Webinars are getting increasingly popular these days. Whether you use webinars to gather leads, book calls, make prospects buy a course or if you simply use webinars to build an audience and deliver content, we reviewed a vast selection of webinars on the market.
You will see reviews of livestream webinars, evergreen webinars (e.g., to show replays,) hybrid webinars as well as meeting platforms that you can use to chat.
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What is a webinar and how does it work?
Introduction: Webinars for Dummies
What is a Webinar?
A webinar is an online presentation in the form of a video workshop, presentation, or lecture. This type of online presentation can be used to connect individuals with an audience from across the globe.
A live webinar can be interactive allowing for real-time collaboration between the participants.
This makes it an ideal platform for the likes of:
- Business Presentations
- University Lectures
- Sales Pitches
These are some of the most common usages. But in fact, a webinar can be used in just about any circumstance where a wide and geographically remote audience needs to be connected for whatever reason.
And in today's current climate with the need for social distancing and lockdowns controlling the way we live; webinars usage is soaring.
What is the Meaning of Webinar?
The word "webinar" is derived from the combination of the words – ‘Web’ and ‘Seminar.’
A webinar is defined in the Cambridge Dictionary as – ‘An Occasion when a group of people go on the internet at the same time to study and discuss something.’
Of course, this is a very simplified definition. Increasingly a webinar can be defined as a powerful communication tool in a range of fields from marketing to education.
How do Webinars Work?
A webinar is a presentation that is broadcast over the internet to a selected group of users or subscribers.
It allows the company or organization running the seminar to interact with them.
It uses audio and visual components to achieve this. Typically, a user will be watching and listening using a web browser on a computer, or tablet, or another smart device. Whilst the organizers will be using webinar software.
The presentation type can be varied but is normally a mix of multimedia slideshows or video presentations and live interactions.
What is a Webinar Sales Funnel?
Put simply, a webinar sales funnel is a way of generating a targeted audience for your webinar.
It is a marketing tool designed to increase awareness of your up and coming webinar and attract potential attendees to sign up. It most frequently starts by inviting internet browsers or social media users to attend your event.
Of course, as any social media or web browser advertising is already tightly targeted the ‘funnel’ effect starts immediately. The funneling process increasingly tightens the target suitability as the individual is led further into the funnel.
As the individuals are fed further into the tunnel many will drop out, but that’s the point. A well thought out and implemented webinar sales funnel is designed to leave you with an audience who are most likely to be the right leads for your business.
Types of webinars
There are 4 types of webinars, although some people say there are only 2 (Live and Evergreen.)
A live seminar is just as it sounds. In this type of seminar, the presentation or lecture is broadcast as it happens. Think of it as being the same as a live television production. Of course, the risk with this is that unforeseen problems or interruptions can occur.
Evergreen Webinar (aka Automated Webinar)
An automated seminar is a seminar that is pre-recorded and can be played whenever it is required and used repeatedly. The obvious advantage of this type of seminar is it negates the need to repeatedly host live events.
A hybrid is a mix of a physical event that is also broadcast to a wider audience as a webinar event. This mix allows both the physical audience and the online audience to receive the same content as it happens.
A series webinar is several webinars all covering different aspects of the same topic. It can be broadcast on particular dates or times or made available to watch sequentially as the subscriber requires.
What are the features of webinars?
Webinars are becoming increasingly diverse with the number of features that can be offered, and as the technology matures this growth will only increase. Some of the most common features that are used in today’s webinars are listed below: -
- Surveys and Polls
- Online Courses and exams
- Multimedia presentations
- User Interaction
- Sharing of documents
Most webinars will use a combination of two or more elements to make their content interesting and to hold their audience’s attention. User interaction is also used to keep interest high. This can be from ongoing chats throughout the presentation, or quizzes and polls to keep them involved.
Ultimately a webinar will succeed or fail on the quality of its features.
Why use Webinars?
Webinars have become a very powerful marketing and business tool. They are a cost-effective and successful method of getting your message across to a targeted audience. On its own that could be reason enough but there are numerous more reasons to use seminars: -
Everyone who attends your webinar has put time and effort into going through the registration process and of course, the actual time spent during the seminar. The fact that they have done all this to hear what you have to say, positions you as an expert in your field right from the outset.
When done correctly with engaging and informative content webinars are an extremely powerful marketing tool. Webinars can be geared towards producing ‘soft sales’ with the sales pitch woven throughout the content of the webinar.
This method has been proven to have a higher success rate than ‘hard sales’ pitches which can drive sales away.
This is one of the most powerful features of a webinar, the importance of being able to attract a large and worldwide audience cannot be overstated. To be able to connect directly with an audience of perhaps hundreds of people is something that cannot be achieved any other way.
Generate New Business Leads
Not everyone that attends a sales pitch seminar will purchase your product. However, they have likely gone through some sort of registration process and to go that far they must have had a high level of interest. So, during this process they have highlighted themselves as being interested in your product, you now have a database full of high-quality leads.
