At the end of 2013, Unbounce hosted a great webinar on… hosting webinars

They’ve used webinars to grow like crazy – and they recommended others do the same.

It appears others were listening. Webinars are everywhere. Which means webinar marketing is everywhere – especially in our inboxes. On January 21 alone, I received:

3 webinar invitations

2 webinar reminders

1 “thank you for attending our webinar”

1 post-webinar recording (for a webinar I didn’t attend)

And that was just in my Primary tab in Gmail.

Who knows what was sitting inside my Promotions tab.

This isn’t an unusual amount of webinar-related emails, either. On Jan 20, I got 4 webinar emails. On Jan 8, I got 3. Every single day, I get at least 1 webinar email. I also get emails and course invitations about “mastering webinars” for business.

Webinars. Are. Everywhere.

And the more businesses try to lure prospects in with webinars – or Twitter chats – or Google Hangouts – the harder it’s going to be to make YOUR webinar invitation stand out in inboxes.

So you’ve gotta do more than just host a great webinar. You’ve gotta get your webinar email marketing right…

Email invitations are responsible for 58-64% of webinar registrations, compared to social media and search, at about 15%. More here

How To Make Your Webinar Invitation
Stand Out In Inboxes

Promoting your webinar via email all hinges on this 1 thing: getting your webinar invite right. If you don’t do that, no fancy follow-up marketing (which we’ll get into) will matter. Because you won’t have any registrants.

So let’s start in the inbox itself…

As with all emails, the first 2 things you’ll need to get right are:

1. From name

2. Subject line

This is not as easy as it sounds. In fact, if it feels easy, you’re doing it wrong. 

WHOM SHOULD YOUR WEBINAR INVITATION COME FROM?

The following From names are pulled from my “Webinar Marketing” swipe file and categorized into these 4 basic groups:

1. Uses a person’s name

2. Uses a corporate brand name

3. Uses a person’s name + a brand name

4. Uses a corporate brand name + the word “Webinars”

Check out the From names businesses are using:

A Person’s Name

David Siteman Garland

Daniel Levis

Jon Morrow

Jeff Goins

Ryan Engley

Perry Marshall

Michael Stewart

Dan Norris

Lawrence Bernstein

Jon Benson

Laura Roeder

Racheal Cook

Dan McGaw

Ramit Sethi

A Brand Name

ion interactive

Vocus

Blurb

Moz

MarketingProfs

MIT Sloan Management Review

Bing Ads

Hay House World Summit

Zendesk

WordStream

Listrak

SiteTuners

Marketing Sherpa

A Person’s Name + A Brand Name

Ryan from Unbounce

Dan at KISSmetrics

A Brand Name + “Webinar”

Marketo Webinars

Globoforce Webinars

LogMyCalls Webinars

So which option should you use?

Traditional businesses would find safety in numbers and go with Personal Name or Brand Name. But the obvious answer is to test it.

Testing From names is both easy and effective (see study), so it’s a no-brainer to test your From name – especially given that From name tests have shown >40% increases in opens and >10% increases in clicks on standard emails (i.e., not specific to webinars).

I attend a lot of Marketing Experiments webinars, and I’ve noticed that they test their From names. Here are the 2 I received recently for the same campaign:

MarketingExperiments WebClinic

MarketingExperiments

(Note that I received both emails because I’m subscribed with 2 email addies.)

Although I haven’t seen Marketing Experiments publish the results of that From name test, I have since only received emails from them that use “MarketingExperiments WebClinic” as the From name. Which leads me to believe that that From name performed better. Which leads me to believe that including “Web Clinic” or some high-value version of “webinar” in your From name could go a long way.

That said… for startups… I can’t see why you wouldn’t use either your personal name or a combo of your name + your brand, like Unbounce and KISSmetrics sometimes do. (And like we do!) Webinar invitations, like all emails, are viewed increasingly on mobile devices, with 2014 data showing 15 to 65% of all emails opened on a mobile device – and it’s the rare business name that gets mobile users excited to tap.

People like to hear from people.

