Are you running out of ways to spice up your stale content? Are you looking to build brand awareness and position yourself as a thought leader in your industry? Webinars have entered the chat. As we are well aware, all things virtual are the new normal. The pandemic has accelerated this movement, but we’ve been heading there for a while. It’s important to invest in new tactics to continue growing your audience and webinars are a good place to start. I know what you’re thinking “ are webinars really worth it?” And the truth is, it depends. Webinars can be a great tool to utilize if you want to expand your brand reach and can ultimately lead to the one thing we all want which is to generate more leads.
We’ve all had the pleasure of attending one of many Zoom or Microsoft Teams calls in our nice shirts and sweats or no pants (judgment-free zone). Why not capitalize on that? Now more than ever, people prefer to shop, communicate, and even network online, and investing in an innovative way of networking could be the next step your business needs. But, the real question lies in where exactly to start. Anyone can set up a webcam and stream themselves live on the internet, but can they get the results? That’s why our team of experts has compiled best practices for preparing and hosting a successful webinar. Let’s dive in!
The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that we can connect with our audience no matter where they are. In fact, most people, especially the Millennial generation and younger, prefer a virtual environment whether it’s shopping, learning, or work. The past two years have caused all of us to grow closer to Zoom and other online meeting applications. Many businesses are finding great success in hosting webinars to bring awareness to their products and services. A webinar is an online event hosted by an organization that is broadcast to users via the internet. There are many mediums you can utilize to host a webinar such as Zoom, Livestorm, Demio, etc. We’ll go into more detail about which platforms work best for your use case later. For now, let’s discuss the benefits of hosting a webinar.
Chances are, you’ve attended a webinar before. If you’ve been on the receiving end, you may have noticed that the organization worked to engage and interact with the audience. At the core, webinars are not about making a sale, they are about providing VALUE to your audience. This can be done by focusing on relevant topics and engaging your audience.
Webinars include three important pieces. Your first objective is to collect information from your audiences like email, phone number, first and last name. Second, you want to establish reliability through your webinar. Your audience should view you as an expert in the topic you are discussing. Finally, after your webinar is complete, you can use the information you collected to market to your audience via email. This final step is critical because you want to further engage with your audience in order to build those lasting relationships. Some leads require more nurturing than others. It’s important to identify those in your audience who are further in the conversion funnel and those that need some nudging.
Here are a few benefits of hosting a webinar:
Webinars come in all shapes and sizes and each one comes with its benefits. The type of webinar you choose will depend on the kind of content you want to discuss and your audience preferences. Webinars can be live, pre-recorded, long-form, or mini.
Live webinars are done in front of a live virtual audience. It’s a great way to interact with your audience in real-time and can create a more personal experience for viewers. Sometimes presenters will allow their audience to leave on their cameras; however, most webinars, especially live ones will only show the cameras/faces of those presenting. One important aspect of live webinars to consider is that you may risk having technical issues or other mishaps. Make sure to always check your platform, connection, video, and microphone before you go live. Since live webinars are all about interacting with your audience, one solution is to enable a chat room instead where users can input questions or fun comments about your presentation. Read on to learn about best practices that’ll help you nail your live webinar.
Pre-recorded webinars allow you to make edits before the audience views them and you can make changes as you go removing the pressure of a live presentation. The downside? You may risk not actively engaging with your audience. Pre-recorded webinars are great if you’re just starting out with webinars and want to give them a shot and test it with your target audience. The other benefit is reaching your audiences in multiple time zones. By having the webinar pre-recorded, users can view it at any time and can always refer back to it if they’d like.
Mini webinars pack a lot of information in a short amount of time. Mini webinars allow you to educate your audience quickly, however, you may risk giving them information overload. Make sure the content is digestible for your audience and check in with them throughout to see how they are processing the information.
Long-form webinars are typically over an hour long and are much more in-depth than mini webinars. They allow you to feature multiple speakers and topics and really dive into things. We’d recommend long-form if you’re confident that your audience is very receptive to a webinar experience. It’s best to start with a mini webinar and gauge interest and then move into long-form if needed. Be sure to take into account that audiences may get bored or less engaged with long-form, so allow time for breaks and make sure to actively engage with them throughout. Ever heard the phrase, “death by PowerPoint”? No one wants to watch you present for an hour or more without any engagement. You have to be willing to switch up the format throughout the event.
Webinars are all about providing value to your audience. The more valuable your content, the more consumers will want to follow your brand. Of course, this is much easier said than done. Providing valuable content can be a difficult task, but it doesn't have to be. Let’s take a deep dive into tips, platforms, and best practices for webinars.
We’ve all heard the phrase “practice makes perfect,” and I know this may seem obvious, but it is an important one. Although your webinar may not always be “perfect,” it’s especially important to dial in a script and run through it a few times before pressing that “record” button. Practicing can help you define any potential pitfalls your webinar could have. Present your webinar to another person and allow them to poke holes in your performance and content. Here are some things to consider while practicing.
With thousands of platforms to choose from, it can be difficult to find the one that is best for you. Start by thinking about what you want your webinar to look like and the type of experience you want your audience to have. More specifically, when deciding which platform is best for you, think about the following questions:
Once you have answered these questions, you can narrow down your search. However, if you still need some ideas to get your search going, our experts have compiled a shortlist of webinar platforms to choose from.
