Annmarie’s Top 10 Most Popular Blogs and Why

When it comes to business-to-business marketing, blogging is considered a must for what marketing experts call “inbound” marketing. According to Hubspot.com, the goal of inbound marketing is to convert strangers into customers and promoters of your business.

My blog has been very successful at inbound marketing. I like to think of it as encouraging potential clients to come to you instead of the other way around. That’s different from traditional marketing, which is when you reach out directly to customers through emails, brochures, cold calling and, well, you get the idea.

Hubspot publishes that since 2006, inbound marketing has been the most effective marketing method for doing business online. Inbound marketing, however, is not easy. It requires strategic thinking to figure out what kind of quality content will attract potential clients to your website and, ultimately, to boost your business results.

Blogging is a primary tool for inbound marketing. Effective blogs should incorporate the idea of brand journalism.

What is brand journalism? It’s a newer term of art that describes what successful public relations professionals have always done. That is, providing useful and quality content to attract readers to your brand. I did this years ago for a client’s newsletter. I produced newsletters that had more focus on news readers can use instead of marketing hype. As a result, potential customers approached my client for its services.

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Effective inbound marketing is both an art and science.
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When it comes to successful blogging, brand journalism and inbound marketing, I have an advantage. Since I have a journalism background, I am used to thinking about information through the lens of what will attract and retain readers. I also write about technical subjects in a non-technical way to reach broader audiences.

If you are thinking about blogging, you should be clear on the purpose of your blog. Mine is to reach insurance professionals looking for writing and public relations services. That is why you will find a mix of insurance information and marketing advice in my blog posts. (For more on successful blogging, please check out the “blogging” tag.)

Effective inbound marketing is both an art and science. There is a lot of great advice out there on anticipating search terms, considering search engine algorithms and profiling potential customers and readers. Since I am too busy servicing my clients, I just stick to writing what I think will interest readers. (For more on knowing your audience, click here.)

So why has my blog worked? To determine this, I reviewed the 10 most popular blogs I’ve run since I started blogging two years ago. By offering what has worked for me and why, I am hoping my blog can inspire greater blogging success for others.

1)   Discovering the Power of F#. This blog is based on an article I wrote for Contingencies magazine. It generated most hits, was the most tweeted, reached readers from all over the world and helped me to reach a new market. Why it works: Everyone is looking for innovation that will boost their competitive prowess.

2)   Workers Need to Know the Truth About Workers Compensation. Why it works: It offers practical advice and information non-workers’ compensation experts need to know.

3)   Ten Ways to Improve Workplace Safety. This blog consistently attracts readers every single day. In fact, if you type “ways to improve workplace safety,” my blog is the third on the Google page. Why it works: The title mirrors wording that searchers are likely to use and delivers on its promises.

4)   Why Injured Workers Hire Attorneys. Why it works: The title is search engine friendly and the information usefully distills research by the well-respected Workers Compensation Research Institute to make it practical for employers.

5) 21 Lessons From My First Year of Blogging. Why it works: Because it provides helpful insight for new and future bloggers.

6)   Converting the CEO to the Cause of Workers’ Compensation. This blog was shared and commented on extensively in workers’ compensation LinkedIn groups and is the top Google listing for “convincing the CEO about workers’ compensation.” Why it works: Convincing the CEO to invest in workers’ compensation programs is a major pain point for professionals in the field. The blog offers internal strategies on how to convince the CEO that workers’ comp initiatives are worth the investment.

7)   Reduce Claim Filing Lag time Through Effective Employee Communication Plans. Why it works: Employers are always looking to save on workers’ compensation dollars and claim lag time is a key cost driver. Again, writing headlines that will match search terms is key. Type in “how to reduce workers’ compensation claim lag time” and my blog is the sixth in the list.

8)   What Employers Should Know About Workers’ Compensation Predictive Modeling. Why it works: Employers have heard of predictive modeling, but they need to know how it will affect them.

9)   Opening A Window Into Health Care’s Future. This blog covers an article I wrote for Leader’s Edge magazine that covers the future of health care, its technology, the ethics involved and implications for ObamaCare. Why it works: People like to read cutting edge information and the subject has universal appeal.

