Webinars remain a super-popular tool for marketers to use, but very few low-budget, or I should say low-resource, marketers are using them well or often. I want to give you a practical guide on how to do a webinar.

There’s loads of content on why webinars are a good idea. I want to get very practical and talk about how to do a webinar, and so I began by Googling the very expression that I’m presuming to write about, “how to do a webinar”. Here’s what we found. There were four articles that I started with. I’m going to synthesize each of those four articles, and for us, it actually comes down to eight steps, which I’m going to give you right now, and then argue why those eight steps. Let me start with the eight steps that I think you need. Create clear roles so that everything gets done, make your topic saleable and searchable, promote it widely, choose the right platform and absolutely nail it so that the technology doesn’t become too visible, get all the mechanical things right, kind of the same point, I guess, track everything so that you learn, if you’re paying for promotion, use UnBounce and optimize your pages really well, otherwise send all the traffic for registration to your own site.

Let me explain why those eight points. Just to remind you of the format, I’m going to take a look at the top four search results for “how to do a webinar”, then I’m going to synthesize them, so I’ll take a quick look at each, thirty seconds, then I’m going to synthesize the four of them together, and then I’m going to recommend what the eight steps are and why. First one, create and host a webinar for free using Google+ Hangouts. Why would that be at the top of the Google results? I wonder if there’s a clue there, interesting. Anyhow, cynicism aside, Steph Gonzaga, thank you, here are her five steps. Create a Hangout on air, customize your webinar with trailers and apps, I think that’s a great idea, invite your audience to your webinar, yeah, of course, using lots of tactics, and she’s given some specific recommendations about how to do that, assuming that your webinars are on Hangouts on air, broadcast your webinar, and then edit or download your recording onto YouTube. Very practical steps. Thanks, Steph.

Next one’s from Mary Jaksch. I think I know how to pronounce that because we have a football player for Carlton who is Kristian Jaksch, and I’ve learned that that’s the pronunciation of his name, I hope Mary’s pronunciation is the same. This one’s another Google+-biased post. There’s a pattern going on here I’m interested in for another day. It was really hard to extract the conclusions, long-form content around practical, punchy how-to’s, but I think she’s arguing those points. Create a topic by reviewing your top ten most popular blog posts. I reakon that’s a cracking idea. That’s a good idea, by the way. Run your webinar on Google Hangouts on air, again, and again she’s given some practical steps on how to do that. Follow a blueprint, and her blueprint is five minutes intro on personal story, twenty-five minutes on the main presentation, and ten minutes of Q and A. Kind of practical, I guess. Create buzz, and she’s given some steps on that.

Next one I want to review is from Tom Treanor. His steps are make a registration page, and he’s particularly looking at how to make a webinar using free or inexpensive tools, so some of his recommendations are assuming you don’t have a platform. You’ll see later on I’m going to suggest you never run a webinar other than on a proper platform. Hear it out, let me get to that. Make a registration page, may have an opt-in box on your site, he suggests using a Weebly site, that’s a free website tool. Frankly, his recommendation could have been more generic. Make a free site if you don’t have a site that can handle this, and there are sites that will do that if you Google for it. Or, use the OptimizePress WordPress thing, or the Premise, which is a tool for WordPress. Long story short, make your site able to accept registrations.

Send the e-mails, and he suggests MailChimp, AWeber, and Constant Contact. They’re pretty popular tools for sending e-mails. Use a webinar platform, GoToWebinar, Anymeeting, Fuze, and Instant Teleseminar are the four that he lists. Have a back-up plan for recording, I reckon that’s a great idea. ScreenFlow if you’re a Mac user, Camtasia if you’re a PC user, just to record it in case everything goes AWOL. Really good suggestion. Use a presentation tool, like PowerPoint or Google Docs or Clear Note, well, I don’t know how else you’re going to do it. Find a way to sell something, I hate this idea, PayPal or Google Checkout. Selling on a webinar, unless that’s your whole purpose of the webinar, and I’ve seen people do that really, really, well, I hate them but they are successful, unless that’s your approach, then forget this, follow on, follow up by e-mail using whatever tool that you’ve chosen for your promotion. Practical steps.

