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James Self

Inbound Marketing Strategist

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Hosting a webinar is a great tactic to enhance lead generation, lead nurture and thought leadership. These 20 tips will help you through planning, promoting and running a successful event.

Hosting a webinar is an increasingly effective tactic that can play a key part in your lead generation and nurture strategies. Share the right information with the right audience, and you’ll create better relationships, position yourself as a helpful advisor - and will have some great content and insight that can continue to deliver value even after the event.

A webinar is an online seminar or workshop that enables you to deliver a virtual event to attendees in any location.

Quality webinars should be educational, fairly informal and engaging. But while easy-to-watch webinars are seemingly effortless, there’s a certain level of heavy lifting and planning to do before, during and after to ensure your webinar is a success.

Below is a 20 step checklist to keep your webinars on track. 

20 Steps to Plan and Promote A Great Webinar

Before the webinar

1. Choose your topic carefully. Do your research to determine what your prospects are talking about; what are their current challenges, what are they discussing across social media and with your sales team? Be confident that your topic/challenge addressed will resonate.

2. Choose a date that is no more than 2 months ahead - late morning on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays are most popular. Consider if there are any major holidays or other events that may impact signup or attendance. It’s also wise to consider the time zone that the majority of your ideal attendees will be in. If you’re in the UK and targeting a US audience, a 10am GMT time slot would leave US viewers logging in at anywhere from 5am ET, to 2am PT! 

3. Prepare a synopsis of your webinar outlining the content and key takeaways that your audience can expect should they sign up. This can be used to entice sign up throughout your promotion activities.

4. Invite customers and target prospects (who would be interested in your topic) who are already in your database. Remember, a webinar is a great opportunity for lead nurture.

5. Remember to promote your event on your website with an appropriate registration CTA.

Related: Why and How to Include Video in Your Content Strategy

6. Once you have a registration page on your site - start promoting!Social channels (general promotion, direct messages) and blog posts can be of great use here and can be refined to ensure they reach the right, quality audience that you want in attendance.

7. If you’re targeting a wider audience, consider having internal staff share the webinar registration page to extend your reach. Similarly, if you are co-hosting your webinar or have a guest speaker, ensure they also promote the webinar through their networks.

8. Develop a workflow of emails (no more than 3) to remind prospects (who have not signed up) of what’s going to be discussed and value offers - such as introducing any guest speakers.

9. For those speakers who have signed up, make it easy for them to remember -  supply automated ‘add to calendar’ options on your thank you page/ thank you email.

10. Remember to practice your presentation a few times before the day, test out the software you’ll be using and have a dummy run with all speakers to avoid technical problems.

On the day of the webinar

11. Send early email reminders (i.e. an hour before the start time) to registered attendees and provide sign-in details again.

12. During the webinar,start with a brief welcome and introduction of speakers and give a reminder of what your audience is going to get out of the webinar. This ‘housekeeping’ section should take no more than 1-2 minutes.

13. Encourage engagement and participation (typically via a chat panel) and remind attendees that there will be a Q&A session at the end.  Again, this should take no more than 1-2 minutes.

14. Once you’ve started your main webinar discussion, keep to the topic. Don’t be distracted and tempted to go off at a tangent to discuss points that may not be of interest to the rest of the audience.  If this happens (and it can!) take control and offer to discuss the point off-air.

Related: Measuring the ROI of a Video Campaign

15. At the end of your webinar, open the floor to a Q&A discussion. You might start by answering any questions raised during the webinar. It’s wise to also have some prepared seed questions to encourage dialogue in case your audience are shy.

16. After a brief Q&A, wrap up by providing contact details that the audience can use after the webinar and advise the audience that slides/ the webinar recording will be made available.

17. Lastly, always look to improve - request your audience to complete a feedback poll after the event. Some webinar platforms will include this as a feature.

After the webinar

18. Immediately post-webinar, send a ‘thank you’ message to everyone who attended, referencing that a copy of the webinar presentation will follow.

19. Send the webinar recording no more than one day after the event, while the webinar is front of mind.

20. Make contact with those attendees who registered but did not attend (expect an attendance rate of around 40-45%), offering them a copy of the webinar notes/presentation.

Webinar Timeline: How Long Should This Take?

Ready to plan your next webinar? Below is a rough guide to how much preparation and time resource is required - although of course this can be expedited!

2-3 months ahead of the webinar

  • Research to determine the right topic/challenge to address
  • Identify your target and promotion strategy
  • Structure your webinar content/ presentation
  • Finalise your webinar title/presenters/guest presenters if collaborating with other thought leaders

6 weeks ahead of the webinar

  • Build your landing page/sign up page
  • Start your promotion activities (email existing prospects, promote on social etc)

2 weeks ahead of the webinar

  • Finalise your presentation - this should be c.30-45 minutes of content
  • Continue promotion - and send reminder emails to target prospects who have not yet signed up
  • Prepare seed questions to trigger engagement in the Q&A section
  • Run a full rehearsal with all presenters to ensure content and timing are correct, and to avoid technical issues

On the day of the webinar

  • Send a reminder email to webinar attendees 1 hour prior
  • Double check that there are no technical issues
  • Begin the webinar 10-15 minutes ahead of time to allow your presenters to settle

After the webinar

  • Edit the recording ready to send out
  • Contact all attendees with a ‘thank you for attending’ email
  • Send the webinar recording and any additional content to all those who signed up within 24 hours
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