The Austmine Guide to Webinars for METS
Written by Megan Edwards, Membership and Communications Manager, Austmine
Over the last two years I have organised and hosted numerous webinars for my METS clients. I love webinars. I think they’re an amazing thought leadership, branding awareness and lead generation tool, but one that I see very few METS companies utilising. Exceptions to this would be Schneider Electric, Dassault Systemes and BP, who have all conducted numerous online events.
So why, in these tougher times, aren’t more METS companies jumping on the webinar band wagon? I would suggest the reason varies from organisation to organisation, but time, money, knowledge and capability would be the most common causes. I can’t help you with all of these, but in this piece I will try to address the issue of knowledge.
Why would you conduct a webinar?
- Lead generation – a free, online (i.e. accessible where ever you are in the country/world, with no travel costs!), one-hour event tends to attract a lot more registrations than a physical event in the current mining climate. Provided you gate your webinar and demand registrations, both for live attendance or for anyone wishing to listen to the recording, you can collect a significant list of prospects.
- Existing client engagement – you’re giving your clients something for free (the webinar content), coupled with the ease of sitting in their own office to receive the information. There’s the added bonus of a potential upsell if your webinar is centred on a topic that allows you to then upgrade your clients onto another package/service/equipment piece.
- To position your organisation as a thought leader and increase brand awareness of your company. This is a less tangible reason, with less clear cut ROI opportunity. If this is your strategic goal behind hosting a webinar, then you may choose to not gate your webinar, as more people are likely to view it if they don’t have to input their information.
- This follows on from the above point, but you could also host a webinar to educate the market about a new service offering, product or technology you have coming out. This is different to general brand awareness creation.
- Staff engagement – the rest of this opinion piece is from the perspective of external, not internal, communications, but webinars can be a great way to conduct staff training (record a senior manager delivering a training module once for numerous staff to watch over the next 12 months, saving that manager significant amounts of time), improve engagement with the organisation or communicate an important internal change.
As you can see, there’s quite a few reasons why you could host or participate in a webinar. However, as an external communications or business development tool, webinars are not suitable for all companies – the same as a 30 minute plenary speaking slot at a conference is not appropriate for everyone. Be sure you have something interesting and educational to share before heading down this track.
Top tips for webinar success
A full “how to” guide on webinars would be pages and pages long, especially if taking into consideration technical concerns. These tips are based on my experience in the mining and METS sectors for generating the most registrations, the greatest interest and executing as smoothly as possible:
- Be clear on your objectives for the webinar. The objective should come first, then the content and speaker. Aligning a webinar, or series of webinars, with the strategic goals of the business (unit) is usually a good idea to ensure it stays on track.
- Speaker selection is crucial. If you’re a METS company, can I suggest not getting your “Sales VP” or “Marketing Director” as the keynote presenter – unless your topic of choice is sales or marketing tips. Miners want to hear from peers and technical experts who understand their challenges and therefore can actually advise and educate. One of the strongest webinars I ever hosted had the R&D Technology Manager from the METS company presenting.
- Ensure you have enough lead time to correctly market the webinar. An online event requires marketing and promotion the same as a physical event, so I would usually recommend a 6 week lead time for the event. It’s possible to achieve what you need/want to in a shorter time (I’ve done it before and will have to again in the future!), but not ideal.
- Be sure you have enough of a market reach to secure the number of registrations you want. I have always found social media an excellent (and free) method for promoting my online events. People who are active on social media tend to be more open to the concept of online learning and events. However, you should also use internal databases, media partners, associations, event listings, and corporate partners to full effect. (Quick note – in my experience only 1/3 of registrants show up live to the event. So if you have 30 people register, only 10 will come into the room live. This is particularly important if you’re planning on a live Q&A session!)
- Always do a dry run with the presenters. Even if it’s only a 5 minute check, this should be mandatory. This is to ensure their systems are up to date with the required software, that they’re comfortable with the platform layout and operation and that they are clear on everything before you go live.
- I have a one page “cheat sheet” I give to all presenters and hosts and tell them to print it out and have it in front of them for the live webinar. This significantly reduced speaker mistakes in the live events and repetition of questions in the lead up.
- Follow up and feedback. Whether you’ve done a webinar for marketing, sales or client relationship management reasons, you must follow up with the registrants and live attendees, thanking them for their time and providing them with the webinar materials (PowerPoints, or the recording URL).
Austmine runs a series of complimentary webinars, mostly for our members, but some are open to non-members too. Check out our planned upcoming webinars here: www.austmine.com.au/webinars
Any Austmine members who are interested in any further guidance on hosting webinars are always more than welcome to reach out to me. I’m here to help where possible! Megan.firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 8310 0601