10) Ten Attributes of Quality Content. Why it works: People want to write better content and this blog offers ways to do it.

 

Setting Your Blog on Fire

The dream of every blogger is to watch their blog catch viral fire.

I have enjoyed a week of the dream. Watching the hits climb was great fun.

I would love to say that the blog’s success was due to my brilliant writing. But I am no fool. The blog’s success was more due to the fact that the topic was interesting to those active in social media.

Great blogs cover topics that meet the needs of the reader, such as how to do something better or hot news. This blog’s purpose was to introduce readers to a technology article I had just published. The article is about F# a programming language that could benefit insurers in the United States as it has in Europe. (To see it, please click here.)

Sure, I promoted the blog to appropriate LinkedIn groups and periodically re-tweeted the blog post. But it was not until a handful of influential tweeters shared my tweet that the blog started catching fire. As they began to retweet, do did I, periodically, to keep the fire going. Since people are bombarded with constant tweets, you have to post periodically and hope someone will pick it up.

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The blog’s success was more due to the fact
that the topic was interesting to those active in social media.

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It’s been a great week! The post is by far the most popular one I have ever posted. The hits continue as others from all over the world continue to share my blog.

But I am a realist. It will be difficult to achieve these results regularly. My typical audience is made up of those in the insurance industry. This is an industry not exactly known for being technological progressive. Demographically, many of its decision makers are of an older generation that had not wholly adopted social media.

This of course will change as the older generation retires, so in the meantime I continue to build a strong base of followers. B2B blogging is an investment that some feel do not get strong enough returns to justify the effort. Of course I disagree because my blog has brought me customers. There are many more benefits to blogging, but that is the topic of another blog!

So I need to give due credit. I thank everyone who shared my blog with others but there are two people I want to thank in particular. Vijesh Shah got the tweeter ball rolling on my blog. He is from London and leads a modeling systems team in the pension, life insurance and the banking industry. You can follow him at https://twitter.com/vijesh.

Sergey Tihon is a software developer who has participated in international programming competitions. His blog, www.sergeytihon.wordpress.com, is responsible for more than 70 hits to my blog.

Like what you see? Then follow me!

The Latest Trends in B2B Content

More evidence that providing quality content is the name of the social media marketing game.

This is a great infographic available on a Hubspot blog, How Does Your Company Stack Up? The Latest Trends in B2B Content. To check it out, click here.

Here’s the beginning of the blog:

One of my favorite things in grade school was that whole “gold star” system. Remember it? You do something well in the classroom and you get a shiny gold star next to your name on a chart of your whole classmates. So, at any given time, you can look around and see how you’re stacking up against the rest of the class.

But once you get out of that grade-school classroom, the gold-star system often goes away. You can’t see how you stack up against your competitors and peers because you don’t have access to their data.

That’s why benchmark studies, like one recently released by Content Marketing Institute, Marketing Profs, and Brightcove about the current state of content marketing, are just so darn awesome.

Take a look at the latest trends to find out if your company deserves a gold star or not. Trust me — it’ll be just as exciting as the time you got a gold star in the fourth grade.

Brainstorming Ideas for Blogs, Articles and Other Written Materials

With so many opportunities to showcase expertise online, sooner or later, you will probably need to write something. It could be a blog, a newsletter article or a thought piece. Perhaps the marketing department approaches you  for content or you want to build your reputation through Internet or print publishing.

Whatever the case, you need ideas but do not know where to find them. You’ve tried freethinking — the exercise of writing whatever comes to mind on screen or paper — but it goes nowhere. Your brainstorm becomes a drizzle.

It might surprise you to learn have more ideas than you realize. You just need to train yourself to see them.  You can become so good at it that you have my dilemma of more ideas than time!

From whence will inspiration come?

1)   Conversations. Many of my blog and article ideas come from conversations with colleagues or customers. It can be an unrelated remark, a question or a story.

2)   Reading. News, blogs, social media discussion groups and other sources mention issues that you can give more attention. Take time to discover your unique approach to it.

  • Did someone miss an important aspect of a problem or story?
  • Do you have a totally different perspective?
  • Is there another angle to cover?
  • Is there a different way to approach the subject?
  • Did you reach different conclusions?
  • Is there any new research or conditions that will affect your clients?
  • What questions are left unanswered?

