The webinar is dead, long live the webinar...?

Maeve Taylor

The question of whether the webinar is dead has been bandied about for a while now.

If you’re not aware, a webinar is a bit like a seminar, only from the comfort of your own desk. They’re a good way to get information out to the masses and can be used as effective sales and marketing techniques, when they’re done right.

As a marketing tool, a webinar is an excellent way to share information on any number of things. If you’re launching a new product, a webinar is an excellent way to demonstrate it, if you want to position yourself as a thought leader, host a webinar to share information with your audience, or if you want to find out what your audience thinks, a webinar is an opportunity to connect with them.

In the past, webinars allowed you to connect with your audience in an easy and effective way but over the past few years, the question has reared up – are webinars dead?

So, what makes the webinar dead? Or why is it dying? There are a few reasons that webinars aren’t as practical as they once were.

Saturation point

These days, anyone with a webcam and a little bit of technical knowledge, can host a webinar. That means that there is a webinar out there for every single subject known to man. A quick search of ‘Webinars on…’ reveals a host of options:

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Everything from webinars on digital marketing to webinars on air are covered. On one hand, this is great, there is always information available, on the other hand, who isn’t tired of the constant emails ‘join our webinar!’ ‘This webinar will make you smarter!’.

And that takes us to death symptom number two: Lack of audience targeting.

"Your firm has a marketing department? In that case, you must be interested in webinars on marketing, webinars on b2b marketing, webinars on content marketing, webinars on email marketing…"

Chances are, you might be interested in one of those, you’re definitely not interested in all of them, and the one that you are interested in, you probably don’t have time to attend.

Marketers have become lacklustre about promoting their webinars to the right people at the right time. Targeted properly, a webinar can grab your buyer in the exact stage of their buyer journey to make that sale, but targeted badly, all you do is generate a bad name for yourself, and your company.

The final thing that has really killed off the webinar is time. As in, who has any? As much as we know that a really good, really useful webinar will increase our skillset, no one has enough time to focus on finding that webinar in the first place.

The question becomes, can the webinar be revived?

The short answer is yes, the longer answer involves a lot of planning!

Plan, plan, plan

You have got to do your research in order to make your webinar a success. What time of day is optimal for your audience? What day of the week is best? Timing can be everything. Your webinar should be no longer than 45 minutes, with a Q&A session. Time is precious to your participants and they need to get in, get the information, and get out. So proper prior planning will help you to ensure that your webinar is beneficial to your attendees – thereby increasing your chances of getting their attention, and eventually the sale.

Interaction

An interactive webinar is going to help your audience get what they need from it because they can essentially ask for it. A Q&A session is one of the most important aspects that you need to include: "92% of webinar attendees want a live question and answer session at the end of a webinar."

That question and answer session is your opportunity for market research, understand what your customers really want to know about your product, listen to the questions that they’re asking and identify the pain points. You can then ensure that your product matches up to their needs – and demonstrate how!

Automated? Live? Both?

Over recent years, automated webinars have become all the rage for a lot of companies. They’re a lot easier because everything is done ahead of time, you then just post it and wait for the leads to roll in! The only problem with that is, you might be waiting a long time. Whilst automated webinars will make your life easier, you might be disappointing your customers; just make a video instead.

A lot of companies will try and combat these issues with simulated live webinars – making it look live with a fake chat window and a pre-recorded question and answer session – but for a customer with a burning question to ask, this is even worse!

Live webinars seem like the obvious answer to this but again, who has the time? The pre-planning and preparation that a live webinar requires, not to mention the potential for technical hiccups, all conspire to make a live webinar a lot more trouble than it might potentially be worth.

We are left with a combination – this has got real potential. If you were to pre-record the actual webinar session, but then run it alongside an actual live chat window, a live Q&A session at the end, and the potential for follow up calls and meetings, you essentially cover all potential bases and take away a lot of the risk involved in live webinars.

Promotion

Now, you have your webinar planned, the session has been pre-recorded, your resident technical experts are on hand to answer any questions, but how do you find your attendees? This is where you need to remember that your webinar should be part of your wider marketing campaign.

The importance of ensuring you have a proper strategy mapped out for your entire campaign can never be understated. Your webinar needs to fit into the entire buyer journey of your customers. You should be identifying the best time to hold your webinar – is it near the beginning, when your customers are on their fact-finding mission? Or closer to the end when they are moving from desire to action? Deciding that will influence the rest of your campaign, and the contents of your webinar. This is why a fully integrated campaign strategy is so important. A webinar, standing out alone in the cold, is not going to bring you any revenue.

Follow-up

Now that your webinar has happened, the rest of your campaign strategy needs to come into play, how do you move them from the webinar to the next stage of the buyer journey? Are they going from interest to desire? Then you need to be showing them why they really need your product or service in their life. From desire to action? How do they reach you? What’s the incentive to buy now? Ask yourself these questions and you’re on the right track to getting that sale.

Webinars aren’t dead, but they might be dying, it’s time for them to be reborn in a new form that will capture the attention of the audience and generate leads like you’ve never dreamed of. You can be at the forefront of that innovation, and we can help you to get there. Drop me a line today, and we can plan the strategy and webinar that will finally help you bust those sales targets.

If you’d like to know more about leveraging webinars as a great bit of content marketing, give us a call on +44 (0)1373 469270 or drop us a line at [email protected].

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