For a long time, we have been hearing these terms interchangeably – Webinars, Webcasts, Virtual Events. Although these products have been marketed for over two decades, it is only recently that these platforms have assimilated into mainstream dialogue to serve their value – both for creators, as well as consumers.
Does it mean that we’ll see one, or all of these technologies & platforms start to fade away, or can they co-exist while still creating a USP? Or will these services undergo a complete transformation through new technologies and perhaps give rise to a new ‘buzzword’?
Let’s dive deeper to understand these services, and what differentiates them from one-another.
A webinar is different from a webcast and virtual event. While the terms essentially go hand-in-hand, they serve different purposes. The following table gives a brief overview about the differences between a webinar, webcast and virtual event.
A webinar is an online seminar. It is streamed online, that can be accessed and watched anywhere in the world. Webinars have primarily been used for educational & training purposes by corporates
Webcast is a broadcast of a live event done over the web/online. They are similar to how we watch live matches on TV and tend to be a one-way flow of information to large groups of people.
Virtual Events ties together features of Webinars and Webcasts, to facilitate multi-session online interactive events. Virtual events also have sponsorship & networking areas
In this blog …
- What is a webinar & how do they work?
- What are the different types of webinars?
- Why are webinars important?
- How to create and host a webinar?
- What features can a webinar have?
- What are challenges faced in organizing webinars?
- Tips to host a webinar
What is a Webinar & How Do they Work?
A webinar is currently the most essential piece of artillery in the warfare of content marketing. Or if you like to think of it as a game of chess – it may be considered as an all-powerful piece on the board that can help you make all the right moves. You just need to use it strategically. And to do so, you need to have a better understanding of this term.
The Oxford Dictionary simply defines a webinar as “a seminar conducted online”. However, by the way of explanation it can also be defined as an online event where a speaker or group of speakers give a presentation to the audience and engage via polls, surveys, questions etc.
Users who are new to the world of webinars often confuse them with online meetings. But, these two are not the same. In an online meeting platform, a small group comes together to discuss and collaborate on projects real-time. Thus, the tool or service facilitating this does not require many features. On the other hand, webinar events are arranged mostly for training, learning and skilling purposes with the average audience size ranging from 50-5000. Webinars require more robust platforms that offer features to host media, stream to other platforms, and engage the speakers and audience.
What are the different types of webinars?
Webinars have numerous uses and formats. Here are a few different types of webinars –
- Educational Webinar
Webinars have become increasingly popular in recent years as a powerful tool for both marketers and schools and universities. Educational webinars are often used by schools or universities to share informational content. Since no physical classroom is required, students get to learn from the comfort of their own homes.
The onset of a global pandemic saw a drastic shift in the education system. Schools and universities turned to adopt online methods for the delivery of information. For this reason, webinars have grown in popularity as a learning tool.
- Webinar for Product Demos
Product demos can be used to strategically sell products and services of a company. They also help in building deeper relationships with prospective customers.
A webinar can also be used to host and showcase a product demo as it gives you an opportunity to showcase real case studies and testimonials of your current customers, how they’ve used the product and how they’re benefiting from it.
- Webinars for Employee Training
The use of webinars for employee training is rapidly growing in popularity. Webinars like these are particularly useful for employees working remotely. It also gives them the opportunity to ask questions and clear any further doubts they might have about employment.
These webinars can be effectively used to engage the employees so that they can actually retain and apply what they’ve learned. It is also important to connect the material to their role in the company, as well as to connect their role to business goals.
- Panel Webinars
This type of webinar is a great way to engage & grow your audience and boost your brand value. Panel webinars feature a set of speakers who discuss a topic that is relevant to the brand that is hosting the session. The audience will stay engaged and interested in a panel discussion if the topic is about a current trend or issue.
To boost viewership, professionals or industry veterans can be invited to be a part of the panel discussion, to add more value to your webinar. Hosting a Q&A segment is a great engagement tool and breakout rooms are another useful tool that offer your audience ‘insider access’ to the speakers and hosts – one that they wouldn’t get otherwise.
Why are webinars important?
Now that we have understood what a webinar is, let’s understand why you should host a webinar.
There is a whole range of benefits of webinars that can persuade any brand into giving their best whilst conducting a successful online event. We only list here a few out of those.
Here are the main reasons why you should host a webinar:
- A new webinar means inviting a whole new database of people who are potentially interested in your content, and will indirectly also be interested in your brand.
- These webinars are the perfect way of establishing yourself as an industry expert. Your target audience will see you as a reliable information source that can take up their doubts and give the right answers.
- The people who register for the webinar are your qualified leads. After the event, you can concentrate your efforts completely on converting them into a client or customer.