3)   Just doing your job. So many potential topics arise when you are just doing your day-to-day job.

  • Did you find a creative way to solve a problem?
  • Did you hear about a new issue that calls for further exploration?
  • Can you address a customer pain point in a new way?
  • How did a new law, regulation or process change create new opportunities or headaches?

Generating ideas boil down to being curious. Think critically about everything you see and hear.

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Generating ideas boil down to being curious.
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Consider information as reporters do. Ask yourself if the information matters and if so, to whom? Consider its impact, usefulness and limitations. Practice these suggestions and the ideas will start flowing.

Make sure you do not forget all these great ideas. Keep a file, perhaps in your smart phone memo, to jot ideas down as you go.

As the ideas lead to others, develop a file and keep them. You will be surprised how quickly it will fit up. Categorize them by topic and you might just develop the key points of your written piece. You might even realize a new product or service for your company to boost its uniqueness in the marketplace.

This should get you started. If you have other great brainstorming ideas, please share below.

Ten Attributes of Quality Content

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 1.00.32 PMDo you find that too many bloggers publish more for their own edification than yours?

How about blogs and web content that are just trying to sell you something?

Readers like me are demanding better content — and rightly so. You are busy and do not want to waste precious time reading lousy blogs. If someone is reading your blog, you should feel honored.

If you want to build credibility for your business, everything published should be top quality. Put it another way, it should pass the news editor’s smell test. Editors have to be very picky about what they publish. Editors know publishing garbage is bad for business. This is applies to any organization.

I was also thinking about quality content when I recently worked tirelessly on a magazine feature article. I am paid by the article so I could have made more money by not putting in so many hours. However, I need to be proud of it, so I dig deeper to give my readers the value-added. My byline is my brand, so publishing good stuff is important for my professional reputation. (If you want to see some of my magazine articles, please visit the “Work Samples” page.)

Given this, my simple rule for quality content is: Don’t write anything you would not want to read.

Here are, in my opinion, the attributes of quality content:

1)     Value. If you cannot answer the reader’s “what is in it for me?” question, stop writing until you can.

2)     Uniqueness. I wrote a blog on tweeting quality content for live events because other blogs focused more on the technical aspects of tweeting than on the content. What good are technical skills with lousy content?

3)     Newness. Provide new information or offer a new perspective.

4)     Show, don’t just tell. Give readers a picture of what you are communicating. Explain how a concept or product works. Give examples.

5)     Cleanliness. Meaningful content obeys the rules of grammar. It is not wordy or redundant. Use a fog index to find sentences that are too long.

6)     Easy-to-understand. The old journalism rule of writing on an 8th grade level is still a good one. Microsoft Word offers a readability index. Use it.

7)     Use graphics to reinforce your point.

8)     Accuracy. Your readers should feel they can take what you said to the bank. If not, you are not building credibility and trust.

9)     Be real. Don’t blog like you are writing a term paper. Your genuine voice makes for much better reading.

10)  Conversation starter. Don’t just write into a vortex. We all benefit from the conversation social media offers and nobody knows everything.

Here’s the truth: quality blogs take time. Do not start blogging until you can make time to dedicate to it. I’ve been blogging for about 18 months. I’ve learned that writing quality blogs once a week and keeping up with comments takes about four hours a week. Blogging is a discipline and consistent posting is necessary to attract Google’s attention.

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Editors know publishing garbage is bad for business.
This applies to any organization.
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Here are the hallmarks of bad blogging:

1)     Poor writing.

2)     Blatant marketing pitches. Social media is about contributing to the Internet community. People are not stupid. They will see through your intentions pretty quickly.

3)     Sensationalism. Some bloggers in the insurance industry would be better fodder for “News of the Weird.” I’ve seen too many blogs relating to sex or bizarre circumstances. It’s unprofessional and insulting, so don’t do it.

4)     Blogs that do not deliver what headlines promise.

5)     Plagiarism. When I got behind on my blogging, a writer friend of mine suggested I lift the works of others and run that. That is called plagiarism and it is one of the deadly sins of writers. If others have covered the topic, do it better. If you can’t, refer your readers to the better blog.

