What is a Webinar and How Do They Work? (Sales Guide 2023)
Webinars are amazing tools for educating, engaging, and captivating target audiences.
No wonder then that over 60% of marketers use webinars as a content marketing tool for driving greater conversions.
At the same time, webinars work to improve brand awareness and convert leads into paying customers. All this ultimately results in increased revenue for your business and greater reach for your brand.
However, hosting a successful webinar is not as easy as it sounds.
There are multiple aspects to consider when choosing the right webinar software, creating webinars, and overcoming distribution hurdles.
Thankfully, these hurdles aren’t anything that can’t be overcome with a bit of webinar know-how.
To help you get started with webinars, this guide covers:
- What webinars are
- How to create webinars
- The best webinar software to be successful
- Steps to create successful webinars
- Where they fall into the marketing mix
Let’s get started.
Webinar is the short form of “Web Seminar,” i.e., a meeting or conference held in a virtual environment. Webinars can be hosted as video presentations, workshops, or even training classes delivered via webinar software.
Usually, webinars are hosted and shared with the audience in real-time, also known as live webinars.
In special cases, they can be pre-recorded and then shared with the viewers at a particular date and time, or even uploaded on social media sites for distribution.
The reason webinars are so very effective is that unlike regular videos, here there’s a concept of live interaction between the hosts and the attendees. Whether the webinar is live or not, it usually has a means by which the attendees can ask questions and collaborate with the hosts.
Most webinars are usually business-related and are used to share ideas and updates with a target audience. Webinars are also great for nurturing meaningful relationships, creating and spreading brand authority, and launching new products or services.
In short, you can use a webinar to replace any regular, face-to-face interaction and place it in a virtual environment. All one needs to create a webinar is an internet connection, a computer, and webinar software tools such as GoToWebinar.
What makes webinars unique is that unlike a physical seminar where the organizers book a venue and the attendees have to visit there, a webinar is virtual. So, audiences from any corner of the world can attend these meetings and derive value.
The primary purpose of webinars is to be used as a marketing channel. However, that’s not the only purpose for which you can use them. The following are some of the different types of webinars that you can usually spot on the internet.
Marketing webinars are the most common type of webinar and are mainly used for lead generation purposes. Successful webinars also open the doors for strategic collaborations and give you access to a broader market. They also help to improve your credibility as an industry leader in your niche.
The next popular webinar type you can find is educational webinar presentations. Businesses are increasingly using webinars to train and upskill employees. Webinars are also excellent tools for colleges and universities to cater to an international student base.
Webinars are great for launching and demonstrating new products. Through webinars, businesses can gauge customer interest in a product before actually launching it. They also allow customers to get a first-hand experience of the product in question.
The onboarding of new employees or customers plays a significant role in maintaining business relationships. In general, it’s 5x more expensive to acquire new customers than to retain existing ones. A great webinar can go a long way towards making the onboarding and retention process easier.
Apart from the above, you can use webinars for other purposes, such as holding question and answer sessions and interviews. They can also serve as live events where you can discuss common queries and how-tos regarding your products or services. You can even address customer complaints and queries directly through a webinar.
That’s not all, however, since you need not always host webinars with a plan. They can be used as online events for sharing PowerPoint presentations, whiteboard discussions and for brainstorming in general.
Such interactivity is the essence of web conferencing and allows the alleviation of multiple pain points, a major one being the need to be physically present for a meeting. In the next section, we’ll take a brief look at how webinars achieve this.
Now that we know about the different types of webinars, it’s time to understand how webinars work. Like a physical seminar, a web seminar should also be held at a particular date and time. And as for the venue, it can be webcast on your website, or through social media live streams.
Before the actual event, you need to set up a landing page for the webinar and inform the target audience to register. Then, at the designated date and time, you simply webcast the event via webinar tools.
As a general rule, webinars can serve any one or a combination of the purposes outlined above. The target outcome of the webinar can be improved brand awareness, increased conversions, or a greater number of leads collected. Ideally, it should be a combination of it all.
