success.
And even if you haven’t done any webinars yet—but plan to—you can still learn how to conduct webinars in the most profitable way while minimizing your mistakes.
That’s what I’m going to help you with here. There are 7 big ways in which you can improve your webinars and deliver a better experience to your viewers, which will lead to big increases in conversion rates.
I’ll break them down in detail and show you exactly how to implement them in your own webinars.
1. Want a better attendance rate? Do these 4 things…
The above headline is a rhetorical question: of course, you want a better attendance rate.
When you offer a webinar, you will never get everyone who signed up to show up for it. There are many reasons why someone might sign up for a webinar but then not show up, including:
- something else came up
- they lost interest
- they were hoping to get a replay instead of watching the live webinar
- they forgot
- technical difficulties
You can take action to minimize the occurrence of some of these reasons for poor attendance; others, you just have to live with.
I have 4 different options you can use to improve your attendance rate. You can use one or more of them.
But first, you have to know what to expect realistically.
A survey of marketers who use webinars revealed that 40%-50% of the registrants actually attend the webinars they register for. Some webinars obviously get poorer attendance rates, while others get up to 60%-70% on a regular basis.
If you get above 60% or so at any time, you’re doing a lot of things right.
If you’re not there, start by using the options I’m about to give you to get your webinar attendance rates into that average range (or above).
Option #1 – Offer a free content upgrade bonus at the end: When “something else comes up,” that simply means that the person who registered decided they’d rather do something else with their time.
In other words, they’re bailing on you because they don’t put enough value on your webinar.
To combat that, you need to up the perceived value of it.
There are tons of ways you can do this, but one effective way is to give out a bonus at the end.
It could be personal templates, a free e-book, discount, or some other gift that’s related to the content in the webinar. You make it so that they have to attend the webinar if they want to get your bonus.
We did that often with the Kissmetrics’ webinars. We’d invite guests to host the webinars, and they would offer a bonus at the end in order to increase the attendance rate (and rate of staying through the whole webinar).
For example, Johnathan Dane helped us with a webinar on AdWords and conversion rate optimization. At the end of that webinar, attendees were given an e-book with 32 “hacks” for AdWords to get more phone leads:
As long as the registrants value the bonus, they’ll show up. And if you make the bonus relevant to the topic of the webinar, they will.
Option #2 – Don’t mention anything about your product until the very end: One of the fastest ways to screw up a webinar is to start selling products at the start of it or during it.
Attendees came to learn, not to get sold to (at least at first). You need to give value first, always.
Many don’t realize that by mentioning their products too early, they annoy their attendees, making them leave before the webinar is over.
This has two significant consequences:
- the attendees won’t attend your future webinars since they didn’t enjoy this first one
- they won’t recommend your webinars to anyone
Since you’ll drive away a lot of very good leads by doing this, the impact will be felt in both the short and long term.
Luckily, the fix is easy.
Don’t mention whatever your offer is until you’ve given the viewer all the value you promised.
It’s a much different situation when you fully satisfy the viewer and then ask for a minute of their time to explain how your product could be a solution to their problem.
Sure, you’ll get a drop-off still, but not nearly as big, and those viewers who leave won’t dislike you.
Option #3 – Send multiple reminders: The average person is busy. It’s understandable that they simply forget about your webinar.
This is possibly the most common reason why registrants don’t attend webinars, and it’s one that you can fix (or at least improve on).
It’s not difficult to do—you just need to send reminder emails.
The main factors here are timing and frequency.
You want to send emails at the right time so that they actually affect your attendance rate. If you send them at 2 AM the night before, people will ignore them.
Additionally, you want to send enough reminders in case someone misses one or two, but you don’t want to send too many emails to the point of annoying your potential attendees.
The ideal times are (at minimum):
- a week before – this ensures that the registrant knows not to schedule anything in that time slot
- a day before – this reminder gets them thinking about the webinar and anticipating it. It lets them plan the upcoming day as well.
- an hour before – this final reminder just brings your webinar back to focus once more so that they’re ready on time. They will also expect a final email right before the start of the webinar with a link to it.
You can also send more than one email on the day of the webinar just to give registrants some extra notice so that they can plan their day around your webinar.
You should be sending about 3 to 6 reminders, depending on how big your event is.
If you start getting emails asking you to stop sending this many reminders, just cut back on them.
One final thing to keep in mind is that you can use these emails to further build anticipation for a webinar.
Start by mentioning the time of the webinar, but then outline a few bullet points of the most exciting things you will be teaching.
