Webinar technology

Webinars: Growing Your Business With Live Online Events

Previously considered the preserve of large corporates, now cheaper, more user-friendly technology is making webinars accessible to smaller organisations. Believed to generate more sales than many other online marketing tactics, research shows that webinars are among the 5 most effective B2B marketing tools (CMI). They’re also increasingly being used in B2C businesses.

Why does a webinar convert more than other mediums?

  • It’s an engaging visual process. You’ve got (mostly) good quality video to work with, and great visuals like slides or other pre-prepared material to use.
  • It’s interactive. You’re in front of a captive audience for a period long enough to build trust, and often with the chance to interact for 60 mins or more.
  • You can give and receive instant feedback. Through the chat room feature, both you and the audience have the opportunity to ask questions, and receive answers (some of the software solutions also allow for voice interaction between the presenters and the audience).

In short,  webinars are the next best thing to an in-person live event! And with one added advantage – afterwards they can be replayed on demand, forming a valuable resource in your content library for as long as they’re needed. Embedded on your website and on social media platforms, they can be actively promoted to help establish thought leadership and improve your search engine ranking for phrases and keywords related to the topic.

Unlike working with other visual material or on social media, with webinars there’s the opportunity for direct conversion. For example at the end of a live session, or even during it, you have the facility to directly transfer your audience to specific web pages containing further information, allowing them to sign up for the next step, or simply to purchase a product or service.

Screenshot of a live webinar
A typical webinar screen. The main box normally shows the presenter live (this could also show slides or pre-recorded video), a chat box where participants can ask questions, a twitter feed of tweets carrying a hashtag related to the webinar, and various ‘break out’ boxes for notes, live polls and other features.

What should you consider using webinars for?

  • Lead generation – to attract interest from a new audience and collect solid leads.
  • Lead nurturing and sales support – to build on interest and trust with an audience already aware of your product.
  • To strengthen client relationships – offer something extra to existing clients through valuable and expert content.
  • Education and training – to inform partners, affiliates and employees.

The typical webinar solution allows you to easily set up your webinar, providing registration template pages to send to your mailing list, and automated emails at the sign up stage. It gives you tools to manage the marketing and promotion process leading up to the live event. When the webinar is complete, it automates follow-up emails allowing you to invite attendees to view and share the video on demand. Some also allow you to automate pop up offers at the view-on-demand stage.

What are the leading technologies?

Just like buying from home entertainment or mobile phone providers, the webinar solutions on the market all offer different features in various price bundling packages, each with its own pros and cons.

Screenshot of WebEx Webinar

Some are priced on the basis of number of attendees (or ‘seats’), while others charge a flat fee. Some use very high-spec technology, so that there is no risk of the video feed being delayed, fuzzy or pixellated, but are correspondingly high on price.

The choice can be daunting so you need to do your research. Most solutions offer a free trial before you buy – do a test drive prior to making a decision.

These are some of the key products on offer (though it’s far from an exhaustive list):

WebinarJam. A solution based on Google Hangouts on Air (HOA), it’s an affordable app good for smaller businesses (currently under $300 per annum). The live session automatically records as a YouTube video, so it can be shared very easily afterwards. This also means that Google (as the owner of YouTube) will index it. The charge is a flat fee with no limits on the number of attendees or number of webinars. The administrator must have a Google account, but attendees don’t need one. Another upside is that it doesn’t require attendees to download any software, as it’s all done within a browser. The downside is that it’s not as well established (though take-up has been huge) or as big brand as other players.

GoToWebinar. A reliable solution from Citrix. It caters for up to 1000 attendees, with different costs for 100, 500 and 1000 seats. A more expensive, higher-spec option, it’s popular with mid-sized businesses. One disadvantage is that the attendee has to download an app onto their computer in order to attend the session, which can often be a problem for people working in companies with high security computer systems.

Adobe Connect. Also a powerful, more high-end solution, it’s used by mid to large-sized organisations. It doesn’t require any software download by attendees, allows for multiple hosts and presenters at the same time, offers a high quality video environment and works across all mobile devices.

Webex. Typically used by corporations, this is the old school, big brand ‘Bentley in the garage’. A hosted solution, it’s costly, but the technology ensures it’s seamless. For example if the presenter has a weaker internet connection than attendees, the presentation can still move forward. Often used for high-value, smaller conference-type meetings.

Takeaways

  • Webinars are a great way of generating leads, building brand awareness and loyalty, and a valuable resource for your content library.
  • Check out webinar tools such as WebinarJamGoToWebinar, WebExAdobeConnect.
  • Explore case studies on how companies have used webinars on the Citrix GoToWebinar site.
  • For examples of what a well-run webinar looks like, visit the Content Marketing Institute Webinar page.
  • If you’d like to discuss how Ivory Content can help you grow your business with webinars get in touch.