If you’re a creature of the world wide web or internet, then you have probably heard about webinars.
They are interactive video presentations that can be used for various purposes – from education to marketing. Webinar’s popularity skyrocketed in recent years and continues to do so, with as many as 95% of marketers seeing it essential for their marketing strategies.
If you wish to learn more about this lead-generating tool, read on to know more about online webinars and how they work.
What is a Webinar?
The term webinar is a portmanteau of the words ‘web’ and ‘seminar.’
Based solely on these terms, the simple answer to the question, “What is a webinar?” is this: a seminar conducted online.
A webinar or web-based seminar promotes an interactive form of learning. The audience can submit questions and express their comments during and after the online presentation.
For most marketers, a webinar is an important marketing strategy tool not only for generating leads but also for retaining customer loyalty. Just a single webinar can generate as many 500 to 1,000 quality leads.
How Does a Webinar Work?
A webinar enables a speaker to share valuable content, including videos and articles, with the audience.
More than just educating the viewers, a webinar can engage them as well. That’s why this is used as a marketing strategy.
So how does a webinar work? Well, you can use webinars to help you do the following:
- Educate your audience about your company
- Demonstrate your new products and make a sales pitch
- Invite customers to try your new items
- Build industry authority and credibility.
- Generate new business leads
- Do training sessions with your employees
What are the Parts of a Webinar?
Although you can format your own webinar whichever way you like, a basic webinar has a straightforward structure.
If you’re planning to run one, make sure that you have these three vital parts:
The introduction is where the host welcomes the audience and introduces the webinar topic and speaker/s.
It should also include an outline of the presentation so that the webinar attendees know what to expect during the webinar.
Though a vital part of every webinar, the introduction should be kept short but sweet – taking only about five minutes of your total presentation time.
The body of your presentation is where you discuss the meaty parts of your topic. This should cover all the aspects of your outline, so you need to be wary of the time when speaking.
Ideally, this should last about 20 minutes for a half-hour webinar or 30 minutes for a 45-minute or hour-long webinar. Seminar events also last the same.
Question & Answer Portion
Just like a live seminar, the audience in a webinar room usually has questions that they want to be answered. That is why the Q&A portion is one of the factors that draw students to these virtual events.
In fact, 92% of viewers expect a Q&A session at the end of every webinar.
With a Q&A, you get to cover topics that you might have missed during your webinar. This is particularly important for marketers, as a well-informed consumer is more likely to buy the product or service.
You should devote about 10 to 15 minutes to your Q&A. It is also helpful to have canned questions ready in case you have shy viewers.
What are the Types of Webinars?
Webinars come in two forms: live and automated.
Live webinars, as the name suggests, are streamed in real-time. Everything you see and hear is live from the speaker’s webcam and microphone.
It’s more personalized because you get to keep your audience involved by interacting with them, especially during the Q&A. This type of webinar also gives you a chance to modify the flow of your presentation, depending on how receptive your audience is.
An automated webinar, on the other hand, is a pre-recorded webinar. With this, you can make a flawless presentation because you can re-shoot and edit your final output as needed.
Since you can set your video content on autopilot, you can focus more on closing leads, as this can automatically generate leads for you. As people get to play your webinar on-demand, you can attract customers without much effort.
What are the Different Webinar Formats?
Just like a real-life conference, you can host a webinar in various formats. You can also choose to present it solo, with a co-host, or with a panel of speakers.
Here are some of the most common webinar formats you’ll encounter.
Ask Me Anything (AMA)
The Ask Me Anything webinar is a particularly great format if you’re already seen as an authority in your niche.
While the Q&A is usually found at the end of each webinar, the AMA format makes the whole webinar a big Q&A session.
This is a great way to tailor your show to your webinar attendees, assuring them that you’re paying attention to their questions, issues, and concerns.
You can increase the interactivity of your webinar by running polls and doing live chats. And as mentioned above, you can prepare back-up questions in advance to avoid the risk of running out of questions.
Similar to seminars, a panel webinar features several experts in the subject matter.
It consists of a group of speakers and a moderator, who manages the whole panel discussion and ensures that everyone gets his/her fair share of time.
To make your panel discussion more engaging, make sure that you source speakers who offer varying perspectives and specialties. A diverse panel can make for an exciting and captivating discussion.
As its name already suggests, the interview format enables you to have a guest in your webinar who’s an expert within your industry.
This way, you and your audience can ask relevant questions and gain insights from your interviewee, allowing all of you to engage in a conversation.
With this type of webinar, you can partner with thought leaders, experts, and influencers within your industry. Since your attendees signed up for your webinar to learn something, the interview webinar format can deliver the most value to them.