- The recordings of your webinars help you showcase your expertise.
- Through a webinar, you get to set your brand voice, raise brand awareness and explore new branding opportunities.
- Webinars are also a great way to on-board new hires, as they offer a face-to-face interaction with people joining from multiple locations, and eliminate the requirement for you to travel for miles.
- They increase the reach of your company.
- Webinars help in seamlessly increasing ROI, by allowing you to nurture and close warm leads and raise brand awareness en-masse.
A webinar works only if it has been thoroughly worked upon and refined to the point of perfection. The three human roles essential in making a webinar as engaging as possible are –
- The Organizer
- The Presenter
- The Attendees
The presenter delivers the content, whereas the organizer works behind-the-scenes to regulate the flow of the event.
How to create and host a webinar
Hosting and planning a webinar can be a time-consuming process. If it is your first time hosting a webinar, you might be wondering as to whether you’ve done everything.
For your advantage, here is a checklist of six tasks you need to complete before taking your webinar live:
- Set an objective
Understand the objectives you want to accomplish out of the aforementioned webinar. It helps you outline your plan more effectively too and measure the event’s success in quantifiable terms.
- Keep the audience in mind
Choose the subject of your webinar according to the pain points of your primary audience. Think about topics that resonate the most with them.
- Schedule the Webinar
Find out the best time to hold your webinar. According to our research, 11 am to 2 pm is the most optimal time for this purpose.
- Promote the Webinar
Create a buzz for the event. Use your personal network, email marketing and social media promotions to talk about it.
- Make a Presentation
Prepare bite-sized learning content for your audience to consume. Use more visuals, and less text to make an engaging presentation.
Test the technical setup and practice your content delivery a day prior to the webinar.
What features can a webinar have?
Key parameters to evaluate a webinar platform
Before we understand the key features that webinar platforms should have, let us understand the key parameters to keep in mind when evaluating and choosing a webinar platform. These include:
Video and Audio Quality
It is important that your webinar platform provides high video and audio quality. Video that is constantly lagging due to bandwidth problems can easily ruin the experience. It is incredibly important for the webinar platform to provide the best possible audio & visual quality to ensure the best viewing & learning experience for the user.
Availability of Engagement Tools
It is important to remember that engagement is the biggest feature of a successful webinar. Engagement tools can add to the user experience for the speakers and attendees. Therefore a webinar platform should provide ample engagement tools like – breakout rooms, pop-up polls, chat, and other gamification.
Ease of Use
A webinar platform should be easy to use and navigate through. The users, whether attendee or organiser should be able to use the platform without any difficulty. Attendees shouldn’t be spending too much time on figuring out how to join the webinar and how to use its engagement features.
It is beneficial if the webinar platform is compatible with multiple browsers. Webinar platforms that can be accessed from mobile devices also present an added advantage.
A webinar is only as good as its promotion. Without an audience, it’s akin to not hosting a webinar at all! Promoting your Webinar at the right time, on the right channels, will offer a focused outreach to your targeted audience. Thus, being able to easily share and promote your webinar’s registration is a key parameter when it comes to evaluating webinar software.
Features like live-streaming across social media platforms can help you reach a larger audience. Additionally, marketing automation tools can help you increase your promotion, while detailed analytics can help you improve your webinar for the next session.
Now that we have discussed the foundations of a webinar, as well as why and how to host them, let us see how we can add a ‘Wow!’ factor for the host and the attendee.
You need to zero-in on an all-in-one webinar platform that will enable you to broadcast, engage and network seamlessly throughout the course of your event. The selection of the right platform will not only produce the most effective results for your webinar, but also give the attendees the best event experience possible.A feature-rich intuitive webinar platform will help your attendees see the full picture more clearly – both, literally and figuratively, as webinar platforms are often equipped with zero-delay HD Livestream Broadcast capabilities.
Essential Features a Webinar Platform Should Have
If you are looking forward to hosting a Webinar, here are some prerequisites a webinar platform can have that will help maximize reach, value, and an engaged audience. It is imperative to study the entire list of a platform’s features. An ideal webinar platform should have the following features:
- HQ Audio/ Video Quality
This is an important feature to consider when hosting a Webinar. Without good audio & video quality, the effort of delivering meaningful content will be in vain if your attendees are struggling to comprehend the speaker, and they will slowly drop off the session.
- Recorded vs Live
Not all speakers may be able to present their session in real-time. For such instances, recorded webinars can be leveraged to offer pre-recorded information to a live audience. A platform that offers both capabilities is worth considering.
