I’ve always been a big believer in the power of webinars! Not only do I enjoy learning from them, but we’ve also been building a library of webinar content of our own for years. And with recent shifts to moving more digital, webinars can be a great tool to help you expand the reach of your business. But the average business owner has no idea how to create a webinar.

So you know when one of my favorite resources, SEMrush, hosts a Twitter chat on the subject, I had to be there. The SEMrush webinars are some of the best out there, and they’ve helped me stay on the cutting edge of digital marketing for several years now. And having their Head of Global Marketing, Olga Andrienko, and their Head of Video Content, Anton Shulke, on the chat was a huge bonus. They are the real deal!

And because the focus of this chat was so valuable, I thought I’d share the highlights of the conversation here. I also thought it would be a good place to add a few bonus tips and resources if you’re exploring how to create a webinar for yourself.

Here’s the conversation…

Q1. Free or paid: How do you decide whether to charge for your online conference or webinar? What other ways have you found to monetize online events?

The big thing with how you use them is determining what your goal is for them. Generally, free webinars can be great for lead generation and nurturing. But there’s also a sales opportunity for deeper and more exclusive content too. Here’s what Olga and Anton had to say about it too…

I definitely agree with the idea that with a slowdown with in-person conferences, many are going to find ways to do more online. This certainly represents some great opportunity to innovate and reach more people with premium content.

Q2. What platforms and software are best for hosting online events?

Specifically, I use the OBS Studio software to manage what my live webinar video feed looks like, but YouTube Live can be broadcast with just a webcam. This can also be accomplished with your mobile phone and Facebook Live. You’re really pretty unlimited with options for how you broadcast a live event online.

Ultimately, the software and platform you use will depend on your goals. If lead capture is important, then that needs to be part of how you set it up. It doesn’t need to be complex, and often the simplest way to get started is to get the registration done by creating a landing page for the event on your own website. Then you can communicate with that email list as the event approaches. This way you can point them to anywhere you plan to run the broadcast.

Q3. Checklist: How do you ensure the quality of the stream?

I saw some chat going on about connecting via wi-fi. And the only time I would suggest that is when you’re conducting some sort of live stream from your mobile phone. But if you’re planning to create a webinar a little more formally, then run it from your desktop and make sure you’re directly connected (if possible). I would also suggest that if you’re just getting started, then don’t sweat it with getting lots of fancy equipment. If you have a webcam with a mic, then you can do it. As you get into it over time, then consider upgrading to improve quality and performance.

I definitely appreciate the focus on the setting you use when you create a webinar. Things like lighting, background, etc all can make a huge difference in how your broadcast comes off to a viewer. The big thing here is to show that you cared enough to put the effort into creating a good environment for your viewers.

Q4. Self-hosted or including guests: What makes some formats more successful than others?

Really, the bottom line for me here is that adding more people to the webinar broadcast (remotely) adds an additional layer of complexity in pulling it off. It’s not super difficult, but it is an extra layer. And ultimately, I haven’t seen the difference in goal performance when I have others on with me or not. So I tend to just keep it simple, and create my events. But that doesn’t mean I’ll always do them solo.

This is really another one that depends on your goals. I can also say from my experience that it’s difficult to keep people’s attention as a solo presenter for longer periods of time. If I’m on an hour-long webinar, then having multiple people in a conversation certainly helps. But I’ve been experimenting with doing shorter 20-30 minute webinar sessions, which is more manageable for the viewer when I’m going solo. But the key here is to test some variations, and measure how they perform. The data will tell you what you can reasonably do.

Q5. How do you measure the success of the online event?

When measuring success, things like the number of registrations I get tell me how helpful the topics are. And success is mostly determined by the number of inbound leads it generates. I’m not looking for instant sales either. But the inbound lead gets some follow-up and an offer for a free consultation. If they don’t bite right away, I don’t sweat it. They end up on my “webinar club” mailing list and get notifications of upcoming webinars. And I’ve seen some of these people reach out to us after viewing several webinars asking us for help with their projects. Ultimately it’s a long-game, and then just continuing to work my email list over time.

I also look at the long-term usefulness of each webinar. I evaluate how much I direct people to webinars in other ongoing sales and support conversations. Even old, recorded webinars carry a great deal of value over time as I support the conversations we have with clients and potential clients. That’s not to mention how we can trim out sections of the video to repurpose for some short-form social media posts. I love repurposing content!

Q6. Social media, paid promotion, third party platforms, affiliate network… How do you promote your online event or webinar?

Promotion is mostly about two things for us. First, nurturing the existing Webinar Club email list. The people on that list who are already clients appreciate the expertise and perspective we share. And people who aren’t clients (yet) get more exposure to our brand as one they can trust as experts in the field. Second, social media, boosting/advertising posts help us get exposure to new potential audiences with very targeted interests.

And I love Olga’s point about lookalike audiences (in Facebook Ads). I can take my existing client email lists and my Webinar Club email lists and have Facebook target other people who are like these people. It’s a great way to focus on an audience who is most likely to engage with what you’re offering.

Final Thoughts On How To Create a Webinar (or Other Online Expert Event)

If you’re focusing on generating leads for your business and are a subject matter expert on a specific topic, then running a webinar can be a great tool in your marketing plan. Great webinars can help you engage with potential (and existing) customers in real-time, and they can build your brand and credibility. Contrary to what you might believe, they aren’t too difficult to pull off! However, you should have a plan for how you’re going to promote your webinar and capture the people who have an interest in the topics you plan to discuss.

Do you need help figuring out how to get something like this implemented? Need someone to help you brainstorm topics or a plan for how you move forward with this? Let us know! Grab some (free) time to talk with us, or hit us up in the online chat here on the website. We’ll get you on the right path to creating your own webinars and using them to generate leads.