6 Effective Webinar Engagement Strategies That Wow Crowds

By Flow Team - On August 11, 2020

“Webinar engagement strategies” sounds like a heavy term. 

Let’s understand it better with a simple analogy:

Remember how in school some classes were so invigorating that you looked forward to them? And you scored well in those subjects, right? Those instructors became your favorite and you recommended them to your friends.

What was different about those classes or teachers? 

Among other factors, engagement is sure to be a top differentiator. It’s a fact that teachers who engage students better are able to draw better results from them. Students recall and retain their content longer, which translates into better grades.

Webinars are just like live classes, except they are conducted remotely.

To get the best results from your webinars, you need to keep your attendees engaged from start to finish. Just getting a big attendee turnout is not enough to improve your webinar KPIs. If your webinars are a snore-fest, you’ll see attendees dropping out and never registering for future events.

On the other hand, engaging webinars keep attendees glued until the end. Their replays can earn a lot of referral traffic when happy attendees rave about them. Plus, there won’t be any pressure to convert at the end since the audience is already invested and primed to convert.

Anything else?

Yes. Engaging webinars deliver more value to the audience, which is the ultimate goal of hosting webinars. Don’t forget that satisfied customers are loyal customers. You won’t have to try too hard to get repeat attendees when you pitch your next webinars.

Customer engagement is so important that top marketers in an ON24 survey voted it as most critical in improving customer experience.  They used more interactive elements in their webinars, as compared to hosts with lower success rates.

Important factors for customer experiences

Image via ON24

It follows that you need a solid webinar engagement strategy to make your webinars a success. In this post, we’ll talk about six proven strategies to make your meetings lively, kicking events.

Let’s get started.

Webinar Engagement Strategies That Really Work with Crowds

Whether you host webinars for lead generation or content marketing, webinar engagement strategies are non-negotiable. Engaging webinars leave a stronger impact and have better conversion rates than boring ones. 

Below, we’ve covered some webinar engagement strategies used by top performers. Take a look.

Webinar Engagement Strategy #1: Share the Spotlight

You can really get the audience talking with this webinar engagement strategy.

Give the podium to one of your regular attendees or loyal customers. Let them play the host for a while. Allow your star customers to talk about their experience with your brand. The other attendees should be free to ask them questions. 

You’ll be surprised how quickly the audience opens up and the conversation starts flowing.

The reason?

People feel intimidated to express themselves in front of experts but not with peers.

Get your brand advocates on stage. Let them talk spontaneously about how they discovered your brand and how they benefited from it. 

By entrusting the stage to end-users, you can earn audience trust. Also, you present social proof which is always more compelling than plain promotion. 

However, make sure that the transition from presenters to attendees is smooth and fits into the webinar content flow naturally. If it looks rehearsed or scripted, your authenticity can suffer a big blow. You can turn off potential customers who are yet to begin their journey with you.

This webinar engagement strategy is a sure-fire way of capturing audience attention. Whenever you feel you’re losing touch with the attendees, try this tactic. 

Want to know the best part?

With this tactic, you don’t have to make any extra effort to get the attendees talking. You don’t have to create a poll, survey, or questionnaire. The audience does all the hard work while you literally sit back and reap the benefits.

FLOW’s “Smart Storyboard” feature lets you pre-configure all transitions so that it’s easy to hand control over to your attendees. You can preload content blocks and assign attendees in advance. 

Flow's Smart Storyboard

At event time, the spotlight and control will automatically shift as you’ve programmed. Once the attendees’ role is over, the control shifts back to the main presenter. No more last-minute goof ups. 

You can focus on presenting the webinar content while the software takes care of all the backend logistics.

Webinar Engagement Strategy #2: Q & A

Q&A sessions are intrinsic to webinars. They can help facilitate two-way communication with the audience, one of the top benefits of webinars

Plus, by asking attendees questions, you can personalize their experience and draw their attention. It also helps measure topic comprehension and learning outcomes.

Still, very often, we see presenters neglecting Q&A in their webinars. They steamroll through the session, without checking to see if the audience is catching on. That’s a sure-shot recipe for disaster. 

But why?

Because the audience feels lost or disengaged, which is a good enough reason to leave the meeting. That can set off a chain reaction where you can find attendees dropping out of the webinar one after the other.

To avoid the embarrassing situation, incorporate Q&A sessions into your webinars. 

The most engaging webinars have questions peppered throughout their duration. 

The team at eLearning Brothers demonstrates how to use Q&As in their “Wait, You made that in PowerPoint??” webinar. 

