There are few tools as powerful or poorly used as webinars.
Broadcasting a live video feed to customers, potential customers, journalists and stakeholders is a challenging task. How do you create content that engages everyone? How do you know if anyone actually watched? How do you leverage the broadcast to do more than check a marketing box and actually achieve a return on investment?
Here are four things companies can and should do to improve their webinars:
1. Stop doing old-fashioned webinars.
A traditional webinar typically, cynically includes an expert sitting too close to a camera in a room with terrible lighting and using a microphone with poor audio quality.
We have all seen them. If that is what your company is doing, stop and reimagine the whole thing.
Without buying any new technology or gear, you can increase the production value of your webinar just by planning it out. Consider changing the format to an interview between two people, creatively including slides and videos, incorporating polls or other forms of audience feedback, offering discounts during the broadcast or literally anything other than talking at a camera in monotone.
Carole Snitzer, content marketing manager of ON24, writes, “Sure, you could just let your audience stare at slides for an hour. But where’s the fun in that? Instead, you should think about every webinar as an opportunity to craft an immersive, engaging multimedia experience.”
2. Look for engagement.
How can you tell how effective your webinar is? Most webinar platforms give you one metric to look at and gauge the success of your broadcast: attendance. But, attendance is a very bland statistic. I have attended a lot of webinars where I spent most of my time surfing the internet or writing emails. In other words, attendance tells you very little about engagement.
Cutting-edge webinar platforms offer a bevy of engagement metrics. Matt Ley, President of The Streaming Network, says there are numerous ways to tell if a viewer is a good sales lead: “Did the viewer answer poll questions, click on links, open shared documents, or ask questions? There are a million ways to see if someone is paying attention and interested in your content.”
The Streaming Network platform gives webinar organizers 24 data points to score the engagement of viewers.
3. Have a purpose.
Why are you hosting a webinar? Are you looking for investors, business partners, new customers or simply promoting your brand? The reason matters, because it should dictate how you select your content.
There are effective webinar styles for every objective. If the goal is to sell a product, try a "deminar" where you actually showcase the product, compare it to others in the industry, provide useful information about it and give your viewers a hands-on experience. While not strictly-speaking a webinar, I love CNET’s technology product reviews. They get to the point with valuable information, thoroughly explore the device, and keep it short.
Also consider the Q&A format or case study presentation.
4. Promote better
If a webinar happens, but no one watches, did it still happen? Webinars yield results when there are engaged viewers, which means you need viewers.
One of the biggest mistakes people make in promoting their broadcast is starting too late. Statistics have shown that 23 percent of people register more than two weeks prior to a webinar. That means that the promotional email and social media campaign should probably start three weeks prior at minimum. And, do not be afraid to send reminders! No one wants to be pestered with emails, but if you are sophisticated, you can avoid sending follow up emails to people who have already registered.
Make your webinars relevant again
In our increasingly digital world where our in-person contact has and continues to decrease at alarming rates, a webinar is as close to a human touch as your company can have with many of its consumers and partners. A webinar done the right way, properly staged and analyzed for engagement metrics, is an essential tool for companies in the 21st century.
Don't waste it.