- Unlimited hosts and parallel sessions with almost 1 million attendees
Having multiple hosts can make a webinar interesting. As attendees gain knowledge and input from people with different perspectives, the value they gain from the session increases.
- Event customizing options, advanced analytics
Customizing your webinar will add a personalized touch. Having advanced analytics will help improve your understanding of how the webinar did, where you lacked and how it can be improved the next time around. They also help improve ROI.
- Interactive tools
One of the most important parts of a webinar is its engagement feature. Interactive tools make the process of engaging with attendees simple and better. Examples of these tools include – polling options, raise a hand feature, emoji reactions, video conferencing options and more.
- Integrated registration & ticketing
This feature can further simplify the registration and ticketing process for organizers and attendees. Integrated user-friendly event registration features allow organizers to customize the brand registration process It also makes it easy for attendees to register themselves for the session.
- Zero-delay HD live stream broadcast
The ability to live-stream to other platforms gives you the opportunity to engage with users on platforms they’re comfortable with, and reach out to more users by increasing the accessibility of your webinar. Choose a platform that allows you to stream to other websites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, Vimeo, and others.
- Website & Phone App Capabilities
This is a feature that holds a great advantage. It will help you achieve increased participation and engagement with your audience when users choose to log in from their phones to attend a session, instead of a laptop.
With the ease of features in the selected webinar software, you would also be able to fully focus on generating awareness, making sales and building rapport rather than killing time in the operational aspects of the event.
What are Challenges Faced in Organizing Webinars?
Hosting webinars comes with its own set of challenges. Instead of being blindsided by unforeseen problems, you should be aware of the possible challenges you may face while planning, promoting and hosting a webinar.
It is important to remember that these challenges are not impossible to overcome and that they all have a solution. Here we offer you some simple solutions to these challenges.
One way to overcome this challenge is by having a great registration landing page. Your registration form should be short and should include fields that are absolutely necessary. Including a video can increase conversions by as much as 80%.
Tell the registrant what they can expect from the webinar and who will be a part of. Create a sense of urgency and also remember to include your contact information.
Much of your webinar’s success comes from promoting it. The most effective channels for webinar promotions are –
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Push Notifications
Webinar Email marketing has proven to be the most effective channel for promoting webinars. Email makes up for almost 75% of registrations. Therefore it should be used effectively. In an email, ensure you send all the necessary information, such as – what the webinar is about, who will be speaking, what are the benefits of attending it and where a user can register for it.
Social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter can also be used to promote your content. On these platforms, visual content works the best. You also want to take advantage of your partner’s and employees’ social networks to widen your reach, so give them promotional content to share on their profiles.
Start promoting your event four weeks before your webinar. Through our research, we have observed that Tuesdays attract more registrations for online events, with almost 24% of all registrations happening on Tuesdays.
It is also recommended to increase promotion one week before the webinar. In fact, 69% of registrations occur the week before the event, with 33% of registrations occurring the day before the webinar.
When conducting a live event there are chances of you experiencing technical difficulties. If they do arise as an organiser you should know how to work through the issue. There is an easy answer to overcome this challenge – Plan ahead.
Hold a rehearsal session for all the organisers and panelists. Do a sound check, practice passing roles, familiarise the speakers with the platform so that they can navigate through it with ease, check if there is a stable internet connection and so on.
Lead Generation after the webinar has ended
Repurposing the content from your webinar is a great way to continue the generation of leads. Some ways to repurpose your webinar is
- Recording your webinar and making it available in an offline format
- Create blog posts from your webinar content
- Put together clips from the video and upload it as “sneak-peaks” on video streaming platforms
- Turn quotes and key takeaways into social media posts
If you’re hosting a webinar for the first time, it may seem like a daunting and overwhelming task. But as you do more and more webinars, it gets easier and the solutions to challenges become second nature.
And, lastly, a few small tips to help you host a smoothly-run and successful webinar
Tips to Host a Webinar
Try to keep your webinar precise and concise. Always keep its duration under an hour and make sure all your equipment (like a camera and microphone) are of high-quality and in the right working condition.
Content is King, but there’s only so much that we can consume, retain and react to. It’s imperative to devise content with a lasting impact that leaves the audience engaged, excited and enthused!
Another way to maximize the benefit for your audience is by delivering a memorable Webinar that not only stays with them during the session but, the key-takeaways tend to apply themselves with high recall and repeat value in their lives, long after the ‘engagement’ has ended.
Lastly, do not forget to engage with your audience as much as possible. After all, it is for their advantage that you are conducting the webinar.
Online platforms are here to stay, and Webinars play a mutual interdependence role between Speaker and Attendees, both participating for mutual gain to not only survive but thrive!