Final one from Gini Dietrich. Fourteen steps to hosting a successful webinar, and there really are fourteen, okay, so I’ll go through them quickly. Choose a topic and a headline that has great search potential. I reckon that’s a great idea. Set up the webinar with your provider, whoever that is, and she’s listed BrightTALK, GoToWebinar, Adobe Connect, and WebEx. They’re all good tools, by the way. Three, create a landing page on your website or blog. Four, create a list of tactics you’re going to use, now this is actually good, I know this is detailed, bear with me, I reckon there’s some magic in the detail here. Create a list of tactics for step four. Step five, create a different link for each tactic. Why? So you can track them.

Now, she’s mentioned Google URL Builder. You can use any web URL builder tool that you want. Great idea, though, to track each tactic. Four and five are a pair. Shoot a one-minute video, another great idea. Shoot a one-minute video to describe what people will learn in the webinar. Seven, distribute a news release. Eight, if you have a newsletter, include the webinar in the e-mail one month prior. Eight and nine are kind of a pair, because in step nine, she says send four e-mails, one a month before, one three weeks before, one week before, and one the day before. Good advice. Think about social media, post it on social networks, write a blog, test Facebook and Google ads, and send the postcard to your database is a sort of old-school tactic. They’re all pretty good. Let me synthesize those, because I think it comes down to a few identifiable steps.

Just to remind you, I’m going to synthesize what they said, then I’m going to add a twist to it, and come down to our eight steps. Let me first honour their content. Here’s what we think they’ve said. Choose a topic, and consider a wrap-up of your most popular blogs as a great way to do that. Choose a platform and set it up. Make it saleable. Choose a really compelling headline, make it search-optimized, create a trailer, that’s more about making it saleable. Promote it broadly, track the promotion of each tactic, create registration if your platform doesn’t support it, deliver it, and then promote your recording separately. Now, that’s all pretty focused on the how-to, not whether you should, a webinar, and I’m going to stick to that format, but we do need all of that to come together, and there are a few of those suggestions that I don’t like and I want to give you my spin on them.

To come down to what we think you should do to run a webinar, or if you like, how to do a webinar. Comes down to these steps. I’m actually going to draw on not only those sources of content, but one more that I haven’t referred to and I’m not going to summarize now, and it’s from Funnel Wiki, which is a wiki that we create and promote, and there are some really, really practical steps on there that have been synthesized from six authors on how to do a webinar. I’m going to draw a couple of ideas from that, then what we’ve just summarized, and then my own spin on it down to eight steps. From the Wiki, create clear roles to make sure that everything gets done, use active engagement throughout the webinar, don’t let there be any passengers, that’s where the presenter actually engages with the audience, really, really good tactic, provide it widely and often, and get all the mechanical things right, a super long list. Based on what I read researching for this blog, I also add three things.

Choose the right platform and master it until it’s seamless, make your topic saleable and searchable, and track everything you learn from each webinar. There are two other quick tips that just occurred to me as I was summarizing this. If you’re paying for promotion, use UnBounce for page optimization, and, otherwise, do all the promotion to your own website, whether it’s referral, search, or e-mail, or some other tactic, have them go to your own site. You want to keep them on your site, you want to consider using some sort of integrated package, like Formstack for your form fill or your registration, and use Optimizely to test registration formats. That is where you can do A/B tests. Long story short, though, keep them on your own site. Let me re-stack those from the various different sources into the eight practical steps.

Number one, create clear roles to make sure that all the steps get done. Number two, make your topic saleable and searchable. Three, promote it widely and often. Four, choose the right platform and master it until it’s seamless. Five, get all the mechanical things right, and there’s a long list of that. Number six, track everything and learn from each webinar. Number seven, use UnBounce for any paid promotion. Number eight, use your own site for referral, search, or e-mail traffic for your webinar. If you haven’t already, why don’t you subscribe so that we let you know when these blogs are produced. We do them every week, you can get a reminder in your inbox. If you go to align.me/blog, or go to youtube.com/alignmeb2b, you’ll get to hear about it first. If you have already, but you got colleagues who haven’t, I’d be super, super grateful if you share the love, let others know about this blog. If you find it useful, your colleagues will also. That’s it, I hope you found that really useful. Lots more coming next week. Until then, may your funnel be full and always flowing.