The popularity of webinars has shot up in the past year, as employers and employees throughout the world struggled to find new ways to collaborate remotely. But while webinars are indeed a great way to “stop the spread,” they have many more benefits that make them worth keeping long after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. If you’ve been thinking about integrating webinars into your marketing strategy, but are still on the fence, keep reading to learn about webinars and their benefits.
“Webinar” is the abbreviated form of “web seminar”, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a seminar that takes place online, rather than in a physical location. A webinar can take the form of a product demonstration, a “round table” discussion, an educational lecture, or any other kind of gathering—as long as it takes place via the internet.
Since they occur online, webinars can open the door to tons of opportunities, typically with very little cost or inconvenience. Hosting webinars can help your business drive engagement, expand its reach, build brand awareness, and achieve many other marketing goals. Below are some of the most useful ways webinars can benefit your businesses.
Firstly, webinars are a great way to show off your brand’s expertise. Live video demonstrations tend to be powerfully convincing, because events that are being recorded in real time don’t allow room for mistakes. If a speaker is faced with a tough question or a technical puzzle, they can’t check their notes or perform a quick Google search; they need to solve it quickly with top-of-mind information. That kind of demonstrated expertise tends to be much more impressive than marketing materials that simply promise advanced industry know-how, but don’t prove it.
While webinar hosts can’t physically see their audiences during livestreams, the webinar format is still highly engaging, allowing participants to meet and interact with people from all over the world. Many webinar platforms have built-in features that allow the audience to ask questions, answer polls, and engage in a “live chat” with one another. These features are great for building professional relationships between hosts and audiences, and between attendees as well. While live events are a great, traditional resource for networking as well, webinars allow connections to form between entities that live miles or even oceans apart. The professional, networking aspect of webinars is another value add that can compel audiences to attend, therefore boosting your brand awareness and everything else mentioned in this article.
If your webinar is sufficiently compelling, the final, recorded version might be shared across various forums and social media groups for weeks, months, or even years to come. Everywhere it goes, it will carry your brand name, colors, and logo with it (provided you use a webinar platform with a custom branding option). That kind of continuous brand exposure is incredibly powerful, and it’s much more lasting than, say, an advertisement that only runs for a set period of weeks before being taken down. Online content can live on the web forever, making the rounds to new places and building your brand awareness as it does so.
The precise definition of a “qualified” lead varies from industry to industry, but what most people can agree on is that qualified leads are those which are more positioned to convert than the average Joe on the street. That’s because, unlike the average Joe, a qualified lead has already demonstrated a vested interest in your products or services, and has even voluntarily provided you with his or her contact information. To these individuals, your content isn’t useless spam; it has the potential to help them meet their goals and overcome their challenges. Essentially, as long as you continue to host webinars on a regular basis, they can serve as a rich, continuous source of qualified sales leads.
So far, we’ve discussed the indirect ways webinars can benefit your bottom line, like raising brand awareness and attracting qualified leads_._ But webinars can also become a source of revenue themselves. There are three main ways to monetize a webinar: firstly, you can charge a third party to sponsor your event, just like the sponsors at a sporting arena. Secondly, you can charge your speakers for the platform you are giving them (although, if your goal is to promote your own business through your webinars, this option might not be on the table). Thirdly, you can charge your guests a small fee to attend your event, by locking your event behind a payment gate. While doing this might cause you to lose a good chunk of potential registrants, those that do sign up will be extremely qualified, and their engagement might make up for the attendance you lost.
One final tip about monetizing webinars, before we move on: make sure that, when you are selecting a video hosting platform, you choose one which has a payment integration option. This will make it extremely easy to charge your attendees (rather than, say, manually sending out an invoice to every participant).
Webinars also enable businesses to scale much more quickly than they could with traditional marketing strategies. That’s for two basic reasons: firstly, the ease, cost-efficiency, and convenience of hosting webinars greatly speeds up the rate at which you can host them. You might, for example, host an event every Wednesday, a schedule which might be unthinkable if you were hosting live events. Secondly, webinars take many of the initial steps of the sales funnel and merge them together. They allow you to build trust, deliver value, and engage customers in a very short period of time, meaning you can turn leads into customers faster, and grow more quickly, too.
Another highly useful characteristic of webinars is that they tend to be much more engaging than other marketing channels. While most forms of marketing only require the reader, viewer or listener to sit passively in a chair and absorb information, webinars permit and even encourage guests to communicate, ask questions, and contribute their own insights. This type of active engagement is much more likely to keep and hold the attention of your attendees, especially since the event is live, and the opportunity to participate is fleeting. Even better, the engagement and feedback you receive can be quantified and gathered in an analytics dashboard, which both you and your audience can access or export. This is much more helpful to your marketing efforts than live events, wherein hosts usually do not receive any audience feedback.
Since there are fewer logistical elements involved in hosting webinars, they’re also very easy to coordinate. Most webinars only clock in at 45 minutes to an hour; that’s a time span that most people are able to easily sandwich into their daily agenda. That’s a big improvement over live events, which often require hosts and guests to block out an entire day—if not several days—in order to participate. When all parties involved only have to set aside an hour, though, it becomes much easier to find a time and date that is workable for everyone. And even if some guests are unable to attend, many hosting platforms have an on-demand viewing feature that can record the event and distribute it to anyone who registered. If the webinar platform is mobile-friendly, even better; your guests will be able to access the event from anywhere, even on the go.
Webinars can also give businesses access to a goldmine of information, straight from the exact market segment they are trying to target. Event hosts can ask audience members for direct feedback in live Q&A sessions, or glean more details through features like polls, publicly-shareable questions, and chat boxes, all of which can be displayed during their videos. The feedback you receive isn’t just great for driving engagement and making your guests feel heard; it can ultimately help you tailor your products, services, and overall business strategy to provide a better customer experience (and reap higher rewards).
On top of allowing you to gather qualitative data, webinars can also give you plenty of quantitative data that can be just as useful for driving improvements, if not more so. As long as your video conferencing platform has an analytics dashboard feature, you can see valuable information about the browsing and using behaviors of your registrants, like who attended an event, how long they stayed, and whether or not they viewed the video replay once the event was over. Once you’ve accumulated enough data, you can export it, analyze it for patterns and trends, and once again use what you learn to better accommodate your target market.
Webinars aren’t just a great learning opportunity for your guests; they’re also a great resource for you! You might learn more about a niche topic from a guest speaker, or gain specialized knowledge from a coworker who has different responsibilities than you do. If you can become educated in an area which few understand, you can make yourself and your business more valuable to others.
Another point to consider is that, if you keep your mind open to the intrinsic benefits of communicating with other industry professionals, your webinars are bound to be that much more interesting and compelling. If the content you produce isn’t interesting to you, it probably won’t drive much engagement from anyone else. And on the flip side, if you’re burning to know more about a certain topic, that authentic interest will shine through in the webinar, and your guests will sense it.
In conclusion, webinars aren’t just a useful social distancing tool; they’re also a highly efficient means of connecting businesses with audiences all over the globe. Don’t just use webinars to assist your quarantine efforts; use them to grow your business, this year and beyond!
If you’re searching for a webinar platform with some of the features we mentioned in this article—like a built-in chat system, custom branding capabilities, and an analytics dashboard—visit our website to learn more about Livestorm and how we can help your business grow and prosper. You can even sign up for a free trial and see for yourself just how easy hosting a webinar can be! Finally, if you have any questions you’d like us to clear up, consider attending one of our own weekly live product demos, where we give you a run down on our product and clear up any confusion you might have.