Why is there so much crappy content out there? I blame it on communications and marketing professionals who emphasize blogging as a marketing tool. Consistent blogging with great content should attract customers by building credibility, but bad blogging does the opposite. For the sake of your credibility, do it right or don’t do it at all.

What do you think?

Are You Too Obsessed with Google Algorithm Changes?

Here’s a cute blog for the first day of summer on a Friday afternoon. It relates to my recent post on appropriate blog length.  –Annmarie

The Simple Cure for Google Algorithm Update Anxiety

by Chad Pollitt

Google Algorithm Update Anxiety (GAUA) is a serious disorder that afflicts many marketers around the world. The condition was first discovered by scientists in April of 2003 when Google released its Cassandra algorithm update. Since then, the GAUA disorder has become a pandemic.

Its most recent outbreak occurred on May 22nd after Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, announced the release of Penguin 2.0. Today, doctors have announced they’ve discovered the cure for this marketing plague.

Google Algorithm Update Anxiety Overview 

GAUA symptoms include: Headache, upset stomach, nausea, back pain, muscle pain, nasal stuffiness, shortness of breath, flushing, pain in arms or legs, dizziness, reduced organic search traffic, and angry clients.

Marketers have a greater chance of developing this disorder if they repeat the same keywords over and over, manually build inbound links, meticulously keyword-sculpt every aspect of every web page, calculate and track keyword saturation rates, participate in link farms, buy links, publish lots of on-site ads, duplicate content, publish infrequently, or generally just publish useless and boring content.

To read more, go to http://blog.hubspot.com/cure-for-google-algorithm-update-anxiety

Are Longer Blogs Better Than Shorter Ones?

If there is one thing you can count on when it comes to social media it is this: Nobody is really an expert.

It’s impossible. New opportunities to reach your audience are constantly coming online. And the rules change.Quality-Content is King!

The big chatter among social media professionals is that Google has changed its algorithms in an attempt to give quality content and context more traffic. As a result, some blogs and websites are offering longer posts to boost search engine optimization.

I rejoice that Google is constantly trying to give quality content its due. There is just too much garbage online. I think it is insulting to readers to publish material that is not insightful, informative or helpful.

Nevertheless, it happens all the time. There are still people out there playing old games such as obnoxiously using the same terms repeatedly to get Google’s attention. Thankfully, Google caught up with that silliness a long time ago.

The rule of thumb has been that the best size for blog posts is 300 to 500 words. This assumes that readers do not have a lot of time to read beyond that. It makes sense given the decline of attention spans. The experts are now advocating blogs that run 600 to 900 words.

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We get in trouble when we are writing more for Google algorithms
than the audience we intend to reach.
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Pithy writing is nothing new. Even when I was a public relations professional more than twenty years ago, the sage advice was to provide information in bite-sized pieces. Advice on web writing encourages information sharing based on a shorter version of the inverted pyramid, which remains the basis of news writing.

With some exceptions, I have tried to follow the blog below 500 words rule. I often write-up 1,200 words and cover my bases. Then, I divide my blog into a series. It is also more practical for me. Blogging can be a real time killer.

But now Google is rewarding longer blogs. This is based on the idea that quality content is longer because it means the author is getting into more details. This assumption is hilarious. Quality and quantity are not necessarily interrelated. Google’s approach runs the risk of rewarding posts that are longer than they should be. Many an editor can tell you that most pieces can be cut back by at least 25 percent without losing important content.

We get in trouble when we are writing more for Google algorithms than the audience we intend to reach. For business-to-business communication, the best content is written for real people who are seeking information.

What to do? Write your blog for what it is really worth. Make sure it is about answering the “what’s in it for the reader” question. If you are producing quality and meaningful content, length should not matter and followers will come. Readers who really want to read your stuff will do so. If they are busy, they might bookmark or print it.

Avoid long content for the sake of search engine optimization. Frankly, few people are good at writing long content that keep readers interested. It’s hard work. My ability to write feature articles for national magazines is the direct result of years of practice. Longer pieces require different skill sets, especially for organizing content and offering transitions that encourage readers to continue. (To see some of my feature articles, please visit the work samples section.)