As a marketing tool, a webinar can demonstrate how your product works and why people need them. The product demo can also be used for training employees and consumers who have just purchased the item.
Though doing a live webinar can help you engage your audience and answer questions in real-time, you can also do product demos using a pre-recorded webinar so that you only have to demonstrate the product once.
Just make sure that you choose a host who knows your offer inside out so that he/she can clearly explain all your product benefits and features.
If you want to do a marketing webinar that converts leads to clients, then using the case study webinar is a great move.
Case studies feature real customer stories and how they were able to solve their problems using your product or service.
Interviewing a client or letting them talk about their experience is an excellent way to showcase how your offer can benefit your webinar participants.
When you present a case study, make sure that you have a proper narrative that includes the problem, resolution, and happy ending. Great storytelling is a key aspect of an engaging case study.
Also known as a virtual summit, the online conference is a great way to increase your attendance and extend your reach. It usually features a host of speakers talking about their topic or expertise to attendees from all over the world.
You can give your webinar viewers a chance to interact with the presenters by offering more Q&A time, doing extra sessions, or giving them special offers.
Why Should You Host a Webinar?
Now that we’ve answered the question “How does it work?” it’s time to enumerate the advantages of creating webinars.
Whether you’re an educator or a marketer, doing such presentations can help you enjoy the following benefits:
Presenters and audiences don’t have to leave their own homes and travel for miles to attend a seminar. All they need is a laptop, a tablet, or even a smartphone to watch the webinar.
Webinars are not limited by volume only. It can push through with ten attendees – and there’s no stopping it from streaming to 1,000 customers.
There’s no need to worry about finding a big enough convention place because a webinar allows you to reach out to as many as 5,000 attendees at a given time.
Like a live event, a webinar comes with interactive features, too.
The speaker can use slide shows and interactive whiteboards to further illustrate his/her points. On the other hand, the audience is free to ask questions, express their comments, and participate in polls, too.
Webinars are very affordable for the presenter and viewer alike.
For the host, there’s no need to rent out an expensive conference venue. There’s no need to fly in the speakers and get hotel rooms for them as well.
The viewers don’t have to spend money on gas or airfare to attend the online event. They can do so in the comfort of their own homes, wherever they may be in the world.
Since webinars can be recorded, they can be broadcasted again at another date or time. That way, it can be watched by customers who might have missed the live presentation.
This also allows for a wider international reach as foreign attendees can watch the webinar at their respective time zones.
To participate in webinars, attendees in your business community need to register at your landing page. Here, you can obtain tons of emails to build your email address lists — a vital thing for every serious marketer.
You can use these registrant emails to build your promotional list – email marketing can give you a $32 ROI for every $1 spend, after all.
What is Required for a Webinar?
While the speaker is the most critical factor when making webinars, you also need the following equipment to make a webinar:
Computer and Internet Connection
You need to have an updated computer and a good web browser installed on it. Good choices include Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Opera.
If you’re planning a video webinar, you need to have an internet connection of at least 5 Mbps to avoid lags and technical difficulties. For an audio-only webinar, a connection of 1 Mbps would do.
While most laptops come with built-in webcams, they often project grainy images. For best results, make sure to use one that’s solely intended for webinars.
When picking a webcam, do pick one with the following features:
- High resolution of 1080p to 4K
- At least 30 frames per second
- Autofocus feature
- Viewing angle of 60-90 degrees
- USB connection
Headphone and Microphone
Speaking directly to your laptop or mobile phone may result in garbled sounds that are hard to understand. Worst of all, you may end up broadcasting background sounds, such as your dog barking or the rooster crowing early in the morning.
If you want a clear, understandable presentation, make sure to use a good pair of headphones and a microphone.
These equipment come at different price points, and most of the time, the best ones cost a lot of money. Although this is the case, some reasonably priced models work well enough for online seminars.
You must portray yourself in a good light — literally.
While natural sunlight and artificial overhead lights work well, you can look better by using a ring light to illuminate you during your webinar.
A reliable webinar software or tool can help you record, edit, and post your multimedia content conveniently. Plus, it will allow you to do your webinar marketing with ease. File sharing is also available in some software to provide files to your viewers using the software or via email address.
When choosing a platform, you need to select one with vital features such as:
- HD video recording
- Customized backgrounds
- Multi-presenter function
- Number of supported attendees
- Auto-scheduling features
- Add-ons such as interactive tools like whiteboards, slide decks, polls, and live video chatting.
How to Make a Successful Webinar
Now that you know the basics of how webinars work, are you ready to make one?
