Webinars can be a powerful addition to your onboarding program, as they provide a way for you to interact with larger groups of prospects and customers. They lessen the load on your customer success team, And can also create a backlog of useful training and marketing material that can reap dividends down the road.
Onboarding might not be the first use case that comes to mind for webinars, which are used heavily by sales and marketing teams as a conversion vehicle (pre-pandemic, as many as 60% of webinars were used this way, per GoToMeeting). Even back in 2017, as many as 31% of webinars on that platform were for customer onboarding or training purposes — and this number has only grown with the rise of remote work.
But how exactly do you go from zero webinars to a regular schedule of highly effective ones? Consider the following tips and best practices.
Webinars vs. Other Forms of Onboarding Content
Webinars certainly aren’t the only piece of the onboarding puzzle. Other forms of onboarding content, including articles, short how-to videos, email tutorials, ebooks, and more, all certainly have their place. But webinars bring a live human touch to the onboarding experience, and they often accommodate live user interaction.
Text-based self-service onboarding materials are certainly useful, but what’s a customer to do when they don’t understand the knowledge base article? The same goes for how-to videos and other non-interactive content. Sure, your customer success team should make it clear that they’re always available to clients, but unless your client’s confusion stops them from doing their work completely, they may just shrug and move on.
Webinars give you the ability to show a real human interacting with your product or service and (when conducted live) allow customers and clients to ask for clarification or more detail. Static resources, whether text- or video-based, can’t do that.
Benefits of Using Customer Onboarding Webinars
We’ve already alluded to some of the benefits of using onboarding webinars as part of the customer onboarding process, and there are plenty more.
When used effectively, webinars can greatly enhance the onboarding experience for new users and make life easier for your team members (including your CSMs and sales team). They can be an effective way for customer success teams at SaaS companies to enhance the customer journey, reduce churn rate, and turn more new customers into long-term, educated, satisfied customers.
Consider these benefits that customer onboarding webinars can create for your company.
Gives Your Customer Success Team a Break
First up, a well-designed webinar can break up some of the intensely manual work your customer success team must do, and can actually reduce overall workload and the pressure of workflows.
A concise webinar can alleviate some stress in the onboarding process for the customer success team by allowing your team to communicate visually rich information to multiple stakeholders at a client’s company, reducing costly one-on-one time.
A live webinar can also be a great way to conduct initial onboarding at scale, introducing many customers to a product onboarding experience at one time. For example, your company might want to share general information that’s applicable to every customer through a general webinar (even an on-demand one). This information is valuable, but it doesn’t need to demand an individual representative’s time for every customer coming onboard to your product.
Gives Customers a Great First Impression of Your Product
A well-done webinar provides customers with a great first impression of your product. Instead of wallowing through half a dozen PDFs, customers go on a visually engaging journey through the product, learning (in real time) the value of your product as well as how to use it.
Product adoption and retention are both crucial metrics for SaaS businesses, especially those with a free tier or intro level. A great first impression helps your users move more quickly through the sales cycle.
Gives You Both Live and Recorded Content
At its core, the webinar experience is live: Users attend a meeting that’s happening in that moment and have the ability to speak with (or at least chat with) representatives from your company.
But the value of webinars doesn’t stop there. You can easily record those live webinars for future use.
Prospects and customers who couldn’t attend live can watch the recorded webinar to find out what they missed. And, depending on the topic, you can even use recorded webinars as distributed content:
- Sent out via email
- Embedded in a blog post
- Shared on social media
- Used as a freebie for collecting leads/email addresses
Startups have another benefit here. Not only do recorded webinars provide educational value to your audience, but they also hint at your seriousness and professionalism, showing that you’re already offering your services to live, paying customers.
Best Practices for Using Webinars in Your Onboarding Process
While onboarding webinars can be a powerful part of your onboarding process, success isn’t automatic. These best practices can help you get the most out of your investment:
Explain Exactly What Your Product Does
Don’t forget about the main reason that brought your attendees to your webinar — to learn more about your product. Every onboarding webinar should have a clear breakdown of the product and, when possible, should showcase it being used to provide value or solve a niche problem that your audience experiences.
As you create these webinars, avoid the trap of overpromising or overmarketing. Be very specific about what your solution can do, and don’t promise features that don’t exist. Keeping expectations realistic now will do wonders for preventing upset customers and churn later.
