What Is A Webinar?
Webinars remain the most essential tool for marketers, as they use them to build brand authority, demonstrate expertise, and connect with new customers. But what is a webinar, and how does it work? Let’s find it out.
What Is A Webinar?
The word ‘webinar’ is a combination of two words: web and seminar. It is an event or meeting held on the internet attended only by an online audience.
There are many typs of “Web-Seminars”, however there are some features that typically differentiate a webinar from a webcast or streaming event.
Webinars are unique because a typical webinar allows for some type of communication or participation by the audience. This can be through a chatbox, a Q&A discussion or some other type of communication with the presenters.
A webcast, broadcast or a streaming event is usually one way and there is no way for attendees or viewers to communicate with the presenter or a moderator. Much like watching a television broadcast or streaming a movie via Netflix, there is no way to interact with the presenters.
Other terms marketers use as alternatives for webinars are virtual events, web lectures, webcasts, online seminars, and web events.
During the webinar, one or a few speakers, usually less than seven, deliver the needed information in the form of a presentation to a big audience. All attendees may respond to polls, submit questions, and use numerous other interactive tools.
These online events are different from popular streaming platforms, which do not allow their audience to engage with the presented content, and from web meetings, designed for small groups.
The webinar hosting platforms allow the participants to share applications, documents, hyperlinks and other files with webinar attendees while the webinar host is speaking. Moreover, numerous webinar platforms allow you to record your webinars and make them available to attendees so that they may review the presentation.
The most advanced webinar services offer speakers many helpful options like live attendee feedback in the form of polls, questions, and feedback.
So what are some essential components of a webinar?
A webinar is an effective method for one-to-many communication. Speakers can interact with a large group of online listeners. They have to use various smart tools to channel this interaction. These tools include:
- Questions & Answers
- Calls to action
- Purchase button
Attendees can use their laptops, PCs, Macs, smartphones, or tablets to follow the webinars on most webinar platforms. Video and audio feed allows them to hear and see the speaker.
Speakers often run PowerPoint slides in sync with the rest of their presentation or use screen capture function to show their viewers a wide variety of photos, illustrations, presentation slides, videos and other types of multi-media.
Webinars are an extremely convenient and efficient way to interact with your customers. It is fast, relatively inexpensive to make available and convenient for attendees.
First of all, they allow for significant cost savings, as a presenter does not have to rent conference space. Moreover, webinars can be live or recorded, they are very interactive and full of attention keeping graphics, illustrations, product demo’s and education.
What Is The Purpose Of A Webinar?
Marketers from different industries use webinar technology for various purposes, for example, for internal training or capturing leads. Below you will find some of the numerous ways to use a webinar.
Engage Your Audience
Webinars are the best tool to engage your audience. They promise a value above traditional marketing methods, such as social media marketing or banner ads. And this value is way more unique.
Most viewers like webinars for their convenience, ability to ask questions, to complete different types of polls or questionnaires and so on. Therefore, by working hard on your webinar’s design, topic, and related materials, you may attract many new customers to your company and prospects into your sales funnel.
Position Yourself As The Expert
Hosting a webinar on a specific topic – whether it is related to mental health or computer programming – will put you on a virtual pedestal. Most registrants are there to learn something new, and they recognize you as an expert in this niche. The viewers trust that you are delivering unique and valuable information that you understand well and self-identify as an expert.
Present Your Newest Products
Do not expect your clients to book a hotel and flight to your conference each time you want to present some new products. Nevertheless, you may always ask them for a few minutes of their time online to show your latest product iteration.
A webinar is an excellent way to promote your products, educate viewers on the newest updates, and encourage your clients to ask questions. In addition, you can take some time to discuss each aspect with your webinar attendee and answer their personalized questions.
Generate New Leads With Your Webinar
Businesses need leads to generate new customers and new sales. Marketers can generate leads using numerous methods, but it is always challenging to attract new high-quality leads. Hosting a webinar around the topic relevant to your company’s products or services is an amazing way to do that.
What Are The Types Of Webinars?
You can divide webinars into numerous categories, taking into account their purpose, the type of access, and the type of event.
The Purpose Of The Webinar
Depending on your purpose and what you want to achieve, you can host one of these types of webinars:
- Employee onboarding or training sessions.