YouTube Example Photo

Image via YouTube

Throughout the presentation, the hosts are on video and taking live questions from the audience. Instead of providing verbal answers or documentation to solve questions, they demonstrate, in real-time, how to solve common problems. Such a hands-on approach is bound to keep the audience engaged till the end.

The always-on Q&A method works for eLearning Brothers since their webinar topic is practical. If that’s not the case with you, a consolidated Q&A session after the presentation can also work well. If time is a constraint, the latter approach makes more sense.

You can also start sessions with perky questions as an icebreaker. 

For instance, a webinar about insurance policies can start with a question like: Why do you consider insurance a must-have? By typing their answers in the chatbox, attendees can register their answers. 

Thereafter, you can pick a few attendees to elaborate on their answers. Highlight their answers or pin them to the top of the chatbox. 

Add a personal touch and grab attention by addressing them by their first names. Let’s face it; everybody gets a kick on hearing their name out and loud on stage. There, you’ve done it: you  brought together the scattered audience and got them interacting from the get-go. 

After intense sessions, you can have “fluff” Q&A sessions where you banter about unrelated things just to lighten the mood. You can spur the audience into action by instructing them to answer the questions in a precise manner (“type in all caps,” “give me 5 emojis,” etc.). It can change the mood instantly and breathe life into the session.

Anything else?

Yes. You can have moderators ask questions and evaluate answers. A change in voice keeps the audience engaged for longer.

That’s not all. There are more benefits of this webinar engagement strategy. 

You can use built-in analytics (like in our webinar platform) to analyze audience engagement graphs and spot weak engagement areas in your sessions. By doing a post-mortem of your webinars, you can improve your next webinar

On top of that, FLOW’s analytics lets you access individual attendee’s engagement reports. Using our insights, you can learn about each attendee’s conversion potential and user intent. Then, align your content marketing and social media marketing strategy so that everything works in tandem.

Webinar Engagement Strategy #3: Live Chat

Q&As are good to spark discussions between presenters and attendees.  But our next webinar engagement strategy, live chat, is a tool to get attendees talking with each other.

Sound good?

It is. If attendees are interacting actively with each other (relevantly), you can take it as a good sign. It indicates that they find your webinar content stimulating. It also helps build a sense of community among attendees and unifies them with a common purpose. 

Live chat has many other advantages as well.

Attendees can initiate live chats on their own if the option is enabled. Then, they can take the opportunity to interact with panelists and presenters on a one-on-one basis. They can enjoy privacy and personalized attention that are often lacking in community events like webinars.

As savvy hosts, you can add colleagues and other attendees to individual chats and convert them into group chats. 

You can share custom content and targeted deals that give value to chat participants. You can gently nudge attendees down the conversion funnel without looking promotional. 

In this way, your webinars become super-effective tools for content marketing. In fact, you can leverage live chat to create webinar funnels that not only engage but also convert faster. 

Is that all?

No way. Most webinar platforms let you style chat rooms in brand-specific aesthetics. By putting your brand logo and colors center-stage, you can create a top-of-mind effect on attendees that lasts long after the event is over. 

Intercom nails the branding part of webinars. All their webinars have the same whimsical typography and bright color palettes, which people have started associating with the brand. 

Custom Webinar Branding Examples from Intercom

Image via Intercom

In short, live chats are a webinar engagement strategy that can boost branding, as well as audience engagement and conversions.

Webinar Engagement Strategy #4: Polls

Polls are another webinar staple. They are also great at building engagement and community feeling in webinars.

You can use polls to gather feedback about a webinar/presenter/activity by telling attendees to rate them. You’ll get a fairly good idea about how well your webinar content was received. Using the data you collect, you can optimize the experience in upcoming events.

Another way to use polls in webinars is to get feedback on debatable topics. When webinars are used for demand generation, polls are often conducted to crowd-source product ideas. You can’t get more customer-centric than that. 

To use this webinar engagement strategy effectively, here are some best practices you should follow:

  • Don’t make your attendees work too hard if you want a high response rate to your polls. Most attendees avoid polls accompanied by lengthy forms or asking for descriptive answers. Include only multiple-choice or close-ended questions.
  • Display one question at a time and time-limit them.
  • Keep the questions simple and self-explanatory. Leave no room for misinterpretation.
  • Provide clear instructions to participants about how and where to answer.
  • Set a clear goal for polling. The goals should not be blatantly self-serving. In the poll, always mention how it enhances the value that attendees derive from the webinar.
  • You can incentivize participants to score higher by conducting graded polls. In these polls, top performers receive rewards, certificates, or exclusive deals.
  • Always include “none of the above” or “does not apply” in the options since all participants might not relate to all experiences mentioned in a poll.

