But the next step is often harder to grasp.
How do you turn those readers and subscribers into customers?
I’ve seen many online business owners work hard for several years to build a solid audience and not know how to profit from it.
And without any profit, how will you be able to keep producing free valuable content for your audience?
So, how do you convert those audience members into customers?
You can employ many effective tactics.
But there is one tactic with which I’ve had an incredible amount of success, and I know that many other businesses have as well.
That tactic is using webinars.
Webinars are essentially one- or two-hour live video streams, usually like mini-courses.
Anyone viewing the webinar can type in questions and comments throughout the presentation.
Webinars can be incredibly effective, on average converting around 20% of viewers into customers buying products. And these aren’t just cheap products—they are premium products.
Although I won’t go into the technical details of creating a webinar here (e.g., creating a slideshow, using webinar software), I’ll teach you a step-by-step procedure you can use to create webinars that convert.
Some businesses use only webinars in order to sell their products, and they do very well…I am talking about webinars just like this one I created.
Why webinars might be the best form of content for any business
At their core, webinars are just another type of content.
However, webinars are a type of content that is optimized for selling. Why?
First, viewers typically place a higher value on webinars than other forms of free content, which means that they pay closer attention to what you’re showing them.
In addition, since the webinar is done live, they are forced to pay attention so they don’t miss anything.
Put those two things together, and you will have a captive audience when you deliver webinars the right way.
With webinars, you get to deliver your full message to your audience, whereas with blog posts, you never know how much of the content your website visitors read.
Finally, webinars allow you to connect with audience members in a real way. Other than creating a conference and trying to convince your audience to attend it, webinars are the best way to talk to hundreds, even thousands, of people at once.
And unlike with a blog post, you can actually answer the questions your audience has in real time during a webinar.
The conversion rate of webinars is insane: Say, you create a fantastic email sequence for a product you’re selling.
If you did a great job, you’ll get a conversion rate that is somewhere between 1-5%, depending on the price and a few other factors.
I would say that 5% is the low end of even a mediocre webinar.
Back at KISSmetrics, we used webinars a lot and had great results.
Our first 77 webinars had a total of 155,386 people who signed up to attend a webinar. Of those, about half (74,381) actually attended, and a solid 16,394 turned into high quality leads.
That’s a conversion rate of 22% (of the people attending).
A few other businesses have published results of their webinars.
Adobe claims a solid 19% conversion rate, while Buzzsumo says that 20% of webinar attendees turn into paid customers.
Depending on what you sell, a single lead can be worth upwards of $50. It doesn’t take much math to figure out how incredibly lucrative webinars can be (even with small audiences).
But a difference in conversion rate of just a few percent can be the difference between thousands of dollars in profit.
If you’re going to incorporate webinars into your content strategy, you want to make sure that you’re at the upper end of conversion rate (20%) rather than the low end (5%).
If you want to make a high converting webinar, follow these six steps.
Step #1: Learn how to warm up the crowd
Despite being a great sales tool, a good webinar isn’t a sales pitch at all.
A good webinar is a lot like a blog post. It actually provides value to the audience without asking for anything in return.
And just like with a blog post, you shouldn’t start off by digging right into the meat of your topic.
Instead, you want to build a bit of anticipation and excitement as well as take advantage of the opportunity to engage with your audience members.
The point of engaging here is two-fold: first, you start to loosen up, which will make your presentation better, and second, you get your audience into an engagement mode.
Since you’re interacting with them now, they are more likely to interact throughout the webinar.
There are a few different options at your disposal, and I recommend trying different combinations of them.
Option #1 – Have a quick chat: You should always arrive 10-15 minutes early to make sure that you don’t have any technical difficulties, which do happen from time to time.
Assuming everything goes smoothly, you will likely have a few minutes before you can start the webinar.
There are always a few people that come to the webinar early.
This is a great time to start talking with them about anything in the chat box.
Simply getting to know them a bit and learning about why they’re at the webinar (and why they’re so eager to get started) will improve your conversion rate down the line.
At the same time, you might learn some interesting things about your audience.
Option #2 – Ask a few questions: It’s always good to ask questions during the webinar, but it’s especially good to do at the start.
Basically, when you get your viewers responding in the chat box, they get used to it. And that makes them more likely to respond to you and ask more questions in the future.
