2020. Sheesh. What a year. If there is one thing this crazy time has taught the world about owning a business, it’s that SMBs have to adapt to survive.

Business owners that once met in person are now changing their set-up to work from home. Meetings are moving online at unprecedented rates. Zoom user rates alone skyrocketed with the company adding 2.22 million active users by February of this year. To quickly highlight the significance of this growth, Zoom only added 1.99 million users in all of 2019.

If you’re one of the people that has been scrambling to move nearly every aspect of your business online, you’re not alone. The good news is software companies are jumping at the chance to facilitate seamless online business practices.

This post will cover one of the most effective ways to connect with your customers—via online webinars. We’ll dive into:

  • The benefits of hosting a webinar
  • Steps to follow when planning a webinar
  • WordPress plugins that help with setting up a webinar

By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to host your first webinar.

Benefits of hosting a webinar

The most obvious benefit of hosting a webinar during this time is you can still conduct business without risking your health, or of your colleagues and your customers during the pandemic.

But, that’s not the only benefit. Even if we weren’t in the middle of a global health crisis, hosting online webinars is a solid and lucrative business practice. Here are some of the top advantages of hosting a webinar.

1. You expand your reach

Face-to-face meetings are an effective way to build relationships, but they aren’t the most convenient way to engage with your audience.

Either you or your customers have to travel to meet in person. Traveling is expensive, time-consuming, and a hassle. Not to mention, traveling is difficult right now.

If you host a webinar, you can conveniently connect with as many of your global audience members as you want. All you need is a computer and a webinar software program.

2. You establish authority in your industry

You may have years of experience in your field, but if no one knows who you are, they are unlikely to think of you first as the top industry leader.

You can quickly solve this dilemma by hosting educational webinars. As soon as your followers connect with you via webinar and hear your informative and valuable insights, they will see you and your brand as a credible source for information.

3. You save money

Webinars are cost-efficient. All you need to conduct a successful webinar is an online platform or plugin, a list of attendees, a webcam, a script, and some practice.

Most professional webinar software programs include everything you need to host a successful webinar with a large audience.

Additionally, hosting a webinar is much more affordable than buying a plane ticket or making arrangements for a conference or in-person networking event.

4. You build brand awareness

Whenever you host a webinar, you have an attentive audience of hundreds of people. Not only does the audience get to know you, but they also get over an hour’s worth of exposure to your brand.

As you host more webinars, it continues to increase brand awareness. The added bonus is when customers have questions about your industry or become interested in a competitive product you sell, guess who they will think of first? You and your brand!

5. Webinars help you with market research

Chances are, you already have a basic idea of who your target audience is. You may even have written up a few customer profiles.

When you start engaging with your audience online, you have access to a plethora of detailed qualitative data. In other words, you learn things like what questions your target audience is asking. You learn what your customers like and what they don’t like. You come to understand what their pain points are and how they feel about the competition.

Essentially, webinars allow you an opportunity to ask questions and glean valuable information directly from your customers and take the guesswork out of the equation completely. 

You can use this knowledge to fine-tune your content, retrofit any of your existing products, and engage with your audience in more meaningful ways.

6. Webinars boost sales

Webinars are an excellent way to educate your audience and build your credibility. They are also a great way to boost your sales through product offerings.

The format of many webinars includes educational freebies followed by a quick sales presentation. This method is particularly effective at building a relationship and capturing more leads.

Recent stats even show that a single webinar could result in over 1,000 leads, and communication webinars have a conversion rate of over 67%.

10 steps to follow when planning a webinar

Now that you know some of the top benefits of hosting a webinar, let’s talk about everything you need to execute a successful webinar. Here are the steps to follow when planning a webinar.

1. Get to know your audience

Before you set a date, pick a topic, or decide on your speaker, it’s essential to get to know your target audience better. Ask yourself:

  • What is my ideal customer profile?
  • What questions does my audience have?
  • What are the pain points of my audience?
  • How can I best educate my audience?
  • What are the audience’s interests?

The more you can learn about your target audience and what they want, the better your webinar will be. Consider doing a bit of market research or at least putting together a more detailed customer profile before you pick a topic.

2. Select your topic

Once you know more about your audience, it’s time to choose a topic. There are a few ways you can go about picking a topic. 

Here are some things to consider:

  • Delve deeper into one of your most popular blog posts.
  • Check out what information is missing in your industry and cover that topic.
  • Do a Google search to find trending questions related to your business.
  • Answer audience questions and present solutions.
  • Offer free training on one of your business solutions.
  • Teach your audience how to do something they didn’t know how to do before.
  • Look at your FAQs and pick the most asked question as your topic.
  • Poll your audience on social media.

When picking a topic, make sure you look over your blog analytics, customer data, and settle on a topic that will resonate well with your audience.

