Whether you call it a webinar, a webcast, or a web conference, a lot of companies, consultants, authors and small business owners are learning the value of presenting live to an online audience (Get my free “Webinar Mistakes” ebook here).
While many companies are used to presenting at in-person events (the local chamber of commerce, a convention, at a training event), online events offer some distinct advantages over in-person events:
- People can access them easily from their home or office – there’s no travel involved
- It takes much less time to attend without the need to get ready and commute
- People can attend them at all hours of the day or night
- You can get people nationally or internationally onto the same webinar
- People have access to the web, including your pages for signing up for things or making purchases
- You reduce your own set-up, commute and travel time and expenses
Whether you do an in-person or online event, people get a ton of value, excitement and inspiration from hearing you speak versus reading a blog post or seeing a pre-recorded video. Also, in a webinar, you are able to respond to their questions, interact with them, and adjust the presentation on the fly. Lastly, webinars are a great way to generate income from your audience or fans or from the audience of a partner.
Webinar Steps & Tool Options:
A) Registration Page (also called Opt-in page):
To put on a webinar, you need somewhere where they can register for your event. You also (ideally) want to have a place where you can describe the event and what they’ll learn by attending (always remember “what’s in it for them”).
There are several ways to you can create this page where people can register for your webinar.
Putting an Opt-in Box in the Sidebar only: You can have a registration box in the sidebar or at the bottom of your posts or pages. The only downside of just having the registration box is that you don’t have a place to describe your event and to entice people to register. One way to automate the process of placing opt-in boxes in various places in your WordPress site is to use OptinSkin. If you want to do this method, you can use Optin Box with one of the tools from B) A Way to Capture Emails. Or, you can use a tool from B) and manually insert the code in your site.
Creating a Simple Page On Your Existing Site: You can create a page on your site that is dedicated to the webinar. This solution works but one downside is that your URL is longer than a dedicated URL (e.g. www.rightmixmarketing.com/Write-Like-Freddy-Webinar vs. www.WriteLikeFreddy.com).
Also, make sure you take away the distractions as any opportunity to click on a menu a link or another button will likely lead to less people registering for your event.
To create a simple page on my site, my theme (built by Copy Blogger Media – maker of Studiopress Themes) has a simple function to take away the sidebar. See if your theme (if using WordPress) has this option and take out that sidebar for your opt-in page.
Making a Weebly site (free): Weebly is a simple tool that allows you to make simple websites fairly quickly with minimal web skills. This option allows you to buy a dedicated domain name for your site and to have one main opt-in page with very few other distractions. Weebly has free and paid options. I don’t recommend you use Weebly for your main site if that will be including a blog (their blog technology is sub-par).
Using the Optimize Press Theme (WordPress): Optimize Press could be considered one of the industry standard opt-in and sales page themes for WordPress. It allows for easy set up of opt-in and sales pages using the pre-formatted templates and buttons that it includes. I’ve used this for several landing pages and membership sites with their own dedicated URLs (and see a live example of Optimize Press sign-up page here).
Using Premise on your current site (WordPress): This new tool created by CopyBlogger media (also the makers of my StudioPress theme) allows you to add custom landing pages to your existing WordPress self-hosted site without changing your theme. Caveat – I have purchased but not used Premise yet but I’m a big fan of the Copyblogger tools.
B) A Way To Capture Emails (and Send Invites)
When you have an opt-in page, I recommend that you have a way to capture the emails of the people who want to join your webinar. Once you have the emails you can let them know about the details of the webinar, send them reminders and even send them follow-up emails about the replay or other offers after the webinar has ended. Note: all of these email systems require a learning curve so take advantage of their support options and tutorials as much as possible.
There are a lot of email options out there. Here are a couple that I personally use:
Mailchimp (free): Mailchimp is free up to certain limits that most people won’t exceed (up to 2000 subscribers, 12,000 emails/month). It’s a very flexible system.
Aweber: Aweber is a very popular email system. I’m migrating from Mailchimp to Aweber as we speak. It has a monthly charge so check into the pricing before you register.
