Smart marketers know that live streaming events as webcasts is the best way to reach more people, fast. And they know that done right, webcasts are a great vehicle for generating qualified leads, building an online community, and increasing brand awareness.
What they might not know, however, is how to webcast. And when the whole world is watching (or streaming), you’ll need to know more than the basics to stand out from the crowd and engage your audience.
We spoke to Hannah Dean, Customer Success Manager at Livestorm, to help you understand:
Use this article to inform and inspire your virtual event marketing strategy, so you can create better presentations that help establish your brand and increase your online presence.
A webcast is a livestream of a virtual event or presentation, a bit like a TV broadcast. It delivers a single content source (the presentation’s audio and video components) to several viewers or listeners simultaneously.
Webcasts can either be distributed on-demand or live, and are a cost-effective solution to reaching and communicating with a large audience at the same time. That’s why more businesses are turning to webcasts as a way of quickly disseminating information while generating leads or interest.
The difference between a webinar and a webcast is that a webinar is a virtual, interactive seminar that’s streamed to a select number of registrants, while a webcast is a presentation or event livestream aired to large audiences of up to 50,000.
To host a webinar, all you need is a device with a microphone and a webcam, a stable internet connection, and a virtual events platform. Due to its scale, a webcast involves more moving parts, including multiple technical and logistical considerations (more on this below).
Depending on your business and marketing needs, they’re both effective forms of video communication that educate, spark interest, and build rapport with your audience.
Careful planning is the key to crafting and executing a successful webcast. But unless you’re an expert, you might not know where or how to start. Here are Hannah Dean’s tried and tested tips.
To start, you’ll need to plan your webcast, define your metrics, pick the best webcast platform, find the right equipment and setup, and test and monitor your webcast stream.
Webcast planning takes time. And if it’s your first webcast, Hannah recommends scheduling it no less than eight weeks in advance to have ample time to pick your topic and speakers, practice your material, iron out any technical issues, pick your engagement tools, and align with your marketing or brand team.
Once you’ve set your date, to successfully plan your webcast, you’ll need to:
Set benchmarks for progress and evaluate your marketing strategy by tracking virtual event success metrics. Which variables you measure depend on your goals, but here are a few failsafe metrics to consider for your webcast:
Use the number of registrants to measure how effective your campaigns are and see if you’re targeting the right audience.
Just because someone registered for your event, doesn’t mean they’ll be able to make it on the day of. Track the number of actual attendants to see how convenient your event is to attend and how successful your comms strategy is post-conversion.
Factors like the number of questions asked, attendance duration, and chat messages all fall under engagement. Tracking the engagement rate helps marketers understand if they’re creating a dynamic, entertaining experience for their audience and if they need to improve it.
It’s likely some attendees won’t stay until the very end - especially if your event is too long. Use retention rate to measure how successful your content is at keeping your audience’s attention, and if you’re meeting their interests and needs. You can boost retention rates by making additional content available at the end of the webcast, and making sure your audience knows what’s to come.
For example, if you organize a panel of experts to talk about lead generation, you could include a call to action (CTA) at the end to download an ebook outlining your process to build hype and interest.
A high webcast replay rate could indicate you’re providing real value to your audience, even if registrants couldn’t attend it live. Track your replays to understand if your content translates into evergreen lead generation material, and leverage it.
Pro tip: Use the Livetorm analytics dashboard to track the above metrics and see what’s working in your virtual selling strategy - or what you could improve to better engage and educate your audience.
To run a successful webcast, you need a powerful event live streaming software platform that helps you convert, engage, and retain your audience.
Look for features that’ll help you achieve your specific marketing goals and enable a great attendee experience. For example, if your main objective is to increase engagement rates, you’ll want a platform that measures audience engagement with actionable data, so you know what to improve.
Here are some Livestorm’s features that help marketing teams create compelling webcasts that convert:
Once you’ve chosen your webcast streaming platform, you’ll need to find the right webcast equipment to level up the quality of your production and get more views. Here’s what our team suggests:
Pristine sound is a requirement for engaging a large audience and maintaining your brand image. Make sure you’re in a quiet environment to set yourself up for success. You’ll also need a high-quality mic and headphones if you really want to elevate your sound.
Our top microphone picks are:
And our favorite headphones are:
The better your video quality, the more traffic you’ll attract. So, it’s important to invest in a great camera or webcam to create a flawless video presentation that can be accessed again and again. We also recommend using a switcher for seamless transitions between cameras and shots.
Here are some of our favorite cameras:
And, according to Hannah, “if you have a DSLR or a mirrorless camera already at home, you can use Cam Link 4K instead, which uses a universal driver to turn your camera into a webcam without any delay.”
Great lighting gives your webcast a professional ambiance and competitive edge. Make sure you find the right angle for your camera (that complements your lighting setup) and doesn’t create any unwanted shadows. Here’s what we recommend:
If you’re more advanced at streaming live events, or have a more technical production setup, you’ll need an encoder. An encoder is software or hardware that converts multiple raw video and audio sources into a compressed, streamable digital format.
Hannah recommends OBS Studio, which is a free encoder software popular for live streaming webcasts. “With OBS you can create dynamic productions with multiple elements, layouts, and video sources,” she explains.
Since encoder software is more cost-effective and widely used than hardware, here are some other options:
Keep in mind that using an encoder comes with streaming latency – or a five-second delay. So, it’s important to keep everything (audio and video components) within the OBS itself when streaming your webcast.
After choosing your encoder, you’ll need to configure your streaming settings. But before you start, it’s important to choose an encoder that’s compatible with your online video platform. Here’s how to configure your streaming settings:
Check if your video platform uses RTMP ingest and set up your RTMP encoder. You can either stick to your pre-set settings or consider the following configuration:
Pro tip: Hannah recommends a 1080p HD configuration for a crystal clear image that will be sure to impress your audience.
Source inputs vary for each video platform or encoder. But once your encoder is set up, it’s important to connect your source inputs (like cameras and mics) to your encoder so they’re part of your stream. Consider the following setup for audio and video inputs:
For optimal results, you’ll need to test and monitor your webcast stream to make sure everything’s working correctly and you don’t encounter any last-minute surprises. Here’s how:
There are many factors to consider when setting up your webcast, including selecting your speakers and topic, defining your webcast metrics, choosing the right platform, and using the right equipment and tech.
But when you choose a video engagement platform like Livestorm to take care of your registration pages, email reminders, webcast metrics and analytics – and to easily engage with your audience – running a successful webcast has never been easier.
To webcast for free, you’ll need to find a comprehensive virtual events platform like Livestorm that lets you engage your audience, access actionable insights and analytics, and retain more attendees.
For a successful webcast, you need a mix of tools and tech. For example:
Examples of a webcast include any radio content streamed online, e-learning training sessions streamed online, or tv programming streamed online.
Webcasting and live streaming are, in essence, the same concept – since a webcast is a live stream of an event. However, webcasts typically involve a bigger production setup and more planning, whereas a live stream can be done at any moment, from any device.
If you’re hosting a webcast, anyone can access it if they have access to your embedded channels. For example, if your webcast is live streaming to Youtube, anyone on Youtube can see you on a webcast. However, if you’re using a gated platform, you can control who has access to your webcast during and after the event.