Ideally, you want to get them in this habit early.
That’s because once they realize they can actually talk to you, they are more likely to pay attention throughout the webinar so they can ask questions about something they didn’t understand.
Option #3 – Ask attendees to fill out poll or survey: Instead of asking questions and getting responses in the chat box, you can have your viewers fill out a poll or survey.
These have to be prepared in advance, so it’s best to use them for questions that reveal something useful about your audience.
Here are a few sample questions you could use:
- “How many webinars have you attended?” – So you know if you need to explain webinars at the beginning.
- “How familiar are you with [your brand]?” – The less your audience knows you, the more important personal details and an introduction become.
- “How important is [webinar topic] to you?” – Over time, you will see that your customers care more about certain topics than others. Do more webinars about those important topics.
- “How much experience do you have with [topic]? – If your audience is more advanced than you thought, you don’t want to spend too much time on the basics. The opposite is also true.
Just about every leading webinar software (e.g., GoToWebinar) comes with built-in survey and polling tools. You can see the results as people answer your questions.
Or start the webinar with an introduction: It’s a good practice to introduce yourself near the start of a webinar.
Yes, you’ll have some long-time readers in the audience, but you’ll also have some brand new readers watching. Introducing yourself will allow you to start building trust with your new viewers, which will lead to them becoming customers (if not today, in the future).
A good introduction should be fairly brief, but don’t be afraid to show some personality and put in a joke or two.
Step #2: Without intrigue, you will fail
Webinars can provide a ton of value for your visitors.
But you are also asking for a lot.
They basically have to agree to spend 45 minutes (minimum) focused only on your presentation.
That’s a lot of time for many people.
You also need to consider that if at any point a viewer doesn’t like how the webinar is going, they can just click the “exit” button.
This is why your number one priority should be to keep them interested in your material.
There are a few things that go into this.
Without an intriguing topic, no one will show up: Interest starts with your topic. If you have a seemingly boring topic, no one will want to attend the webinar, no matter how good your actual presentation is.
The most important part of drawing attention is the title of the webinar. It functions exactly like a blog post headline.
Most of the same rules of writing a powerful headline apply here too.
You want to include specific results that your reader is looking for while not giving away the answer.
Here’s a bad headline:
Social media marketing efficiency
It’s boring, vague, and not provoking curiosity.
But how about:
How to plan your weekly social media marketing schedule in 60 minutes or less
That takes care of a specific problem (wasting time on social media) that a visitor might have. But it also makes the reader want to watch the webinar to find out the answer.
On top of the headline, you can also write a few high-impact bullet points on the landing page.
Those bullet points should contain the most important benefits from your viewer’s perspective.
In addition to putting them on the landing page, it’s always a good idea to put them on one of your beginning slides:
It’s easy for viewers to forget the specific reason why they signed up for the webinar, and this can jog their memory and get them to stick around.
Here’s one important aspect of picking a topic: The most intriguing topics for a webinar are the ones that act as mini-courses.
They take one specific important problem and solve it in those 45-120 minutes.
If you look at past KISSmetrics webinars, you’ll see that most of them involve the word “How”. Many headlines are “How to…” headlines.
Not only are these topics the most intriguing, but they are also the easiest ones to create a great presentation around.
Your presentation becomes a walk-through of the solution.
How do you get people to stay on the webinar? After you get your audience to register and attend the webinar, you still need to keep them intrigued by your material.
While some attendees will be entranced by the presentation, you’ll always have a large chunk on the edge of leaving.
They’re either not sure if this topic is really important to them, or they already know a lot of the things you’re covering but just want to see what you say about a few key aspects.
There are two things you should do.
First, don’t reveal everything about your solution at the start of the webinar.
It’s fine to give some details, like “our solution is to use batching along with a social media calendar.” Just don’t give out too much, like how you’re going to accomplish it.
If you pick your topic right (a how-to topic), your valuable content will be automatically spread out through the steps you present, so you don’t need to worry about this much.
But if your webinar is something like “7 secrets of…”, start with a really good one, and then mention that your last one will be the best one.
Another option is to provide an incentive to viewers who watch the entire webinar.