Constant Contact: Constant Contact is a popular email and newsletter system with small business with strong support and training.
Online Course: LIVE Streaming & Webinars: From Beginner to Pro
C) A Webinar Platform
To present, you need to have a platform to show your slides and to allow people to hear you speak. There are a lot of platforms but because the technology to deliver the visuals and audio simultaneously is complex, there can be glitches with certain systems. Make sure you test them out before you use them on a large scale. Here are several options you can try. All of these options include ways to record your webinar.
GoToWebinar: GoToWebinar could be considered one of the industry standard applications. A lot of the big online marketers use this system and for their events. Whenever I have an event that may go over 100 people I use GoToWebinar (but that may change if Fuze has upgraded to go above 100 people, mainly due to cost). GoToWebinar has a lot of great features (chat, screen share, polls) and has a lot of flexibility in terms of allowing for different presenters or organizers to be part of your event. It’s affordable for webinars up to 100 people but gets very expensive for events over 100 (check their pricing).
Anymeeting (free): Anymeeting has free (ad-supported) and paid options. It has several interesting capabilities. One limitation (which I hope they address) is that you can either do an option where people all have to listen via phone or everyone has to listen by computer. You can’t have some people (at this time) listening by phone and others listening by computer.
Fuze Meeting: I use Fuze Meeting for my coaching program and for some of my webinars. It’s a very innovative system that is fairly affordable. It has some great features but doesn’t include some of the additional bells and whistles that other systems use like polls.
Instant Teleseminar: Instant Teleseminar doesn’t look as high tech as some of the others, but has a lot of advanced features including allowing you to do scheduled, pre-recorded webinars, to upload your own audio files for replays, and to load replays of audio onto your site. I used this service to record and replay my entire Business Blogging Telesummit.
D) A backup plan for recording your webinar
I can’t tell you how many times the recordings haven’t worked, I forgot to push the webinar record button or something else happened. I always make a backup recording and have used it several times as my replay. Here are some tools for doing recordings of your webinar. These tools are not free (I’m not sure if there’s a free screen capture tool available to record a whole webinar).
ScreenFlow (for Mac): ScreenFlow is what I use and I find it very user-friendly.
Camtasia (PC or Mac): Camtasia is a popular tool for recording screens on the PC. They also have a Mac version available.
E) A Presentation Creation Tool
To have something to show during your event, you should have a way to create a presentation. Tools that you can use include:
Google Docs (free): Free presentation software. Google Docs has some limitations versus the other two mentioned below but it is free!
Keynote: Apple’s answer to Powerpoint. A lot of people swear by it. I’m just very used to Powerpoint. See Keynote in iWork here (it’s bundled just like the Microsoft products).
F) A way to sell something
During the webinar, you may want to sell a product or service. If so, you can use the tools in A) to create what is called a Sales Page (Optimize Press, Premise, Weebly or a new page on your website).
If you want to do payment processing, two inexpensive ways to do that include:
Paypal (free to start, minimal charges): Allows you to accept payment from people via their Paypal account or by credit card without getting an expensive payment processing service.
Google Checkout (free to start, minimal charges): Google Checkout allows you to accept payment by credit card.
You can also get a shopping cart (that’s a much bigger discussion) but one simple cart that I use is:
e-Junkie: e-Junkie is a no-frills, inexpensive cart to deliver digital products like ebooks and audio files.
G) A way to follow up via email
After the webinar, you want to make sure that you reach out to your email list with follow-up about:
- Any offers you made
- How to access a replay (if you have one available)
- To invite them to other events (using the email tools from section B) (e.g. Aweber and Mailchimp)
Ready to get started?
I’d love to hear your favorite tools for organizing and running webinars. Which ones do you like?
Don’t forget to get my free Webinar eBook “12 Fatal Webinar Mistakes…and How To Fix Them”.
Tom Treanor is the founder of the Right Mix Marketing blog. He’s the author of the Search Engine Boot Camp, the co-author of Online Business Productivity, and regularly speaks at industry and corporate events. His writing has been featured on the Content Marketing Institute, Social Media Examiner, Copyblogger and other leading industry blogs.