Why Marketers Need to Rethink One of their Favorite Channels
The digital leap in the meetings and events industry has had tremendous impact on marketers. You guessed it—the expectations of attendees to online meetings have been raised significantly. So, as is the case with any other marketing channel, a poor experience will leave audiences feeling let down and frustrated with your brand. The bottom line is this: choosing the right approach, and webinar technology platform, is absolutely imperative in 2022.
The pandemic had a profound effect on technology. As digital experiences become commonplace in both personal and business settings, tech took a giant leap to accommodate the growing expectations of online audiences.
The advances in webinar software were no different—having been driven by demand (from both organizers and audiences) in line with increasing expectations and ever-accelerating developments in technology. For many marketers, the shift in experiences was profound, leading to new levels of engagement. For others, retaining the status quo represented a digital “step back.”
A New Era of Webinar Technology is Ushered In
Webinars have come a long way. For many of us, this was not a choice, but a make-or-break decision taken out of our hands by extreme, once-in-a-lifetime circumstances.
With trade shows, user conferences, meetings, expos, and other marketing events off the table in-person, they shifted online. To mixed results, at least at the start. And so did the old warhorse of top of the funnel marketing: the webinar. With our face-to-face meetings and events often responsible for large proportions of the marketing budget (and also delivering huge amounts of ROI (i.e. leads) there was a need to drive the same benefits in order to stay relevant or even stay afloat, with but zero chance of being in the same room as one another. Enter webinars and virtual events.
Some organizations had previously undertaken webinars and virtual events and as a result, were already aware of the options available to them, while for others this was a brave new world. And to a certain degree, the virtual event space become something of a new frontier, as tech and events companies alike (including Cvent) looked to quickly develop their virtual offerings to empower their clients as much as possible.
Webinars in 2022—What to Look for to Level Up Your Experience
As a positive result, virtual event and webinar technology has indeed come a long way in the last two years, which is certainly no bad thing. This is actually a great opportunity for marketers looking for an advantage in their very competitive industries.
Plenty of organizations have now felt the benefits of virtual events first-hand and are looking at integrating a virtual or hybrid event approach as part of their overarching events and marketing strategies. With all this in mind, let’s look at some of the key features and functionality you should look to include as part of your webinar experience.
Video conferencing: If you’re thinking of rebooting 2019 level standards to your 2022 webinars, you’re likely a few years out of date. In this case, “old school” holds little charm for audiences with high expectations. There was a time – not that long ago – when corporate webinar attendees wouldn’t actually see their hosts… at all. A webinar’s visuals would focus exclusively on a series of PowerPoint slides, coupled with a (sorry, it’s true) mostly monotone voice-over narration by the host(s). In today’s world of video calls, this seems almost unthinkable, certainly archaic.
But thankfully tech has evolved. Having hosts (yes, multiple) showing their faces allows attendees to understand who they’re hearing from and connect on a more human level. With facial expressions and body language counting for so much in clear communication, having a video stream is a great way to bring some of this personality and engagement into your webinar and allow a deeper connection with your people and, by association, your brand. The face-to-face aspect, at least in some form, is here for the offering.
What’s more, today you can offer that option out to your attendees as well, providing video feeds and again building that level of trust both ways. There may be limits to the number of people you can technically see at once, but to be able to interact in a face-to-face capacity while you’re sat on either side of the globe is a definite win for webinars.
Your Brand: One of the key areas that webinar technology has recently developed is in allowing organizers to customize and apply branding to the webinars they run. As we all know, building brand awareness and advocacy is often one of the key objectives – and is certainly one of the key benefits – to running events. Webinars are no different. Many webinars are based on delivering thought-leadership to an audience, thus associating your brand with that kind of positive and differentiating experience.
Segments and transitions: Keeping an audience engaged and actively listening throughout the duration of your webinar is vital in ensuring your message is really understood. This has always been a challenge. In 2022, it’s even more important. One way that you can help achieve this is by breaking your content down into more manageable chunks, or “bite size/snackable” segments. You can then switch up the delivery of each section, potentially using a different format of delivery (for example, from using slides to playing a video or to an open discussion) or changing presenters. Break it up, make it vibrant and interactive.
A good webinar platform will provide ways to effectively manage these sections and the transition from one to another. Being able to plan your segments in advance and then seamlessly transition from one to another allows the webinar to flow even in these moments of flux where otherwise you may be scrabbling to open additional programs or documents or having to ask other presenters to take over.
Breakouts: In addition to breaking your content down into manageable sections, consider breaking your audience down into smaller groups. Many webinar platforms now offer the option of virtual breakout rooms – separate “areas” where your attendees can be grouped for a separate discussion.
Whether this is based on a series of different messages that may be of varying degrees of interest depending on the attendee, or simply an opportunity to have an easier open discussion of the core webinar topic before coming back together again to share insights, break out rooms can provide a great change of pace and space to breathe and think.
Ramp Up Interactivity: Webinars that offer the best two-way interaction between presenter and attendee will ultimately offer a greater experience. 45-minute monologues can be an energy drain for your audience.
By providing options for Q&A, polls, surveys, feedback, downloadable related content libraries, and more, you’re offering a wealth of options to your attendees. And as with any marketing, if you can offer a choice, you’re more likely to get better results from a broader range of your audience as, for example, some will prefer to get directly involved then and there while others will prefer to download your content and get in touch at a time that suits them.
There are plenty of options when it comes to webinar technology. Your due diligence will serve you well as you look to take your webinars up a level in terms of engagement. So, spending some time understanding the options available and how they could meet your current webinar needs is a good place to start. But also try to plan ahead and think big; if your first webinar vastly exceeds your objectives, perhaps you’ll have a chance to go even bigger and better next time around. And if that’s the case, you could need additional features that may seem surplus to requirement today.
Learn even more about elevating your webinars with Cvent’s eBook, Next Level Webinars.