How do you know you have a quality blog? I’ll cover that soon.

Do you think of longer blogs encourage search engine optimization?

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How to Tweet Live Events – with Quality Content

Much of the online content about tweeting live events covers the technical considerations. What is missing, ironically, is quality content on — well — tweeting quality content.

So before you go atweetin’, check out my tips on tweeting live events:twitter-logo-hashtag

1) Knowing your audience is numero uno for tweeting and any type of communication. Being aware of what readers care about should guide your content. (For more on knowing your audience, click here. Another past blog covers getting your message out. To see it, click here.)

2) Be or become a subject expert. If you want to attract and maintain followers, know your stuff and its proper context. Otherwise, your tweets risk ringing hollow and being difficult to understand. Since I had expertise in workers’ compensation, I was also able to add insight to my conference coverage.

3) Build and expand your audience. Let the world know you will be tweeting an event to encourage interest and new followers. I recommend posting the announcement two to three weeks in advance and then re-announcing the week before and then a couple of days before the event.

I gained several new followers after posting announcements on my blog, Twitter and subject-based LinkedIn groups. During and after my tweets, I gained even more. Next time, I will also announce the hash tags I am using.

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Think of tweeting conferences, speeches and presentations as taking notes
 and sharing them with your audience in real time.

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4) Prepare in advance. Get the names of the speakers, follow them on Twitter when possible and have all their names pre-typed in so you just copy and paste it when you need it. I also looked at the supporting material and copied it into my Notes app so I was ready when the speaker mentioned it.

5) Consider using a portable device such as an IPad. I took a chance on bringing the IPad instead of my laptop. Since I am not sold on any of the word processing programs for IPad, I used the Notes app to cut and paste my already typed in names and quotes for future tweets.

6) Give the reader a flavor of the event. Not just how many people are there, but how they responded. In one tweet, I mentioned the hearty laughter resulting from a speaker’s comment.

7) Do not be intimidated. Think of tweeting conferences, speeches and presentations as taking notes and sharing them with your audience in real time.

6) Write Attention-Getting Tweets. You can never go wrong with statistics and facts (please attribute responsibly), new information, insights, and relevant story summaries.

8) Tweet now, write later. Don’t worry about blogging or writing more information until later. Excellent live tweets can be lost to the writing process.

9) Use hash tags. No mystery here. Try to anticipate subjects and enter those, #pound sign first, into your prepared notes for future cutting and pasting.

10) Don’t be sloppy. Poor grammar, punctuation and spelling kill credibility.

(To see or follow my tweets, check out annmariegedbaribeau@twitter.com.)

What’s your best advice for tweeting live events? Please comment below.

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Just for Fun: How Not To Do A Webinar

11 Steps to Make Sure Your Next Webinar Is a Total Flop

(From Hubspot http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/34149/11-Steps-to-Make-Sure-Your-Next-Webinar-Is-a-Total-Flop.aspx#ixzz2KF8ExffI)

So, you’ve decided to host a webinar. Great idea! Webinars are fantastic for generating high quality leads, and they can also help you build stronger relationships with your current customers.

But hosting a successful webinar? That’s a whole different ball game. If you want to host a kick-butt webinar, there are a ton of moving parts that you’ll have to prepare for … not to mention a host of things that could go wrong along the way.

Sound stressful? It can be, but you can alleviate a lot of that stress with advance preparation, and a checklist of sorts that will help you ensure you don’t make any of the mistakes that make for a kind of, well, crappy webinar experience for attendees. So here you go, all of the things you absolutely should not do when preparing for and hosting a webinar. Unless, of course, you want to scare away leads and customer. Yeah, we didn’t think so.

1) Pick a Lousy Topic

People won’t take time out of their day to listen to people drone on about a topic that stinks. If you choose a bland subject that your target audience has heard or read about hundreds of times, they’re not going to spend time attending your webinar. Remember, a webinar is a serious time commitment (which is why it’s a great indicator of high quality leads). But if they could just as easily learn about your topic via a blog post that takes five minutes to read, why would they dedicate 30, 45, or 60 minutes to listening to an explanation?