I’ve already mentioned that a webinar is usually a live virtual event. However, webinar hosts almost always make it a point to record them. This has a twofold purpose, the first being that you can use the recording for future reference.
The second purpose is in terms of content marketing. Webinar content can be repurposed and shared as evergreen content. You can distribute the event through social media, where it can be a continued source of value for your target audience.
Why Are They Effective?
Knowing what a webinar is and how it can be used effectively is essential for anyone looking to take their business to the next level using this tool.
While the basic premise of a webinar is relatively simple – it’s a web seminar that’s conducted between a host and participants – there’s more to it than that.
Specifically, their effectiveness depends on a few key factors, which I’ll go into below.
1. They Are Convenient For Participants And Hosts
Clicking a link and connecting to a webinar software platform that hosts your webinar is much more convenient than traveling to a physical location to hear someone speak.
Webinar attendees don’t have to worry about taking time out of their schedule to commute, and they can participate from the comfort of their own home or office.
In addition, webinar hosts also benefit from the convenience of not having to rent out a physical space or worry about the logistics of hosting an in-person event.
2. You Can Reach A Large Audience With Little Effort
Whether running pre-recorded or educational webinars aimed at building awareness for your brand, or a live webinar that aims to close sales, you can reach a large audience with relatively little effort.
If one wants to sell in a one-to-many context, an online seminar is one of the best ways to do so.
3. Webinars Are Interactive
The webinar format you choose can also determine how interactive your webinar will be.
Many webinar hosting software will allow participants to ask questions through a chat box, and some even allow participants to come on live to ask questions through video or audio interaction.
This means that from the webinar registration page to the actual event, there are opportunities to make your webinar more interactive and engaging for participants.
4. You Can Generate Leads With Webinars
Generating leads should be one of your primary business goals when selling products or services.
Having webinar marketing campaigns that reflect your business goals in this area allows you to prime your webinar participants and qualify them to ensure they are well-suited when you make your sales pitch.
5. You Can Build Relationships With Webinars
An audience that knows, likes, and trusts you is essential for any business, and a webinar is a great way to build those relationships.
A webinar offers participants the chance to get to know you and your business better while also providing an opportunity for you to get feedback from participants.
This is a much better way to do business than the traditional one-way street model, where companies attempt to sell to customers without any interaction.
6. Webinars Are Cost-Effective
Compared to traditional conferencing methods, webinars are much more cost-effective.
The functionality of a webinar is also much more robust than other video conferencing software, which means you can get more value for your money.
Simply requiring an internet connection and a plan of what you’ll be discussing on your webcast, you can host a professional and engaging webinar without breaking the bank.
In the age of social media, digital interactions are replacing face to face meetings in the business world. In such a situation, webinars have emerged as a great marketing tool. Especially for B2B marketing, webinars play an essential role in the entire lead generation and conversion process.
Using webinars, your business can get to the same marketing and sales targets as with physical seminars and conferences.
Here are some of the many reasons why webinars are such useful marketing tools:
- They help create a relationship with existing as well as potential clients
- They enable clear communication with prospects, business partners, and industry peers
- Through capturing contact details of attendees, webinars help grow your lead list
- They allow you to spread the word about your brand across the world
- The webinar platform allows you to build human connections that last in the long run
As a direct result of the above, webinars are being adopted by major corporations as critical marketing tools.
Best Tips For Running Effective Webinars
Knowing how to host webinars effectively is not always easy, especially if you’re new to the process.
To help you out, here are a few tips to consider.
Keep It Focused
No one wants to attend a real-time virtual event that’s all over the place.
This truly applies to online webinars – having a plan and sticking to it during your webinar presentation is critical to engaging your audience and ensuring they stay until the end.
Having a moderator can be helpful in this regard as the person can keep both the host and the live audience (if they’re actively participating) focused on the topics at hand.
Get The Proper Tech Setup
Ensuring that the webinar content gets delivered to participants in a high-quality format is essential for a successful online event.
If you are live streaming, choosing reliable and low latency software is crucial to avoid issues during the webinar.
