Get Your Webinar Topic Right and Then 'Educate Rather Than Sell'

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"Topic is the number one reason why people register for a webinar," Leslie Davidson, a leading webinar consultant from Davidson Direct, wrote on the SIPA Forum recently. "Evergreen topics still pull, but they don't begin to compare with the hot topics of the day, such as new regulations.

"The most recent proof of that came from a client who did a paid webinar on the new tax law. More than 800 paid registrations and CD sales (yes, believe it or not, people still buy CDs). Same topic four months later brought in another 300+ paid registrations. So if it's a good topic, run it again.

"I've seen similar results from other clients although not on this scale," Davidson continued. "Finding that just-right topic for your audience can make a big difference. It might be that fewer but more profitable webinars can improve your bottom line. Crunch the numbers to make that determination."

Here are other steps to take to bring people to your webinars:

1. Position the webinar as something completely different. When HCPro planned a new webinar for its ACDIS group, they called the presenters the Dream Team. On Facebook, they wrote: "ACDIS Live!—like nothing you've ever experienced before. We've brought the Armada for this unique learning experience!"

2. Use catchy language and "real" photos. Words like "Dream Team" and "Armada" will resonate—people like fresh approaches. All the HCPro emails included small circular photos of the seven speakers with the headline, "Meet the ACDIS Live Dream Team!" Staff and speaker photos are almost always a good thing. They give a face (or faces) to an event and humanize future interactions.

3. "Educate rather than sell," advised Hyon-Young Kim, webinar producer, Education Week, in a recent SIPA Annual 2018 session. "Product pitches often fall short. Think about how you want to frame it. Don't let your webinars leave your audience disappointed or feeling duped. We want our customers to come back."

4. Make webinars a prerequisite to an in-person meeting. Take your traditional, lecture-type sessions of a conference and package them as webinars instead. Then ask attendees to participate (and potentially purchase) these before the actual face-to-face meeting.

5. Market to non-subscribers and non-members. You can never tell what people will pay more for. Sometimes it's just in their budget to take webinars and not join or subscribe (where the webinars are included). Don't argue. Hopefully later on you can convince them that membership/subscription is better in the long run.

6. Try varied approaches in your emails. Not only did the subject lines differ for HCPro's webinar, but the copy did as well. One led with, "Target metrics to move outpatient CDI efforts forward." Another headlined, "Identify common documentation deficiencies in the outpatient/physician practice world." The webinar brought in $22K in revenue, an improvement of 40% vs. their typical one-hour webinar.

7. Use a quiz. In 2015, OPIS did their research and designed a simple but tough seven-question quiz to stump readers and convince them to register for a webinar. The copy implied that if you did not know the answers, you would have a tough time preparing and complying with new regulations. This email was their best performing, bringing in 29% of the registrations.

8. Sell in other forms. "We've learned this," said Adam Goldstein, publisher of Business Management Daily. "We still do a healthy business with CDs. New laptops [often don't even have ports], but people buy CDs [as Davidson said]." He believes that in the HR space you can get certification credits for just buying a CD, so it may be like that in other areas as well.

9. Ask your customers, said Davidson. "One client, new to webinars, wasn't having much luck with the first couple of webinars we did, so we set up a short, 3-question survey to find out what his audience wanted. We both thought the webinars weren't doing well because we didn't offer CPE—boy were we wrong! More than 60% of respondents listed CPE as a 1 or 2 (on a scale of 5). We also got three topics—clear winners compared with the rest—that we know this audience is interested in."

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…