Conducting smart polls is a breeze with our webinar platform’s AutoFlow feature. You can pre-load poll questions in a content block, along with the correct answers. You can pre-record voice, video, poll, screen-sharing, and laser pointer, ahead of time. 

At polling time, simply click the content block to launch it. You get pixel-perfect polls that run without any hiccups. 

Flow's Live Audience Polling

Our tools compile poll responses, which is such a relief when the numbers run into thousands and time is limited. All of this happens in the background, without disrupting the content flow. 

Webinar Engagement Strategy #5: Social Sharing

Social media marketing is responsible for driving traffic and engagement to webinars in a big way. You can get people to engage with your webinars by cross-promoting them on your social pages. In fact, you can build engagement long before the event has even begun.

How, you wonder?

You can encourage people to share your webinar links by including social sharing buttons on your webinar landing pages.

Webinar Landing Page Example from Crowdcast

Image via Crowdcast

You can create custom hashtags for your webinars, which can be appended to all webinar-related posts. You can add the hashtags to your social bios and post Stories around them. 

There are a number of ways to encourage people to interact with your posts. Testimonials from previous webinar attendees and presenters can earn you sign-ups. You can add a timer to create urgency or offer discounted seats to early registrants.

You can partner with influencers to promote your webinar using hashtag contests or teaser videos. Influencers can get you engagement from audiences that are out of your reach.

ClickMeeting teamed up with Jamie Turner, the CEO of 60 Second Marketer, to host a webinar. Jamie created teasers for the webinar, in which he explained what he would cover during the event and how people could benefit by attending it. The teaser got tons of engagement and possibly sign-ups for the brand.

Social Media Post Example

Image via Twitter

Once your event starts, your moderators can keep posting event highlights using the hashtag. To keep your social audiences in the loop and attract late sign-ups. 

You can watermark your presentation slides and chat rooms with the hashtags. Encourage attendees to post about their experience using the hashtag. A strong buzz can draw non-attendees to sign up for an on-demand version of your webinar, if available.

With smart content marketing, your webinars can keep garnering engagement on social media, even after wrap-up.

But how?

After a webinar is over, repurpose the proprietary content you created for it into social media content. You can create short carousel posts with expert quotes or infographics displaying the key takeaways. 

In this way, you can extend the shelf life of your webinar content and keep drawing engagement in the form of share, likes, and comments.

Webinar Engagement Strategy #5: Keep Stimulating

Distracted attendees can be the death of a webinar, no matter how great the content. If the audience is left idle for a long stretch of time, their minds are bound to wander. They can actually fail to draw much value from the webinar since they weren’t hands-on with it.  

That’s why engaging webinars keep audiences on their toes by stimulating them in different ways.

You can divide the entire content into bite-sized sessions, interspersed with interactivities. Follow each session with a Q&A module to check how the audience has received the content. 

Experiment with media formats instead of sticking to a rigid routine. Intercom’s webinar library has a good mix of webinar formats, ranging from AMA (ask me anything) sessions to interviews and demos.

Webinar Library Example

Image via Intercom

While structuring your webinars, look for opportunities to add activities that gel with your webinar content. 

For instance, if your webinar is conceptual, use breakout rooms to let participants brainstorm ideas. Demo-type webinars can do well with simulated or physical activities that can check concept-application. 

While webinars should have a proper structure, sometimes it’s a good idea to break the rules.

What does that mean?

You can have a free-for-all session towards the end, where audiences decide what they want to learn about. You can conduct a survey with topic options and conduct an impromptu session on the winning topic. Make sure that you have resources for all the options you include.

Check out how Daniel Waas invited the audience to join via audio in his intensive workshop on webinar programs (at 1:49:18). 

The result? 

He got two cool insights from the attendees, without an iota of extra effort.

Webinar Stage Example

Image via GoToStage

You can break the monotony by having multiple presenters, each with a different tone and presentation style. Let each speaker introduce themselves and run an icebreaker to endear the audience.

To avoid “dead air” between sessions, you can also display in-room banners or custom messages and play background music. Through display messages, you inform attendees what’s coming up next. In-room banners can display marketing messages. They not only keep attendees engaged but also fill awkward gaps.

Are You Ready to Host Engaging Webinars?

With the right webinar engagement strategies, webinars can be resultful for hosts and valuable for attendees. Unengaging webinars can’t help with lead generation or demand generation. They are just a wasteful expenditure.

Do you have questions about any of the above webinar engagement strategies? Leave them in the comments section.

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