A successful webinar depends on having a solid internet connection, good audio quality, and clear video.
Remember that, similar to video conferences, webinars can go wrong quickly if proper care is not taken when setting everything up – so make sure you test your tech setup well in advance.
Make Sure You Rehearse
When creating webinars, consider recording the webinar as a test run or even going through the presentation with a few friends or colleagues first.
While webinar platforms focus on creating interactive software to help you deliver the right content, a live event should be rehearsed before you actually go live, helping you avoid any issues.
This will also help you time the webinar and ensure it fits within a set amount of time.
With the human attention span getting shorter, you want to ensure your webinar presentation is engaging and to the point by rehearsing it in advance.
Have A Strong Opening And Close
Hooking a live audience and ensuring they stay on for as much of the whole duration of your webinar is key.
The same applies to the end of your presentation, as this is where you will want to make any final sales pitches or calls to action.
Understanding the pain points your audience is going through and clearly explaining what you can do to solve such problems is essential to engage them from the start.
This also comes down to only having high-quality leads join through your webinar landing page.
The more you can qualify (and, by extension, weed out those not that aren’t a good fit), the higher the chance of a successful webinar.
You don’t want new customers who are not genuinely interested in what you have to offer and don’t believe in the quality of the product you deliver.
This will only lead to problems down the road.
It is important to open a webinar strongly by stating who the webinar is for (and who it’s not), what attendees will learn, and how such knowledge can be applied in the real world.
Engage With Your Audience
A webinar lets you answer questions during the video conferencing event and turn it into an interactive experience.
Ensure you plan for any potential questions that might arise and can answer them as needed.
If you are selling on your webinar, potential customers will have questions about obstacles that need to be overcome to make a purchasing decision.
Make sure you are prepared for such situations by having a plan in place and taking the time to understand what your audience wants to get out of the webinar.
Follow Up With Attendees
When hosting webinars, many focus on the before and during but forget (or don’t give as much attention to) the after part.
When these online events are finished, you can really focus on building relationships with people considered to be red-hot leads.
Many webinar platforms offer follow-up features that allow you to contact those that joined your presentation and continue the conversation.
Sending out a simple email thanking them for attending can go a long way in ensuring they remember your brand and what you have to offer.
You can also include a link to the recording of the webinar or any additional resources they might find helpful, along with asking them for feedback about their experience.
The key here is to not come across as too sales-y but focus on providing value that will help the person further down the line.
The features that your webinar will have ultimately depends on the purpose you’re hosting the event for. However, there are some standard features that all webinars incorporate to engage audiences. In the following sections, I’ll take you through some of them.
No matter your webinar audience’s size, one of the simplest yet most effective methods of engaging them is text chats. Such chats help the audience quickly ask questions and also answer any queries you might pose to them.
Text chats act as useful tools for capturing audience attention and interacting with them. What’s more, the attendees can attract the presenter’s attention using this feature as well. Such Q/A based interaction helps to build trust and establish authority among the audience.
Like in any regular meeting, webinars can also make fair use of PowerPoint presentations. Especially for educational webinars or online meetings, high-quality slides can leave a lasting impact.
Using a slide-based presentation also makes your intentions clear to the audience. You can even provide the slides as downloadable, gated content. Such marketing strategies can go a long way towards increasing your email lists’ length and providing quality leads.
For webinars that demonstrate a product or a process, it’s often essential to share the presenter’s point-of-view with the audience. In such a situation, screen-sharing features can be useful as they allow the audience to see exactly what you’re seeing.
Doing so has multiple advantages. For one, when you’re demonstrating how to use a product, the users can understand and follow along. Screen-sharing is definitely a more effective tool than using static screenshots.
When you’re explaining a complex topic or idea through a live, on-demand webinar, taking notes or jotting down points can become a hassle. To overcome this problem, many webinar tools include a whiteboard feature that allows writing text and drawing images.
Such a feature gives audiences the feeling that they are right there in a classroom with you. Not only does this give them a clearer idea of the topic, but it also helps you to articulate your thoughts better.
