Wanna Host a Webinar? Here’s How You Find People to Watch It

The tunes are pumping, the pizza is ordered, and the beverages are chilling. The party is ready to go.

Except, wait! Is anyone actually going to show up?

We all know the feeling – that gut-wrenching onset of anxiety that boils up right before a party, synchronized swimming competition, or knighting ceremony.

Or your upcoming webinar – okay, especially your upcoming webinar!

Well, rest easy. We’re here for you on the webinar front with these 12 easy attendance-driving tips that’ll help you attract a captive audience:

1. Set goals

Goals aren’t just for measuring success AFTER a webinar wraps. They also hold you accountable during the weeks preceding the event.

Start with some quick napkin math to figure out how many registrants you need to reach your desired number of attendees.

Plan on about 25 percent of registrants actually showing up. If you want 800 attendees, you’ll need about 3,200 signups. Keep this target in mind, so you can throttle up efforts if it’s looking like you’ll miss the mark.

(Also, the number of people who see your webinar will end up being a LOT higher than the number of people who tune in live – more on that later, so keep reading!)

2. Think of a killer topic

The actual subject matter and substance of your webinar must be attractive to YOUR target audience (you have those audience personas built, right?).

If you attract thousands of people, but they’re the wrong folks, that’s about as helpful as a two-armed t-shirt for an octopus!

If your topic misses the mark for your audience, so does your webinar.

When brainstorming ideas, ask yourself, “Is this topic…”

  • Timely and relevant for my target audience?
  • Original? Can we bring a unique point of view?
  • Broad enough to scale, but targeted enough for actionable takeaways?
  • Addressing a problem or point of contention?

3. Partner it up

Teaming up with a partner outside your organization can help rake in the attendees if you’re smart about it. Make sure your webinar buddy is relevant to the audience and topic, provides a unique perspective, and will bring it (and them some).

Double thumbs up if you can land a guest presenter with some clout. Triple thumbs up if they can promote the webinar to their followers and database of contacts.

(Heck, if they aren’t willing to promote on their end, they probably aren’t the right teammate anyway. This is something they should be excited about, too!)

4. Time it right

Hosting your webinar at 7 p.m. on Saturday night might be convenient for you, but if it doesn’t mesh with your target group’s schedule, what’s the point? Consider time zone, typical work hours, and holidays when locking in a date and time.

(In our experience, if you’re up against any holiday with taco dip and margs, the webinar will always lose).

Ideal time varies for everyone, but studies show that Wednesday and Thursday are the best days of the week to host.

(We tend to agree – we opted for a Thursday with our last webinar, Less Work, More Traffic, and it was a hit.)

However, if you’re still unsure, ask people on the registration form for their preference via a few dropdown options, then set the timing based on the most popular response.

5. Take to the social stratosphere

Your social promotion strategy needs to be just that – a strategy. Plan and schedule your updates across relevant social media channels, and repeat ’em at regular intervals for maximum exposure. (Hint: Edgar can do that part for you!)

Tease out reminders, build anticipation with supporting content, and thoughtfully schedule distribution (80% other valuable stuff, 20% promotion is a good rule of thumb).

Rally your army of advocates (aka your team and your partner’s posse, if you went that route) to spread the good word to their network.

(If you’re lookin’ for more great tips, we talk all about how to harness the power of your advocate army in this article: Easy-to-Miss LinkedIn Strategies That Can Give You That Extra Edge.)

6. Keep spreading the word

Nope, not done yet! If you’re going to hit that attendee goal, you need to pull out all the stops.

Promotion of the big event doesn’t necessarily mean spending loads of money, but it will require time and strategic thinking.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all promotional strategy, so consider a hybrid of options that will best satisfy your audience:

  • Email campaigns:

Okay, this one is a must, and it requires more than a single “attend my webinar” blast. Use email to recruit, build excitement, and send reminders (don’t forget the add-to-calendar button).

