How to Host a Webinar Worth Talking About With Sander Buitelaar and Kerrie Bond-MacInnes

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Ever been to a webinar that left you feeling uninspired? There are plenty of things that can push attendees to say “thanks but no thanks”: low-quality content, a lack of relevance, little-to-no engagement, a program that’s too long  –– the list goes on. 

So, in a very meta move, Sander Buitelaar and Kerrie Bond-MacInnes joined us for a webinar on webinars that outlined how to avoid common pitfalls and host a webinar worth talking about. 

Sander manages marketing campaigns for Tray.io and Kerrie, an event professional at Medallia, has been in the events industry for 11 years. They both know a great webinar when they see one –– and they’ve created plenty of best-in-class versions themselves.

In this webinar, they covered:  

•    Practical steps to take in the webinar planning process

•    Pitfalls to avoid

•    Their insights and hard-earned lessons from planning webinars on Hopin

Read on for a recap of Sander and Kerrie’s webinar tips, tricks, and best practices. Or, watch the recording:

How did webinars change throughout the pandemic? 

Sander highlights the idea that, before 2020, there wasn’t nearly as much strategic thinking applied to webinar programs. Instead, webinars were often seen as a sporadic activity. 

But, he adds, the pandemic illustrated to many marketing professionals the value of adding virtual experiences to their arsenals. And that includes webinars. 

Now, organizers are increasingly thoughtful about their approach to webinars, leaning into sponsorships and building out series to support thought leadership positioning, roundtable discussions, and more. 

These approaches are still holding key positions in many event strategies due to their success during the pandemic. 

What type of goals typically prompt professionals to organize webinars?

Sander and Kerrie point out that your goals might be different for each webinar or webinar series you produce. Are you looking to show off a product? Drive brand awareness? Or something else altogether?

For example, thought leadership-led webinars often serve to: 

  • Drive pipeline and brand awareness 
  • Engage a community

When is the best time to host a webinar? 

Kerrie notes that it can be difficult to get people to join long webinars, especially during the day. 

Try to keep conversational, thought leadership-based webinars to a maximum of 45 minutes in length, with 30 minutes of presented content and 15 minutes for Q&A. 

It’s important to deliver valuable content efficiently before attendees have to get back to their work days.

Typically the most effective webinars start around 12 or 1 p.m. EST so you can attract folks from multiple time zones. 

What are a few agenda-setting tips?

Sander suggests starting the webinar with music and an introduction countdown. This builds anticipation and gets people excited about the content. Be sure to engage your audience in the chat as well. 

Aim to open up the platform 15 minutes early to get folks acquainted with the webinar software. 

Drive passive and active engagement by hosting webinars that are conversational in nature rather than dense, slide-heavy presentations. 

What are a few other helpful webinar engagement tactics?

Sander and Kerrie suggest:

  • Chatting with your audience: For example, ask attendees to tell you where they’re tuning in from or. Pepper in other questions and prompts that are relevant questions to your webinar.
  • Hosting polls
  • Tapping into integrations: Consider apps like Kahoot, Slido, Miro, and more. 
  • Being thoughtful about visuals 
  • Encouraging networking 
  • Offering incentives 

What are some creative ways to get people in the (virtual) door?

The most effective webinar promotion strategy often tends to be personal invites from sales development representatives, customer success managers, and account executives. According to Sander and Kerrie, this approach is typically very impactful and produces high registration rates. So be sure to take some time to create  stand-out copy for those emails. 

Our experts share that incentives also work well –– even something as simple as a $10 Starbucks gift card can go a long way. Moreover, you can provide incentives for early registration like swag bags for the first group of registrants. 

Beyond these tactics, consider: 

  • Email invitations
  • Paid advertisements  
  • Posts on LinkedIn and other social channels
  • Posting a banner on your homepage and tapping into chat widgets so the webinar invite is the first thing people see when they land on your site

What are some golden webinar planning tips?

Webinars can be faster to organize than some other events, but they still require a significant amount of planning time, so give yourself plenty of runway to get it right. 

That includes customizing your virtual platform so it aligns with your branding and fits the needs of your audience. You’ll also need to source speakers and rehearse with them. 

Make sure you’re on the same page as your speakers so your webinars run smoothly day of. 

What if you’re new to webinars? 

Webinars can yield valuable business results as part of your holistic marketing plan. 

Whether you’re looking to level up your current webinars or you’re organizing your first webinar experience, partnering with the right team (and securing a platform that offers best-in-class functionality) takes the stress out of the planning process. 

If you’re looking for more webinar best practices, contact a member of the Hopin team to get started. 

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