3. Settle on a time and date for your webinar

This step is simple but critical. Choose a date and time that works best for your audience. This includes considering schedules and time zones. No one wants to wake up at 4 am to catch a webinar.

4. Choose your webinar team

If you’re a one-person show, you can successfully host your own webinar. It will just take a little more planning and a stellar webinar platform.

If you have a larger team, then it’s smart to delegate specific roles. Consider assigning different people to organize the webinar, create content, promote it, and present.

5. Determine the format of your webinar

Think of how many different options you have for presentations when you go to an in-person conference. You can hear one person speak. You can watch an interview. You can go to a Q&A session, and you can attend a panel. Sometimes you will see a mix of these different types of format.

You have the same exact options when you’re conducting a webinar. The best format for your webinar will depend on your topic, team, audience, and network.

6. Recruit speakers for your webinar

Once you have decided on a topic, time, date, and format, it’s time to recruit speakers. You can either run the webinar yourself, or you can seek out seem members or an industry expert to present.

Make sure that when you invite someone to present on your webinar that you provide them all the details upfront.

7. Consider the design and visual branding of your webinar

Remember how brand recognition is one of the top benefits of hosting a webinar? It’s true so long as you follow some basic dos and don’ts of visual design.

Do:

  • Create a cohesive design for your presentation
  • Be consistent with your branding
  • Include your logo
  • Align content with your brand’s visual tone

Don’t:

  • Use colors or fonts that don’t match your brand book or website
  • Forget to include clickable call-backs to your website
  • Leave out your logo on the opening pages and main slides

Webinars aren’t just a chance to engage with your audience. They are also excellent marketing and branding opportunities.

8. Create an agenda for your webinar

Did you know that Steve Jobs would spend hundreds of hours practicing his hour-long keynote presentations? Each of his keynote presentations followed an agenda and a fine-tuned script.

Small website owners won’t have the same huge audience as an Apple keynote presentation. However, you can still learn a valuable lesson from Steve Jobs that will help you conduct better presentations.

Take the time to write out an agenda, write a script, and practice it until it’s perfect. You may not have to put 100 hours into practicing a one-hour speech, but it is helpful to have an agenda and conduct a few practice runs.

9. Offer your products or services

Webinars are an excellent method for promoting your products and services. Naturally, you don’t want to lead with a sales pitch, but it’s a good idea to offer your products and services at the end of a webinar as an add-on.

You may even consider providing a limited-time discount or a special coupon code to your audience for attending the webinar. This provides extra incentive for attendees to continue engaging with your brand.

10. Pick a webinar software or tool

You will want to pick a webinar software that has a WordPress plugin before you start planning your agenda, but after you have an idea of what you want to accomplish.

What you end up picking will depend on your needs, preferences, and whether or not it has the right integrations. Here are some features to look for in a good tool:

  • Unlimited webinars
  • Allows for at least 2 presenters
  • Allows for at least 500 attendees
  • Reasonable caps on time
  • Live chat
  • Recording functionality
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Page builder
  • Email integration
  • WordPress integration
  • Cool presentation features like a drawing board, videos, and more
  • Ability to charge for webinars
  • And more!

These are the ten steps to follow when learning how to host a webinar for the first time. Let’s now take a quick look at some of the best WordPress plugins for webinars.

WordPress webinar plugins

WordPress is the top content management system for a reason. WordPress provides plugins that help you do nearly everything you could think of to do with a website, including hosting webinars.

Here are some of the top plugins to check out if your website runs on WordPress:

  • GoToWebinar – This is a reliable platform and easy to use.
  • WebinarJam – This is one of the most popular platforms and allows you to host large webinars.
  • Webinars OnAir – This tool is excellent for retargeting and tracking your users’ web activity.
  • Google Hangouts – You can even host a webinar with Google Hangouts. Although, you may miss out on some of the professional features of a webinar tool.
  • Zoom – You probably have already used Zoom for an online meeting, but you’ll be happy to know they also have excellent webinar functionality.

All of these tools have WordPress plugins that make it easy to run a webinar on your WordPress site.

Ready to Host Your First Webinar?

Hosting a webinar is one of the best ways to connect with your customers, especially when it’s difficult to meet in person. Not only will hosting a webinar help you meet with your audience, but it’s also excellent for brand recognition, driving traffic back to your website, and making sales.

If you’re in the process of setting up a WordPress website, don’t forget to sync up with the right hosting company. HostGator offers excellent WordPress hosting, shared hosting, and other options that may be right for your business. Check HostGator out today.

Ashley R. Cummings is a professional freelance writer specializing in SaaS, tech, and advertising/marketing. In a previous life, she was a Russian teacher at Brigham Young University, a corporate trainer, and a grad student—all at the same time. When she’s not writing, you can find her traveling the world with her 2 kids and husband, reading poetry or taking a deep dive into the fabulous world of comedy. Connect with her on Twitter at @ashleyrcummings.