What Is A Webinar?

Short for web-based seminar, a webinar is a presentation, lecture, workshop, or seminar that is transmitted over the web using video conferencing software. The objective of a webinar is to provide an audience with remote access to an in-depth presentation focused on a specific topic or subject, showcasing expertise.

Webinars And Content Marketing

When it comes to content marketing, businesses want to create engaging, in-depth content that will not only educate prospects and customers but also help to establish themselves as an authority in their industry. While many types of content can help to achieve these goals, a webinar is particularly useful in doing so because it requires a committed level of engagement from audience members, as opposed to passive consumption of content such as blog articles.

Although webinars are typically presentations, lectures, or, in some cases, workshops, there are several different types of formats that you can present your webinar in. The following are some of the more common types of webinars that you can host:

Live Webinars

Live webinars are filmed and streamed to a live audience. They’re a good way to capture the interest of an audience since they create a natural sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) because people don’t want to miss a scheduled event. For a live webinar to be effective, you will need to schedule it well in advance so that viewers have time to register and will know when to tune-in.

Live webinars don’t limit you to only streaming whatever it is you’re filming. There’s a lot of technology available that can help make your webinar more engaging. For example, you can supplement the video with a whiteboard or a slideshow feature, both of which can provide the speaker with a visual aid that makes it easier for the audience to follow what they’re saying.

Interactive Webinars

One of the unique things about a webinar is that the audience doesn’t have to be passive. There are several ways that you can make your live webinar interactive. Using a chat feature, you can ask the audience questions as well as answer questions during the webinar itself. You can also request viewers to answer brief surveys over the course of the presentation, the results of which can be shared almost immediately during the webinar to prove a point or to spur a discussion.

Of course, hosting an interactive webinar means it will have to be live. By making your webinar interactive, you’ll engage your audience much more effectively.

Pre-Recorded Webinars

Not all webinars have to be live. You can pre-record presentations and then publish the webinar at a later date (or use the webinar as a lead magnet). While you do sacrifice the interactivity of a live webinar, there are some advantages to pre-recording.

For example, you might have a guest speaker who can only do the presentation at a certain time on a certain date that may not be convenient for your audience (such as early in the morning on a Monday). In a case like this, pre-recording the webinar will give you a chance to attract a larger audience. Pre-recorded webinars may also be a better option if the speaker is a little uncomfortable speaking to a live audience. By pre-recording, you may put them more at ease.

The Benefits Of Webinars

Because most webinars are streamed live, some companies might have the misconception that they only provide short-term value. They may even doubt the value of pre-recorded webinars, especially when they could be investing in other types of video content instead. However, both live and pre-recorded webinars can benefit your content marketing efforts more than you might realize. Just consider these benefits that a webinar can provide:

A successful content marketing strategy is one that addresses every stage of the buyer’s journey. Webinars are particularly effective when it comes to nurturing prospects who are in the middle of the funnel. At this stage, prospects will already have a good understanding of what their pain points are. It’s at this point where they will be evaluating potential solutions and the companies that offer them.

Webinars are an excellent way to nurture these prospects further along the sales funnel by not only educating them about specific solutions to their pain points but to also give them insight into your personality and expertise. Encouraging prospects at this stage to register for a live webinar or to download a pre-recorded webinar that’s relevant to their needs can be very effective.

The growing popularity of video content has proven that it’s the most effective way to deliver information to an audience. People are visual creatures, which means that it’s much easier to hold their attention with video content than text-based content. A webinar also focuses on a presentation or workshop delivered by a speaker. The audience is more likely to remain engaged if they can relate to someone on a personal level. A good speaker can engage viewers not just through the information they are sharing, but through their personality as well.

When you schedule a live webinar, you can require that people register ahead of time. When they register, you’re essentially capturing valuable lead information. You can also require that leads fill out a form to access any live or pre-recorded webinars that you post to your website.

Because webinars should focus on specific topics, you’ll automatically collect insight into the interests and pain points of those leads. This could make it easier to nurture those leads as well as provide you with more information about what your audience is looking for, allowing you to adjust your marketing efforts accordingly and to generate more leads in the future.

