What is a webinar?

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Webinars are an important part of any content marketing strategy. Especially in 2020, with the current restrictions, webinars are a great tool to communicate, educate and inform your customer base and prospects.

Since COVID-19, more companies have chosen to create webinars as part of their communications strategy and make the switch from physical events as online events remove geographical boundaries and allow you to extend your reach. Some of our customers who have switched from physical events to online webinars have managed to increase their event registration by 400%.

So how can you make webinars work for you?

What is a webinar?

A webinar is the digital form of a physical event known as a seminar. The definition of a seminar is: “a meeting for giving and discussing information”. A webinar is therefore the contraction of web-based seminar and is defined as the following: “an occasion when a group of people go on the internet at the same time to study and discuss something”.

Webinars are usually held in various formats such as a simple video presentation, seminars, workshops, or training enabled by dedicated webinar conferencing software.

Webinars allow two-way communication that is enabled between presenters and attendees. During webinars, information can be shared freely, easily and in real time. Depending on the number of attendees you have in a webinar, the event can be highly collaborative and rich in learnings for all involved.

How does a webinar work?

In order to launch your webinar, you will rely on a dedicated webinar software or platform.

In most cases, no matter the provider, basic webinar features include the ability to share powerpoint slides, document sharing, question and answer functionality, polling, an easy to use interface, audio, video, and other data sharing capabilities. Depending on the type of software you use, features can be more specialised. Webinar hosts and organisers usually can access easy to use login credentials that will enable them authorised access to the meeting space or location.

On the market currently, webinar providers are using software and platforms that are targeted for webinars that aim to educate and engage an online audience. Depending on your business and industry, you will be able to target very specific or broad audiences. Our customers create specific webinars about specialised medical practices, but also internal general business information webinars are common. Webinars are excellent in helping you to educate your customers or members, build authority, demonstrate software of products, onboard staff members, train both internal or external stakeholders, and generate leads.

Generally, webinars are a one way communication tool, are offered free of charge and have a duration of anywhere between 30 – 90 minutes.

Why create a webinar?

Webinars are a great way to provide high quality content directly to your desired audience. If we take the marketing side out of the equation, webinars still make sense from a business point of view.

Since a webinar is a digital event, it is very cost effective when compared to a standard seminar. When organising a physical event, you are looking at venue hire costs, catering and drinks at a minimum – which can drive up the costs very quickly.

Webinars are great because their only limit is your broadband network. Physical location is no barrier to attend which is a great advantage if you want to organise events across the country, or global. Organising a webinar will make it easier for all attendees to make it.

Even though it is always great to meet your colleagues face-to-face, shifting the conversation online can make it easier to involve everyone, despite their location. Especially if you include live Q&A sessions, live polling and chat features during your webinar.

Even though it is technically possible to record and stream a physical event, it can be quite costly due to the equipment required: camera, microphones, sound crew, editing table etc… It is recommended that you record your webinars and make them available on a video platform for everyone to binge, just like Netflix. We have a guide for you on how to record a webinar.

Live everything that’s digital, webinars are much easier to measure than physical events. Your attendees are already online and in front of their computer and have most likely registered to join. You can track their duration, participation and through online surveys, preferred speakers. You can also use the platform to get ideas for future event topics, measure engagement via online poll responses and so on. In most cases, it’s much harder to collect the same information from physical event attendees.

Webinars allow you to be more creative in how you present as well. Since a webinar is a digital medium, you have a range of options on how to present: live streaming webinar, pre-recorded, whiteboard, slide, and others. Most webinars out there will be either live webinars or pre-recorded with slide deck presentation.

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How to create a webinar presentation?

Webinar Presentations with slides will have different functions depending on the webinar type you choose. If you want to create an audio and slides webinar with no video, then your slides are the most important visual element in your event. If you want to create a video webinar, then your presentation is merely a visual aid for your attendees to follow the presentation.

Every topic and industry are different, there is therefore no mainstream ‘flow’ to follow. Nevertheless, there are some guiding principles on how to create a stand-out webinar presentation.

Webinar slides should aim to be concise, visually uncluttered, focus on key facts, summarise, load quickly, be branded and readable at a glance. A large font is recommended. Focus on strong visuals that support your ideas and it will be easier for people to remember your concept

In order to be more efficient in your webinar presentation preparation, it’s better to follow an overall framework. First, you can focus on content and more specifically what you want to say. We recommend writing down your content outline, breaking it down in core topics, and then breaking each topic into key points so you can include a slide for each new idea.

You can also think about how to engage with your audience. Everybody likes a good story or anecdote, so why not start your presentation with that? This will help to grab your audience’s attention right from the beginning..

In order for your presentation to be compelling, you need to make sure that your visual elements are consistent across your webinar. When you choose a consistent look and feel,  it is easier to play around and fine tune smaller elements of your presentation.

Don’t forget to proof-read your copy and the visual elements of your presentation to ensure it’s consistent and makes sense. Rehearse the flow of your presentation, moving through your entire slide deck to ensure it tells the story the way you expected it to.

How to structure my webinar?