The bonus might be:
- a recording of the webinar
- a related bonus e-book
- a transcript of the webinar (or a PDF of it)
- free coaching
- or a special offer
For example, when guest presenters help out on KISSmetric webinars, they often include a related bonus book that a huge percentage of viewers will stick around to get:
Step #3: Every part you teach needs to accomplish one thing
A webinar is all about giving value, but it’s about giving the right kind of value.
It should educate your audience about their problems as well as potential solutions to those problems. This is valuable to any viewer.
At the same time, one of the solutions you show them will likely be a product or service you sell.
Assuming it’s legitimately a great product that solves the problem or makes the solution as easy as possible, all you have to do is present the product honestly when the time comes.
Until that time, everything in your presentation should have two purposes.
Phase #1 – Make the pain worse or the benefit better: Viewers sign up for webinars for two main reasons.
Either they have a problem that is causing them or their business pain and they want to solve it, or you’ve made a great promise that they’d like to get.
Here’s some examples:
- Pain: “I’m not getting any organic search traffic.”
- Webinar: “7 steps to ranking #1 for long tail search terms”
- Benefit: “I wouldn’t mind making more money even if I’m doing okay now”
- Webinar: “6 ways you can make an extra $1,000 per month”
Whatever the reason, you need to mention it early on. Remind them why they are there and what they will get out of the webinar if they stay for the whole thing.
When you do this, your viewers will pay closer attention to your presentation, and that’s when you jump into phase #2…
Phase #2 – Educate viewers about a solution: Don’t just educate them in general—educate them about specific solutions.
This will be the meat of your presentation, where you break down solutions, step by step:
Most viewers don’t care about the technical stuff going on in the background. They just want solutions that they can apply.
Among the solutions, you can include your product.
Or you might pitch your services at the end, offering to solve this problem for them.
Step #4: A buying audience is an engaged one
I’ve mentioned a few times so far how important an engaged audience is.
Let me clarify what I mean by that. Engagement is a measure of how much focus your audience is giving your webinar.
If you have low engagement, it means that people aren’t paying attention, despite watching the webinar.
It could mean that they’re zoning out maybe because the presentation is boring, or it could mean they’re distracted by email or social media.
A small percentage will just keep the webinar on to see if you offer a free bonus at the end, but don’t worry about those viewers.
A highly engaged audience will watch everything, and a decent portion of those viewers will jump at the chance to interact with you.
The more involved viewers are with you, the more invested they will be in the solutions you’re presenting.
The people who are talking to you the most during the webinar are your best leads for sales.
It’s obvious that getting your audience engaged is a good thing.
Here are a few different ways you can encourage engagement.
Idea #1 – Launch a poll: Every once in awhile, it makes sense to see if viewers are actually understanding what you’re saying and getting value from it.
If you’d like to do it informally, just ask a question and get responses in the chat box.
But if you also want to know if you’re presenting effectively, a poll is a good idea because you’ll get concrete feedback.
It’s a good idea to launch a poll or quiz immediately following a particular section. Ask the viewers about the main takeaway, for example.
Not only will it give you good information, but it will also make your viewers solidify their learning.
Idea #2 – Don’t read from your slides: One way to bore your viewers quickly is to create slides with a ton of words on them and just read them out loud.
If you’re going to do that, why do they need you?
Instead, put a few words on a slide, which attract attention, but fill in the blanks yourself.
Idea #3 – Mention viewers by name: This tactic is great at making your viewers feel more involved.
Instead of just being a screen name typing into a chat box, your viewers can feel like they are part of the webinar if you address them by their names along with saying something positive:
That’s a really good question, Neil! …
If you, as a viewer, get a personal compliment from an expert teaching a large audience, you’ll feel good about it. And chances are, you’re going to look for more opportunities to contribute and stand out from the passive viewers.
Idea #4 – Small webinars can be better than large ones: The default tactic is to try to get as many people to register for your webinar as possible. It’s not a bad one.
However, if you have a particularly complex product, you’ll need to be able to explain whether your product works for all specific situations that your viewers might have.
This is impossible if you have hundreds of viewers on the webinar.
But if you only had 25-50, you could cover quite a few scenarios and make a few big sales.
First, you should make it clear on the landing page that only 50-100 seats are open for the webinar (about half to two-thirds will show up).
Then, note the audience size right away at the start of the webinar. Say something like this:
I’ve kept the webinar really small on purpose; there are only 50 people here. I did that so I could talk with more of you one-on-one to find a solution that works for you. In order to do that, I need you to type in any questions or comments you might have along the way in the chat box.
