So You Want to Host a Webinar: What You Need to Know

There is a good chance you’ve attended one of these as a way to further your skills or gain insights into a new topic. What could we be talking about? Webinars. Nowadays, webinars are an excellent way to obtain new knowledge, further current skills or establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry from the comfort of your own desk.

What can you expect in this article?

  1. Breakdown of what is a webinar and why you should host one
  2. Look at the different webinar platform options
  3. Engagement tips to reach your audience

What is a Webinar? 

You’ve likely heard the term, “webinar” swirling around lately, but what exactly does it mean? Simply put, a webinar is a live or pre-recorded web-based video. Webinars allow people all over the globe to connect and learn what’s happening in their respective industry.

The formats of a webinar vary. From hosts who opt to show themselves speaking to static slideshows and/or animated videos with voiceovers and even guests from other organizations helping co-host or lead the webinar, it’s safe to say there is no “standard” setup to a webinar. Live webinars are often interactive, allowing for participants to ask questions as the webinar progresses, tweet at the host or organization presenting the webinar and sometimes, even participate in quizzes or polls.

Why Should I Host a Webinar? 

Professionals from a multitude of industries use webinars as an educational tool or to connect with fellow professional audiences. However, not all webinars are focused solely on education. Webinars can be utilized as a promotional presentation to sell a product or service. There is even the chance that the webinar is both educational and promotional!

So why should your organization host a webinar? No matter if you’re a company that offers energy solutions or a bridal boutique, webinars can provide insights into your industry or specific data that will establish you as a leader in your field. Furthermore, hosting a successful webinar could lead to qualified business leads.

A Look at Webinar Platforms

What your organization needs regarding webinar services may not be the same as another company. Luckily, webinar hosting services are not one-size-fits-all and with a little research, you can find one that will fit your business’ webinar goals and needs perfectly. Follow along as we break down some of the different webinar platforms and their features:

ON24

ON24 is a fantastic webinar hosting service. This platform is completely customizable and comes with as little or as many bells and whistles you want. If you regularly watch webinars, you’ve likely come across ON24. This webinar platform is not free and leans more toward the pricier side of things, so to learn more about what this platform could do for you, sign up to watch their platform demo. If you want to know more after watching, set up a call with one of their representatives to see what they can do for you. With this platform, you can try a free trial. Some features in their webinar platform include:

  • Downloads
  • Polls and quizzes
  • Links to social media
  • Q&A
  • Resources
  • Interactive media
  • Webcast analytics

GoToWebinar 

This webinar platform comes to you from Citrix, the creators of GoToMeeting. The popular webinar hosting platform helps brands throughout the entire webinar process, from planning and promoting to presenting, all the way to what you should do after your live webinar. With GoToWebinar, you can create custom emails, confirmations, and reminders to send your webinar registrants or you can let GoToWebinar worry about it with their automated email templates.

A little worried about presenting (aren’t we all)? Luckily, this webinar hosting platform recognizes that maybe you want to practice beforehand. The platform comes with practice settings for you to rehearse your presentation and avoid any unwanted surprises. GoToWebinar does cost money based on how many attendees you want for your webinar. For example, if you want up to 100 participants in your webinar, it will cost you around $89 a month. Like ON24, you can do a free trial with this platform. For more information, call one of their sales specialists to see a demo or learn more about their pricing.  

Adobe Connect

With Adobe Connect, you have an all-in-one webinar solution. This platform can be expensive and is probably better suited for large organizations whose webinars are attended by several hundred individuals. As part of the higher cost, the brand or company using Adobe Connect would be able to customize the webinar entirely to their liking. This includes:

  • Several options for interactivity
  • Easy registration process with customizable emails and registration forms
  • Mobile-friendly access for webinars
  • Easy-to-use analytics
  • Engagement monitoring tools

Like other platforms, you can give Adobe Connect a whirl with a free trial. Do you want to talk to someone directly? Follow this link and someone from their sales team will be in touch with you.

Facebook Live Video 

You don’t necessarily need a special webinar platform to reach hundreds of people. If you have an active following on Facebook, a live video may be a great option. Not only that, viewers can watch the video after it’s live. That said, this doesn’t mean you can skimp on your effort. When doing a live video on Facebook, it still needs to be visually appealing, and you need to interact with those commenting, liking and sharing the video as it is occurring. And while you don’t want to be broadcasting for hours on end, you do need to keep your video over the length of 10 minutes.

Google Live Stream 

Similar to Facebook, companies can live stream through YouTube and potentially reach billions of people across the globe. Like Facebook Live Video, it’s important to have a visually appealing webinar and be prepared to interact with those engaging throughout the live stream. As you live stream with Google, you can see real-time analytics, which includes data like “watching now” and “messages/min.”

Reach Your Audience With These Webinar Engagement Tips 

Achieving excellent webinar engagement starts long before the live event and extends well beyond the minute it ends. See what you can do to receive high engagement pre-, during and post-webinar.

Pre-Webinar Engagement Tips 

Many brands or organizations that host a webinar find their biggest challenge is getting people to register for the event. 

The promotional email is a critical part of the registration process. What’s the best day to send emails? Go for midweek days Tuesday or Wednesday. The promotional life cycle of an email should begin 15-plus days before the event. The majority of people, 31 percent, register between one and seven days in advance and an additional 26 percent show interest the day of the event. Remember, the longer you promote, the more registrants you will have.

Engagement During Your Webinar 

Keep audiences engaged by making sure your webinar is interactive. ON24 found they received the highest engagement through Questions and Answers at 81 percent. This was followed by an average of 32 percent of webinar attendees engaging through the different social media channels by using a branded hashtag. For example, at Blue Compass, we hold educational events to teach community businesses about digital marketing. At the beginning of the class, and to keep them engaged on Twitter, we ask them to use the hashtag #UofBlue.

Note these percentages come from an ON24 webinar, focused on Webinar Best Practices and 2015 Webinar Benchmarks.

Continue Engaging Your Audience Post-Webinar

What happens once your webinar is finished? One of the smartest decisions you can make in your webinar strategy is to include an on-demand strategy where people can still view/download your webinar after the “live” event. The content you discussed in your webinar is still valuable post-webinar, and you shouldn’t stop using it. In fact, 33 percent of webinar views come from on-demand viewers. 

With an on-demand strategy, you can incorporate your webinars into a library, create new, written content around the webinar and embed the video into that piece of content and continue to promote past webinars through newsletters and social media.

Take Your Webinars to the Next Level

Whether you’re a seasoned webinar pro or just starting to dip your toes into the world of webinars, don’t be scared! There are many resources out there that can help you hold successful webinars and gain qualified business leads. Do you have a cool tip about webinars? Share it with us!

Webinar or Other Digital Marketing Questions? Reach Out to Us!