Keeping your Audience engaged
Live seminars are unlike video recordings as they are one off-events. As such the audience can’t just wander off and return when they like. While at first glance this may seem like a disadvantage, the pros far outweigh the cons.
An audience will be more likely to keep watching because they know they can’t just walk away and watch the rest later. And with live chat and audience interaction to keep them interested they are far more likely to listen to the whole of your message.
Who are Webinars for?
Webinars are often, but not exclusively, business related. If you have an idea to sell, a message to get out there, or knowledge to share, then a webinar can be a critical component in achieving your goal.
Webinars are increasingly being used by businesses to sell and demonstrate products. On-line courses to educate and even political parties to build relationships.
One of the biggest advantages of webinars is their ability to engage a large number of people without large overheads.
For a business wanting to train their remote workers a webinar is a perfect solution, similarly they may also want to engage with their customer base to inform them of a new product, once again a webinar fits the bill.
This diversity is what is fueling the surge in webinars, at some point a webinar can offer something for just about every individual, business, club or learning center.
How to use a webinar to make money
With their ability to attract and engage in large audiences, webinars can be used to generate income.
are many ways they can be used to do this, below are listed some of the top methods of making money using a webinar.
The most obvious way is simply to charge people to watch your webinar. If you have unique content or knowledge to share, then this can be an effective way to generate income.
By offering quality content paired with expert knowledge in your field this can be the most direct and amazingly effective way to make money with webinars. If it is a series webinar then, obviously, you can keep your viewers coming back for more.
This method is most suited if you are offering an on-line course or training.
Selling your Products
One of the most popular uses of webinars is product promotion and sales. If you have a product to sell, then a webinar can be a crucial tool for getting your product known and generating sales.
Well-crafted and organized webinars are an incredibly productive method of generating sales. Particularly when a sales funnel has been used to ensure the audience is correct for the product you are selling.
It could be asking prospects to book a call, buy a course, order something, etc.
Selling other people’s products
Even if you don’t have your product to sell, then with use of an affiliate marketing program you can still use a webinar to make some profit.
Affiliate marketing is increasingly being used to generate income through webinars.
Perhaps you are a fitness guru that uses a particular range of protein shakes and high energy drinks, then this method would be perfect.
There is no necessity to carry stock or worry about shipping and logistics, all you need to do is put together an entertaining and well thought out webinar.
Once again, a webinars versatility comes to the fore when generating income is concerned. With the right sales funnel, a quality presentation, and the right message, making money through a webinar can be simple yet incredibly effective.
How to Create a Webinar
It can seem to be a daunting task when you first decide to create a webinar. But if you could break it down into several steps then it is quite simple to get that first webinar up and running.
Pick the right content
This may sound obvious, but before you start to consider creating a webinar be sure in your own mind just what you want your webinar to achieve and how you are going to get your message across.
Spend time creating the content, this is what will make or break your webinar.
There should be a good mix of presentation slides (from a PowerPoint for example) and your face.
I have watched excellent webinars where we could not see the host, so showing your face is not essential.
Promotion = Traffic (and more Traffic = more Sales)
A webinar can be a lonely place if no-one turns up. Promotion is a critical aspect of setting up a webinar. This is where you apply a sales funnel to make sure that the right people in the right numbers tune in to watch your webinar.
Social Media, email marketing and landing pages are all essential parts of selling your webinar. Some people drive traffic by using ads.
Choose the Right Platform/Software
This choice is dependent on many factors. Including: -
- Required Features
- Audience Size
There are pros and cons for all solutions, you should be aware of your expectations at this stage to help you select the right platform.
There is nothing worse than watching poor quality video or listening to muffled sound and there is no surer way to generate a disgruntled audience. Make sure your camera, microphone and lighting are all up to standard and I can’t emphasize this enough, test everything well before you are due to go live.
Wherever possible have back up devices. Technical problems occur and you should try to minimize the disruption that they can cause by having back up plans and procedures in place.
What makes a great Webinar?
Webinars can fall flat on their face if not enough thought and effort are put into making sure your webinar is a great webinar. Just turning up on the day with a handful of scribbled notes about your subject isn’t going to cut it. By applying some simple steps, you can make sure your webinar keeps your audience enthralled.
Make sure you have the correct audience
There is no point in trying to sell a unique car wash wax to an audience of expectant mothers. By using appropriate marketing techniques and a sales funnel you ensure the audience is right for your webinar.
Great content on your Topic
Image heavy and informative content is critical to keep your attendee’s attention. But it must be backed up with enough knowledge to guarantee that you can provide an in-depth understanding of the topic. If you stutter and fluff over points people will soon realize that they are wasting their time.
Being prepared on the content you are providing is just the start. A webinar is a blend of technologies. Ensure that you and other participants are fully aware of the technology and how it works and more importantly what to do if it doesn’t. Perform a dry run first, check everything from your slide show being in the correct order to the microphones and video equipment all working correctly.