As you’ll note in the lists above, many of the people who are using their own names are actually the faces of their brand and are active email marketers. So:

– Unless your regular emails have terrible open rates, you should use the From name your subscribers are used to seeing in their inbox

– If your brand really is about you, not your company name, use your first name

– If you’re socially active online with your real name more than your company name, use your first name

Dan Norris may represent WP Curve, but his audience is more likely to recognize and respond well to a webinar invitation from “Dan Norris” than from “WP Curve”. Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You to Be Rich is a very well-known brand… but is it as well-known as the name Ramit Sethi?–would people be more likely to open a webinar invite from Ramit Sethi or from I Will Teach You?

As much as people like to hear from people, we also trust certain brands to give us top-notch information. KISSmetrics is one of those brands. So is Unbounce. Combining your human name with your startup’s business name could boost your opens…

UPDATE COURTESY OF RYAN ENGLEY:
When testing regular names (Ryan Engley) vs. branded names (Ryan from Unbounce), the branded names saw unanimous lifts to open rates and click rates. In one test, the average open rate climbed about 9% but the click rates climbed 40%!

Think about your brand.

Do people know you… or your company’s brand name… or both? Test to find out what resonates with them.

Advanced “From” Test for Webinar Invitations: Jeff Herring is an info marketer who holds a lot of webinars. He adjusts his From name for every webinar he hosts, based on the topic. So although his subscribers will sometimes see “Jeff Herring” in their inboxes, they’ll also see “Jeff | The ETM Webinar” or “Jeff | Coming Up…” or “Jeff | Special Guest Webinar”. A similar strategy could be worth a test for you…

WHAT SHOULD YOU TEST AS YOUR WEBINAR SUBJECT LINES?

You didn’t come here to read about obvious subject lines, so let’s skip past the “join our webinar” nonsense and talk about the standout webinar invitation subject lines in my swipes. (More about subject line essentials here.)

These are the best I’ve seen… plus why I think they’re great…

FROM: Laura Roeder

SUBJECT: you’re wasting time (so I’m holding a webinar about it)

This subject line is one of my faves ever because:

  • It leads with “you” (which is always solid for attention-grabbing)
  • It leads with a common pain for Laura’s audience
  • It’s visually broken into 2 parts, thanks to the parentheses
  • It clearly presents the webinar as the solution to the pain
  • It positions “webinar” at the tail end, which is a good call for people who are already busy – lead with the benefit, not the product
  • It’s lower-case, which often feels more personal / less corporate

The only thing I’d do differently with Laura’s subject line is test an alternative to the word “webinar”, which sounds lower-value than something like “web clinic”, “workshop”, “web seminar” or “35-min online smackdown”.

FROM: MarketingExperiments WebClinic

SUBJECT: How Many Columns Should I Use? New research suggests the best column layouts marketers should use for their pages

Here’s what’s most swipe-worthy, IMHO:

  • Although it’s long, it’s visually broken into a headline and a subhead… so scanners notice the Title Case ‘headline’ and then easily read the supporting ‘subhead’
  • Its effectively written in the first person – this is tough to do in subject lines
  • It leads with a question
  • The research is identified as “new”
  • We’re told whom it’s for – i.e., marketers – which could make it hard for marketers to ignore

FROM: Dan McGaw

SUBJECT: 11 Obvious A/B Tests To Do Today

Testable ideas for your consideration:

  • It doesn’t even use the word “webinar”, which means that people who’re fatigued by webinars won’t be turned off
  • It reads like a great, highly actionable blog post title
  • It creates a sense of urgency by using the word “today”

(Note that this is an email from Dan at KISSmetrics.)

Should You Mention “Webinar” In Your Subject Line?
Not only are inboxes becoming flooded by webinar invitations, but it’s no secret that a lot of webinars are thinly veiled sales pitches. To avoid that association, split-test the presence vs the absence of the word “webinar” (or its synonym) in your subject line. To improve on that association, split-test referring to your webinar as a “private webcast”, as Ramit Sethi has done.

Remember: Your webinar invitation doesn’t have to sound like a webinar invitation; people are looking for solutions, not webinars. (More about split-testing subject lines here)

Use This 7-Part Email Campaign for Your Webinars

I’ve mentioned my swipe file already. I keep almost every email I get, and I move the best or most standout emails into specific folders for easy swiping when I need ’em. I’ve used my massive swipe files to track the email campaigns that top online marketers are using to promote their webinars.