Make sure your audience gets the best of the best by split testing messaging (like your subject lines) and distributing valuable and informative content that supports your webinar topic.

  • Word of mouth:

Use client meetings, speaking or networking events, your podcast, Facebook Live broadcasts, or the karaoke stage (just kidding – or are we) to advocate for your event. Heck, tell that chatty neighbor in your line of business to get the word out!

  • Paid media:

Extend your reach and tap new audiences via paid channels. Show up where your audience hangs (what are their fave online watering holes?). Consider a content-first approach. Ads feel less like ads when you are solving a problem and offering free valuable content!

  • Internal Links:

If you’re like us, you have all sorts of landing pages dedicated to specific initiatives and events.

After someone downloads your awesome e-book, include a webinar signup option on the thank-you page.

Also, link to your webinar in related blog posts. If visitors are already interested in your content, why not keep pushing them down that educational funnel a bit further?

  • Smart pop-ups:

Let your qualified website visitors know about your webinar. Try pop-ups, too – we swear, they’ve come a long way!

The key is to pick the right format, like a sidebar or inline form that triggers based on a visitor’s interaction and location on your site. If the visitor is reading a blog post related to your webinar content, a registration form for the webinar is a natural (and helpful) next step.

(Just remember not to make them too intrusive – ones that are super annoying are none too popular with audiences, and can actually hurt your placement in Google search results.)

  • Email signature:

Adding a short blurb to your email signature takes approximately zero seconds. (Rough estimate.) This isn’t the most targeted solution, but in this case, even if you aren’t hitting your exact target audience, it’s fine. If nothing else, think of it as building street cred by showing off that you’re authoritative enough to rock a webinar!

7. Get your SEO game on

Okay, you’ve decided on the topic for your webinar. Now get a content strategy together to support it.

Don’t give away all the juicy premium content you’ll cover in your webinar, but get people amped and into the topic by creating supporting blogs, videos, infographics, checklists, SlideShares and more!

All this keyword love and high-quality content are like a big ol’ hug for your SEO, too!

8. Incentivize

Remember in college when pizza was all it took to lure you to that meeting about respectful dormitory behavior? Well, this is kind of like that – but without your RA lecturing you about inappropriate use of the fire extinguisher.

Give away tickets to an industry event, trial subscriptions to your product, or free premium content. Think about what is appealing to your audience.

(As awesome as Edgar’s branded tentacle warmers are, they aren’t right for everyone.)

10. Build your webinar a home

Announce your upcoming webinar and all the pertinent deets in a blog post.

(Here’s an example of how we did it: Live Webinar with MeetEdgar Founder & CEO Laura Roeder).

Also, build an optimized landing page for your webinar:

  • Answer the who, what, where, when, and why of your event
  • Make it pretty, concise, and crystal clear
  • Include a call-to-action (register!)
  • Drive earned reach via social share buttons
  • Execute a smart funnel strategy (what action do you want the visitor to take after they sign up?)

11. Redefine “attendance”

Okay, so we said earlier that only about 25 percent of registrants actually show up. Does that mean you give up on the other 75 percent? Heck no!

Distribute the recording to both attendees and the registrants that ditched you (no hard feelings, we’ve all done it). Even if they watch the recording on their own time, it’s a win!

12. Play the long game

Much like building a winning Jenga tower, building a top-notch reputation for your business takes endurance, dedication, and a decent grasp of physics. If you’re able to establish a respectable digital footprint and take the Q.C.V. (Quality Content Vow), though, your reputation will prosper – and so will your business!

Think about it – if you are known for your super duper helpful webinars or ebooks or podcasts, people will put you that “reputable source” bucket. This alone can score you webinar signups again and again! (More on that little phenomenon in this post.)

How do you get people to actually show up for your webinars?

Ever put on webinars of your own?

What are your favorite ways to attract viewers?

How do you define success?

Let us know in the comments below!