Here you will find 40 of the industry’s most asked questions about webinar promotion, content, technology and sales engagement.


With the advent of Web 2.0 technology, traditional lead generation methods such as pay-per-click, organic search, advertising, direct mail, trade show attendance and cold calling are giving way to a new method of finding qualified prospects. More and more companies– both large and small – have begun using webinars to generate qualified sales leads.

Lead generation is all about ROI, how much are you spending – and the return on that investment. Webinars provide a low-cost, easy-to-use method that allows prospects to step forward and tell you they are interested. These are people that have volunteered to spend 30 – 45 minutes with your best presenter.

By hosting web events, sales and marketing professionals reach many more prospects at a fraction of the cost of traditional events and in-person meetings. Such technology also enables them to determine the strongest leads by tracking attendees’ interest and participation. Sales pros can fill the sales funnel with high-quality leads and eliminate poor prospects far earlier in the sales cycle.


How should we promote our Webinar?

A comprehensive approach to promotion is best. This begins with identifying qualified e-mail databases to which you want to communicate. Other forms of online promotion, such as newsletters, Web sites, banner advertising, search advertising and social media marketing, also play a role in getting people to register for your event. If you’re already advertising online, promote your Web events that way. Do you have a Facebook fan page? Twitter account? Include a link to registration on your Web site, your e-mails and anywhere else you may reach potential leads. Do you have a newsletter or white papers? Are you active in trade associations? Look at your advertising calendar. If you have a budget in place for e-mail advertising, work with a media company that has exposure in your particular vertical market.

Where can we find databases of potential attendees?

If you have internal databases, it certainly makes sense to use them. You can also look externally, to promotion and content partners who might have databases of relevant prospects. And media partners, as mentioned in the question above, typically bring databases to the table as part of their packages.

How important is custom branding? What are some of the considerations that go into implementing branding aspects in your registration piece?

Branding is important, and there are definitely opportunities for company branding and product branding. All of the e-mail communications, microsite and other public-facing parts of your campaign should be custom branded with logos and the appropriate color palette.

On the registration page, how many qualification questions are optimum?

The general rule of thumb is that it should take the registrant no more than 60 seconds to register for an event. You don’t want to make the registration process too cumbersome; on the other hand, you want to leverage the opportunity to learn more about the registrant. Including anywhere from three to five profiling questions strikes this balance.

What is the average rate of registration? Attendance?

Industry averages show you can expect .5% to 1% of those you invite to register for an event; and 30% to 50% of those who register to attend the live event. That means, for example, if you want 100 people at your event, you’ll need to invite at least 25,000—probably more.

Do most registrants respond to the first invitation they receive, or are multiple communications necessary before someone registers?

The first mailing to a specific list usually generates the largest response (see question above). After that, you may want to repeat the mailing at an appropriate interval, communicating again with those who have not already registered. Generally, you’ll see additional registration from the second mailing, although the numbers will not be as high as the first mailing. To make the most of the second mailing, you may want to analyze the results of the first mailing, and tweak the creative or the message if your analysis reveals that is appropriate.

How much time should we leave before the first invitation and the live event?

You should aim to begin promoting your event at least three weeks before the live event day, with ongoing communications to registrants once they have signed up to remind them and keep them engaged. You don’t want to start earlier than that because the message will get stale. You don’t want to start much later, because you want to give yourself adequate time to react and make changes mid-campaign.

How do I know if HTML or text invitations will work better?

Consider a stage for creative and message testing in your promotion plan. Real-time data collection during the promotion stage can help you maximize registration and attendance by testing and refining your communications, even mid-campaign, based on what works. You can test various invitations and analyze the results. Does your audience respond better to heavily designed pieces? To certain colors and images? Hold focus groups, if you have the time and resources. Try stressing various benefits in the subject lines for your promotions. And remember, as you analyze promotion effectiveness, you’ll want to look not just at the numbers, but at the QUALITY of leads you are getting.