Webinars arguably do more for your brand authority than any other type of content. They give you a chance to focus on a more specific or niche subject that’s relevant to your brand and industry. This kind of information tends to be more valuable to your prospects since information on broader subjects can be easily attained through simple web searches. The more webinars you host, the more authority you’ll begin to build, which will translate into more trust in your organization.

It’s not just the subject matter delivered in a webinar that can help build brand authority and trust either. It’s also the fact that this information can be delivered by someone at your company. This gives viewers the chance to see your organization’s authority first-hand. It also gives them the chance to connect on a more personal level, which can help to establish more trust in your company as a whole.

You can invite guests from throughout your industry to appear in a webinar. This can have a similar impact as writing a guest blog or having an expert write a guest blog on your website. For example, by inviting someone from a non-competing business within the same industry as you to appear in a webinar, you can build a mutually beneficial relationship with that business. They will likely share the webinar with their audience, thereby helping to increase your brand awareness.

Besides getting more eyes on your webinar via such partnerships, you can significantly improve your authority among your own audience and within your industry as a result of hosting an expert or a specialist. Such a reputation can go a long way towards increasing your reach as well.

Webinars are a form of video content, which means that they are a great way to build up your content library. Both pre-recorded webinars and live webinars (just because you stream them live doesn’t mean you can’t post a recorded version at a later date) function as evergreen content to help attract leads over the long term. You can find multiple ways to use your webinars. You can post them to your blog, you can post them to social media, and you can use them to nurture leads via your email marketing campaign.

Finally, webinars are often more affordable to produce than other types of video content. While you will still need equipment to film the webinar, most of the cost is in the pre-production and production phases of creation. Unlike other video content, you won’t have to invest in post-production (editing, graphics, color correction, sound design, etc.).

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Webinars

As beneficial as webinars can be to building your brand authority, engaging your audience, and generating leads, you will need to put a lot of effort into their creation to ensure that they are effective. It doesn’t matter how many people register to watch your webinar, if you’re not providing the information they were looking for or your speaker isn’t engaging, your audience will drop off throughout its duration. Any viewers that you lose won’t likely give future webinars you stream or publish a chance. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your webinars:

If you don’t prepare properly, your webinar will end up being unfocused and messy, leaving a poor impression on many of your viewers. Preparing for a webinar will require:

  • Determining the subject that you will focus on and making sure that it’s well researched (you won’t want to provide false or outdated information to viewers).
  • Establishing a structure to follow in order to explore the subject effectively.
  • Ensuring that the speaker (or speakers) rehearse what they will go over.
  • Identifying and reserving an ideal location where you can film and stream the webinar with no distractions.
  • Making sure that you have all the right equipment needed on the day of the webinar (film equipment, sound equipment, lighting equipment, and more).

When you consider how much work goes into preparing for a webinar and streaming/filming it, it’s going to be a huge waste if nobody sees it. This is especially true if you’re streaming a live webinar. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, you need to promote your webinar ahead of time through your website, email list, and social media channels. Your audience needs to know about the existence of your webinar, how and where they can view it, and when it will stream if it is live.

Provide An Incentive To Register

The webinar itself should be incentive enough to register. However, if your registration count is low for an upcoming live webinar, consider offering an incentive for people to register. This can be as simple as a free eBook download or access to an older webinar recording.

When promoting your webinar, highlight what it will be about. It’s incredibly important that you stick to your script. If the content of the webinar doesn’t match what you promoted, you’ll leave your audience frustrated and annoyed. This is especially true if you attempt to pull a bait and switch. For example, if you promote your webinar as a presentation on how people can save money and then spend the entire webinar going over how they have to purchase your product in order to save money. If anything, doing this will only hurt your reputation.

While the content of your webinar and the personality of your speaker (or speakers) will have the biggest impact on whether your audience remains engaged, there are other ways to keep viewers from losing interest as well. For example, using live chat, whiteboard, and slideshow features can all help to keep the audience’s attention as well as allow them to interact with speakers in real-time. In fact, giving your audience the chance to engage directly through live chat allows you to answer specific questions and address specific needs that you may not have had a chance to do otherwise.