Keep your Audience Engaged
Use polls and questionnaires and live chat forums to encourage your audience to interact. An audience that has interacted is more likely to feel part of an event rather than just an observer. An audience that feels they are included in something are far more likely to hang around.
To Summarize – The correct audience that can interact with fantastic content that is presented clearly will be a happy audience.
How long should my webinar be?
There is no one-size-fits all answer, but generally speaking, the higher the price of what you sell, the longer the webinar should be.
Short webinars are around 15 minutes long, middle ones around 45-60 minutes, and long ones are about 2 hours.
Do Webinars Cost Money?
As an audience participant a webinar can cost money but in most cases, they are free. It depends on the content being offered and what the objective of the webinar ultimately is.
For instance, if you have signed up for an online course that is fully or partially webinar based then you may pay to enroll in a webinar. However, product pitches or marketing webinars are normally free.
Setting up a webinar can also be done free of charge or paid. As with most things the free versions are usually limited in their functionality.
What is the difference between a Webinar and an e-Course?
There can be confusion as to the difference between a Webinar and an e-course and there is a grey area where they can be one and the same thing. But for a simple explanation as far as course content goes, a webinar would usually offer a broad-brush approach to a subject possibly with a view to enticing you to enroll in an e-course.
Whereas an e-course is a more in-depth look at a particular subject matter and although webinars may be included as part of the curriculum, it is usually backed up with other course content. For instance, video lectures, PDF reading matter etc.
Is a Webinar interactive? Can a host see you in a Webinar?
A Webinar can have interactive functionality at the hosts discretion. The host may decide to run questionnaires or polls throughout the webinar and in many instances there will be a live chat function available.
Although by default a host will not be able to see you, it is possible that they can invite you to get on camera if both parties’ desire.
What do I need to create a webinar?
You need the following elements to create (and distribute) a webinar:
- Camera with microphone (plus ideally, lighting)
- Presentation (e.g., PowerPoint presentation, Keynote, GoogleSlides, etc.)
- A software to record the webinar:
- Live Webinar software if you create a live webinar
- Evergreen webinar if you want to provide a replay of your presentation
You could record a webinar with your phone! No need for big shot expensive equipment.
Now, how do people register to the webinar? You need to create what we call a user flow:
- People see your content (e.g., website, blog post, social media post, Facebook message, email) or your ad (e.g., Facebook ad, Youtube ad, etc.)
- They register to the webinar by providing you their email address and/or phone number (and name)
- You provide them access to the webinar by giving them a link (either given right after they input their information or after they opened the email you sent them)
- The users access the webinar room, then the webinar video streaming starts.
- Et Voilà!
What is a Webinar Software?
Webinar software is the software you will require to set up and run your webinar. It is what allows you to stream your presentation live and lets the audience watch and interact with your webinar (this is called a live webinar.) You can also provide users with a replay of the webinar, which we call an "evergreen" webinar. Alternatively, you could create a webinar and just provide it as an evergreen webinar to the public, no need to do a live webinar per se.
There are free versions and paid versions available on the market. At the outset being aware of the requirements and content of your webinar will help you decide which software is right for you.
In this post we reviewed the most popular webinar software (above.)
How to drive traffic to your Webinar and get Webinar Registrations
Start early, begin with your subject matter. If you have a topic that draws people in, then straight away you are at an advantage. Without a relevant and topical subject, it doesn’t matter how clever your marketing campaign is, people just won’t have the interest.
Once you are confident that your topic is relevant and engaging, then it is down to getting the word out there. Check out Social Media, join relevant Facebook groups and post on them. Start an email campaign that is enticing and to the point. Create a landing page that quickly gets your message across and offers easy registration.
Always use a sales funnel to ensure that the people that do register are the right audience. Getting the word out to a broader spectrum initially, then refining that down to individuals who are more likely to be interested in your topic is what a funnel sales system is designed to do.
Using this system helps guarantee the success of your webinar.
How to select the Best Webinar Software
The first thing you need to do is be aware of what you are offering, how you want to offer it and what your expected results should be. Compare your requirements and expectations against whatever software packages you are considering.
You may also want to consider factors like:
- Ease of Use: Software that’s over-complicated and crammed with features you will never use is probably not for a beginner. Keep it simple, look for the best package that offers features as close to your requirements as possible.
- Budget: if you’re just organizing your first webinar then it is even possible to use free software to run your webinar. However, the limited functionality of these options will impose limits like audience numbers and interactive capabilities. The paid options come in a range of prices to suit most budgets and offer far more features.
- Use a Free Trial: If you are unsure about which to choose, see if there is a free trial option available and take it for a test run.
- Mobile friendly: Do you anticipate a lot of your potential audience will be watching on their mobile devices. Then you should ensure the package you plump for has this capability.
- Think Ahead: If you are just starting out but have plans to grow your webinar then you would want to choose a package that will allow you to offer features in the future that you may not use initially. Having to change packages at a later date because your existing package no longer fulfills your requirements, will involve having to learn a new package and migrate settings etc.
Have a look at our article 1000 True Fans: myth or true?