Webinars & Virtual Events: Your Ultimate Guide



Virtual and online events are becoming the new normal when it comes to showcasing your company or solutions as well as interacting with prospects and clients. For some this has involved a steep learning curve as they have had to get to grips with new or at least unfamiliar technology, and find their way through a host of new ways of getting themselves in front of an audience. 


We have supported several clients through this and along the way gained some useful insight that we thought would be worth sharing with you that might help you kick start your next virtual event and make sure it is stress free. 


One of the recent webinars we supported was a joint event between Hitachi Vantara, Voloforce and Ajartec. Mark Williams, Director & Head of Retail, Hospitality & Consumer Goods, at Hitachi Vantara gave us this feedback...


The support and work provided by the Next Call team to bring this webinar to fruition was both professional and thorough, resulting in more than just attendees on the day, it has provided a vehicle for ongoing conversations and several new business opportunities. Following the success of this webinar, we are actively looking at running this type of event again.

As with any event, or campaign, planning is key, and taking the right steps during that planning phase to ensure nothing is missed or forgotten. 


At the start of the whole process is a decision as to what your topic will be. What do you want to convey to your audience? You may have more than one type of audience and your event or events should be planned accordingly. Once you have the topic in mind you can then choose who would be the best person to deliver it. To keep a webinar interesting it’s good to have more than one speaker, each of whom speak for a shorter amount of time, maybe 15 - 20 minutes each. This will keep the flow of the webinar lively and interesting and will keep your audience captivated. 


Once you have a subject and speakers in mind, it’s time to firm up a date, allowing enough time for planning and crucially to drive registrations. 


You have already decided on your target audience, so now you will need to check your database of contacts to see if you have the right data and if it is up to date. Your next step may now be to obtain some new or updated data. A prerequisite to any event or campaign is to build out the key contacts, and allowing time for this and ensuring it is done properly will really make the difference to not only the number of attendees you can attract, but, more importantly the relevance and quality of those attendees.


Once you have determined the time to prepare the data, factor in the emails you need to send and the follow up required to drive registrations and confirmations. This will give you your lead-in time and help you to decide on the date for your event. Keep in mind national and school holidays and aim for a day in the middle of the week and a time in the middle of the morning or afternoon. Ensure that your chosen platform can send out timely reminders to keep your registrations fully updated and to encourage them to join the webinar. 


As well as your marketing tool of choice, you will of course also need a broadcasting tool, and this could be the now hugely popular Zoom, or one of many other options. Ensure that you are fully versed with using whichever one you choose.


Our preference has been to use Zoom. It is inexpensive to set up, and has all the capabilities you will need to manage a professional, and if needed, interactive, webinar. Once chosen, you can schedule your date and time and create your registration page, which can then be shared via your email campaigns and through your social media channels. Remember to test your registration page to make sure it is providing you with the information that you need. 


Now you have your date and time, you have a subject and some speakers, and you have the correct data, it’s time to send out your email campaigns, and to share your event via social. Remember to test your email before sending it to your list. Send it out internally and get your colleagues to check the links and registration process. Include details of your speakers and a short summary of what they will be talking about.


Tracking your email responses and registration numbers is now key and should be monitored closely. 


To drive as many registrations as possible, a focused telemarketing campaign to work through the data list is your next step, and this will make a huge difference to your outcomes. Now it’s a case of repeating the email, social, telemarketing for the next few weeks until you reach the date of the webinar. 


As you get closer to the date, there is more behind the scenes work to be done; set up some rehearsals with your speakers and moderator. This should be done at least once, but preferably a couple of times to make sure everyone is comfortable with the running order, the tools available to show and progress presentations, and the interactive element of polls and Q&A. These rehearsals are key and will iron out any technical issues before you face your live audience.


Some speakers may wish to record their sessions ahead of time, and this can work well and can be managed on the day as if the speaker were there live.


On the day of your webinar, gather your speakers together 15 minutes ahead of the start of the webinar - go through the running order and a checklist of things they need to do to make sure there are no interruptions; have they switched off notifications on their PC, have they closed the door to their meeting room or study to ensure no interruptions, have they got their presentation ready to share?


Now it’s time to go live! 


All the pre-event preparation will ensure that the event goes smoothly and that everyone involved in delivering a presentation on the day is confident with what they have to do and what they are going to be talking about. Your audience will be presented with a professional and well run event.


Once the webinar is finished there is still more to do. The post-event analysis and follow up is now key to make sure no opportunities are missed and every opportunity is fully explored. 


Start with analysing the attendee report; how many of the registrations attended, how long did they stay on the webinar for? How did the webinar itself go; did it run smoothly, were there any hitches? Make a note so that next time you can adjust and adapt accordingly. 


Send a thank you to all those that attended with any follow up collateral that was promised. Follow them up with a phone call to encourage them to the next stage of a meeting or product demo, both of which can be held as online meetings. 


Send a note to the non-attendees with additional information and the opportunity to view a recording of the webinar at their leisure. You may wish to send a survey to the non-attendees to discover their reasons for not attending. Or this could be done via a telephone follow up, which can sometimes lead to new opportunities that you would have otherwise missed. 


The webinar is not just about the 40 minutes or so that you are live on the day. There is value in the data gathered, the attendee list and the recording of the webinar, all of which can be used as part of an ongoing follow up campaign.


We have learnt a lot while supporting our clients with their virtual events and webinars, and hope this brief overview will help you with your next event. If you’d like support then please do get in touch and we’d be happy to work with you to deliver a full end-to-end successful campaign with you.


We have learnt a lot while supporting our clients with their virtual events and webinars, and hope this brief overview will help you with your next event. If you’d like support then please do get in touch and we’d be happy to work with you to deliver a full end-to-end successful campaign with you.


Planning is always key for any type of event, in an earlier blog we talk about the importance of planning for a face to face style event. Hopefully we’ll all be able to get back to these events safely again soon.


Click here to read more about our tried and tested Process Methodology which enables us to deliver successful campaigns time and again for all our clients.


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