While using text chats to answer questions is a good idea, it can get chaotic if your audience is massive. In such a situation, involving the audience members in polls and surveys can be a good idea.
These tools allow audience members to express their opinions freely and fairly. Also, analyzing the data from polls and surveys allows you to draw interesting insights regarding customer opinions.
Top Webinar Ideas In Various Industries
Here are a few popular webinar ideas you can consider for your business, no matter your industry.
If you are a blogger, hosting webinars can be a great way to connect with your audience and provide value.
You can use webinars to share tips on blogging, SEO, or even social media marketing.
The topic of making money through blogging is always popular and can lead to some great conversions.
Much like bloggers, YouTubers can use webinars to provide valuable information to their viewers.
Webinars offer an excellent opportunity for YouTubers to interact with their audience and build a stronger connection using another video-based platform to do so.
For businesses that sell products online, webinars can greatly increase sales and drive traffic to your website.
The key is to think about what would be most valuable for your target audience and then craft your own webinar around it.
Video On Demand
If you offer a video-on-demand service, webinars can be a great way to promote your content and get people to sign up for your service.
You can use webinars to share trailers for upcoming shows, offer sneak peeks of new episodes, or even host Q&As with the cast and crew.
You can even walk prospects through how an OTT platform works or how to set up a smart TV to watch your content, getting people to sign up for your service in the process.
If you are in the business of providing web hosting services, then webinars can be a great way to introduce people to your business.
You can use webinars to educate people about the various types of web hosting available, share information about your company, inform prospects about your pricing plans and the features that come with them, and explain what sets you apart from the competition.
This is also an excellent opportunity to provide valuable tips and advice on website design and development using specific website builders.
With the rise of cryptocurrency, more and more businesses are starting to accept this form of payment.
You can use webinars to build a customer base seeking information about your company, talk about the different currencies you accept, various cryptocurrency exchanges they can use to buy your products and services, and much more.
This is an excellent opportunity to educate people about this new form of payment and how it can benefit them.
Anyone can set up, host, and record a webinar; the trouble is, not all webinars are created equal. In the following sections, I’ll provide you with a short, ten-step process to creating webinars that resonate with the audience.
Before you even begin to work on the webinar itself, the first thing you need to do is create a clear plan of action for your webinar. Any such strategy needs to involve multiple aspects, such as your target audience persona and your end goals. To better understand this, consider asking yourself some of the following questions:
- What is the purpose of this webinar?
- What KPIs can I use to measure this webinar’s success?
- How long should the webinar be?
- What should be the core features of this webinar?
- How should I distribute the webinar to the target audience?
Answering the above questions will clearly define what you intend to accomplish with the webinar. Through effective strategizing, you’ll also be able to derive your audience’s size and what tools you need to host the webinar.
Once you’ve planned the end-goals of your webinar, now it’s time to take a peek at what the competitors are doing. You’re not the only business trying to leverage this marketing tool, so it makes sense to see how the others are using it.
Attend a few webinars held by your competitors, and see how they are faring. As you do so, make sure to keep a watch on points such as the following:
- Are the audiences being properly engaged?
- What are the elements that make the webinar a success?
- What questions are audiences asking at these events?
- Are these questions being adequately answered?
- Can you answer these questions better?
- How can you improve upon the content that’s being served?
Knowing the above should help you to replicate the successful webinars while avoiding any pitfalls. It can also help decide the type of content you should be serving to your audiences. After all, hundreds of webinars are being held daily: yours need to have the material to stand out.
For executing your webinar successfully, you should start preparing at least a month before the actual date of the event. This way, you’ll get enough time to curate content that resonates with your audience. It’ll also be beneficial in deciding the webinar’s duration.
However, the date and time you hold the event are just as important as the duration itself. The latest reports suggest that Tuesdays are the best time to hold successful webinars.
That said, this is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and you need to experiment and figure out the best time for your target audience. To do this, you need to perform a demographic analysis of your audience type and ask some of the following:
- What type of webinars are they most interested in?
