7 tips on using e-mail to drive webinar attendance

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Webinars can be a smart way to help people learn more about your company or brand, and e-mail marketing is one of the best ways to get the message out about an event. Here are some promotion dos and don'ts, courtesy of Janine Popick, CEO and co-founder of online marketing provider VerticalResponse.

1) Don't forget the basics. It might sound silly, but marketers often forget the most salient information when sending out a promotional e-mail, such as date, time or program name, Popick said. Identify the time zone, for example, and include opt-out—and opt-in—links. In addition, make sure there's a link that recipients can click on to preregister for the program.

2) Do keep content simple. Webinar invitations should include the who, what and why right upfront. Provide a bio for anyone speaking at the event and bullet points that detail exactly what participants should expect to take away from the program. "Really hype the speaker and [his or her] legitimacy," Popick said. "You want people to walk away from your message with a good idea of why they need to attend."

3) Don't be shy about reminders. If someone has signed up for your program, remind them a week before and then again the day before. It won't seem intrusive if you keep it basic, including a link to the program, the time and day reminder, and a quick synopsis of what the recipient should expect. "The message can be changed up a bit, but the bullet points should probably stay the same," Popick said.

4) Do use e-mail as a follow-up vehicle. Once someone takes the time to attend a webinar, it's crucial that you reach them in some way immediately following the event. E-mails should include a link to the recorded webinar as well as a thank you. Prospects may also receive a special offer. "Segment your attendee list into attendees and registrants. Then segment each into prospects and customers," Popick suggested. "Leads who didn't attend should get a link and a special offer."

5) Don't overlook the power of testimonials. You probably use case studies and customer quotes in traditional e-mail marketing. It can work just as well in webinar promotions. You can include links to previous webinars in your current invitation and call out the benefits of attending one of your events by letting a recent attendee explain what he or she got out of the experience, Popick said.

6) Do cull webinar transcripts and materials for future e-mail content. During a successful webinar you may receive more questions than you have time to answer. Those questions can be repurposed as e-newsletter content or blog fodder, Popick said. "You can include a sentence in the follow-up e-mail that says, ‘If you didn't get your question answered, check out our blog,' " she said. You can excerpt one or two so registrants who didn't attend have another reason to click through to the recorded webinar.

7) Don't oversell yourself. Webinars work best when they are used for thought leadership and education; you don't want your entire program to be too self-promotional. Don't be afraid to tap speakers from outside your company, Popick said. "You want your speaker to be viewed as a best practice guru within your industry," she said.

Originally published Feb. 25, 2010, on

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