The simplest webinar marketing campaign is divided into these 3 parts:

 1. Send webinar invitation email to your whole list, with goal of getting signups

i. Registrants get confirmation email

2. Send webinar reminder email to your whole list, with goal of getting signups

i. Registrants get reminder email X hours before webinar

3. Send recording email after the webinar

That’s perfectly fine. But it’s not exactly the growth hacker thing to do – it’s almost bland, isn’t it?

There’s more you can do. This is the 7-part campaign comprised of what masters (like Amy Porterfield and Ramit Sethi) regularly do to promote their webinars:

1. The teaser
If you send out a newsletter regularly – or semi-regularly – add a webinar teaser in your email body copy. Tell your readers that you’ve got a webinar on X topic coming next week – but say little more than that about it. You’re trying to pique your readers’ interest, so tease them with a newer / faster / better solution to X pain – and for the love of Pete, do not tell them what the solution is! Give them an open loop to close. Tease.

2. The PS “save the date”
In your next email, reveal the date of your upcoming webinar, with a reminder of the teasing thing you told them before.

3.  The registration invitation
There are 2 ways I’ve seen this go. One, you can send a webinar registration invite 2, 3, 4 days before the webinar, to allow plenty of time to sign up. Two, you can send a webinar registration invite the day of the webinar, to amplify urgency; if you go this route, you’ll want to make it clear in your subject line that this webinar is happening tonight.

4. The hours-before registration invitation reminder
This is the last shot you’ve got to double your registrant list. To squeeze the most out of this email, consider segmenting your list to target your message, like so:

Segment A: People who opened Email 1 and Email 2 but did not click. Ask them to tell you what’s holding them back. If you get a handful of responses, you can learn a lot about objections to attending your webinars. Perhaps you’re holding them at the wrong time of day? Might it make sense to play a recorded version of the webinar at a time that works halfway across the world?

Segment B: People who opened Email 3 but did not click. Make it easy to register in this email! Lead with the link to register, repeat it at the bottom, and between both links add some anxiety reducers and objection stompers:

– It’s free, and you won’t be pitched throughout
– Get the latest data on [insert topic] – like [insert teaser data] – Over 500 startup founders are registered and gearin’ up to talk [insert topic] – This is the best content I’ve got to share, and I’m giving it to you free
– Only registrants will get a savings code
– It’s only 35 minutes, plus a LIVE Q&A with time for at least 7 questions
– If you’d rather watch the recording, you’ll need to register to get it

Segment C: Top-rated subscribers (e.g., 4+ Stars) who did not open (or who did not click) the last 2 emails. They’re into your stuff, so what is it about this webinar that they’re not interested in? Remind them of the quality of your materials, encourage them to register so they can at least get the recording… and finish with a somewhat emotional signature – like “Hoping I can help you today”.

The more you segment, the more effective it can be to personalize your subject line. This is because you can say something more specific that you know to be true for the recipient. Compare “Joanna, find out how to host better webinars” to “Is there a reason you haven’t signed up for today’s webinar, Joanna?”

5. The “it’s happening now” reminder
This goes out to everyone – but only if they can still register and hop on the webinar or into the hangout. The last thing you want to do is march them up to the top of the mountain and show them all the things they can’t have. When 40% of registrants are no-shows, a little nudge never hurts.

6. The post-webinar recording email, with a deadline to view
Okay, I learned this from Amy Porterfield, and although at Copyhackers we don’t hold a lot of webinars, this trick worked really well for our last one: only make your webinar recording available for a short period of time. Although 39% of registrants watch webinar recordings, if you want them to act on something in the webinar, give them a reason to make watching a priority.

I believe Amy’s recordings are good for 1 week, and I’ve seen Ramit Sethi shut recordings down 24 hours after this email goes out.

NOTE: If you told people that they have to register to get the recording, this email and the next one should only go to those who registered.

7. The “X hours left” reminder of the deadline to view
Last-minute reminder emails are always effective. Tell people they’ve got X hours to download or watch the video… and be sure to give them enough notice that they can watch the whole thing. (Tell them how long / short it is.) If an offer code is available in the webinar recording, tell them so. Give them the top reasons to watch it now – before it’s gone for good.

