Many people think of webinars as the next generation of conferences. As the internet has grown, web-based seminars–or webinars–have become the standard way to connect, network, share information, and promote products. Despite the potential that webinars offer, a majority are lackluster and fail to meet expectations. In many cases, few register and even fewer watch the live feed or archive of the event. To generate customers through webinars, we must market to our primary demographic, appeal to their interests, and produce content that makes it worth their time.

First, we must identify the people we want to reach. Successful entrepreneurs invest time up-front to design a ‘buyer persona’ map. We want to target the right audience, understand their consumer mindset, and learn parallel or adjunct markets that may come available as well. We should survey our existing customers, glean data from any social media and professional networks where we have followers, conduct online research, and gather information on those who purchased identical or similar products to the ones we want to sell during our webinar. Registrations from our event also provide helpful data.

Next, we must develop highly targeted messages on a landing page for our webinar’s registration. We want the best matches on our ‘buyer persona’ map to learn about the webinar and have high motivation to register. Keep the registration page simple, using a title and descriptors that will trigger high SEO on search engines. Embed a short promotional video, add testimonials, and remind website visitors of registration deadlines. Let them know that they can watch the webinar live or see an archive of it for free.

Remember your existing market base. Send them am email blast with a CTA to get them to register and a link to to the webinar’s landing page. Create a Facebook event and send out social media updates on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other networks. Track results using Google Analytics. The best referrals often come from your loyal customer base.

Attract interest and encourage participation. On-demand access and the ability to replay the seminar encourages those who cannot attend the live webinar to register in advance and watch your content later. Consider bringing in a partner that has an interest in cultivating a similar audience as a co-host and market collaboratively. After a person registers, send updates and logistics information. Give them the ability to add the event to their online calendars and perhaps some “homework” that builds anticipation.

A well-designed marketing strategy targets our customers, rewards their loyalty, and allows us to expand our business. The ability to connect online through webinars takes us in new directions. We cannot assume others will find us and our products, however. Much of that work remains our responsibility. By building strong leads during the planning phase of our webinar, we target our intended audience, offer a program that best meets their needs, and expand our customer base.