May 5, 2016

To Webinar or Not to Webinar?

To Webinar or Not to Webinar?

If you’ve never attended a webinar before, you probably aren’t in a league of your own. If your association has never administered a webinar before, you definitely aren’t alone. Many association executives are just getting onboard with social media, let alone the idea of a webinar. Some of you may be asking, “what is a webinar anyway?”

Webinars are an easy way to conduct or attend an online seminar.

It allows organizations to discuss topics that are important to them, to people that are important to them. Sounds ideal, right? Many associations underestimate the power of a webinar’s full potential. In a day and age when innovation is not a luxury, but a necessity - webinars may be the next avenue associations take to engage members.

They Aren't As Scary As They Sound

Blogs, vlogs, podcasts and webinars. These are all terms that are infiltrating our lives. What do they even mean? They may look intimidating, but they serve a purpose: Providing its audience with information. Simply put, a webinar is an online seminar with a host(s) and attendees. The organization hosting the webinar invites attendees to partake in the event to gain knowledge about a specific topic.

The Process:

  1. Establish a topic for the webinar
  2. Create and develop slides for your presentation
  3. Invite people to the webinar
  4. People receive the invitation and register for the webinar
  5. Send reminder emails to registrants (and non-registrants) for the webinar
  6. Registrants log into the webinar hosting provider at the designated webinar time
  7. Conduct an engaging and successful webinar

Members want to get things out of their memberships that they can’t get anywhere else. A webinar is the perfect platform for that. You’re not only engaging your members, but you’re educating them on a topic they may have been unfamiliar with. That’s a huge value for them.

Is It Worth It?

Some association executives may not see the value in webinars. Webinars provide associations with a plethora of benefits. Still not sold on the idea? We have some advantages that may change your mind:

  • Let's start with money. Webinars save associations thousands of dollars because they provide information similar to a conference session, without the cost.
  • You have the ability to educate members on a topic that you truly care about.
  • Webinars build relationships with members by keeping them engaged. Members are truly getting the value of their membership.
  • Your assocation will have a newer, bigger contact list. This will be helpful for your future marketing and sales efforts.
  • They can be fun! Webinars don't have to be stuffy. They are a great way for an association to show off its personality.

What Makes a Webinar a Good Webinar

Webinars are a different breed. They may seem similar to a PowerPoint presentation; however, they are given virtually. There are many ways to make webinars a huge success.

Where You Should Start

The first and most important aspect of developing a successful webinar is to pick an appropriate topic. A great way to gauge what will work is to understand what your members are talking about. Additionally, you have to make sure there’s enough to discuss. Webinars normally last between 30-60 minutes, so there should be enough material to keep it interesting. Still not sure where to look? You probably already have the answer.

  • Take a look at your most successful social media posts. What were they talking about?
  • What blog posts had the most clicks?
  • Is your industry shifting? What are the trends?
  • Revert to previous conferences. What sessions had the most attendees?

Keep It Interesting

I hate to be the bearer of bad news - but if not done properly, webinars can be pretty boring. Associations must make sure to keep the conversation alive and the content engaging. An easy way to do this it to keep slides interesting by using more visuals to capture and keep attention. Additionally, the slides should not mimic what the presenter is saying. Think keywords, not sentences.

Timing Is Everything

Since your slides will be rather bare, the presenter must keep talking points concise. A great way to ensure this is to have the presenter revert to notes during the presentation. This way, they will not get off track and the slides will remain in order with the presentation. The presenter should make sure that their talking points coincide with the slides so that the attendees can follow accordingly.

Promotion Is Key

Associations that have many members should strive to have as many as possible attend. Promotional emails should be sent 2-3 weeks prior to the webinar. These emails should include basic information, along with registration details and instructions. Associations should make it as easy as possible for members to register. Once attendees begin to register, your association should send reminder emails to ensure their knowledge of the event. It’s important to send these emails to members that aren’t registered for the webinar as well. This will allow them to register if they forgot to do so the first go-around.

Practice What You Preach

Is there anything worse than your presentation not working? It’s important for the presenter to practice their presentation prior to going live. Since many presenters revert to talking points, rather than scripts, they must know what they want to convey. This will remedy any timing issues and ensure that the webinar software is working correctly.

Quick Stats:

  • Best Days: Wednesday and Thursday
  • Average Cost: Between $100 - $500
  • Average Promotional Period: 3 weeks

As the association space continues to evolve, new features are available to members. Webinars are a cost-effective way to engage and educate members while conveying your association’s message. By understanding the potential that webinars offer to associations, you may see an improvement in your engagement rates. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone - give it a try!

To learn more about using technology market to members, take a look at our blog: E-Marketing Isn't Dead.