Webinars have been around for a long time — nearly as long as the internet itself — but they haven’t gone the way of the floppy disc. In fact, webinars still offer an effective way to get your content out to a wide audience in an interactive, visually engaging format. Webinar content marketing may seem daunting if you’re just starting out, but it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to get started with webinars.
What Is a Webinar?
Originally, webinars were virtual seminars in which the presenter lectured and participants listened. With great leaps in technology, webinars have evolved into much more interactive experiences. Audience members can contribute questions and comments, and they can chat with other participants.
A webinar is inherently educational, providing information that meets a need or solves a problem for the audience. It isn’t usually a hard sales pitch or something purely meant for entertainment.
Webinars have a large overlap with online learning platforms and video podcasts, but they can be more interactive and curated as presentations. Companies strategically schedule webinars, promote them and then leverage the gains. Many marketers choose to host live webinars on specific dates and at specific times. They record the webinars so they’re available on demand in the future, whether for free or as part of paid libraries of resources.
Benefits of Webinar Content Marketing
Arguably the biggest benefit of webinars is lead generation. Inside Sales says that 73 percent of marketing leaders believe that webinars result in quality leads.
In order to sign up for your webinar, people give their names and contact information along with any other demographics you require when they register. You can then gain insight into your market and — of course — reach out to these leads on an ongoing basis. In fact, prospects who attend a live demo webinar are 150 percent more likely to buy than those who don’t, according to GoAnimate.
Another big benefit is that you can reach many people at one time with little overhead compared to an in-person event. Plus, many more viewers can see the webinar recording afterward. That creates the potential to build a big audience for your brand over time.
Another beneficial thing about webinars is that they still feel personal even when there are hundreds of attendees, thanks to comment, question and chat capabilities. If you keep the audience manageable, then participants can even interact with the presenter in real time. That’s a big incentive for attendees to watch live rather than wait for a replay.
Webinars help position you as an authority in your space. They also help humanize your company when your employees and leaders do the speaking and teaching.
Types of Webinars
- Educational Presentation: Teaches how to solve a problem that potential customers may be facing or provides details about a subject in which you have expertise. Should be focused on the audience’s interests and needs.
- Q&A: Gives thoughtful, researched answers to questions culled directly from your customers and fans. Great way to combine user-generated content (the questions) with your knowledge (the answers) in an authentic format.
- Product Demo or How-to: Highlights the uses and benefits of your product or service. Especially good for complex products that require multi-step use. How-to webinars can cover a larger scope, with your product figuring into one of the steps or solutions.
- Interview or Panel: Experts, influencers and thought leaders weigh in on a specific topic of interest to your target market. These are led by a moderator or interviewer to keep things on track. They help show you’re involved in your industry and connected in the space.
- New Customer Training: Shows new customers exactly how to get started using your product rather than reading a user manual. This allows new customers to get the most value out of your product ASAP. Host a webinar for several new customers at once and allow a Q&A after each module.
- Nurturing Customer Relations: Informs your existing clients about new products, business developments or big changes in your industry. It gives you an opportunity to reconnect with clients and demonstrates that you value your customers.
Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Started in Webinar Content Marketing
You’re convinced that you need to add webinars to your content marketing strategy. Now what? Here’s a list of steps to use as a jumping-off point:
1. Choose Compelling Webinar Topics
Lost for ideas? Get your sales team’s input on possible webinar topics. They know the questions and pain points of prospective buyers better than anyone else. Even more direct, ask your audience for their burning questions — not just about your specific products but topics that apply to your industry. Poll your customers and social media followers on what topics interest them most to help you prioritize which to do first.
You also don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Repurpose and expand content that’s worked well for you in the past, such as blogs, infographics, case studies or white papers.
Your topic largely determines the webinar format. That’s true whether it’s a video of experts discussing a panel topic or it’s a mix of slides, photos and your speaker’s talking head.
2. Select a Webinar Platform and Other Technology
There are many webinar platforms where you can host your event, from Webex to GoToWebinar to ClickMeeting and beyond. Decide which has the functionality and price point you require. You may want to investigate the benefits of using and offering a landline to avoid gaps in cellular coverage.
Will you need microphones, backup batteries, extension cords or a more sophisticated video camera than the one on your smartphone? How about a studio space and lighting? Don’t forget to schedule a dress rehearsal before the live event to make sure everything works like it should.
3. Plan the Webinar Content
Choose a speaker, host, interviewee or panel. Prepare and approve a script, but keep it loose enough to allow the presenter some flexibility. Consider telling memorable stories, including compelling stats and even inserting object lessons to drive home your points.
Incorporate multimedia for a rich experience. If your webinar consists entirely of text slides and voiceover, it’ll likely be too dry to keep your audience’s attention. Consumers expect more these days, and that means lots of visuals.
Who else do you need to recruit besides a speaker? You may decide that you need a videographer and a behind-the-scenes assistant to moderate comments and handle any tech issues that arise.
Research what date and time work best for your audience. Set a specified length for the webinar — usually 30 minutes to an hour.
4. Promote Your Webinar
Provide information for your sales team’s outreach to customers and prospects. Reach out to your email list and social media followers with multiple invites. Team with other companies and influencers to get the word out. Make the registration process as simple as possible.
5. Follow up with Registrants
Remind registrants before the event so they don’t forget to call in or log on. Touch base afterward to gauge their satisfaction, answer questions and strengthen the relationship. This can be as simple as sending out an emailed survey.
6. Use the Information You Gained
In addition to reaching out to leads, make sure you analyze your audience’s demographics, questions and feedback. This helps you gain a better view of who your target market is and what they want. Use the information to enrich your next webinar.
Finally, decide what to do with the webinar recording. Offer it as free on-demand content to drive traffic to your site, or place it behind a paywall for subscriber- or customer-only access.
Webinars provide a convenient avenue for positioning your brand as a trustworthy expert. But it’s important to tailor the presentation to your audience, provide value in your content and thoroughly plan so the webinar goes smoothly. Use these ideas to create and provide content that truly resonates with and helps consumers.