Small, medium and large corporations use webinars to conduct onboarding of the new employees and training sessions for them. Going online is the only way to do that, as their branches may be located in different cities or even countries.
These webinars allow enterprises to save their time and money they usually spend on conventional offline training. Instead of wasting resources on business travel, employees can find the related materials in a live webinar, a virtual conference room or even a recorded webinar from a previous group.
- Knowledge-sharing lead generation webinars.
A webinar is the weapon of choice for most digital marketers. This online event allows you to share your knowledge and valuable expertise with your current and future clients. It is an exceptional chance to create a long-lasting relationship with your potential customers and to establish yourself as the leader in your niche.
- Online courses.
E-learning and online courses give the companies tremendous opportunities to share or sell their knowledge both to students and professionals around the globe.
A webinar, with all its built-in instruments (surveys, polls, Q&A, chat, video, presentation, whiteboard with drawing tools, and many others), is a virtual classroom that allows the speaker to deliver his knowledge efficiently and engagingly.
- Product demo webinars.
Webinars became the most valuable online tool in the digital landscape. More than 90% of video marketers claim that video helps users in understanding the presented product or service, and almost 80% of interviewees admit that watching a video can convince them to buy a specific product.
Demo webinars work particularly well for the B2B sector. They provide an opportunity to take a deep-dive into promoted products, showing their advantages and possible uses.
Types of Webinars
Webinars come in different types and formats:
1) Live Webinars
Live webinars are the most popular version of these online events. You host them at a specific time, meeting your audience live. The best thing here is the ability to interact with your viewers and communicate with them using a chat window. You can address questions and tackle potential obstacles and objections. In addition, you may choose to NOT have a replay which creates a type of scarcity. Not having a replay may cause FOMO. (Fear of missing out.) which in turn should drive more registrants to attend your live webinar.
2) Automated Webinars
Webinar automation takes the mundane and repetitive work off your shoulders, allowing you to leverage technology to your advantage.
An automated webinar is typically a pre-recorded webinar that plays automatically on whatever recurring schedule that you select. For example, you may play a previously recorded webinar every Wednesday at 3:00 PM Pacific time. Throughout the week, people can register for your webinar and then attend your recorded webinar Wednesday at 3:00.
The automation will do the rest of the work for you. It allows you to create ten or even more lessons of your course and present them in the form of automated webinars. They will be available online, so you do not have to host a webinar each time.
3) On-Demand Webinars
On-Demand Webinars are an effective marketing tool and are a great way to generate sales leads.
An on-demand webinar is a lot like an automated webinar, however they are different because rather than having a pre-determined schedule, a person wanting to attend your pre-recorded webinar can register and immediately view the pre-recorded presentation. For example, a person is scrolling through social media and see an advertisement for a Free Webinar about small business marketing. They click on the page that takes them to a registration page where they enter their name and e-mail which immediately takes them to a recording of your webinar.
4) Webinar Hybrids
A Hybrid Webinar can be a combination of the first three types of webinars. A common hybrid might be continually having a webinar begin every 15 minutes. It’s part automated and part on-demand. Maybe you automatically schedule a live webinar every Friday afternoon at 2:00 PM ET. When it comes to webinars, schedules, types, frequency and availability, the options are virtually endless.
5) Webinar Series
As the name implies, you may want to do a webinar series. Lets say you have too much information for a single event and so you decide to break your information into four parts. You may do one a week for a month. You may do one every day for a week etc… A series is just a way to break your content into consumable pieces.
The Type Of Access
The type of access is the last aspect of classifying the webinars. You may choose from:
1) Open-To-All Webinars.
Open-to-all webinars give your viewers a chance to attend your event for free. They work great when you want to share your knowledge to generate leads and enhance your brand awareness.
2) Password-Protected Webinars.
Password protected webinars are an excellent option for those who do not want to go public and want to limit access to their content using a password. Various companies use password-protected webinars for internal training events.
3) Paid Events.
The paid event access type allows you to monetize your expertise and make good money on your knowledge. You set an entrance fee to your online event and earn on your content.
What Features Can a Webinar Have?
Your webinar can have numerous different tools and features. You will find some of them listed below.