Step #5: It’s closing time
If you’ve done everything up until this point right, making your pitch is actually really easy.
You’ve given away most of the value you promised, so at this point, it’s just a matter of giving away your bonuses (if you have any) and tying in your product or service with the solutions you just provided.
First, transition into your offer smoothly: The only way to really mess up at this point is to say, “Well, that’s all I have for you today. Now I want to show you a product to buy.”
As soon as you say something like that, the viewers will feel like they are being sold to, and no one likes that.
With a webinar, there’s an understanding that at the end you might make an offer, but it should flow naturally from the topic of the webinar.
The offer should have two qualities: it should be unique and valuable.
For example, if the webinar is about conversion optimization, I could offer a discount on Crazy Egg software.
First, that’s unique because they wouldn’t be able to get that discount anywhere else.
Secondly, it’s valuable because people who are learning about conversion optimization will need heatmap software, and Crazy Egg is among the best options.
It’s crucial that you tie your offer into how it will benefit the viewer in the context of the webinar topic.
Hold a Q&A session after the pitch: Before you even mention your product, tell the viewers that you will answer any questions they have in just a minute.
Although a large percentage of viewers will drop off here, the ones that stay are the ones that are really interested in your solutions.
By doing the Q&A after the pitch, you are forcing your viewers to at least listen to the pitch if they don’t want to miss the Q&A session.
Plus, making the pitch before your Q&A will allow you to answer questions about both the webinar material and your offer.
Once you’re done with the questions, you can finish the webinar with one last mention of your offer.
Step #6: You’ll miss out on a large amount of sales if you don’t do this
If you’re selling a particularly expensive product, you can’t expect all your viewers to be ready to buy right away even if you give them a great offer that they are interested in.
Some people will want to think about it a bit more, while others will need to get an approval of a boss or their significant other.
That doesn’t mean that they won’t take you up on your offer; it just might not be the second you give it to them.
Additionally, depending on the time of your webinar, some attendees may just want to go to sleep or have to go somewhere.
Neither of these scenarios allow time to carefully consider a major purchase.
So, what should you do to maximize your conversion rate? Follow up with them within 24-48 hours.
Assuming you’re using software like GoToWebinar, you will have access to all of your registrants’ email addresses.
This is your chance to provide even more value (which will help get a high email open rate) while also getting your offer in front of viewers one last time.
Here’s what a good follow up might look like:
Subject: Recording of last night’s webinar on [topic]
I know that we covered a lot in the webinar yesterday, and it’s easy to miss things. That’s why I’ve put up a recording of the webinar that you can stream or download. Here’s the URL:
[URL of the webinar]
If you still have any questions about what we covered, just reply to this email, and let me know what they are.
Additionally, you still have 48 hours to take advantage of the 20% discount.
This is a pretty special offer that doesn’t come around very often, and I feel you could really benefit from [product] in 3 ways:
- (benefit #1)
- (benefit #2)
- (benefit #3)
If you want to take advantage of the offer or want more information, click here:
[URL of the landing page]
No hard sell—just the last chance to get your offer in front of your viewers. If they are ready to become customers, they will do so now.
If not, don’t worry about it. If they enjoyed this webinar, they’ll likely sign up for a future one and might buy from you later.
That’s the beauty of webinars. They’re still part of your content marketing plan, and even if they don’t directly lead to a sale, they will help build your brand in the eyes of your attendees.
Finally, make your past webinars publicly available. This is something that KISSmetrics does.
At this point, there are over 100 webinars that anyone can access if they provide some basic contact information.
In my time at KISSmetrics, the old webinars provided about 20% of our overall webinar leads, which is nothing to sneeze at.
Webinars might be the single best tactic to not only attract visitors but also convert those visitors into leads or customers.
They offer a unique opportunity to engage with your potential customers, which no other form of content can match.
They also have a high perceived value, which means that attendees typically focus on the webinar the entire time, assuming that it’s interesting.
When you’re creating your next webinar, whether it’s your first or hundredth, make sure that you follow all six steps of this post.
If you do, you will have a webinar that can convert viewers at about 20% as long as your offer is enticing.
If you have any questions about the six steps in this post, let me know below, and I’ll see if I can’t clear things up.