What is a webinar?
If by now you still haven’t incorporated webinars in your marketing arsenal for lead generation and audience engagement, then you are missing out! Webinars, also called webcasts or web seminars, are a popular marketing tool – even more so now in the age of remote work arrangements due to the pandemic.
In this blog, we will provide a “refresher” course on webinar basics covering the following topics:
- What is a webinar?
- Benefits of hosting a webinar
- Webinar types & formats
- Choosing a webinar platform
- Webinar best practices, etiquette & tips
An introduction to webinars?
A webinar is an online event hosted by a company or organization to a select group of individuals (audience) usually with the objective of sharing information and followed by a question-and-answer session.
Companies use webinars for a variety of reasons. Common reasons include introduction of new products and/or services, training or education and discussion of recent events or trends in the industry that may impact the way we do business. For example, at the start of the Covid pandemic in 2020, webinars were widely used to discuss what it is, what we should do at the moment and how we can move forward, hosted by medical doctors and experts.
Benefits of hosting a webinar
Webinar organizers cite that they derive the following benefits from hosting a webinar.
- Engage with audience and/or expand reach
Webinars offer a great opportunity to engage with your current audience, as well as expand your reach. Being an online event, webinars are convenient to attend. If your webinar content is recorded and made available on-demand, this further extends the lifespan of your webinar to after the live event is held.
- Showcase your expertise
Webinars provide companies a platform to demonstrate their expertise. This builds authority and credibility in your industry, and among your customers. As a result, they’ll think of you the next time they need help with something or are looking to buy a product or service you offer.
For example, a company that offers a CRM tool may offer a masterclass on database management and highlight how having the right system to integrate, automate and manage your customer contact and relationship information can lead to improved customer satisfaction, increased sales, shorter buyer journeys and higher retention.
- Gain unique insights
Webinars are not limited to a one-way information flow. Using interactive elements such as Q&A sessions, polls and surveys, webinar organizers are able to receive feedback directly from the audience. This feedback can help you discover your audience’s wants and needs, opinions and (most importantly) complaints that can be valuable to validate or improve your company’s products and services.
- Deliver value
As much as they benefit you, webinars must ultimately deliver value to your audience. Whether it’s new information or skills update, your audience must get something valuable and (ideally) exclusive from attending your webinar. This in turn will further endear them to your brand, thus increasing their confidence and loyalty to your company.
- Webinar types & formats
There are different webinar formats for different needs, so make sure you choose the format that best suits your objectives and content. Or if you are organizing a webinar series, you can switch it up and choose different formats for different sessions to avoid audience boredom.
- Presentation webinars
This is the classic style where someone is sharing a presentation with prepared content. This webinar type is easy to create, but they may not be as engaging as other types. To ensure success, relevant and timely content is key. It also helps to have an engaging presenter who knows how to work the audience.
- Question & Answer webinars
This type of webinar is focused on questions from the audience. Organizers of this webinar format should invite a topic expert who can answer any question the audience may have. Having a moderator would also be helpful for this webinar style. The moderator can control the flow of questions, or even start the webinar with pre-selected questions if the audience is not yet ready with their own.
- Interview webinars
Similar to Q&A webinars, this format also features a topic expert and a host or moderator to ask the questions. But here, (most of) the questions are pre-prepared – not coming from the audience, in real-time. For this format to be successful, organizers should provide a list of questions and topics to the expert a few weeks before the webinar. This way, the expert can have time to prepare for longer, detailed and more insightful answers.
- Panel webinars
If you can invite more than one expert – why not bring a full panel of thought leaders to discuss a topic? The advantage of this format is that you can get varying views on the topic at one go. Panels also make for more lively discussions which is good for keeping the audience interest. Just make sure you have an able moderator who can facilitate the discussion, give opportunity for each expert to speak and keep the conversations focused on the topic at hand.
In addition to above formats, webinars can also be classified as live webinars (shown real-time), semi-live (combination of live and pre-recorded) or fully pre-recorded and available on-demand. The decision to go live or pre-recorded is very much tied to your webinar objectives, content and also your webinar platform – so make sure you consider them when making your choice.
Related blog: Read our three-part Virtual Event Playbook: What You Need to Consider When Planning Your Virtual Event to learn more about the planning you need to do before, during, and after a virtual event.
Choosing a webinar platform
Using the right webinar platform is crucial to ensure you can host a successful webinar from start to finish, from registration to tracking and analyzing of results. Below are just some of the key questions to ask when choosing a webinar platform:
- How will you collect registration?
- How many participants (speakers and attendees) do you target to attend?
- What engagement features do you need (ie chats, surveys, polls, etc)?
- What content sharing options do you require (ie share screen, play video, etc)?
- What metrics do you need to track?
- What type of support is required pre/at/post event?
Related blog: If you want to learn more about this topic, check out our blog on the 8 Most Popular Online Conferencing Tools / Platforms
Webinar best practices, etiquette and tips
While a simple webinar can be thrown together quickly, a successful one requires planning and thought. Here are a few of the tried-and-tested tips that webinar pros stick to when organizing a webinar:
- Keep the entire event within an hour or less.
- When choosing a date, experts recommend middle of the week, at 11am or 2pm for business webinars. If the online event is geared towards consumers, early evenings or weekends might get more attendance.
- Pick a relevant content, with topic experts as speakers.
- Engage audience with Q&As, chats and surveys.
- Create impact with branded backgrounds and presentation slides.
- Track your key metrics and analyze for next steps.
In addition to the above list for organizers, participants must also follow certain etiquette to ensure attending the webinar is a pleasant and productive experience for all. Speakers and presenters must:
- Test the webinar platform and be familiar with all the features you need to use while doing your presentation.
- Do not read your slides. Keep your tone conversational. Use graphics, charts and images as much as possible.
- Know your audience. Customize your presentation to them and use examples that are relevant to their needs and experiences.
Meanwhile, attendees must:
- Show up on time.
- Do not cause distraction (turn off your audio or video if not required)
- Wait for your turn if you want to ask a question.
- Be polite in the chat room.
Keep this Webinar 101 quick guide with you as you plan and organize your next webinar. In the next blog, we will discuss How to Ace your Webinar Marketing – so stay tuned!
To keep updated on the latest news and tips on virtual events, check out our GEN Blogs available at https://globalexpo-net.com/blog/ or join our GENCommunity.