It can be a pain to get your target audience to understand how beneficial an online webinar or live Q&A can be, simply because they are short on time. We asked 15 entrepreneurs what creative measures they take to get people to tune in.
A. Send Text Reminders
"Collect cell phone information during registration and send a 10 minute 'We're starting soon' text to all who opted in. You'll increase attendance, especially if your event is accessible by phone, as most people are never without their phone and text messages are shorter than emails and easier to consume."
-Kelly Azevedo, She"s Got Systems
A. Explain the Value
"Explain the value of attendance up front. In this session, you'll learn ______ . Be clear about what will be presented, even with an agenda. People prioritize something if they see the benefit to themselves. If the benefit isn't clear, they will likely not make it a priority."
-Angela Harless, AcrobatAnt
A. Team Up
"Rather than hosting your own webinar, I recommend teaming up with other people/companies within your industry. Not only will you have greater variety content, allowing you to capture a wider audience, but you also benefit from cross marketing."
-Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net
A. Give Them Clear Takeaways
"I often see people offer webinars and Q&A sessions that have no clear takeaways. People are busy, and they want to know that they will be walking away with XYZ if they are taking time to attend your webinar. Make your outline clear, and of course, make sure you deliver on what you're promising."
-Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World
A. Give a Preview of the Webinar on LinkedIn
"LinkedIn opened its publishing platform to over 20,000 users to begin publishing longform articles. Use this opportunity to give a preview of your webinar to your LinkedIn connections, and encourage them to share it with their connections. I've seen this done really well by Dave Kerpen on LinkedIn."
-Kelsey Meyer, Influence & Co.
A. Emphasize the Benefits
"Make sure customers know it won't be a waste of their time. Emphasize what they'll get out of a webinar or Q&A, and how their attendance will positively affect their relationship with your company."
-Simon Casuto, eLearning Mind
A. Change Up the Theme
"Don't give the same themed webinar every time, as you won't attract different subsets of your customer base. Different customers have different questions that need to be answered about your products and services, so change it up to appeal to all of your customers. This should also give your webinars or Q&As consistent attendance."
-Andy Karuza, SpotSurvey
A. Use Retargeting Ads
A. Use Multi-Channel Marketing
"Let's face it, people are busy, bombarded and distracted. By combining email reminders, voice broadcasts and SMS text messages to remind people about your webinar, it's virtually impossible to not increase your attendance. And with text messages getting a 97 percent open rate, it's impossible to ignore. A 30 percent boost in attendance is not uncommon."
-Chris Brisson, Call Loop
A. Focus on Trending Topics
"When planning your webinar content, include topics that are trending in the world and in your industry. Hot topics can be a great hook for customers to join your webinar because it shows that your brand can offer valuable insights in real time."
-Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.
"Persuading customers to engage in a live, voluntary event is like coaxing college seniors to attend an 8 a.m. stats class on a Saturday. Instead of drawing in crowds with free pizza, consider offering other material rewards like coupons or chances to win a major sweepstakes. Alternatively, try selling the idea that your event will be a rare chance to obtain insiders' knowledge and education."
-Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep
A. Leverage Social
"Use your social media channels to publicize the webinar. You'll attract more than just your current customers. Publicize the event on Twitter and LinkedIn, and set up a Facebook event so you can message all your attendees. Encourage them to tweet and post questions about the webinar or suggestions for subtopics to cover and you'll also increase their engagement before the event."
-Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com
A. Leverage Your Team's Connections
"We've had success running a sales program with agents who have relationships with their clients. If you are struggling to get folks into awebinar or live Q&A, try to leverage relationships your team may have to fill these spots."
-Lane Campbell, Syntress SCDT
A. Make Your Webinar Invitation Stand Out
"Most people will simply archive or ignore the email. The biggest step is to get them to open the email in the first place. Therefore the best way of doing this is to conversion test your webinar invitations and maximize for results. You should also consider who it comes from. An effective method is to use a person's name and a brand name in the email (for example: 'Dan from Kissmetrics')."
-Cody McLain, WireFuseMedia LLC
A. Show the Value
"The best way is to talk about the value they will get. The key is to always remember that it's about your target market and not about you. Another tactic is to use urgency so it conveys the importance of the particular webinar or Q&A session. Obviously, you should also creatively promote your webinar through different platforms and channels to spread the word."
-Justin Beegel, Infographic World, Inc.
These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprising the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.