It is often hard to make an engaging webinar. Those who are planning to host an educational webinar may consider having a slide deck handy which is either a Google Slide presentation or a Microsoft Powerpoint presentation or an Apple Keynote presentation. This allows a presenter a way to stick to a prepared format and to better keep their presentation on point. It also helps to maintain attendees’ attention by stimulating their curiosity or focus to stay engaged with the material being presented. It’s also much more stimulating to have visuals that help you stay entertained, focused and curious.
You can engage your audience in several ways, but enabling text chat is the most common. Your audience will be able to ask questions and the presenter or moderator can answer the questions being asked. In addition it provides a forum where attendees may want to add a comment or helpful information. Many times, attendees will answer other attendees’ questions or add important perspectives or information to a discussion. As you answer the questions posed by the audience, you will gain trust, likeability and authority.
Screen sharing comes in handy when your topic needs a demonstration. Everyone will see your action and follow along if needed. You can share a browser as you navigate a website or application. You may also share your desktop as you demonstrate a software application or tool. It is also a way to show the audience what you are seeing if you are sharing a presentation in a visual way.
Moreover, screen sharing is often more practical than screenshots if you are using two or more files or tools or demonstrating more than one process.
Many webinars run live, so the viewers can ask the speaker questions and get answers in real-time. Attendees are empowered to ask specific questions that may not otherwise be asked in a pre-recorded version. Pre-recorded webinars have the potential to be less engaging if not done correctly, but a recording remains a very effective way to get your message, presentation or training to a large group of people very efficiently and effectively. It’s great for people that may have missed the live presentation due to a scheduling conflict or may have missed a presentation due to something unforeseen.
Surveys and Polls
Answering a question posed by a presenter through chat can often become quite chaotic, especially when all attendees are asking questions at the same time. One way to keep your results organized is by providing polls. A poll question is typically a multiple choice question which the attendees can choose to answer. It may be a type of sur=vey question or some other type of experience question. Surveys and polls allow the viewers to engage with your questions easily and quickly and then the presenter can immediately share the results of the poll with the attendees.
Using a whiteboard may help you to explain a complex topic, as you can draw arrows or illustrate ideas with drawings to demonstrate a process or cycle. You may also write lists, important words, concepts, theories or designs. This webinar feature allows your audience to feel like they are in a classroom, giving them a clearer idea of the discussed problem. People tend to view or stay focused when things are being shared via whiteboard.
As you already know, hosting a webinar has numerous benefits, but you will also face many challenges. You need to attract people to your webinar and keep them engaged, which is often easier said than done. Below you will find the list of most common challenges you may face and solutions to them.
Technical issues are most likely to be the largest challenge you will face when hosting a webinar.
Web-Based or Browser Based Webinar Hosting Platforms
A vast majority of all technical issues can be alleviated by using a “Web-Based Webinar Hosting Platform.” The hosting as well as attendance are all completed via web browsers. The software applications run on the hosting companies’ computer servers.
- It eliminates the need to load software on the hosts computers and it also eliminates the need to load software on the computers of those that want to attend.
- No need to compete for computer resources.
- No computer memory problems.
- No problems by attendees loading software onto their computers.
- Fewer problems with sound and video settings with a browser than with software.
- Many people are simply not familiar with downloading programs and software onto their computers.
Many webinar hosting problems can be avoided and eliminated by practice. It is strongly recommended that you do a test run of a webinar before doing a live webinar. Become familiar with the layout of the hosting platform. Familiarize yourself with the options available to you through your hosting platform. Run through any visuals such as slides, videos, software etc.. Become familiar with the chat function or Q&A function so that you can navigate the screen proficiently.
Webinar Promotion and Marketing
There is no point in broadcasting a webinar if nobody attends it. Promotion and marketing will determine the success and effectiveness of your webinar. Therefore, the best way to make the most of your investment in doing webinars is going to invest in getting attendees.
Webinar Attendee Solutions:
Make sure to promote your webinar properly. There are several different ways to do it. Depending on the type and purpose of your webinar. Here are a few ideas and suggestions;
- Social Media – (Share Free via pages, groups and posts, both your own and others.)
- Social Media – (Paid advertising.)
- Google Adwords
- Bing Advertising
- Pay Per Click Advertising
- Third Party Websites
- Many hosting companies offer directories and lists of upcoming webinars.