This is how Bryan Harris structures his reminder emails an hour before the event:
If you created a bonus (option #1 in this section), this would be a great time to highlight it so that registrants take an extra effort to attend the webinar.
Option #4 – Emphasize scarcity: Asking someone to spend anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours to attend your webinar is asking for a big time commitment.
There’s always going to be something else that your registrants can do. It’s essentially a competition between your webinar and those other things.
One way to eliminate that competition is to utilize scarcity.
Scarcity is an established principle that marketers have used for centuries to improve conversion rates.
By framing something as a limited-time opportunity, you encourage people to take action. In this case, it’s to attend your webinar.
How do you incorporate scarcity?
There are 2 main ways you can do it with your webinars:
- by limiting space
- by limiting access
To limit space, just put a limit on the number of seats you’ll have for the webinar. Most webinar platforms have limits of 1,000 people, but there’s no reason you couldn’t set the limit lower.
The other way to introduce scarcity is to make sure that everyone who registered for the event knows that it is a one-time webinar.
If they know that they won’t get another chance to view it in the future, they’ll try harder to attend.
To really pump up the scarcity, you could not offer a replay of your webinars. Personally, I think that’s a little unfair because people might have some good reasons for not being able to attend.
Instead, you can take the middle road, as I’ve done in the past, and offer a replay—but only for a few days after the webinar.
2. Don’t skip past the introduction
Now that you know how to get most of your registrants to show up for the webinar, you need to take some time to get them on the same page.
Webinar audiences consist of many different types of viewers.
Many will come from your email list—these are the people who know you and your content pretty well. But others will stumble upon your webinar and not know anything about you. Of course, there are plenty of people in-between as well.
In order for you to deliver an effective webinar, it’s important for the audience to understand that you are an expert on the topic you’re presenting on.
For the people who know you well, that’s no problem.
But for the rest, you need to introduce yourself and explain why you should be trusted.
The second half of the introduction should be devoted to introducing the topic.
Again, you’ll have viewers who have different levels of knowledge and experience on the topic you’re covering.
It’s important to break down what you’ll be covering so everyone has at least the same basic overview of the topic.
Let’s look at how to craft each part.
Part #1 – Who are you? Almost every webinar should start with a slide or two about you.
If you don’t have this already, you need to add it.
There are two parts of a good introduction of the presenter:
The qualifications are by far the most important.
Tell the audience the most impressive things you’ve done in your field. For me, it’s usually facts about working with companies such as Gawker and people such as Timothy Sykes.
Here’s an example of one of my introduction slides in a webinar.
On top of that, it’s always good to inject a little personality if possible. Throw in a quick joke or personal story to show you’re a real person trying to connect with your audience.
Part #2 – What are you going to cover? Once you introduce yourself, you’ll want to go over what you’re going to cover in the webinar in 1-3 slides.
Here’s an example:
Go over the main topics, but phrase that information in terms of the benefits that the viewer will get (e.g., creating marketing campaigns that sell like crazy).
First of all, this gets everyone on the same page. Additionally, it makes viewers want to stick around for the whole webinar because all those areas now sound interesting.
3. How to speak in an engaging tone
There’s a saying about writers:
There are no boring topics, only boring writers.
And the same can be applied to speakers.
Assuming you went to a typical school (at any level), you know at least one teacher who could put you to sleep with their lectures.
But you also probably know some who held your attention even though they were teaching you about the most dull topics imaginable.
If you are a good speaker, you can turn even a poor webinar into a good one.
But if you combine great content with great speaking, you’ll start getting those conversion rates we talked about at the top of the article.
By no means do you have to be a perfect speaker to be effective, but you do need to be “good” (as judged by your audience).
I have 4 main tips that most webinar speakers can implement to improve their presentation skills.
Tip #1 – Rehearse, but don’t memorize: There are many types of bad presenters, but there are two in particular that are very common.
First is the presenter who never prepares for their webinars. They think they know their topic so well that they don’t need to prepare.
Needless to say, the laziness shows in their presentation. They frequently need to stop to figure out what they’re trying to say and where they are in the presentation.
The second type of a presenter isn’t as bad, but isn’t good either. They are the presenter who over-prepares for their webinars. Typically, they write down a script to read out, or sometimes they even memorize what they are going to say.
This type of speaker ends up sounding like a robot. Furthermore, they often freeze up while they try to remember the right words or find their place in their notes.
