By Caroline Graham

Pre-pandemic, when I received a webinar invite, I thought I knew exactly what to expect: 

The webinar would be an hour, and it would run over. There would be time for some questions, but not my question. The first 15 minutes would involve rambling intros that I could ignore, so if I attended, I came late. The follow-up email would include the recording, so I’d usually sign up, not attend, and lie to myself about listening later.

Of course, even the worst webinar can still be a great marketing tool. A webinar can keep your brand top of mind, help you nudge people toward deeper engagement, and identify prospects with strong intent. But often, the webinar itself fails to delight.

By necessity, the last few months have made many marketers much more skilled in creating webinars that are a joy to attend. As a participant, I’m so grateful! 

Here are a few tips for designing a successful webinar, plus instructions for how to put it all together with GoToWebinar and Marketo.

Designing an Engaging Webinar

Tip #1: Remember You Have Options

The hour-long, one-and-done webinar can be great, but it’s not your only option! Lunch breaks fill up quickly, and we all have other things to do. 

Sometimes, a short, 15-minute product walk-through can be more effective than an hour long deep dive—maybe all people need is a quick intro to your product and a chance to ask one question. 

On the flip side, a series of 90-minute sessions could also make sense in the right context; maybe you are facilitating a hands-on skill-building workshop or leading a coaching session where people need time to reflect. The important thing is to let the audience’s need determine your content instead of just planning on autopilot. 

Build long-term victories and get quick wins with these webinar marketing  strategies.

Tip #2: Make It a Conversation

Many webinars might as well be YouTube videos, and that’s often their long-term fate. That’s great! The upside of prerecorded videos is that I can watch them at double speed, pause to take a call, and skip around to the slide that looks most relevant. But that also means that from the participant’s perspective, the only value-add for attending a webinar live is the conversation. Don’t shortchange it! 

Leave at least half of your time for questions. Practice intros with a timer so you can get through them quickly. If you anticipate more questions than time, nominate someone with the bandwidth and knowledge to answer questions and add links in the chat. Designate an MC to read and prioritize questions for the speakers to answer live, and come prepared with filler questions in case attendance is sparse. 

Tip #3: Share Whatever Is Most Useful

We’ve gotten used to seeing recordings and slides in follow-up emails, but think outside the box. If you are repeating a webinar, feel free to keep re-sharing your first recording. If your topic is more audio than visual, save yourself time and don’t bother creating or sharing fancy slides. Finally, if your webinars typically generate informational questions that can be answered quickly (rather than personal questions for panelists), consider creating a living FAQ doc that you can keep adding to and share it in follow-up emails.

Technical Considerations for GoToWebinar and Marketo

Once you have your content planned, start thinking about execution. If you’re using GoToWebinar and Marketo, you will handle registration through Marketo. Marketo then pushes that information into GoToWebinar and pulls back attendee data after the event. 

Here are a few GoToWebinar/Marketo features and constraints to keep in mind as you plan: 

  • GoToWebinar has a native Marketo integration, but other GoTo products (GoToMeeting and so on) do not.
  • The sync is usually quick, but once you create a webinar in GoToWebinar,  it can take up to 48 hours to become available for adding to programs in Marketo. Leave yourself some breathing room just in case, and remember that you can build out your webinar events as early as you’d like in GoToWebinar.
  • Recurring webinars won’t sync. For each event, you will create a new webinar in GoToWebinar, clone your Marketo program, and do a quick connection update. 
  • First name, last name, and email need to be required fields for registration.
  • It’s easy to send personalized webinar links for tracking.

(Need help building out a strong initial webinar program or planning a webinar series that will add real value? Get in touch!)

Setting Up Your GoToWebinar/Marketo Webinar Series

When you’re ready for your first GoToMarket/Marketo webinar program, here’s the crib-sheet version of the process:

First, set up the Marketo/GoToWebinar integration. 

It’s quick! Just use Marketo’s setup instructions.

Next, set up your webinar in GoToWebinar. 

One key tip: Pay attention to your naming conventions. Give each webinar a name that will make sense to you when you look for it in Marketo, and include the date and time in the name. You will thank yourself later if you start running daily webinars or repeat webinars each year. 

Finally, set up your webinar program in Marketo and connect to GoToWebinar. 

Make an event program and set the channel to “Webinar.” Be strategic about tokens so you can easily clone for future events. Once you have your program created, all you have to do is look up your GoToWebinar event under Event Actions > Event Settings, and you are all set.

Want more detailed setup instructions? Get a walkthrough in my next post. 


Nurture your buyer personas through every stage of the journey with:

The Marketer’s Guidebook to Hosting a Webinar

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Caroline Graham

About the author

Caroline Graham was formerly a Marketing Automation Manager based in Indianapolis. She is a Marketo Certified Expert focused on understanding how the digital age impacts consumer behaviors. Read more articles by Caroline Graham.

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