- Your client list
- Your prospect list
- Joint Ventures
- Team up with a brand or product or service that compliments your information and both parties share the cost of marketing and e-mail to both organizations lists.
- Viral sharing
Keeping Your Audience Engaged.
Most webinar attendees are likely to lose their focus if your webinar is boring. Holding their attention in a virtual meeting is a significant challenge. For this reason, try your best to make it as engaging and as visually interesting as possible.
The best way to keep your audience engaged is to include them in the conversation. You need to incorporate polls, a Q&A, or hand-raising into your presentation, as they will help you to hold their attention.
Besides, try to make the visual appearance of your webinar attractive and inspiring. Use videos, images, GIFs, and visual assets to explain the topic you are talking about. These visual elements will capture the attention of the viewers.
Change the media that you use throughout the webinar.
- Use a slideshow
- Share your screen
- Do a demonstration
- Do whiteboard
- Share a video
These are ways to interrupt patterns that tend to become commonplace and stale quickly and easily.
Speak directly to your audience to make them feel included. You may also prepare a couple of jokes for the intro to lessen the stress and break the tension. It can put you and your viewers in a more relaxed mood and make you feel more comfortable. Test jokes, anecdotes or stories on peers, friends and co-workers before implementing them. It’s a good idea to gauge their success and context with others. Obviously keep them rated G or family-friendly.
The final thing to remember is that all presenters should use their webcam. People want to buy from those that they know, like and trust. Some people do webinars that are a slideshow only without showing a face, and they can be effective, but people liek to become acquainted with the individual presenting.
Most webinars are free events, and it is almost impossible to make significant direct sales during the webinar. So what does the webinar’s success look like if you are not making any money during it?
First, determine your primary goal and what you want to achieve with your webinar. Set some goals and track your numbers. Keep close track of your marketing, where attendees are coming from, the number of registrants, the number of attendees and the number of immediate sales as wel as any post-webinar sales such as any sales that come from a webinar recording or any sales that come from e-mail campaign follow-ups.
Tips For Creating An Effective Webinar
No matter how well you prepare, nobody can guarantee your success. If it is your first webinar or if you are not satisfied with your results, use the below tips.
Attend other webinars
Attending other webinars can help you better understand the process and inspire new ideas and innovative solutions. Find a few webinars hosted by experienced speakers and have a paper and pen ready to take notes.
Pay attention to every detail: what are they talking about, how they ask their questions, how they interact with their audience, and even how they laid out the webinar’s landing page. Next, implement everything you liked in your webinar. (This is research.)
Besides, keep an eye out for things you did not like. Try to avoid them when creating your webinars.
Know Your Purpose
Identifying your goals and setting the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) is the first thing to do when planning your webinar. It allows you to determine how successful your web seminar was when it is over.
Once you set your goal and KPIs, you need to get focused on achieving them. What would you like to provide for your audience? Do you want to share knowledge around a specific product or idea? How can you present it in a creative and informative way?
Whatever the goal of your webinar is, it always leads back to your audience. Make sure they understand you, and they are interested in what you are talking about. Also, ensure the title of your webinar to describe the type of your content. Do not set up false expectations as it will endanger your reputation.
Common Webinar Platform Features
You will find numerous free, subscription/paid, and ad-supported webinar platforms to choose from. They may look similar, but they are not the same. The most important and helpful webinar platform features include:
- Calendar scheduling
- An e-mail registration process
- A webinar registration landing page
- Screen sharing
- Recording functionality
- Feedback forms, polls, and Q&A tools
- Support for at least two or more presenters
- Chat filters to connect speakers and attendees with social accounts
- Prerecord voice (or video) options
Best Webinar Tools
You need specific webinar programs to keep all your webinar activity and video conferencing under one roof. It is a platform or service that allows you to manage all your webinars through your account. Using such a program will allow you to schedule your Live, Automated, and On-Demand Webinars, invite the audience, and share your content.
Here are some browser-based webinar hosting platforms that we are happy to recommend.
Webinars are the future. You can hardly imagine the potential these online events can accomplish, but they don’t happen by themselves.
Once you have hosted a webinar, start measuring your KPI’s. Consider the feedback provided by your viewers and make the needed adjustments to make your future webinars even more successful.