- When is the time they are most likely to invest in learning about your business?
- In the case of a global audience, what’s the difference in time zones?
- What length of content are they most likely to respond to?
Often, you won’t be able to answer all these questions based on the available data alone. In such a case, you need to conduct split testing routines at different times and see what appeals to your audience.
The one KPI that you need to focus on here is the dwell time. Dwell time indicates the average time your registrants spend on the test material. From here, you should be able to gauge audience interest in the content.
Now that you know about your webinar’s content, date, and time, it’s time to tell the world about it. And the best way to do that is by setting up a smashing landing page. A well-designed landing page can help capture massive leads.
When designing the webinar registration form, be sure to include fields for capturing important lead data, such as name, email, and phone number. However, don’t make too many of the fields mandatory, as this might put people off due to privacy concerns.
Another aspect that you need to take care of is the landing page content. Make sure you use a tone and language that appeals to your target audience. Include all the essential information about the webinar clearly and concisely.
Finally, I suggest you make the date and time of the webinar as prominent on the landing page as you can. Also, consider using a countdown timer to the webinar launch to give registrants a sense of urgency. You can always use a webinar landing page template to get all the above features.
Just creating a webinar landing page isn’t enough; you need to attract enough people to it to fill your webinar’s virtual seats. That’s where a suitable webinar marketing plan comes into play. After all, even a brilliant webinar that has only a few viewers is headed towards failure.
That’s why promoting your webinar is as essential as spending time preparing it. To do this, adopt a multi-channel approach and rope in social media experts, influencers, and prominent personalities in your niche. Industry thought-leaders with a large social following can also help your cause.
Your personal network has a significant role to play here as well. Spread the word among your social followers, and also use paid ads and partnerships to boost awareness. This way, your webinar will have a full house before long.
While you’re spending time on the above steps, you should also focus on creating your webinar content. Doing so will allow you to tie-in the content to your landing page and marketing plans.
When creating content, it’s essential to focus on the visual aspects more. Visual content is widely known to be more effective in capturing audience attention. Just be careful that you don’t come across as too salesy or pushy when promoting your products or services.
The primary purpose of any webinar should be to deliver value to the audience. So, when conducting the webinar, let that take center stage. When you provide genuine value to the audience, your business promotion takes care of itself automatically.
Before you record or stream your webinar, it’s important to test it out a bit. To do this, find a location and time when you’ll be free of interruptions, get a small audience, and practice your presentation.
If you’re co-hosting the webinar, you need to rehearse with the co-hosts and establish a smooth flow. In case everyone can’t get together physically, you can always use software such as Zoom to practice virtually.
Hosting a webinar successfully depends on several factors. Among them, the most important is the equipment and tools you’re using to stream the webinar. While a good webcam and a stable internet connection are necessary, it’s not sufficient.
To host your webinar, I recommend you use specialized webinar software. Also, since most viewers will be using apps such as GoToWebinar to attend via mobile devices, make sure your webcast is suited for the small screen.
As the host, you don’t want to be interrupted in the middle of your webinar. So, set up and explain the ground rules to your audience at the very outset. You should also explain the webinar format, Q/A rules, and poll/surveys before beginning.
In case you’d like your audience to take part in a hashtag campaign, this is the right time to mention it. You can also use this time to tease the audience with a freebie that you can offer at the end of the webinar.
After the webinar, it’s vital that you follow-up with attendees who showed interest in your services and products. Personalized follow-up emails can work to convert leads into customers fast and increase your business.
Till now, we’ve been focusing on the benefits and advantages of using webinars. However, they also come with multiple hurdles. Following are some of the common hurdles that you might face when hosting a webinar.
Since the entire process of hosting the webinar depends on communication technology, technical glitches can throw your efforts off course. Starting from the internet connection to webinar software, anything can malfunction.
To overcome this, always be sure to double-check your equipment before starting with the webcast.
I’ve already mentioned this before, but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate: without promotion, your webinar is as good as not held at all. Even just promoting isn’t enough; you must run the promotions at the right time to attract the right audience.
