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How to host successful webinars and convert leads

Glenn Ryan, Financial AdvisorWith the need to transition 100% online last year, you’re facing new opportunities and challenges when it comes to meeting and engaging with prospects. However, if you are open to innovating and adjusting your tactics, you can see impressive growth in your practice.

Jack and Glenn Ryan, an advisor-brother duo in our St. Louis office, have consistently hosted educational webinars, and they have taken advantage of the online environment to expand their markets and meet prospects they may not have had the opportunity to connect with in person.

We interviewed Jack to learn more about his strategy and the tips the pair offers other financial professionals:

How did moving online affect your seminar strategy?

Jack: Prior to 2020, we were doing dinner seminars to get our name out there and meet new prospects. When everything shut down, the North Star Marketing team helped us transition smoothly into webinars.

We were able to market our events in a similar way—primarily through email marketing—but the seminars themselves had a different feel without the in-person interaction.

What have been some hidden benefits of moving online?

Jack: While we miss the face-to-face experience of in-person seminars, there have been some benefits that make us want to mix webinars into our event strategy even after things totally open up.

First, the cost savings have been huge. We still do meals through a delivery service for some events, but can also pull off a webinar without investing much more than time.

No shows are less of a big deal because you’re not wasting a seat or money on a meal for someone who doesn’t show up.

Additionally, location doesn’t matter as much. We have reached more people throughout the nation who we never would have been exposed to otherwise.

And finally, since webinars can be streamlined, we can revise our presentations for additional occupation markets as well. Our practice works primarily with physicians, but we have expanded to other medical professionals, business owners, and engineers as well.

How do your results compare to in-person events?

Jack: The conversion rate at the actual webinar is typically lower than it is at an in-person seminar simply because you miss some of that small talk and personal feel.

However, getting people to attend your webinar is a lot easier, so even if a lower percentage of people schedule a meeting afterward, the total number of meetings scheduled is fairly similar. Plus, you’re building a stronger relationship with the other attendees who may convert later on.

We use email marketing through the whole process to give us the best chance of scheduling meetings with high-quality prospects.

For the registration, we narrow down our email list and filter it by category. Typically, we pick a niche for our webinar based on occupation, financial topic, or life stage and send the invite to only those who are in that target group. By sending only relevant content, we avoid a lot of opt-outs and keep our list strong.

Once someone registers, we try to stay in touch. We send email reminders beforehand to help attendance rates, and then we send different follow-ups to attendees and to no-shows afterward as one last offer for a one-on-one consultation.

We make these emails as personal as possible, showing attendees what it’s really like to work with a hands-on advisor.

How have you developed your skills in converting to clients from your webinars?

Jack: Sometimes people approach webinars like a podcast in the background, and they become far more distracted than they would at an in-person event.

We try to avoid this by starting the webinar off by saying we want to provide value and answer your questions. Throughout the session, we draw attention to the raise hand feature and ask for questions so they can feel it really is two-way conversation.

We also include the feedback form at the end that helps us know how to follow up with each attendee and helps us customize future webinars for the next group.

If you could give one piece of advice to other financial professionals wanting to do more webinar marketing, what would it be?

Jack: Don’t be afraid to try a new market, and don’t get discouraged if you don’t have a lot of meetings right away. You have new opportunities and less risk with webinars, so there is no reason not to start.

It may take time to get the process down and get those meetings booked, but persistence will help you develop best practices.

A related bonus tip is to use your resources. We are working with a senior advisor at North Star on a retirement webinar for older physicians, and the North Star Marketing team has provided coaching and templates along the way. It’s a team effort, so get a good group of experts behind you.

Jack and Glenn are investment advisor representatives of Cetera Advisor Networks, LLC.