Since a webinar can be hard to plan and organise, think of it like a collection of moving parts. We can see 15 different elements that are part of a webinar anatomy. When breaking it down you learn that a webinar is not that complicated.

The body of your webinar is the content. Finding an interesting topic for your audience is a crucial element when it comes to running a successful event. The best way to ensure it will be a success, is to tie your webinar content to your overall content strategy.

Each webinar needs a registration page. Creating a webinar registration page is easy, but there are few elements that you need to follow to make it work. This page needs to have all relevant information linked to your event and your readers should be able to see at a glance what it’s all about.

You also need to promote your webinar, which is an important part of the process If you want to maximise attendance. At a minimum, you should send an initial email inviting people to register, as well as a reminder. You can then promote your event on your social media channels, your website and on other channels you may own. You can access more tips of marketing your webinar here.

Of course, choosing the right webinar platform technology provider is also a big part of the process. You may decide to go with a do-it-yourself platform and present remotely, in which case you need to be confident driving it yourself and troubleshooting any internet connectivity issues.

You can also decide to broadcast from a webinar studio for a more professional look, reliable internet and a green-screen background, in which case you’ll need to choose a webinar provider that can manage the event for you.

After the webinar, you can send a post-event email which should include a copy of the recording and link to your survey. The survey should ask for feedback on your speakers and content. Collecting this data can make it easier for you to improve the creation process in the future. Make your recorded webinar available online which will make it easier for other people to access the content.

Finally, ensure you collect all reporting linked to your webinar from your webinar provider to learn about the event. You should be able to access data such as the number of registrations, live and on-demand attendees, any details you collected in your registration form, average viewing time, number of people who voted or asked a question and who accessed your online resources.

You can access our resource on how to plan a webinar on our website.

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What are the trends in webinar marketing in 2020?

As a webinar provider, we regularly research our community to help you understand the current trends in the industry.

In 2020, we conducted the State of Webinar Marketing Study for the second year – here’s what we found:

Marketers plan to spend more in webinar programs than last year and this was before the COVID-19 restrictions. 47% of marketers said that their webinar program was very or highly effective which shows that this medium can help your business grow.

In our experience, all industries are involved in producing webinars, but some sectors are more prolific at publishing this type of content. Our study shows that the financial sector, the education sector, the software sector as well as the healthcare sector are the leading industries on the market.

Most marketers that already do webinars will run between 6 and 50 events this year which shows the involvement behind the decision to run webinars.

Surprisingly, webinars are run to target customers and prospects for lead generation purposes rather than employees for learning purposes. Even though lead generation is the main reason for running a webinar, the favourite types of events are still educational, training and product updates.

Our research shows that marketers understand that it’s worth going the extra mile to ensure it’s as engaging and interactive as possible to avoid audience drop-offs during the broadcast. Half of respondents have at least two presenters to make their webinar more entertaining.

The features that drive most engagement according to marketers are enthusiastic and knowledgeable presenters, good content and visually rich presentation slides. The king formats are still presenters + slides with video and presenters + slides with audio.

In terms of promotion, most respondents use email and their website to promote their webinar. Organic social, using the sales team and paid social advertising are also used for promotion.

The marketers on our report tend to measure success by evaluating the number of attendees, the number of registrations, the number of leads acquired as well as the average engagement score.

In terms of time to host a webinar, our research shows that most attendees prefer to attend midweek with Thursdays and Tuesdays the biggest days. The time of day preferred by attendees is generally mid-morning and mid-afternoon. In terms of duration, the favourite length is around 30 to 45 minutes which means that people tend to prefer short and snappy webinars over long format.

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Which webinar tool should I choose?

Choosing the most suitable webinar provider will be critical to your efforts. Make sure the provider suits your needs and especially your resources. You don’t want to be stuck with a provider that requires you to manage everything on your own when you don’t have the resources. Webinar tools can either be free or expensive – depending on how much work you would like to take on.

Free tools like Facebook Live and YouTube Live exist and can be used to organise live streaming. These platforms are perfect when your needs are simple since these tools do not allow strong audience interaction, dedicated registration pages and webinar specific features.

One of the providers that should be well known by now is Zoom. Zoom can be a good solution if you are looking for a small investment and if your needs are not too high. Although Zoom is not that expensive for the basis, costs can rise if you are using a lot of add-ons. Zoom is also known to have a few connectivity and audio/video quality issues which is normal if we consider the number of people using Zoom daily.

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Higher-end providers like GoToWebinar, Redback Connect, WebinarNinja and Webex also exist and they offer a large range of features. Although those providers are great when you want to go to the next level with your webinar production, Redback Connect is the one we prefer since their platform requires no downloads.

This means, you don’t need to install anything in order to use their tools. You also have complete freedom since they don’t lock you in fixed contracts. Their webinars are also fully managed, which means you have a dedicated project management team that can support you throughout every step of the process.

Finally, Redback Connect is an Australian hosted company which means that you will have less worries on where your data is going. This is also a problem that was reported with Zoom for instance.

Create great webinars thanks to our team of experts. If you need any help, please reach out on 1800 733 416. Webinars.com.au is an Australian hosted company that manages around 200 webinars per month for all types of companies.