What are the best vehicles for promotion?

Online promotion drives the best results, and social media marketing – followed closely by e-mail marketing – are the most effective of all the online tools. Other forms of online promotion such as newsletters, Web sites, banner advertising and search advertising can also play a role in getting people to register for your event. Offline promotions, such as direct mail, telemarketing, and print and broadcast advertising, are not effective as primary methods of promoting registration to a Webinar. If you are already doing these for other programs it won’t hurt. But don’t rely on them to do the heavy lifting.


What are the best times and the best days for Webinars and what is the ideal length and proportion of content vs. question and answer sessions?

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are preferable. People may be overextended on Mondays and winding down or leaving earlier than usual on Fridays. A midday range is preferable if you are trying to reach a national audience in an industry that keeps regular business hours. For an hourlong presentation, content should be no longer than 30–45 minutes, depending on the number of speakers. Q&A should be another 10–15 minutes. The general rule of thumb is simply to keep it succinct and compelling.

Can we use a demonstration of our product as the main Webinar content?

Unless someone is well into the buying process, they probably don’t want to sit through an infomercial about your company. Tempting as it might be to talk about your company and show a demonstration of your product, it’s better to use your Webinar to develop thought leadership in your industry. The content should speak to the needs and questions of your audience and address their biggest business problems. Compelling content helps keep the audience engaged. Later down the line, it makes the segue into the sales engagement easier, because you are perfectly positioned as the expert and you’ve built a relationship by helping your prospects.

Does a product demonstration have any place in a lead-generation Webinar?

If a product demonstration flows naturally from the event content, offer it at the end of the event. Let participants know the demonstration will be available after the main presentation is finished, and be sure to conduct surveys and calls to action before the demo.

If you do not advocate product infomercials, are case studies an acceptable “soft sell” of the product?

Absolutely. Case studies can be a very powerful tool, as long as the content is relevant.

What are some strategies for making a scripted presentation much more “personal” (like a consultative interaction)?

The first step in making your presentation both personal and compelling is selecting the right speaker. The ideal speaker blends knowledge with presentation skills. He or she must be articulate in delivering the information. A speaker who knows his or her stuff but falls flat can make your event less effective. Some presenters are effective in person but may come across in a monotone to a virtual audience. Ability to engage is particularly important during a Q&A session, where a speaker will need to go off script. Hold a rehearsal before your event in order to practice the presentation and refine presentation skills.

Does using a script take away from the human/personal nature of a presentation?

If the speaker is accomplished and comfortable delivering a message without a script, then of course that’s great. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that when you’re delivering a message to hundreds of people, a script helps to keep the presentation moving at an appropriate pace.

What are your thoughts about free vs. paid Webinars? Does a small fee help improve the conversion rate from attendee to lead, because it acts as a qualifier?

If the goal of your campaign is lead generation, you should offer free Webinars to potential leads. By asking for money, you will turn off some potential leads. And if you consider that closing the sale from just one lead is typically worth the cost of doing a Webinar, then the benefit of offering Webinars for free is clear.

What type of format for a Webinar attracts the largest audience: a presentation by the sponsor; an industry speaker; a panel discussion; or a program followed by a short sponsor presentation?

This choice ultimately depends on the subject matter, but more credible content is likely to create better results. Whether it’s a CEO of a Fortune 500 company giving the presentation, a respected industry analyst or a publication that has a strong, respected editorial reputation, the credibility of the content of the Webinar is key to its success.

Should we send out the presentation before the live event?

Wait until after the event to send out a copy of the presentation. This builds excitement around the live event. It also gives you a great touchpoint in your post-event communications.

How do I avoid helping my competition through my Webinar content?

There is no way to guarantee your competitors won’t have access to your Webinar. Even domain blocking—refusing registration to certain e-mails—is not a guarantee, although it can make it harder for competitors to register. Certainly you should avoid sharing proprietary information in a Webinar.


