Best Practices for Webinars and Why Your Water Lab Should Host One
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, water labs are turning to virtual means of communication to foster customer relationships while honoring social distancing measures. Webinars offer an excellent way to connect with prospective clients without having to meet them in person. These online events can also replace the face-to-face time you would've gotten at industry conferences and events.
Even after the country reopens, webinars are an effective tool that you'll want to keep in your water testing lab's marketing strategy. But why should you host a webinar? And what can your lab gain from these events?
The Benefits of Hosting a Water Industry Webinar
Right now, many of your current and prospective clients are working from home and looking for ways to stay up to date on industry best practices. Starting in March 2020, webinar platforms saw an immediate uptick in event frequency and attendance. During that month, webinar service provider ON24 reported an increase of more than 330% in the number of webinars on their platform and attendances doubling that of 2019.
Webinars are a cost-savvy alternative to in-person events, as they allow people to tune in and present from anywhere. They also offer several other advantages over traditional events, which include:
- Location and format flexibility.
- Lead generation opportunities from tracking registrations.
- Sales enablement via question exchanges.
- Two-way communication with audiences in a structured yet interactive way.
- Chances to generate content that can inform blogs, be shared on social media, or live as a resource on your website.
As with in-person events, webinars offer a prime opportunity to build trust with your audience and generate awareness for your tests and services.
Steps for Hosting a Successful Webinar
If you've never managed a webinar before, you'll be surprised at how easy it is to set one up. Just follow these steps to ensure your event is a shining success.
1. Select a Platform
Webinar platforms typically offer a range of services and budget levels, so your involvement and the cost will vary depending on the options you choose. Some popular webinar platforms include:
You can also outsource your webinar duties to an industry association, which can handle everything from marketing to registration and event production.
2. Identify Topics
Ensure that your webinar is focused. These events work best when they provide valuable information to a targeted audience on a specific topic. These can include frequently asked questions flagged by sales, emerging industry trends, or subjects that your lab has expertise on. The more specific its topic, the more likely your webinar is to generate qualified leads.
For example, if you've changed your sample collection protocols or started staggering shifts in the lab, you could share these in a webinar that focuses on best practices for water safety during the pandemic.
When picking a topic, also consider which aspects of water testing your audience may need help understanding. For inspiration, look at resources offered by your competitors or check out the water quality webinar topics covered by the EPA and the Private Well Class.
3. Craft an Outline
A webinar usually involves a moderator, a presenter, and a sponsor who pays for the event — that's you! A standard webinar lasts one hour and is split into segments, which include:
- A three- to four-minute scripted introduction to the topic, the presenters, and the sponsor.
- A 40-minute lecture where the presenter explains slides. Roughly 25% of people attend webinars using their mobile devices, according to WorkCast, so keep the text large and the images simple on slides.
- A 15-minute question and answer portion where the moderator asks the presenter questions that attendees sent in via chat during the lecture. Always prepare several seed questions to guide the Q&A in case your audience is quiet.
Webinars don't have to follow this exact format, though. You can bring in multiple presenters or a live panel of experts. Q&A or interview-style formats also work well, as do product demonstrations. You can also prerecord the lecture portion and combine it with a live Q&A.
When outlining your webinar, keep your intended audience in mind and think about what will motivate them to attend. And be sure to record the event and share it on your website so people can reap its value anytime.
4. Schedule the Webinar
The best time to host a webinar is the middle of a day that falls in the middle of the week. In analyzing data from 250,000 webinars, online meeting provider GoToWebinar found that events with the highest number of registrations were scheduled at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.
Once your webinar is scheduled, create a landing page where people can register for it by providing a few credentials, such as their name, email address, and company. Then, promote your event to your email marketing list. According to GoToWebinar, 59% of attendees register the week before a webinar and 17% register the day of the event. So as its date approaches, you'll want to send reminders to encourage last-minute registrations.
5. Make a Connection
In a survey of 678 sales and marketing leaders by InsideSales.com, 73% of respondents said webinars are one of the best ways to generate qualified leads. Take stock of who registered, attended, and interacted with your webinar. Then, have sales revisit the Q&A ahead of conversations with leads. Understanding the common questions people have can reduce barriers to conversion, as it allows sales to better match your water testing services to prospects' real-life pain points.
Webinars can help your lab stand out as an authority on water testing. By presenting a topic that helps your target audience solve problems or learn something new, you can forge strong connections with customers and prospects without directly selling.