You don’t want to sound like you’re reading off a paper. Rather, you want to sound like you’re having a conversation with the viewers. That’s very hard to do if you memorize something.
Practice what you’ll say before the webinar. You can make notes of talking points, but don’t do much more than that.
When you practice, mark down any areas where you don’t think you’re speaking confidently and re-do those sections.
There’s one key to this, however: you don’t want to practice too many times, or it will again start sounding too rehearsed. The more experienced you get, the fewer times you’ll have to practice ahead of time.
Typically, you’ll want to go through your presentation 1-3 times until you have a good idea of what you’ll be covering.
Tip #2 – Inflection makes speech interesting: One of the biggest causes for being put to sleep by someone is if they speak in a monotone (one tone) voice.
When you’re in a conversation with multiple people, this isn’t usually an issue because the tone will constantly be changing since different people are speaking.
But in a webinar, it’ll typically only be you, talking for upwards of 40 minutes. The audience needs changes in your speaking tone to keep them entertained.
To do this, you simply need to use inflection.
Inflection just means to emphasize certain words while you’re speaking. You slow down when saying those word(s) and sometimes even pronounce them louder.
You might have noticed that I italicize words to give them emphasis when I write. That’s inflection in writing. It gives you (the reader) something different to pay attention to as it breaks up the constant flow of normal text.
Here’s a great quick exercise to help you understand how using inflection can change your speaking.
Go through the sentences in the picture below, and emphasize the highlighted word in each sentence as you read them out.
Notice how the same sentence takes on a different meaning each time you read it. Also notice that you inject more emotion as you emphasize the words. That’s how your speaking comes across to your viewers during a webinar.
Start emphasizing words on a regular basis. Don’t go for an overkill, but do emphasize a word or phrase every 3-5 sentences.
Tip #3 – Don’t rush: One thing common in all public speaking is rushing through presentations.
A lot of it comes from nerves, but another part of it comes from thinking that your audience has a limited amount of attention.
But here’s the thing: people won’t stop paying attention if they’re really interested in your presentation.
When you rush, you make it harder to understand you, which makes it harder to understand and process your message.
Instead, take a slow, even breath once in awhile when you are presenting in order to slow yourself down.
More importantly, use pauses to vary your speaking tone even more. When you pause before saying a word, it serves as a signal to listeners to pay attention because something important could be coming up next.
Don’t worry about people leaving. Just speak naturally and at a normal pace.
Tip #4 – Practice: If you’re not confident in your speaking skills, you are not alone.
Doing presentations is very difficult. You have to present live, and you don’t get the benefit of several rounds of edits of your material like you do with blog posts.
And even though I’ve done hundreds of webinars and spoken at even more conferences and events, I still find myself improving.
The only way to improve is to practice.
There are two key things you should do to make your practicing more effective.
First, watch and listen to your own webinars. That’s the only way you can evaluate what you sound like and spot mistakes to fix.
Second, watch webinars of marketers you love. Start emulating their way of speaking and relating to their audiences. If you need a place to start, sign up for my next webinar.
4. Interaction is key, but make it simple
Your main goal as a presenter is to keep your audience entertained and engaged.
We just talked about trying to be as conversational as possible throughout the webinar.
And unlike blog posts, webinars are live. This means that you can, to a degree, have a two-way conversation with your viewers.
There are a few ways you can do this.
Ask questions, and call out participants by name: Every piece of webinar software I’ve used or seen has a chat function.
Viewers may not be able to interact with you using their microphones, but they should be able to interact with you through the chat box.
This is the primary feature of webinars that you need to take advantage of.
Ask questions throughout the webinar, sort of like having mini quizzes.
My webinars are typically on customer acquisition and building profitable businesses, so I might ask questions like:
- Do you notice any of these problems in your business?
- What kind of industry are you in? Do you think this tactic would work for your audience?
- Does that make sense?
The questions should be related to the topic at hand.
Pause the presentation while you ask the question and give your participants a minute to type in their responses.
Then, you need to reflect their answers. It’d be great if you could call out viewers by name (e.g., “that’s a great answer, Janet…”).
Make it sound like a real conversation.
Surveys and polls can be useful, but keep this in mind: In addition to the chat box, some webinar software will offer you advanced tools such as surveys and polls:
These are really useful if you want to get your viewers engaged, but they are also handy if you want to collect some information about audience to help you refine your marketing.
What you need to be careful of is using too many of these features.
