Events are a key part of how we do business at CoCommercial. Why? Last year, we identified that many of our very best customers and prospects were fed up with one-size-fits-all learning models and were really interested in something collaborative and interactive.
There’s just no better way to give people that kind of collaborative environment at scale than with a live online event.
From a business perspective, events– we do everything from webinars to multi-day workshops to flash masterminds to virtual conferences– allow us to market our offer, engage our members, and even upsell to higher-priced packages.
How to promote a webinar
Of course, we have to get people to register for, make time for, and show up to those events for them to be effective. Over the years, we’ve developed key systems for exactly that. Here’s what they look like:
Activate your early adopters first
Every marketer has an incredibly engaged, first to jump, ready for action segment of their audience. In our case, that segment is full of our community members who show up to the platform almost daily. In your case, it might be the segment of your email list who open and click on every email or the members of your free Facebook group.
Your first step in promoting any event is to activate this group. Tell them about your webinar, and get their buy-in and excitement to throw some energy behind your promotion.
When you activate this group, they’ll also tell you if anything is unclear about the purpose of the event, if there’s a problem with the registration process, or if you made a typo in the landing page! Any of these problems could sink your registration numbers later down the line– so it’s best to get it out of the way with forgiving folks.
We announce events to this group as early as three to four weeks in advance. For us, that looks like an in-app event posting, a feature in our member newsletter, and reminders during other events (like Q&A calls or masterminds). I want to see who is excited and why they’re excited so I can use that to my marketing advantage later on.
Test with teasers
The second stage of promotion is more testing– but this time with a cooler audience. I will write blog posts, send emails, or make social media posts that are on the same subject as my event. I’ll include an indirect or P.S. call-to-action, but I won’t overtly promote the event.
This gives me the opportunity to test messaging again while building up the premise of the event I’m promoting and agitating the problem I’m going to solve.
We start incorporating teasers about seven to 14 days out from the event, depending on the kind of time commitment we’re asking for. When I teach a two-day CreativeLive class or when CoCommercial hosts a daylong virtual conference, we might start teasing even two weeks in advance. For a webinar promotion, we’ll generally start teasing seven days out.
Save the date announcement
Your initial early adopter announcement and teasers will get the registration ball rolling, but they’ll only go so far. To really get people to take notice, you need a direct pitch for the event.
I generally keep these emails short and sweet. I’ll include the pertinent information about time, place, and format, as well as bulleting what people can expect to learn or engage with throughout the event.
We send Save The Date announcements after the first few teasers go out. For a shorter commitment of time, like a webinar, I’ve found that making a direct pitch for the event is best delivered about three days out. For a longer event, like our virtual conferences or CreativeLive classes, we’ll deliver the pitch about 10 days out.
Every audience varies, but I’ve been surprised to find how little notice people need to make time for these events if they’re clearly a benefit to them. More on last minute sign-ups to come!
Sell them on the commitment
I’ve now mentioned the time commitment a couple of times in this process. Recognizing the commitment you’re asking for with any live event is key.
Many people you’re promoting the event to have more money than time– not the other way around. If you’re asking them to pay attention for an hour or more, you better have a darn good reason!
That’s why you really want to hammer home the value of showing up for the event. Utilize the time between your Save The Date announcement and the webinar to highlight a few things they’ll learn during that time like:
- You can tease a particularly good takeaway.
- You can share the first part of a story you’ll be telling.
- You can even use visuals from the event to increase excitement.
The key here is specificity. Don’t just send more emails with increasing numbers of exclamation points to show your excitement. Get into the nitty-gritty of why this is a good investment of their time. Worry less about giving away the goods and worry more about making sure the right people are there live.
This phase could be three to five emails, blog posts, or videos– even more social media posts– spread out over three to seven days.
Reinforce your content & email marketing with advertising
I remember when I could count on a single email driving 15-20% of my list to an event. But today, I’m competing with a lot more messages in their inboxes.
So as my content marketing and email marketing progress, I back them up with ads. One of the cheapest ways to effectively utilize Facebook advertising is to simply remind engaged people what you’ve already told them.
We use pixeled audiences and Page activity audiences to remarket our events to people who have likely seen the event already but haven’t taken action or prioritized it yet. Even if they are planning to attend, those ads can help increase your live show-up rate which dramatically increases backend results.
We do often run events-driven ads to cold audiences, as well, with varying results. The above ad did extremely well with both warm ($.57 per lead) and cold ($2.28 per lead) audiences– but that doesn’t happen every time. I’ve found it’s worth giving it a shot but do be clear about your budget and how much of it you’re willing to experiment with.
Don’t underestimate last minute sign ups
It’s tempting to think that people want to plan for these events. For some folks, that’s absolutely true. But I’ve found a majority of people who register, show up live, and ultimately buy (if that’s the purpose of your webinar) are people who happen to find out about it at just the right time– as in, immediately before it starts.
We send at least two last chance emails: one “tomorrow” email and one “starting soon” email.
And yes, that’s in addition to any emails our platform providers send. (Deliverability and open rates tend to be better when the emails come from our usual source– ConvertKit– as opposed to our webinar app or community platform.)
The “tomorrow” email mimics the Save The Date email. It’s direct, short, and focused on what they’re going to learn or experience.
The “starting soon” email is even shorter, more direct, and more focused on value.
We’re able to send that “starting soon” email to both people who have registered and people who have not yet registered because our live event app– Crowdcast– utilizes the same URL for both the landing page and the video page. If people have already registered, they go straight to the video page. If they haven’t, they see the landing page and they’re prompted to register.
This really streamlines our final marketing push!
Just as with the rest of the campaign, we’ll reinforce our content, email, and social media marketing with advertising.
Those last minute sign-ups often boost our registrations for the event by 40-50%. So just because you haven’t hit your registration goals 24 hours from kick off doesn’t mean you should panic! Follow the plan.
Manage your workflow
Obviously, this is a lot of work. Creating your promotional plan and sticking to it is the best strategy you have for hitting your goals with webinars.
We utilize our project management program, Asana, to make sure the marketing campaign is progressing as it should.
For a large event like our CoCommercial virtual conferences, we’ll create a separate project and plan out the promotional campaign there so it can be managed alongside the other aspects of the event.
We also assign each of the many articles, emails, and social media posts to our editorial calendar so we can manage what people are seeing inside and outside of our community.
Webinar promotion plans pay off
Don’t try to do event promotion on the fly. To get the most from the webinars you put a lot of work into, be sure to put work into how you’ll promote them too!
In the end, the effort that goes into your webinar promotion will pay dividends in many other areas of your business. You’ll sell more of your offers, keep customers engaged, make the best use of word of mouth marketing, and separate your brand from the rest of the pack.