Hosting a virtual event is no easy feat, but you can make it work by keeping these pointers in mind:
Know Your Prospective Viewers
It’s important to know your target market before you even meet them. After all, you can’t make the best webinar content your audience loves if you don’t know what they fancy.
You must identify their challenges and struggles, as well as their goals. This is a vital planning aspect as this will help you create the right webinar presentation for them.
Pick a Great Topic
Customers attend webinars because they want to learn something. As a speaker or host, your role is to present the topic in a clear, interesting, and engaging manner.
If you have a hard time identifying the best topics for your webinar, you could:
- Ask your audiences through surveys or polls.
- Scan your website for frequently asked questions.
- Check your Google Analytics for the most visited pages on your site.
- Ask your customer service team or social media marketers about the common questions they receive from your clients.
- Visit your competitor’s webpage to check their most popular webinars.
Once you have settled on a topic, you can now work on a script. This should also help you decide the best type and format for your webinar.
Name it Right
First impressions last. If you want more people to sign up, you must create a catchy title that they’ll find hard to resist.
You can do this by using simple yet powerful words. List-type titles and how-tos are incredibly popular, as attendees generally like actionable webinars that they can implement right away.
Don’t make a misleading title, though, as this can damage your reputation. You might lose a big chunk of your audience in the long run.
Choose the Right Webinar Platform
When selecting which software to choose, consider the features and the number of attendees that it allows. Are they going to fit your webinar needs, like polls and screen sharing options?
You should also make sure that you can record the webinar so that you can offer a replay after. It is also essential if you’re planning on doing automated webinars.
Don’t forget to consider your budget, too. After all, webinar tools and software come in various price points.
Some webinar platforms that you can choose from include:
When creating a webinar, one of the best practices is to be consistent with your branding. That means using the logos, fonts, and colors associated with your company.
This will make your brand more recognizable and memorable to the viewers, increasing brand awareness. It also makes for a cohesive experience for your attendees.
Make Your Webinar Mobile-Friendly
Some people have their preferences when watching webinars. For example, 25% of people prefer using smartphones to big computer screens. Because of this, you need to ensure that your production is suited for such a format.
To improve the viewing experience of mobile users, go for bigger font sizes and images. It will help if you use a platform that supports mobile presentations as well.
Feature a Quality Speaker
If the webinar subject is not your field of expertise, then make sure to source the presentation to a person who is. The audience is bound to ask a lot of questions, after all.
Since a webinar is a venue for building your brand’s credibility, your company needs to be represented by an expert in the subject matter.
Time is of the Essence
People have short attention spans. So, if you want to make the most out of your webinar, keep the length at 30 to 60 minutes. 41% of attendees prefer the former, while 44% opt for the latter.
Should your topic be quite long, you can make it into a series of webinars delivered over time. That way, you can keep your customers clamoring for more.
Practice Makes Perfect
It doesn’t matter if you are hosting a live or automated webinar. From the webinar hosts to the speakers, everybody needs to practice the presentation before the big day.
As this also provides an opportunity to check for any technical glitches, you get to iron things out before the webinar goes live.
It’s a Matter of Scheduling
If you want more people to attend your real-time webinar, then you must keep these scheduling tips in mind:
- Schedule your presentation on a Thursday as it comes with a 25% attendance rate. The next best days for webinars are Wednesday (24%) and Tuesday (22%).
- The best time to go live is 11 am (16.1%), followed by 2 pm (14.6%) and 1 pm (12.9%).
- Publish at least one webinar per week, as most people can commit to only this duration.
Market Your Webinar
Even if you have the best speaker on deck, your webinar or online seminar will have low attendance if you don’t market it well.
You can start by creating a webinar landing page. It should feature brief details of the webinar theme, speaker, and schedule. As mentioned, this can help you get a lot of email addresses for your marketing list.
Other ways to promote your webinar include:
- Advertising it on your website
- Emailing your subscribers
- Posting the details on social media channels
Document Your Webinar Process
If you’re planning to continually roll out new webinars as part of your lead generation strategy, then you must document your entire process to streamline production in the purpose.
Just imagine how time-consuming it would be to create a webinar from scratch.
Ensure that you have an editorial calendar where you jot down your speakers, topics, and dates and plan your future webinars weeks in advance.
You should also have a corresponding to-do list for every stage of your webinar so that you don’t forget anything. Project management tools would come in handy for this one.
A webinar or online seminar is a great venue to educate and engage your viewers. It’s a convenient and affordable way to interact with clients from all around the world.
As it only requires some basic equipment and marketing, it’s a foolproof way of doing lead generation for your business.