Write Compelling Invitations

Your webinars are free… but that doesn’t mean people will rush to sign up. Free isn’t the lure. The incredible content – worth paying for – is what they need. The incredible solutions to their enormously painful problems. That’s how you have to think when you’re writing your invitations. Think in hyperbole. But then write your email in a credible, believable and non-scuzzy way that will lure people in.

I’m not going to try to teach you how to write emails in this post. You should learn that in Colin’s course at Customer, Chris’s course at Vero or via the tips Jordie shares at EmailMonday.

Instead, here are my favorite webinar invitation emails, ready for your swiping pleasure. Note that they all have these things in common:

  • They have a single goal and purpose: get webinar registrations
  • They’re largely text-based (i.e., HTML no images)
  • They don’t look like newsletters – no headlines, etc
  • They’re written as 1-to-1 or me-to-you

FROM: Laura Roeder
SUBJECT: please don’t waste another second – do me a favor and steal my plan

Laura Roeder Webinars - Email Marketing

FROM: Jon Benson
SUBJECT: INSIDE: Advanced Sales Funnel Creation Secrets

Jon Benson webinar invite

FROM: Jon Morrow
SUBJECT: Just because I love you (open before Monday)
Jon Morrow Webinar Invitation Copywriting

FROM: Ramit Sethi
SUBJECT: Learn how to master your time (my free, private gift to you)
Ramit email copywriting for webinars

TIP: Don’t write from scratch. Start by typing out your favorite email and then editing it until it’ll be perfect for your customers…

UPDATE MAY 31, 2015: This new service is available to promote your webinar. Give it a shot >

Keep Them Coming Back with These Webinar Content Tips from the Masters

To be clear, I don’t teach content creation; I teach conversion copywriting. So I’m not going to tell you what makes KILLER webinar content… If you want that, Ryan at Unbounce did a sickly epic post on great webinars, so you should click here to read it

What I can tell you is that marketing your webinars like a pro will only work twice if your webinar content is fantastic; if your content sucks, kiss your subscribers goodbye. It takes 1 crummy webinar to turn peeps off and compel them to unsubscribe.

And so, purely as someone who’s watched a shit-ton of webinars in the past 7 or 8 years, here are some masterful tips for hosting a great webinar…

Dive Into It! Start With A Bang

When Unbounce hosted me for this unwebinar last year, we crammed 4 actionable tips into the first 4-ish minutes. Although the majority of your registrants show up around the 9-minute mark (and stay until 40), this approach brought us tons of great tweets. Assume that first-time attendees will worry they’re not gonna get much out of your webinar – and prove them wrong instantly, turning them into fans.

Keep It Short

I keep attending Marketing Experiments webinars / web clinics because they cap out at 35 minutes. An objection to attending webinars is length. Compress your topic until it’s super-tight.

Encourage Audience Participation

I LOVE doing this as a webinar speaker. GoToWebinar is setup to take questions and feedback from your viewers, so give them ways to add to the conversation. In our case, we show 2 copy treatments on the screen and get viewers to tell us which one they think performed best – then we read out the responses as they come in (which is fun when they’re lightning-fast). Yes, we swiped this from Marketing Experiments because they are genius.

Create a Dialogue with 2+ Speakers

Unbounce not only brings in super-relevant speakers, but Ryan also chimes in throughout the webinar, making it feel more like a conversation or a podcast than a boring seminar.

Get Someone to Monitor Twitter

Another Unbounce tip! They’ve got someone monitoring Twitter and taking questions. If you’re a 1-person show, can you get a friend or family member to help you out for the webinar? Or can you record the bulk of the webinar, do your intro/outro live, and spend the webinar doing your own support?

Tease About the Next Webinar (Open Loop)

Lastly, courtesy of Marketing Experiments, if you’ve got another webinar planned, encourage attendance with a clever teaser. I don’t mean to tell people you’ve got “something juicy” coming. Use the Open Loop persuasion technique: ask them a question, get them to weigh in with their answers, and tell them you’ll reveal the answer next time. Do this in the last 90 seconds instead of a pitch, and see what happens.

To Summarize

Test your webinar email From name

Test your webinar email subject lines

Don’t write from scratch! Start with a fave email

Use a 3-part or 7-part campaign series

Don’t suck

~joanna