Can we use polling on the event?

Yes. The interface typically supports polls during the live event, as well as surveys immediately after the event. An engaged audience is more likely to stay on the live event. Additionally, these vehicles are great tools to collect data about your prospects’ needs and pain points.

How do we inform attendees that Webinars have certain technology requirements?

In post-registration confirmation and participation instruction communications, offer registrants an easy mechanism to download RealPlayer™ or Windows Media Player®, and an interface through which they can test their browser and operating system to ensure the Webinar will work properly on their system.
You can also include a short announcement at the beginning of the live event reinforcing instructions.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of offering a recorded version vs. a live version of the event?

A live event creates a sense of excitement and encourages interaction. People stay on longer, they ask questions, they’re engaged in a way that they might not be on a pre-recorded event. The presenter can use live polls and other interactive tools during the event, and respond to them in real time. That said, you can certainly benefit from using on-demand (recorded) events as a complement to or instead of a live event. They offer increased flexibility and can help you maximize ROI from your campaign by allowing you to use a single event multiple times.

When evaluating Webinar implementation vendors, what characteristics should we be looking for?

Most Webinar vendors provide both audio and video, and you should avoid those who can’t. It’s in your best interest to screen numerous contenders, ask questions and discuss issues such as:

  • Number of participants
  • Materials to be presented
  • Required services (features such as streaming audio, document sharing, etc.)
  • Degree of interactivity
  • Technical support needs
  • Be sure to ask about your payment options too, because Web conferencing is sold in a variety of ways:
    • Hosted—Vendors “rent” or license Webinar software
    • Software—Software is purchased and you become the “host”
    • Reseller—Several vendors will resell you the services and/or software you need
    • Full service—ConferTel is one of a handful of companies that partner with clients not only to deliver the required technology tools, but also to work with them to plan, promote and produce Web events


Can you define the key elements involved in successful Webinar follow-up communication?

A live event creates a sense of excitement and encourages interaction. People stay on longer, they ask questions, they’re engaged in a way that they might not be on a pre-recorded event. The presenter can use live polls and other interactive tools during the event, and respond to them in real time. That said, you can certainly benefit from using on-demand (recorded) events as a complement to or instead of a live event. They offer increased flexibility and can help you maximize ROI from your campaign by allowing you to use a single event multiple times.

For those who did not attend, send a different e-mail telling them you are sorry they couldn’t attend and encourage them to view the archive of the event. These immediate follow-ups can also be used to fulfill special offers or other promotions.

Your sales team should follow up one-on-one with your hottest leads 24–48hours after the event. Rank your leads and communicate with them via phone or e-mail.

Can you give an example of how you would engage an attendee in a post-event communication—beyond driving them to another activity or to your Web site?

It is always a good idea to follow up with attendees within a week of the event, and you should contact your hottest leads within 24 hours. Consider the following:

  • A thank-you e-mail
  • Fulfillment—white papers or items you offered in earlier communications
  • Announcements—results of drawings

How can you harness the post-event thank-you e-mail to build/establish a personal relationship?

The thank-you e-mail is the last opportunity to make a personal connection before the sales engagement. To that end, it is important to include highly relevant information, a higher level of personalization and an explicit statement of your intentions, e.g., “We look forward to following up with you.”

You talk a lot about qualifying customers. How can we do this?

Within a specific Webinar campaign, you can use the data that comes from registration and from the multiple touchpoints that lead up to the event. Some examples of this data include the size of a registrant’s company as well as whether the registrant is a decision maker or key influencer. Outside the campaign, you can leverage other tools such as the data from external marketing intelligence firms, which allows us to get a much broader picture of a specific company.

Does the 48-hour window to follow up after the Webinar still apply with an on-demand Webinar vs. a live one?

Yes. Often on-demand attendees reach your event more organically than those for a live event, from your Web site or from a banner ad; therefore, it is important to follow up, ideally within 24 hours. One of the disadvantages of an on-demand Webinar is that generally attendees don’t stay on the event all the way until the end. It is even more important, then, to follow up with them as quickly as possible.

Do you find that Webinars are more effective for simple or complex sales?

Webinars are an effective strategy for both simple and complex sales. They are actually ideal for complex sales, because you have multiple layers of communication at your disposal and the time during the actual event to tell your story. Webinars are a highly effective way to educate potential leads about the value proposition before the sales team has an actual sales conversation.

How many leads make for a successful Webinar?

This is wholly dependent on the size of your target audience and the size of your average sale. For a large company that has made a significant investment, a minimum of 100 leads might be successful. But for another company, that number might be smaller. If it’s the right number and the leads move into sales, it’s a huge success.

How many Webinars does it take to generate significant leads?

This depends on several factors. If you already have a robust customer database, you’re farther ahead than if you need to use your Webinars to build up a sparse database. If you have a long sales cycle, it may take longer to be able to measure success in terms of sales. Webinars offer the opportunity to pull information from prospects and learn more about them as you go. You can use this information to get smarter about how you communicate and engage with them, and that can make the process much more efficient.

In order to justify the ROI, is there a minimum quantity of Webinar participants required?

Success in a lead-generation Webinar isn’t tied to quantity as much as quality. A small number of high-quality leads that are going to lead to sales is always better than plenty of leads that don’t match up with your target market and go nowhere. The focus should be on drawing the right leads to your event and qualifying them in a way that’s going to help you mine the leads to maximum effect.

Can we download lead information from the Webinar to CRM programs?

Yes. Reporting is a critical part of the sales engagement for a lead-generation Webinar. Lead information can be downloaded and integrated into a variety of systems to enable more efficient follow-up.


Is it feasible for a small firm to conduct a marketing/lead-generation Webinar?

Webinars are effective platforms for companies regardless of size. There are many ways to customize Webinars to make them suit the needs and budget of your company. In the end, you are reaching a large audience with your message, and that ultimately drives sales.

How often do you recommend producing a lead-generation Webinar?

This depends on your sales objectives in terms of the volume of leads you can support and how large your addressable market is. Typically, one event every four to six weeks is a good target for an organization that wants to keep its sales pipeline full.

What is usually the ratio of registrants to attendees?

Typically, the mid-30% range of registrants actually attend the Webinar. Some Webinars see in excess of 60% of registrants to the live event. The key is to keep registrants engaged up until the event to increase the likelihood they will attend. You can also improve those numbers be offering a recording of the event to those who could not attend the live event.

When we outsource Webinar services, will the information gathered from attendees remain private or do they typically get added to an outside database?

This is an important consideration, and certainly one to determine with your vendor in the planning phase. In ConferTels’ business model, all data associated with the Webinar is owned by the client and is proprietary information. Depending on the client’s specific campaign, however, ConferTel can also facilitate the cross-promotion of Webinars by partnering with relevant, complementary third parties.

How much time does it take to put on a successful Webinar from conception to completion?

Obviously, the planning and production time depend on many factors. Eight weeks from planning through the live event is a comfortable window.

Which industries seem to find the most success with Webinars?

The high-tech industry adopted Webinars first and they definitely still make use of them the most. However, we are beginning to see a shift in Webinar usage from their traditional high-tech origins. Webinars can be highly successful for B2B companies in the pharmaceutical, health care, financial services, even food services industries. We have also seen them demonstrate success in consumer markets.

How does acceptance of Webinars vary on a global scale?

Webinars are a great global tactic. They can work well wherever there is broadband connectivity. Webinars are a great way to address the need for pan-European marketing initiatives. Adoption has been faster in the UK than in other areas of Europe; this is primarily because a lot of the existing content is in English. Adoption has not been rapid in Asia.

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