Key pillars in a webinar marketing plan include your selection of media and lists, your communications plan for those lists and media, the webinar invitation, and getting the tactics right. Keep these things in mind as you plan your own event, whether it be free or paid webinars. For now, let’s cover the first two.

Media and List selection

The webinar marketing plan starts with identifying the lists(s) and/or media that effectively reach your target market.  This can include your own in-house and direct mail list, outside direct mail or email lists, partner/speaker/affiliate lists and external media – including social media – and websites.

A typical webinar will see 90% or more of its registrants come from an opt-in email list, so the most important part of your marketing plan will be to use, rent, or access email lists likely to be responsive to your webinar invitation.

Most importantly, the list should contain a high percentage of individuals who are potential buyers or influencers for your products or services.  Resist the temptation to use easily available media or lists when they don’t match the target market for your specific webinar.  A little extra investment in list development will pay off in response and attendance.

Successful email marketing should use three common sources for registrants:

  1. Your own in-house list
  2. An opt in email, outside speaker or co-sponsor list
  3. A third-party rented list or external ads

Five questions to ask when developing your list are:

  1. What internal email lists are available to promote this webinar?
  2. What co-sponsor or outside speaker lists or media can be considered?
  3. Where are similar webinars or events being successfully promoted?
  4. What media or lists have been responsive to your company’s marketing offers in the past?
  5. When evaluating a list or media: what percentage of the list/media can be considered the target audience for this webinar?  Who else is mailing/using the list?  What webinars and promotions have worked best to this list?

An alternative to email marketing is marketing your event on free webinar directory sites and various social media networks such as Linked-in, Facebook, Twitter and many others.  It does not require an email list and the effectiveness can be far superior to email marketing.

The webinar communications plan

The webinar communications plan includes the methods you select to promote your webinar, when prospects see your ads and invitations and how you want them to register.

Select communication vehicles and the timing of the delivery of your messages to maximize the reach and impact with your chosen target list or media.  Consider multiple forms of contact outside of emails such as online advertising, social media networks, telemarketing or direct communications from salespeople.  The combination of multiple media and contacts can increase your rate of success and awareness of your event.

The general rule is the majority of registrants will respond within 10 days of your webinar.  The heart of a communications plan could include an email to your list 7 days before the Webinar and 2 days before.

If you have outside speakers or co-sponsors for the event, they could follow this timing as well to their own lists.  And, don’t forget to promote links to the live event and recording in newsletters, social networking sites and on your own website as well as those of your speaker and partner.  These tactics won’t be successful on their own, but you could see a 20% lift in registrations.

It’s important to view the promotional process as a whole.  Take the same care to create marketing copy for registration as you do for the invitation copy.  Recognize that capturing a webinar registration is a great way to learn more about your prospects, but that asking too many questions of your prospects may increase the numbers who abandon the registration form before completing it.

The best registration process offers one-click registration or one-click access to a simple registration form which can convert 50% of its traffic to registrants.  Requiring two or more steps to register – or making it hard to register for the webinar – will significantly lower your registrations.

Here are five questions to ask when developing your communications plan:

  1. Ideally, when would we like our prospective attendees to receive the invitations/ads?
  2. What is the optimal mix of promotional vehicles based on the list/media, budgets, and promotional timelines?
  3. Have we made it easy for prospects to register for the webinar?
  4. What flexibility do we have to add an additional or “last chance” mailing or promotion to the schedule based on initial results?
  5. Have we established a calendar with enough time for creative development and review cycles while still meeting the deadlines for ad placements and email blasts?
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