It’s important when planning a webinar to establish realistic timetables and promote your live event five to 20 days in advance. The shorter the promotion time, the less flexibility you have in affecting audience size. A five- to seven-day window is fine if you offer Web seminars frequently. A longer lead time allows for testing messaging and lists. Longer lead times also allow for multiple sends to your target audience.

In planning your timetable, work backward from the date registration opens. Take into account testing required, and allow time to evaluate the results and make changes if needed. Generally, it is a good idea to start planning nine to 12 weeks before a live Web seminar. On-demand takes similar timing, depending on the complexity of the production and the promotional plan.

There are a number of components of your budget that must be considered.

1. Audience Acquisition/Registration – consider whether in-house resources, such as house lists and sales invitations, will be adequate to build an audience for the Webinar. What size and quality audience can you generate from partners, industry associations and other sources that will not cost your company out-of-pocket dollars? Will you have to purchase outside lists and other forms of advertising? If an investment is required, consider the cost per registration and attendee; also, consider the likely number of leads from the registration and convert to cost-per-lead.

2. Speakers – account for payment required by the speakers. Customers or partners may agree to speak at no cost. Recognizable names or industry authorities get high fees but will generate higher attendance. Before engaging speakers, consider whether the likely increased attendance will materialize at a reasonable cost–per-lead.

3. Creative

     a. HTML creative services are necessary to develop the registration page and other Web pages that promote the event. You need a Web page that contains information about the event and its speakers, as well as a registration form. Some Webinar platforms allow customized frames that further the branding of the marketer.

     b. If PowerPoint slides should be used for the event, consider whether the speakers should use the same slide template or if each speaker should be allowed to use their own template. Sometimes allowing for each speaker to design their own slides preserves the integrity and objectivity of their content. However, make sure that all graphics are professional and engaging. Keeping the attention of your audience in a Webinar is far more challenging than in face-to-face environments.

     c. Copywriting may be required for landing pages, emails and other Web-seminar elements, such as scripts for the speakers.

4. Technology Platform and Other Technology Requirements

     a. Select a managed webinar service to deliver your content to your audience based on your desired functionality; make sure to try the product before buying.

     b. Consider such ease-of-use, engagement, and reliability.

     c. When comparing costs, include whether prices are fixed or variable based on attendance size, cost for a contract period or for one-time only, cost for audio (either streaming through the Internet or via teleconference lines), and cost for technical support and customer service.

     d. Some platforms have built-in e-mail sending capability. If you require more customized e-mails, consider a dedicated third-party provider.

     e. If you want the Webinar to be recorded and accessible on-demand, you may want your technology vendor to host the recording.

5. Registration – while most technology platforms include a registration system, you may incur additional costs if you want to automate the depositing of leads into your contact management or customer relationship management (CRM) system.

6. Internal Project Management – do you have sufficient in-house resources, or do you need to hire project management?

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