The best way to ensure that news of your webinar reaches the intended crowd is to use a multi-channel promotion strategy. Channels such as email, social media, and even paid adverts can be helpful.
Generally, most webinars don’t directly sell products, nor are there tickets for attending. So, it can become tough to measure the webinar’s success. After all, if the webinar is not directly helping you make money, it can seem pointless.
For proper success measurement, I recommend you go back to the first step when setting out to create a webinar: your goals. The purpose for which you’re hosting the webinar should drive your benchmark for success. Based on these goals, set up KPIs such as increased website traffic or the number of attendees who converted.
Webinar software refers to a set of online tools that offer complete support for webinar hosting. There is a wide selection of webinar software to choose from.
Here are some of the most common ones:
Finally, I must mention Livestorm, which is an excellent webinar tool. It works on any device and browser and has options for hosting most webinar formats. Not to mention the fact that it’s also GDPR compliant and protects your data well.
Zoom needs no introduction in today’s times of online meetings. The software provides users with high definition audio/video, along with live webcasting and detailed analytics.
What’s more, it even comes with the required tools for audience engagement, such as live chat and polls. Using Zoom’s paid plans, you can host any type of webinar.
However, it’s not best for everyone. You can look into different Zoom alternatives to see which tools might be better for your specific requirements.
The GoToWebinar app helps make webinars simple; it takes care of all aspects, starting from planning, marketing, audience engagement, and even analytics. The tool provides multiple templates for webinars, offers custom registration features, and even has options for interactive surveys, tracking, and analytics.
EasyWebinar is best suited for beginners and newcomers to the webinar fold. It provides a simple, five-step process for creating and promoting webinars.
It also includes tools for tracking customers, which allow you to understand your attendees better. And the best part is that it integrates with both YouTube and WordPress, thus expanding your reach.
Whatever your webinar format, ClickMeeting makes it easy to stream it. The tool has options for both live and pre-recorded events. It even integrates with social media platforms to provide live streaming capabilities.
Checklist When Running A Webinar
Here’s a quick checklist of things to do when running a webinar, before it starts, during the broadcast, and after you’re done.
Before The Webinar
- Understand how to choose the right webinar software and create an account on the right platform.
- Choose a relevant and catchy title that accurately reflects the content of your webinar.
- Create engaging and visually appealing slides
- Write a script or create an outline of what you will be covering
- If applicable, choose 1 or 2 co-hosts or panelists who are knowledgeable about the topic
- Promote your webinar on social media and various other marketing channels
- Send out reminders to registered attendees a day or two before the event
During The Webinar
- Start on time and introduce yourself and your co-hosts
- Engage with the audience by asking questions, taking polls, or running competitions
- Keep an eye on the chat box and answer any questions that come in
- Make sure you stick to the allotted time for each section of your presentation
- If applicable, deliver your pitch and ask for the sale with a suitable call to action
- Overcome any obstacles your audience might be facing
- Close the webinar by thanking the audience for their time and participation
After The Webinar
- Follow up with attendees by sending them a copy of the slides or recording of the webinar.
- If applicable, reiterate what your offer is all about and what attendees need to do to buy
- Ask for feedback from a number of attendees (you can segment based on behavior) and use it to improve future events
- Analyze the data and metrics from your webinar to see what worked well and what could be improved
- Share the highlights and key takeaways from the webinar on social media and other channels
- Plan your next webinar and start the whole process again!
As you can see, hosting a webinar is a great way to reach out to your audience and connect with them on a deeper level, giving your business or brand a boost in the process.
With so many use cases and industries that can benefit from webinars, there’s no excuse not to start creating webinars today.
Remember that the right webinar platform can make or break your event, so take your time and choose wisely.
Have you ever hosted a webinar before?
What was your experience like?
Do you have any other tips for hosting a successful webinar?
Let me know in the comments below!
Further reading on AdamEnfroy.com: Want to review some of the best webinar platforms on the market right now?
Check out these reviews to learn more: