Planning Webcasts, Webinars, and Web Conferences as Marketing Tools

By Jan Zimmerman

Before planning webinars or web conferences as part of your online marketing strategy, participate in a few to see how other businesses use them. The following illustration shows a webinar in progress from HubSpot, using the Citrix GoTowebinar software.

A webinar in progress. Note the control panel and chat box on the right. [Credit: Courtesy of Hubsp
Credit: Courtesy of Hubspot
A webinar in progress. Note the control panel and chat box on the right.

Expect falloff to occur from registration to attendance. Perhaps only one-third to one-half of preregistrants show up, depending on how targeted your audience is and how specialized your topic. Of those, you’ll probably find that only 5 to 10 percent are close to sales ready. Step softly in these environments! Use these opportunities to build credibility and trust, establish relationships, and answer questions fairly.

Offer an on-demand recording of the event to everyone who registers. Then post a link to the recorded webinar on your site for others to download. You’ll get views from people who registered but couldn’t participate, repeat views, and new visits from those who missed the presentation.

The following illustration demonstrates how the PKD Foundation made creative use of webinars to provide essential information while boosting its membership.

This webinar-on-demand, like others from, helps educate the public. [Credit: Used with
Credit: Used with permission from the PKD Foundation
This webinar-on-demand, like others from, helps educate the public.

Consider these hints for planning webinars or web conferences:

  • To increase attendance, focus on high-quality, relevant content. If what you offer is useful and appealing, you’ll find an audience.

  • Ensure that your promotion clearly answers the question “What’s in it for me?” Be sure to list your live events in web event directories. Consider paid banner advertising or newsletter sponsorships to promote your web learning event.

  • Get more mileage from the level of effort that’s applied! Archive any of these events on your site and make them easily available on demand. This strategy also saves staff time downstream.

  • Use a survey package (such as StellarSurvey, SurveyMonkey, or Zoomerang) to obtain feedback after the event. You might want to share some or all of the feedback with participants in a final, e-mailed, thank-you note. Of course, include contact information for the future.

Unless you have a large company or plan frequent webcasts, webinars, and conferences, you probably prefer not to purchase and install software. Look for third-party providers to handle the real-time events. Simply search for them or start with the companies listed on the companion website. Your developer can easily post your archived media on your site, of course.