Motivate Users to Activate Your Service
When you’re using a webinar as a tool to convert free users to paid ones or prospects to paying customers, make sure to strike the right balance. You need to deliver real value, not just a thinly-veiled sales pitch. However, you also don’t want to skip the sales pitch entirely.
Part of finding this balance comes from understanding when to use “how to” vs “why to” content in your webinars. Spurring users to pull the trigger and activate your service requires enough “why to” content. “How to” comes afterward.
Include a targeted call to action, one that treads carefully when audiences are a mix of paid and unpaid. To sweeten the deal, offer an incentive for converting during or shortly after the webinar. This can be a slight discount, a freebie, or whatever else makes sense in your market.
Also, follow up with attendees who haven’t yet converted in the weeks following your webinar. You have their contact info, and you know what they’ve heard so far. A personalized contact may be all it takes to convert them.
Demonstrate Your Product’s Best or Newest Features
As you plan onboarding webinars, it’s crucial to know exactly where a specific webinar fits in the customer journey. For many SaaS companies, especially in high-touch customer onboarding scenarios, customer journeys can vary to a surprising degree, with multiple user onboarding flows to choose from.
Feature-focused onboarding flows showcase a product’s newest and greatest features and can serve both as a sales tactic (“see what you’ll get with us”) and a customer success tactic (“check out what you’re already paying for”).
If you’re showcasing a general value-add, it might be most prudent to showcase the features that commonly generate value, or that do so for your most valuable customers.
However, if you’re working on upselling or launching something new, you might find it most useful to clearly demonstrate the newest features, showing attendees exactly how to get the most out of them. You can also use the event to tease some upcoming enhancements (acknowledging obvious shortcomings and showing that your company is continuing to improve).
Intentionally Create Space for Questions and Feedback
Great webinars are highly interactive, and they don’t become that way by accident. Provide both a technical means and a welcoming environment for attendees to ask questions and share feedback.
This first helps attendees get the answers they need, but it has even greater benefits. Participation builds community, which lets people know they aren’t alone in choosing your solution. Participation also leads to more of the same, inspiring more and more people to participate. You can then answer the actual questions that potential and current customers have that you might have forgotten to address in your presentation.
Making your webinar both interactive and effective requires the right tools. Some video conferencing software allows for live polls, a chat section, submission forms, reaction buttons (like emojis), and so on, which may be all you need. If you’re looking for a tool (other than Arrows, of course) to provide a specific function, here are 27 customer success tools worth considering.
If your audience just isn’t participating, you might want to have prior content on hand that you can pull in at this point, like questions that have been sent in, older videos, or testimonials from other clients. These can be useful in getting your current audience thinking and, hopefully, interacting.
Companies That Do a Great Job With Onboarding Webinars
Need some inspiration on how to implement onboarding webinars well? Take a look at what these leading companies are doing.
Slack has a host of freely available webinars, building on the realization that their customer base uses their tools in unique ways. Onboarding will look different for companies using the tool for chat alone versus those planning to integrate Slack deeply across multiple workflows and platforms. Anyone can register for an upcoming live webinar or find something relevant to their role or use case in the back catalog.
Monday offers on-demand webinars that cover best practices, specific features, and distinct markets (like construction or project management). Because Monday takes a different approach to work and project management, teams and individuals often need a little extra help with the onboarding process. The company’s strategic use of webinars provides this help through the library of educational resources, rather than a more high-touch onboarding approach.
Rapidly scaling SaaS companies might benefit from the onboarding-centric approach PandaDoc takes with its webinars. Instead of scheduling a steady stream of webinars covering new content, PandaDoc conducts recurring weekly webinars, presenting the same content live at the same day and time each week.
Their initial onboarding session, “Getting Started with PandaDoc,” is currently offered three times each week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). Other downstream onboarding webinars occur only once or twice a week.
Arrows Takes Your Onboarding Process to the Next Level
Great onboarding webinars take careful effort, organization, and planning. That’s where Arrows comes in. Arrows helps you create a positive, organized, visually engaging onboarding experience for your high-touch SaaS business. You can better plan and execute onboarding content — including webinars — with Arrows.
Ready to see how? Request a demo now.