Best for large businesses and streaming across multiple channels
Riverside is a webinar platform that is best used for larger businesses that want to host webinars. The platform allows for streaming on multiple channels such as Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn and has the ability to record webinars as well. One fun feature is that your recordings will separate video and audio, that way you can share the content on various channels. Lastly, up to eight guests can participate/present during the webinar.
Prices range from $90 annually to $288 annually depending on the plan. Most plans include recording, live stream to social media channels, and transcriptions. New users can get a free trial where they can experience all features for up to one hour. Free trials are a great way to test out multiple platforms to see which one you like the best.
Best for large audiences and simplicity
WebinarJam is a great webinar software tool for those who have little to no technical knowledge about setting up a webinar. This platform is easy to use and allows you to stream to YouTube as well as other social media video channels. One great feature is that you can provide pop-ups to your audience during the webinar. The pop-ups can allow them to purchase a product or service while attending the webinar. Another great feature is that you can set up an email campaign where users are sent reminders about the upcoming webinar. You can even create a dedicated landing page to track the customer journey.
Users automatically receive a 30-day money-back guarantee when purchasing and can cancel their membership at any time. Also, users can receive a 14-day trial for $1. Plans can range from $39 monthly to $79 monthly and can include unlimited webinars (number of attendees ranges based on plan), live chat, a control panel with stats, or automated webinars.
Best for customization and collaboration
Livewebinar is a cloud-based platform that allows users to host webinars, share screens, stream live videos, screen record, etc. One great feature is that the platform allows for the integration of other marketing tools such as MailChimp, Slack, Moodle, etc.
New users can receive a 14-day trial to test out all the features and prices range from $0 a month to $95.20 per month. Packages can include screen sharing, polls/test/surveys, chat translation, YouTube & Vimeo player, or ads
Best for those just starting out and small to medium audiences
Chances are, you’ve probably heard of Zoom. Zoom is one of the most popular webinar platforms out there. Zoom offers users a cloud-based and user-friendly experience with HD video/audio, screen sharing, and other interactive features such as polls, breakout rooms, and whiteboard. One of our favorite features of Zoom is the amount of control over meetings. Users can schedule meetings and can have private or public chats, this allows you to only speak with your team during the webinar rather than the whole audience. However, Zoom is lower on our list because it does not offer the marketing integration as the other platforms do.
The great thing about Zoom is that they offer a free plan that includes unlimited group meetings, private and group chat, and 100 attendees. Prices range from $149.90 to $240 annually and can include social media streaming, cloud storage, recording transcripts, and company branding.
I know we’ve mentioned this multiple times, but we will say it again: webinars are not about getting a sale, they are about providing VALUE to your audience. Now don't get me wrong, a successful webinar should generate new leads and hopefully lead to conversions, however, this should not be your main focus. Your consumers want to know what problem you are solving for them. Lead with the problem.
When preparing your content, try to put yourself in your audience’s shoes and ask yourself “Would I be interested in this?”. If the answer is no, try to think of a new topic or maybe pivot it to align with your audience.
If you’re still struggling to find valuable content, ask your audience what they think. Before your next webinar, send out a survey or run a poll on social media with a few topics and have your audience vote on which would interest them the most. This can give you insight into what your audience values, and who knows, maybe they will even share a few ideas of their own.
You could have all the valuable content in the world, but it will not mean anything if no one sees it. Picking the right time and day for your audience will maximize the number of viewers and leads you can generate from a webinar. Your audience will more than likely have different schedules, therefore some days may work better than others. ON24, a popular webinar platform, analyzes data on thousands of webinars to create an annual report. These metrics usually include the most popular tools, conversion stats, and the best days and times to run webinars. ON24 study found the following:
It’s important to note that the best time and day will depend on your audience. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different days and times to figure the perfect one for you. It may take a few tries before you can fully understand your audience and their needs.
Also, don’t forget to take into account different time zones. Your audience may be logging on from all over the world and you want to accommodate them in the best way possible. If you have users from different time zones, consider pre-recording your webinar, so anyone can view it at any time. Overall, finding the best time and day will depend on your audience and metrics, so don't be afraid to go against the norm.
Have you ever attended a webinar where the presenter wasn't very engaging? This can be a common pitfall for some speakers because they find themselves talking at audiences rather than talking with audiences. Engaging with your audience during a webinar makes all the difference, but the real question is how to do it correctly. You can engage your audience in the following ways:
Now that you have the best tips and tricks, you’re ready to go out into the world and host an awesome webinar! Let’s recap what we talked about today.
Don’t forget to practice, practice, practice! Practice might not always make “perfect,” but practice will help you feel more confident while speaking and can help establish any pitfalls that could occur. Also, make sure to have a co-worker peer view your presentation, the more eyes the better!
Don’t be afraid to engage with your audience. Engaging with your audience allows for a smooth presentation and your audience gets a chance to network with others. As we mentioned, people attend in-person seminars to network with professionals in their fields, webinars should be no different.
Lastly, make sure you are providing valuable content to your audience. Webinars can generate new leads and profit, but remember to focus on creating valuable content. If your content is valuable to your audience, they are more likely to purchase and follow your brand.
We are Fable Heart Media, a digital marketing agency in Jacksonville, FL, that focuses on driving measurable growth and obtaining results for our clients. Whether you own a small company or lead a marketing team, our team can help you achieve your business goals. We love creating stunning websites and writing awesome blogs, but for us, nothing tops the feeling of watching our clients grow online due to our marketing partnership.