If a prospect took the time to register for a webinar and to stream it live, then you can’t afford to not follow up with them. There are several ways that you can follow up. If you send your registrants an email follow up, make sure to thank them for registering and watching the webinar. You can then:

  • Ask them for their opinion on the webinar – This can be done in the form of a short survey. You can get an idea of whether the webinar was effective this way as well as provide more guidance to help improve future webinars.
  • Ask if they have any questions – A good webinar might incite the desire for more information, so find out if they have any questions regarding the webinar they viewed.
  • Recommend similar content – Assume that if they registered and viewed the webinar that they are interested in similar content. If you have content related to the subject matter the webinar discussed, send them a link to it.
  • Send a link to a recorded version of the webinar – Some prospects may not have had a chance to catch the webinar live or were only able to watch a portion of it. You can assume that they wanted to view it in its entirety simply by the fact that they registered. Sending them a link to a recorded version may be very much appreciated.

The Challenges Of Hosting A Webinar

At first glance, it might not seem that difficult to host a webinar. It might appear like it’s just a matter of pointing a camera at a speaker and streaming and recording it. However, it’s a little more complicated than that. Some of the main challenges that you’re likely to encounter should you decide to host a webinar include:

Creating a webinar is a time-consuming process. Actually doing a webinar takes time, but it’s the preparation for the webinar that tends to be the most time-consuming aspect.

Promoting your webinar is a lot easier said than done. Firstly, know who your target audience is. Then determine where that audience can be found (such as what social platforms to promote your webinar on), as well as when the best time to promote your webinar is. And then the promotion itself needs to be eye-catching, with a good title and description to entice registrants. All of this can require a fair bit of time and effort.

Some people are natural public speakers. You can sit them down in front of a camera and they’ll have no trouble sticking to their points and keeping an audience engaged. However, there are plenty of people who have a tough time speaking to a large number of people or who may be camera shy. If the person who is performing the presentation is nervous, it will come across and it will hurt the quality of your webinar.

To prevent speaker nerves from ruining your webinar, you will need to go through a practice run. This will help you identify whether or not the speaker is capable of performing in front of a camera without appearing nervous. If it’s apparent that nerves will be a problem, then they will need to practice their presentation until they are comfortable and familiar with their content. You will also need to put some effort into calming their nerves and making them feel relaxed within the environment that the webinar will be filmed in.

Knowing how to keep an audience engaged with a personable speaker and visual aides doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be successful at it. Audiences are short on patience in this day and age, especially when it comes to content consumed on the web. A lot of effort will need to go into ensuring that you have speakers and content that will keep your viewers engaged throughout the entire webinar.

Just because a lot of people registered for your webinar doesn’t mean it was automatically successful. It just means you did a good job promoting the webinar. Determining whether or not it was successful can be trickier. Identify what metrics to monitor and what they mean, such as the registrant-to-attendee conversion rate, average time spent in the webinar, recorded webinar watch rate, percentage of registrants that turn into qualified leads, and more. Note that the metrics you need to monitor will also depend on what the goal of the webinar in question was.

Once you’ve streamed a live webinar, generating additional value will depend on whether or not you know what to do with the recording. Turning a recorded webinar (or a pre-recorded webinar) into useful evergreen content can be a time-consuming challenge.

Unfortunately, hosting a webinar requires technical know-how. In order to record and stream the webinar, you will need to know how to set up and operate film equipment. This includes not just the camera, but also the audio and lighting equipment. And you’ll need to use the right software applications to host the webinar online. Software errors can lead to all kinds of issues, such as:

  • Issues that prohibit people from registering for the webinar.
  • Problems preventing registrants from accessing the webinar stream.
  • Challenges with the stream quality (such as a low-quality feed, a lack of sound or video, the feed crashing completely).

Incorporate Webinars Into Your Marketing Strategy To Improve Lead Generation And Engagement

While hosting webinars do require some work, if done properly they can have a significant impact on your ability to build your brand authority, engage with your target audience, and generate new leads. Webinars are well worth investing in and deserve a place in any content marketing strategy.

Need assistance getting started with launching your next webinar? Talk to one of our Trusted Advisors to get started.
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