First of all, while they are simple to use once you’re used to them, first-time webinar viewers might get confused if you’re asking them to complete a survey, take a poll, and use the chat box all at once.
I recommend to keep it simple and pick just one type of advanced tool to use.
Also, while surveys and polls can be nice breaks from the content, they get boring if used repeatedly, so limit their use to once every 15-20 minutes at the most.
Make sure your audience knows when to ask questions: Finally, you want to encourage communication with your audience.
Many of your participants will have questions about your presentation. Before you get started, let them know that you will have question periods throughout the presentation when they’ll be able to ask questions through the chat box.
The reason why this is important is because if they type in a question at any random time, it might accidentally get skipped over as people reply to questions you ask them.
Additionally, clarifying when you’ll have the question sessions keeps viewers from getting anxious about not knowing how to ask or whether they’ll be able to.
5. Follow a proven content structure
If there’s one way to guarantee that a viewer leaves your webinar early, it’s to make them confused.
If you’re jumping around from one topic to another, but it’s not clear how they’re connected, you’re going to confuse your audience.
Obviously, this isn’t good for your viewers or your conversion rate.
Instead, you should apply a copywriting framework to your webinar.
There are many frameworks you can use, but one that fits well with webinars is the P.A.S.T.O.R. model.
Here’s what it stands for and how to apply it:
- Problem – Start the webinar with identifying and clarifying the problem you’re trying to solve.
- Amplify – Go into as much detail as possible to illustrate why it’s important to solve it. You want viewers to feel the pain that the problem causes (or the benefits you can deliver) so that they’re motivated to pay attention and take action.
- Story/Solution – Now you get to describe your solution to the problem. If possible, tell the story of how you came across it and describe how useful it is.
- Testimonials – If your solution really works, you should be able to point to people or businesses who have been successful with it.
- Offer – After you’ve given away all your value and reinforced that your solution is awesome, it’s time for your offer. Explain how you can help implement the solution for them with a service or product.
- Response – This is equivalent to a call to action. Ask the customer to take action if they want to improve their lives or businesses right now. Be explicit, clear, and tell them exactly what to do (e.g., “go to this link” or “send me an email here…”).
If you stick to that model, your presentation will logically flow from one section to another. Your viewer will feel like they are watching a story unfold until it’s time for them to take action.
6. Examples matter more during webinars than at any other time
Webinars by their nature typically allow you to focus on a single strategy.
This means that the people who signed up to attend are very interested in that topic/strategy. They want to apply your lessons to their businesses/lives.
But learning something new and thinking about how to apply it at the same time is difficult.
That’s where examples come in…
If you can give real examples illustrating the concepts you’re teaching, you’ll give the viewers extra opportunities to understand how those concepts connect to their lives or businesses.
The more examples, the better.
I provide examples of specific tactics mentioned in my webinars:
…as well as real examples of implementing of the strategies, similar to mini case studies:
The bottom line is that your viewers want to apply what you’re talking about, but they don’t always know how.
Make it as practical as possible by providing examples whenever possible.
7. Solve the biggest frustration of webinar attendees
This final tip is an easy thing for you to implement, but your webinar registrants will greatly appreciate it.
Many marketers using webinars want to take full advantage of scarcity to drive up registrations and attendance rate.
They make people attend the webinar by not offering any replay.
And while that can work in the short term, it may have a negative long term effect because it’s not good in terms of the viewer experience.
Why? Because they might have missed a point you talked about during a webinar, or maybe they just need to repeat a section a few times to fully understand it.
If you don’t allow registrants to download a copy of the webinar, they can’t do this.
I talked about the fact that Kissmetrics had (and still has) impressive results with their webinars.
What you might not know is that they release them all publicly so that anyone can download any of the replay videos:
These webinars actually go on to attract more email addresses, which leads to more customers down the line.
You don’t even need to go that far, though, as long as you at least offer a replay to anyone who registers for the webinar, like Brian Casel does:
Finally, if you really care about providing the best experience to your viewers, make a list of all the resources you mention in the webinar. Then, post them online, or send them in a follow-up email:
Webinars are one of the most powerful traffic generation and conversion tactics that exist right now.
Take advantage of them.
I’ve shown you 7 tactics you can implement right away to produce better webinars for your audience.
If you implement them as I’ve shown you, your attendance rates as well as your conversion rates will go up.
If there’s anything that’s not clear to you right now, just leave me your questions in a comment below, and I’ll do my best to answer them.
7 Ways to Improve Your Webinars (and Conversion Rate)