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10 Steps to a Successful Accounting Webinar

Jill Gaynor
Posted by Jill Gaynor on Jan 3, 2023 8:24:00 AM

Webinars are a powerful tool in content marketing—they’re informative, more personal than written content, and showcase your expertise to clients and prospects. And as any accountant or bookkeeper can appreciate, they’re cheap to create and, if you record or transcribe them, can live on to keep bringing in prospects. All you need is some preparation and a great topic. 

1. Pick a topic your target audience wants to learn about. 

There’s a good reason this is #1—your topic drives the success of the webinar. Like all good business communication, it starts with the audience and purpose. Who is your target, and what do you want to accomplish? Why are you a great source of information on the topic? 

Look for topic ideas from resources that give you clues as to what’s on your intended audience’s minds—recurring questions you get from clients, a trend that will affect them, regulatory changes they need to understand. Make sure the topic is broad enough to warrant an hour or so presentation but not so broad that you can only scratch the surface.

Customer service teams, questions or comments from your website or social media, and other client feedback mechanisms are great places to harvest topics.

2. Choose a date and time.

Once you have a compelling topic, you need to improve the odds that your invitees can attend. Since you can’t know their individual schedules, the best you can do is to avoid the obvious busy times (tax season, quarter close, etc.) and follow some rules of thumb that can increase your chances for good attendance. According to GoTo, who examined their data from thousands of webinars, your best bets are:  

Middle of the week—Thursday performed the highest.

Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., with 11 a.m. being the most popular. Avoid noon if you’re in a single time zone, but noon PST/3 p.m. EST works best for coast-to-coast webinars.

3. Brush up on your webinar platform’s features. 

Thanks to remote work and virtual gatherings during the pandemic, most people are more comfortable with programs like Zoom, WebEx, and GoToMeeting. Use whichever platform your firm is already using, but be sure you or whoever is conducting the webinar is adept at using these key features:  

  • Recording the webinar
  • Using the question/answer or chat features, including how to save them in case you need to answer questions later (plus they offer good ideas for future content)
  • Screen sharing if you think you’ll need it
  • Muting and unmuting yourself and participants
  • Handing off to other speakers if you’ll have multiple presenters

4. Build your content 

Keep in mind that a webinar is a visual and auditory medium. Think about why your target audience would get more from a webinar than simply reading an article on your topic. Most people are visual and auditory learners, so present your content in a way that makes good use of both: charts, graphs, screen samples, and other visuals supported by helpful commentary and two-way discussion.

In terms of webinar length,  GoTo says longer webinars (60 minutes) attract 2.1 times more registrants than 30-minute webinars, attributed to the fact that it shows you’re going to go deep enough into the topic to teach them something of value.

Your slides are the tangible record of your webinar, so make sure you allow time to get them just right: 

  • Use the tried and true “tell them what you’re going to cover; cover it; review what you covered” method. 
  • Think about how you’ll transition from slide to slide in your talk and jot it down in your notes—transitioning is key to a smooth-flowing presentation that your audience can follow. 
  • Use visuals more than words whenever possible. If you have to use text-only slides, use bullet points with a few key words. No one should be able to read along with what you’re saying. Use presenters’ notes if there are facts and points you don’t want to forget. 
  • Remember, a webinar is an interactive medium. Decide how and when you’ll answer questions—whether you’ll allow them to “raise hands” and ask questions as you go or wait until the end.  

5. Create your invitation.  

Always create your webinar content before you write the invitation, or at least have it sketched out in detail so that your invitation’s promise matches what you end up delivering.

Some invitation pointers:

  • Create a subject line that clearly states what the webinar is about. Use wording that says exactly what the audience will get out of it (e.g., “How to Prepare for an Audit”).
  • Clearly identify the target audience of your webinar in the description contained in the invitation (e.g., “for nonprofits, governmental entities, employee benefit plans, and commercial entities”).
  • Make sure the logistical details are clear and easy to find—date, time, length, who will present and their qualifications, and how to register and by what date. Remember that once someone opens the invitation, they’re already interested, so give the facts clearly and succinctly—not buried in a sales pitch.

6. Send out your invitation and promote. 

How you promote your webinar will depend on how large your target audience is and how well they know you and your firm. Your invitation’s open rates will be much higher than average if you’re working from a very targeted, carefully selected list of targets and prospects.

To increase the chances of your invitations getting seen, send them out on a Tuesday morning. According to GoTo, 24% of all webinar registrations occur on Tuesdays. Send a reminder email to registrants the day before the webinar and another an hour before it starts.

If you’re trying to reach prospects who might not be familiar with your firm, you’ll need to put more time and effort into promoting your webinar. This Hubspot article offers some helpful promotion tips.

7. Rehearse!

Even though your webinar shouldn’t “sound” rehearsed, and you should always throw in spontaneous comments, rehearsing with someone else listening helps you improve your content and feel more confident when you present for real. Rehearsals are especially helpful when you have multiple presenters.  

Have your listener check for clarity in the information on your slides, transitioning, pace and timing, and overall understandability of your message. The rehearsal is also a good time to decide how you’ll handle audience participation. Can they ask questions throughout, or would it make more sense to hold them until the end?

 

8. Present like you’re having a conversation, not lecturing.

A good webinar presentation comes across as a one-on-one conversation and lets the personality of the presenter come through when it makes sense. A quick tip: Keep your line muted until you’re ready to start! Make sure the audience knows how to submit questions. 

When you close, thank attendees for joining and let them know when and how you’ll follow up on any questions that couldn’t be answered during the webinar.

Read more presenting tips in this Hubspot article.

9. Follow up quickly and tie up all loose ends.

Within 24 hours after the webinar, send out a thank you email to all attendees along with links or attachments referenced during the presentation, including any outstanding questions you promised to answer. If you are making the recording available at a later date, be sure to say when and how they can find it.  

If some or all of your attendees are prospective clients, include a call-to-action button that takes them to the next step in your sales process.  

Ask for feedback on the webinar and ideas for future topics.

10. Extend your content.

Look for ways you can repurpose your recorded webinar to generate more content. Again, your topic and the intended audience will drive where, to whom, and for how long your content is relevant. From a transcribed blog to a podcast, to e-books, there are numerous possibilities. This article from the Content Marketing Institute offers some good ideas for getting as much as possible out of all the work you put into your webinar. 

Topics: Practice Growth, Instructors and Writers


 

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