When thinking about a webinar topic, try to think of something that’s best explained as a presentation — with the help of both visuals, and verbal explanation. Also consider the point of the webinar — are you trying to attract net new leads, or nurture existing leads? Your topic will have to align with the point in the sales cycle you’re targeting; remember, existing leads might be able to handle something a little meatier and product- or service-specific than someone who is just starting their research.

2) Host Your Webinar at an Inconvenient Time

Hosting your webinar at unsuitable time is a major no-no, but a detail that’s so easily overlooked. Make the date and time convenient for the majority of your audience, keeping in mind that will differ based on who you are targeting. That means, for instance, that B2B marketers should consider when the slowest working hours are for their audience and probably want to host on a weekday, not a weekend. I mean, no matter how awesome your webinar, people aren’t too keen on waking up at 7 a.m. on a Sunday to hear you talk about long tail keyword research techniques, know what I mean? (Although if you’d like to hear us talk about using Facebook for Business, like, right now, check out our on demand webinar with Facebook’s own Chris Luo. We’d love to have you anytime. Even 7 a.m. on a Sunday.)

It’s also important to keep time zones in mind when picking your webinar time. If you’re targeting an international, or even a nationwide audience, figure out the time when the most people will be able to attend your event — remember, East Coasters, your lunchtime is our West Coast brethren’s coffee hour.

If you want to pick a specific time that works well for your audience and you’re not sure how to figure that out, include a field in your signup form that asks people to confirm the best time slot, or even send a post-webinar feedback survey to see what days and times would work best for them in the future.

3) Choose an Unstable Webinar Platform

If people are encountering a ton of technical errors, it’ll distract from the effectiveness of your webinar. Choosing a reliable webinar platform is well worth your time to research, especially if you’re expecting a big turnout. If you’re looking for a free platform and don’t need a ton of bells and whistles, Livestream and AnyMeeting.com offer free versions of their product … just remember they won’t offer as much as paid versions. Other affordable and reliable systems are GoToWebinar and WebEx, especially for larger webinars.

There’s a chance that even with appropriate platform, you may run into a technical glitch. No technology is flawless, and hey, things happen. Anticipate problems that might occur and have some safeguards in case you run into a worst case scenario. Consider having the following handy:

  • Backup Computer – Log in on two computers, this way, if the primary machine crashes or the session window is accidentally closed out, the presenter can continue from the second computer.
  • Backup Telephone – Dial in on two telephones so if one disconnects, the presenter can continue from the second line without interruption.
  • Slide Printout – Make sure there is a printout of the slide presentation so if your screen cuts out or a program starts updating unexpectedly, the presenter can continue talking off of the printed slides.
  • Separate Networks – Moderators and presenters should be on separate networks so if one system drops, the other can continue to advance the slides for the audience and keep attendees up to date on any technical glitches occurring.

4) Don’t Promote Your Event

Don’t let all your hard content creation work go to waste by hosting a webinar that no one shows up to. To fill “seats,” you need to get your promotion on. Leverage all your marketing channels to get the word out there.

  • Email Marketing – Send an email invitation to those on your email list that would be interested in the topic about which you’re presenting — in other words, do some segmentation, not a full-fledged database blast. 
  • Social Media – Let everyone know about your upcoming webinar via your social channels, particularly Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Do this more than once — social media moves fast, and it behooves you to remind your audience a handful of times. Be sure to include a link to the landing page on which they can register for the webinar in all of your updates; if you also have a compelling visualization or statistic from the webinar, even better!

 

webinar on facebook

  • Website – Promote your webinar on your website by including calls-to-action (CTAs) on prominent, relevant pages on your website, particularly the ones trafficked by the audience you’re looking to attract as attendees.
  • Blog – Write a few blog articles that are related to the webinar topic, and include CTAs leading to your webinar landing page for those who want to learn more and register. A blog is a great place to tee up attendees by teaching them some basic principles about which you’ll go into more depth on your webinar.
  • Paid Media– If you have a budget, a little paid media can always add to your organic efforts. Try running a PPC ad for specific terms that relate to your webinar.

