We’re going to avoid a certain word here: “Hack.”
Hacks don’t work. Shortcuts only work in the short term (see what I did there?). So let’s be extra clear about this: if someone tells you that you can “hack” lead generation and sales by simply recording a video and calling that an automated webinar, they’re selling you a load of horse puckey.
Automated webinars — executed correctly — are not a hack. They’re a brilliant marketing and sales strategy that maximizes the return on your investment of time. They allow you to host webinars around the clock, passively bringing in leads and sales while you’re sleeping or cooking or rewatching Game of Thrones even though you know the ending sucks.
Take the following steps to make sure your automated webinar actually works to drive conversions for your business. And for a more in-depth education on creating a high-converting automated webinar, consider taking our 30 Day Automated Webinar Challenge:
Step 1: Plan
You are not planning a live webinar. Live webinars are completely different animals, though some of the pre-production is the same. Before you do anything else, get into the automated mindset — knowing you’ll make something tightly produced, concise, and most importantly, designed for automation.
There are 3 decisions to make before you turn the webcam on:
- How you’re presenting. Will this be a pure slideshow with a voiceover? Will you be on camera yourself the whole time? Part of the time? Do you have other videos or media to include?
Remember — because it’s pre-recorded, you can get fancier with the multimedia. You won’t have to worry about transitions and timing as much, because you can always edit this presentation to perfection.
- What problem you’re addressing. The topic and title of your webinar have to do the one thing all marketing content has to do: present a solution to people’s problems.
For example: your problem, dear reader, is that you don't know exactly how to ensure an automated webinar will grow your business. Hence the title of this blog. The same principle applies to webinars.
Be specific — don’t create a webinar called How to Lose Weight. Create a webinar that addresses a particular problem: How to Lose Weight When You Have No Time or How to Lose Weight and Still Enjoy Beer or How to Lose Weight With Asthma. Your specific audience with this specific problem is out there. Automating your webinar will increase your chances of finding them by making the webinar more available. So don’t be afraid to niche down!
- What you’re selling. Yes, your content has to help people, on its own, even if your attendees don’t buy a thing. But honesty with ourselves translates to honesty with our audience. So let’s be honest — the webinar is designed to induce an action, usually a purchase.
You have to design the webinar around that. Again, I’m not saying that all you care about is the sale. But if your sales offer doesn’t make sense in the context of the webinar, people will feel tricked. Nothing destroys trust more than showing up to learn something, then being offered something that’s only vaguely relevant (or irrelevant) to their problem.
Make darn sure that what you’re selling in the offer is an extension of what you’re giving during the webinar.
Step 2: Prep
Now you know what you want your automated webinar to look like. To make sure it turns out right, it’s time to get into pre-production. There are 3 important aspects to this:
- Outlining. Decide how much information you plan to convey. Make sure there’s nothing excessive; your audience is only there to get what they need, not what we find interesting! Then, determine the most concise (i.e., shortest) way to convey that information.
Break the information down into subsections, and devote the appropriate time to each. The point is to make it all digestible: nobody likes a lecture. If you’re helping people with, say, weightlifting, outline the subsections: equipment, form, reps, supplements, etc.
Keep it snappy, moving from one to the other, to keep the audience’s attention. You won’t be able to “work the room” like during a live webinar, so compensate.
- Make Your Slides. Find a template that you can easily work with, and include visuals and cues that’ll keep your presentation engaging.
And please, please, for the love of all things marketing, don’t make your slides into a script. Anyone who’s ever sat through a presentation where the presenter read slides to the audience can tell you it always begs the question: Why don’t they just send me the slides and I’ll read them myself? Slides contain cues, not lines.
Since it’s automated, feel free to have a script for yourself, but don’t share it with the audience.
- Write the pitch. Your webinar is in tune with your offer. Now, you have to decide exactly how you’re gonna offer it! What can you do to demonstrate the value of your offer, and what words will you use to pitch it? How will you bridge the content to the offer?
Actually write it down, even though your exact words won’t be on the slides.
For example:“Now you know how to integrate high-intensity interval training into your workout routine. To make sure you get the most out of your workouts, I want you to sign up for a month of personalized online coaching so we can follow through on this information together — at half the cost of a personal trainer.”
Relevance. Value. Timing. Those are the ingredients to a good in-webinar sales offer.
Step 3: Systematize
An automated webinar is more than just a video. What you need is an automated webinar system that includes the following:
- Registration/Thank You web pages. Your registration and thank you pages have two incredibly important jobs, besides actually registering and thanking.These pages are collecting and/or segmenting registrants’ contact information to ensure they attend the webinar. They're also helping you craft your follow-up based on registrants’ actions.
Good webinar platforms (like, ahem, *WebinarNinja*) include features that allow these pages to perform these crucial tasks. You must build registration pages that set you up for the next phases. Speaking of which...
- Effective Email Sequences. Your audience is registered. Now, you have to stay in touch with them in order to (again) ensure attendance before the webinar, and follow up after the webinar. All of this has to be automated, since you won’t actually be around when they attend. That’s where good email sequences are absolutely invaluable.
- An automation-level video. Remember: the fact that this webinar is automated means your production values can (and should be) much higher. Again, because it’s not live, you can make this recording perfect. Take your time. Use multimedia. And edit to your heart’s content. Dazzle them with your professionalism and expertise.
Step 4: Market
You’ve planned and prepped the perfect webinar. You’ve shot a glorious, professional video. You've built a system around it. Before you publish this thing, you have two more jobs: marketing for maximum attendance, and establishing a follow-up plan for maximum conversions. Here’s how:
- Create a marketing plan. You’ll need some content to get people to your registration page. Depending on your budget, you can use paid tactics, like paid social media marketing, or free tactics, like helpful blogs in which you mention your upcoming webinar.
Either way, those virtual seats won’t fill themselves. You have to get out there and engage with your audience. Leverage your list with a smart email campaign to invite people, and include follow-up emails that encourage registrants to show up.
Side note: great webinar platforms (like - you guessed it - WebinarNinja) allow registrants to watch automated webinars instantly, rather than waiting for a particular day or time. Consider taking advantage of that.
- Create a follow-up sequence. After your potential customer attends the webinar, you still have work to do (Or rather, your automated webinar system still has work to do.).
A series of emails should go out to attendees, further encouraging them to buy into your offer, if they haven’t already. Don’t forget about registrants who didn’t attend, either instantly or at the time they registered for. If the webinar is still available, get them to it. If not, make sure they know about the offer they missed.
Plus, this isn’t your last webinar. Make sure you keep a segment of people who registered for and/or attended this webinar, so you can personally invite them to the next one. It may take a few webinars to convert!
- Create alternative offers. There should be more than one version of your offer. Create incentives that encourage people to buy during the webinar. Create separate incentives for those who don’t, and include those in your follow up email sequences. The shape of your offer has to be flexible, so you can convert different people at different times.
Remember: You Don't Have to Sell A Thing
This post focused largely on using automation to move your product. But remember: automation is primarily about extending your reach.
You can go way beyond the normal constraints of time and location to engage with people where and when they are; that doesn't have to mean selling to them immediately.
You can create automated presentations and lessons that do nothing but capture leads for you to nurture, ultimately getting them to your live webinar, where sales conversion rates will be much higher. However you use automation, your audience grows. That's what makes it such a smart tactic.