What does it take to make a seven-figure income from online courses? Ask Amy Porterfield. She’s a multi-millionaire online marketing expert who says, “Webinars are the backbone of my business model.” Her free webinars act as lead generators for her paid online courses.
When you provide free content like webinars to your target audience, you earn their goodwill and a reputation as a valuable source of information. Even better, free webinars lure prospective customers into the top of your marketing funnel and nudge them along that funnel toward one of your paid programs, like an online course.
Benefits of adding webinars to your marketing plan
Amy Porterfield uses webinars to strengthen the “know, like and trust factor” with her target audience. She says webinars give her the opportunity to connect with her audience—and get their email address when they register.
Webinars help Porterfield’s audience get a sense for what it would be like to participate in one of her online courses. They get a feel for her expertise, personality and teaching style as well as a preview of the course she’s promoting. She wants her webinar audience to leave with actionable takeaways along with the desire to learn even more from her.
How to use webinars for lead generation
First, you have to capture your target audience’s attention which isn’t easy considering all the content competing for their interest. Your hook is the webinar’s topic and title.
Webinar topic and title
The webinar topic must relate to the online course you’re promoting. The webinar serves as a prologue to the course—it makes them want more. But it can’t be fluff. Provide more value than they’re expecting. You want them to think: “Wow, if the webinar’s this good, the course must be excellent.”
Focus the webinar on one topic but go deep on that topic. Make sure you’re providing information that will have an impact. For example, share new practices, strategies or tactics they can apply at work. Illustrate this new information with case studies or success stories they can emulate.
The hook is the webinar title. The title must make a promise to your audience. What outcome or impact are you promising? What problem are you solving for them? What opportunity are you bringing to them? Answer the age old question: What’s in it for me? Remember Marketing 101: focus on benefits (impact), not features.
If you understand your target audience’s online behavior, you know how they like to receive or find information. You can send emails about the webinar to the appropriate segment of your existing email list. But you also want to attract the attention of people who aren’t on your list.
Consider these marketing tactics:
- Write blog posts related to the webinar and course content. Make sure it’s optimized for search so prospects find you when Googling. Include an obvious call-to-action graphic and link to your website registration page.
- Put a “house ad” on relevant pages of your website.
- Advertise on Facebook and LinkedIn where you can fine-tune targeting.
- Use LinkedIn and Twitter to share promos and blog posts about the webinar.
Pre-webinar onboarding emails
Let’s face it, most of us probably no-show for most of the webinars we sign up for. We put it on the calendar and when the time comes, we’ve forgotten the reason we felt so compelled to register.
You can minimize no-shows with pre-webinar onboarding emails. Even if you plan to send out a link to the recording, people are more likely to make a personal connection with you and to buy if they show up for the real thing.
In Amy Porterfield’s series of onboarding emails, she discusses the content she’ll teach and provides a workbook to use during the webinar. She explains the importance of showing up live and tells them about the bonus they’ll receive that day. If you’ve taught this content before, you could also share a story about how the content improved someone’s performance, career, or business.
Encourage registrants to make time for their lifelong learning—it’s an investment in their career or business.
During the webinar
Plan for about 20 to 30 minutes of content, 5 to 10 minutes of course promotion and at least 10 minutes of Q&A at the end.
Too many webinars start with minutes of “housekeeping.” These days most everyone knows how webinars work. If your audience doesn’t, explain the basics. Most people only need a reminder about the chat function.
Another problem with most webinars: the introduction. Don’t make the introduction all about you. Right from the start, focus on them, their problems, their story. Porterfield is a master at this. She relates her experiences and emotions when she was in their position. She wants her audience to think: “She’s telling my story.” This approach builds trust and strengthens the connection between you and your audience.
Webinars are slow leakers—people start drifting away as soon as they get distracted. Start out strong with your meatiest content. Prove right away they’re going to get the value you promised and they’ll be more likely to stick around until the end. Where appropriate, talk about doing even deeper in module X of your course.
No one likes lectures, and we all know lectures are lousy for information retention. Build white space into your program so attendees have time to apply new information, ask questions, do exercises, answer polls and chat with other attendees.
The chat box will help you build community during the webinar. You want to be the host who provides opportunities for others to connect. Make sure at least one person on your team is using chat to welcome and interact with attendees, answer questions, and troubleshoot technical issues.
If it’s possible with the technology you’re using, show your face, even if you have to pre-record a brief video to do it. People connect with faces, not slides. Ideally, show the faces of anyone else involved in course instruction too.
Promoting your online course
Promotion feels icky, right? Don’t worry about it. After all the time you’ve spent creating and giving away this free valuable content, you’ve earned the right to promote your course. By this point in the webinar program, you’ve earned their respect so they’ll give you some latitude about promotion—as long as you keep it short and demonstrate how your course can make an impact on their job, career, or business. And you know what? By now many of them will want to know about that course.
Practice your pitch. Provide details about what the course covers but also how it will make a difference in their lives. Walk them through the different modules, focusing on outcomes and impact. Highlight your course’s differentiator—how it’s better than similar courses offered by competitors.
Anticipate their objections to buying—all the “Yeah, but” comments—and address those during your pitch. Porterfield says this is another way to show your audience that you get them.
To create a sense of urgency, Porterfield offers a bonus to anyone who registers for her course during the webinar. You could modify this offer to registrations within 24 or 48 hours.
Finishing up the webinar
After the course promotion, it’s time for Q&A. Porterfield has a few “seed” questions ready to go in case the Q&A starts off slowly. She reads between the lines and answers the questions they should ask but don’t know to ask. And she addresses any “unknowns” that might cause a person to not register for the course.
Don’t run long. Do a few dry runs of the webinar so you know just how long it takes for each section. Allow time for interruptions. It’s better to end early than go over.
Give attendees a take-away, perhaps a tip sheet, template, or script—something they can use at work tomorrow.
Enter those who register but don’t show up into an email series that invites them to a future webinar. Send them a link to the webinar recording along with other information related to the webinar and course content. Your goal is to nurture them for a future sale.
Nurture those who attended the webinar but didn’t register for the course. Continue educating them and nudging them toward a buying decision. Share course testimonials in these emails as well as stories about how students have applied the knowledge they’ve acquired. Focus on educating, not promoting.
Webinars give you the opportunity to demonstrate how well you understand your audience and their needs. Like blog posts and email newsletters, webinars are an example of content marketing that establishes your association as a source for all kinds of education.