5) Create a Confusing Landing Page

People shouldn’t be lost when they arrive on your landing page to register for your webinar. If they click on a CTA about attending an upcoming webinar and they’re directed to a page that’s unorganized or unclear, you better believe your conversion rates will seriously suffer. Make sure your landing page clearly states who the webinar presenter will be, what the topic is, when it will be hosted, and what people will learn from attending it. Here’s an example of the information a landing page should include alongside the form, from our webinar Facebook for Business: 4 Steps to Success:

 

facebook for business resized 600

 

This page addresses the questions any webinar attendee will want to know: how long the workshop takes, who is hosting it, what the webinar actually is, and why it will be valuable. Since this webinar is on-demand, there’s not date and time listed … but you can bet your buttons it was there when the webinar was being recorded live!

6) Don’t Practice Your Webinar Beforehand

Pshh, who needs practice?

Oh wait, everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a public speaking expert — everyone needs to practice before they host a live webinar, especially if they’re presenting with a colleague or co-marketing partner. Practice will ensure you know the information like the back of your hand, you have your phrasing and transitions down, and you’re familiar with the webinar platform you’re using. In order to make sure your webinar will be a success, do a dry run a day or two before so you have time to correct any issues that may arise.

7) Don’t Remind People About Your Webinar

They have nothing else going on, they’ll totally remember on their own. Truth is, if you do early promotions for your webinar, some people will sign up and forget its approaching. I know, you’re super organized and put everything on your calendar immediately, but we’re not all that on the ball 😉

Send an email reminder at least one week before the webinar, reminding registrants when and where the webinar is and even including some teaser content to keep them excited about the event. One day before, and the day of your webinar, send out a very short email that reminds people when the event is. Be sure to include a direct link to the webinar on the day of the event so it’s easy for them to log in, and write up a short reminder of the webinar’s topic and the value it will provide.

8) Start Your Webinar Late. Or Early.

If you tell everyone you’re going to start the webinar at 1PM EST, make sure it starts no later, and no earlier, than 1 PM EST. This is another one of those “duh” things that a lot of people screw up. Look, if it starts at 1:02, people aren’t going to lose their minds, but being extremely prompt is a sign that you respect other people’s busy schedules. If you are running into unpreventable technical errors that are forcing you to start a little behind schedule, be sure your webinar moderator is keeping attendees completely in-the-know about what’s going on, and when your anticipated start time will be.

9) Write an Unedited Novel on Your Slide Deck

Your webinar has a presenter for a reason — so attendees don’t have to read too much stuff, and a real live human can explain it to them instead! But when webinar slides are chock full of text, attendees spend all their time reading the text instead of listening and learning.

Instead, select images and a few words that are a good complement to what you’re saying, and are easy to digest in just a couple seconds. Usually, using just a few images, simple charts, and a few bullet points are best for slides. Here’s a good example from one of our webinars. These images act as props in the webinar, so the presenter can speak about a concept that these images help support.

 

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Finally, have someone else take a look at your work to double check for mistakes, or anything that isn’t totally clear. While stories and slides might make sense to you (heck, you created them, they better!), an outsider can help ground you in reality and let you know if something could be even more clear.

10) Don’t Interact With Your Audience

A big benefit of attending (and hosting) webinars is the ability to have presenters and audience members interact. Be sure to support conversation between attendees and presenters, and provide time to answer any questions attendees may have. You might consider:

  • Sending out polls and quizzes during and after the webinar
  • Using your webinar platform’s chat function to field questions during the webinar
  • Keeping the conversation going on social media by using a webinar hashtag
  • Writing a blog post after the event covering the main webinar points, and answering the most commonly asked questions within the post

Before the webinar begins, you should also prepare answers to any questions you can anticipate, and have a list of references and links. This way, you can quickly answer questions when they arise during the live presentation.

11) Don’t Say Thank You

As Stephanie Tanner would say, “How rude!” Saying thank you for signing up, and for attending is incredibly important. After all, these people took significant time out of their lives to attend your webinar; showing some gratitude is definitely called for.

Read more: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/34149/11-Steps-to-Make-Sure-Your-Next-Webinar-Is-a-Total-Flop.aspx#ixzz2KF8ExffI

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