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Reimagining Webinars: How the Digitization of Events has Transformed the Marketing Channel

Reimagining Webinars: How the Digitization of Events has Transformed the Marketing Channel

Cvent

It’s an age of digital disruption, one that is helping marketers reimagine and maximize the webinar format and reevaluate how they utilize webinar programs to make the biggest impact. Traditional webinars need to be updated in our new, hyper-digital world. This article will help you break down webinar basics as well as offer tips to improve your current webinar programs.

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Key Findings:

1.Typical webinars share these characteristics: a time range from 30 to 60 minutes, often feature pre-recorded content, one or two hosts (off camera) narrating PowerPoint slides, and offer little in the way of engagement.

2.Top marketers are taking advantage of new technology to re-create the webinar experience for attendees through higher production values, more personalized content, and elevated levels of interactivity.

3.To become best-in-class, marketers today must thoroughly audit their webinar programs, reconsider formats, and level up attendee engagement and networking. In our new eBook, Next Level Webinars, marketers can take stock of their current webinar program, learn new strategies for building engagement, pipeline, and buy interests.

What is a Webinar?

Traditionally, a webinar has been an online event lasting 30-60 minutes held primarily to generate leads and educate or train attendees. They have long been used as an effective way to expand a brand’s reach, establish a company as a thought leader in the industry, and engage with prospects and customers through an accessible platform. In fact, 42% of marketers say they plan to use webinars this year.

In the past, webinars were a flat and passive experience for attendees. Online PowerPoint presentations with little or no engagement. At worst, they played out like a digital version of those teacher scenes from Peanuts cartoons: “wah wah woh wah wah.” 

Typically, webinars shared these characteristics:

  • Average webinar presentation times range from 30 to 60 minutes
  • Overwhelming majority of webinar attendees join from desktop computers
  • Often feature pre-recorded content
  • Usually, one or two hosts talking over slides
  • Speakers have their video cameras off
  • May feature a singular attendee poll to drive engagement

Often, there was little branding, low interactivity, and production value was practically nonexistent. Now, webinars can range from a single speaker to a panel, product demo to open forum. There are several ways to create content, and because of the emergence of virtual event software, more ways than ever to engage with attendees. After all, engagement is key.

Planning a Webinar

What is the purpose of your webinar? The answer to this question guides everything else – the content needed, technology used, how you interact, and follow up with, with attendees. An important thing to remember is that all events have two purposes. The first is about what you want the attendee to get out of the experience. The second, what you want to get out of the experience. Webinars are multifaceted – webinars boost your profits and engage attendees.

Webinars work because they’re accessible. They don’t take an enormous time commitment, are often free, and getting to the venue is as simple as clicking a link. That’s why webinars are a wonderful lead generation tool. The webinar content defines their level of intent and can start their buyer’s journey or acts as an additional data point in their profile. 

Elements of a successful webinar:

Content: The story you want to tell and the message you want to share. Include enticing language, messaging hooks, and key takeaways for your attendees.

Production: How you visually bring your message to life using text, overlays, images, speaker dynamism, and lower thirds. A passionate presenter can only get you so far; by producing a visually appealing webinar, attendees will stay interested and for longer.

Interactivity and Technology: Use technology to your advantage, including Q&A, chat, and polling features, to increase attendee interactivity and overall webinar-engagement results.

Marketing Your Webinar

Webinar success depends on marketing. There are a few must-have elements of webinar marketing. First, an event website where attendees can quickly, and easily, register. Second, an email marketing campaign. Third, additional promotion like social media and paid ads.

Your event website can be as simple as a webinar landing page or as complicated as your creativity and technology allow. But the key to any webinar website is registration and key event information.

Email is a quick and easy way to spread the word about your event. Pull contact lists from your database based on your defined audience. Then, start promoting! In a traditional webinar campaign, you’ll send multiple emails. As you go, you can track open rates, click-through rates, and track registrations. Email is easy to change, so watch the data and if it looks like something isn’t working – change it!

Social media continues to be the cheapest form of promotion with the potential to have the widest reach. Create posts to promote your webinars. Social media is a place where you can get creative and have fun. Another way to promote is to enlist brand ambassadors or tap others in the industry to share your webinar. Just remember, the more eyes see a post, the higher chance it will lead to registrations.

Virtual Event Software Has Transformed Traditional Webinars

With the basics of content and promotion behind us, now it’s time to get into the nuts and bolts of your webinar. Once you know the content you plan to create, you can determine your tech needs. Whether you have virtual event software or not, it’s always good to take a moment and assess your needs.

There are various webinar formats to choose from. While you’ve chosen your content format, you still need to answer a few basic technical questions. Will the webinar be live? Will it be pre-recorded?

You may already have an event marketing and management platform and that platform may even handle virtual events. If so, that’s great! But even if you have a tool that works, take a moment to determine if it does everything you need it to do. Virtual event technology has exploded in the last year and everyday capabilities are improving. As you plan more webinars and more events, keep track of what did and didn’t work tech-wise.

Take advantage of new tech:

  • Kick up the quality of your content through personalization and curate quality content that addresses the need of all your attendees, regardless of role.
  • Mix up webinar formats to promote more engagement, networking opportunities, Q&A, and live chats.
  • Level up the video quality, think outside the PowerPoints, and incorporate video tactics commonly seen on live TV.

Closing the Loop After the Webinar

It’s over! But is it? Of course not. Never underestimate the value of a post-event survey!

First, you’ll need to follow-up with attendees with that survey to evaluate success. Second, you’ll need to leverage your content. The great thing about a webinar is that content can live long after the broadcast date, gathering more and more visits over time.

The best time to send a survey is within a day of the webinar while the content is still fresh. Keep the survey short – no longer than 2-5 minutes to fill out – and note the survey length in the email. Your survey is key to uncovering what worked and what didn’t during your webinar.

Webinars are a great source of content, so leverage that content. Depending on the topic and format, think about turning your webinar into an eBook, blog post, or infographic. The more assets you can create from one great piece of content the better. 

Taking Stock of Your Current Webinar Program

Webinars are often lower effort than live, virtual, or hybrid events, but the benefits they provide long-term can be just as impressive. From establishing your organization as a thought leader to gathering leads, webinars play a big role in your total meeting and events program.

With a great team that combines the expertise of planning and marketing, your webinars can “level up” and set you apart from your competitors, feed your pipeline, better measure buying interest, and create engagement like you’ve never seen before. As you build your webinars, do it thoughtfully and strategically, create quality content, and track your success.

To see how you can get started taking your webinars to the next level, check out our new eBook, Next Level Webinars.

Cvent is a leading meetings, events, and hospitality management technology provider, with nearly 4,000 employees, 23,000+ customers, and 207,000 active Cvent users worldwide.