What is a Webinar and How Does it Work? A Guide to Webinar Marketing
Even though webinars have been here for a long time, with the continuous rise of video content’s popularity in marketing, web presentations are the way to go.
If you’re new to webinar marketing, read along and find out what webinars are, their main benefits, and how to create them.
Table Of Contents
What is a webinar?
Webinars (web seminars) are video presentations, workshops, or lectures hosted online, usually via webinar software. These online events are usually interactive, business-related and allow you to share your knowledge with virtually anyone in the world.
Web presentations and conferences are a highly interactive form of marketing and can be used as a relationship-building or authority-building tactic. But the possibilities are endless. You can even use webinars for internal team meetings if you’re part of a remote team.
Planning a webinar is so much easier than organizing a seminar or lecture in real life. Mainly because you don’t need to have a big venue to host a large number of attendees. You can invite people from all around the globe, to meet in real-time, and if they can’t participate live, you can record the webinar and send them the recording later.
What are the benefits of a webinar?
So, now you know what webinars are. But why do you need webinars?
Here are the main reasons you should host a webinar:
- First of all, they help you build a list. Every registered person is a new contact in your database.
- Online seminars establish you as an expert, a trustworthy and reliable source of information in your industry. They allow you to share your expertise with your target market. You can personally provide solutions to their problems, which can clear their doubts over your product.
- If you record your webinars, they will serve you as valuable content you can share with your audience later.
- By registering, people are demonstrating an interest in what you are offering – they become qualified leads, making it easier to nurture and convert them.
- They can help you train and onboard new employees in a ‘fun’ way – it’s always better to explain important issues by talking, not writing long-form text.
- Every web seminar you run gives you many branding opportunities. With webinars, you build brand awareness and set the brand voice.
Michael Leszczynski, Content Marketing Manager at GetResponse, says:
Here, at GetResponse, webinars play an important role and not just because we provide webinar software. We use them to onboard new customers, support our product launches, and establish authority when inviting world-class experts.
We also use them internally, when onboarding and training our new employees who are joining our remote offices. They’ve been great for knowledge-sharing, especially given the fact that you can record and re-use the content later.
There are many types of web seminars you can use to achieve specific goals, or to adjust to the needs of your audience and your business. Here are some of the most popular types of content and techniques you can use while video conferencing and planning your webinar marketing strategy. Follow by them, are the most popular webinar types categorized by the goals you can achieve with them.
Webinar content types
If the purpose of your webinar is educating your audience, the web presentation itself should provide accompanying educational visuals – and presenting what you want to convey in presentation slides is the easiest option.
Here’s how we do it with GetResponse webinars:
A quick tip: The first slide of your presentation should have all the important “technical” info – how long will the webinar last, whether it will be recorded & sent to participants, and the agenda for the video seminar.
There’s, of course, more to creating an engaging presentation. If you’d like to learn more about the best practices, read this article on how to create a webinar presentation and this post by Chloe West.
Creating a web seminar in a live-video format is great if you want to build closer relationships with your customers or to conduct a team meeting. It’s very personal, and you can show the “human side” of your business in a professional way. This type of webinar could also be useful if you’re making a video presentation of a physical product.
When you’re hosting a webinar, your audience can use the chat option to ask questions or answer yours. It builds the relationship between you and establishes your authority when you provide answers to their problems in real-time. People feeling seen by you makes the connection stronger and creates a bond that keeps the customers coming back to you.
You can use the whiteboard to better visualize more complex topics. By drawing over charts, images, or mapping out various concepts from scratch, you can help your audience follow your thought process.
Quick tip: While explaining concepts on whiteboards during the web conference, don’t hestitate to collaborate 😉
If you need to do an online presentation on a specific topic more than once – or maybe you even need to do it regularly – you can use a pre-recorded webinar instead. This option is also useful if you’re doing a webinar with a guest-speaker who’s unable to schedule a meeting around the time that best fits your audience.
Once you’ve got a polished presentation, all you need to do is hit the play button once the webinar has started. To make sure the video presentation remains personal and your audience is happy with the experience, you can run the chat and answer their questions live while the pre-recorded webinar is running.
This is a common practice among SaaS companies that need to run product training webinars for their new customers on a regular basis.
When your topic requires demonstrating some step-by-steps in software or online, there’s no better way to do it than by sharing your desktop. The attendees will be able to see exactly what you’re doing and follow along. This format is especially useful while onboarding new users to your software.
You can also use screen sharing if you’ve created your presentation in a non-standard way, e.g., using Prezi. Since these aren’t based on slides, the best way to present them is through sharing your screen with your audience.
The same applies if instead of using one presentation, you’re sharing multiple apps or files like spreadsheets. Rather than taking screenshots and adding them to your presentation, you can share your desktop and jump between different apps freely.
A polling tool is something that will provide both you and your audience with stats and information not available anywhere else. You can set it to be either anonymous or public.
Webinar types by different purposes
If you want to educate your audience on the field you’re an expert within, webinars are one of the most effective ways to do it. To run an educational webinar, it’s best to use well-prepared slides or a whiteboard video, as it utilizes the visual capabilities of webinars.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask external expert speakers to collaborate with you!
2. Product webinars
When you have a great product to showcase to a lot of people, turn your usual event-goers to webinar participants. You can give them a detailed presentation, including every detail, answering their questions. While running a product webinar, you’re educating the participants and getting their attention with your product, so you’re able to nurture your leads and even convert them into actual customers, making a sale. This allows you to collect the much-needed feedback on your product or tool.
3. User onboarding
If your company is offering software, you will benefit from a user onboarding webinar the most. Make sure the learning curve is as soft as possible by inviting new users to participate in a webinar that you run for newbies regularly, for example, once a month. Run a user onboarding webinar making use of a screen sharing option.
4. Employee training and team meetings
Of course, running webinars to convert is beneficial to your business. But that shouldn’t stop you from using webinars for team meetings and training your employees when you have a remote team, or a team too big to fit into a room together. Webinar training is the best way to pass the knowledge and teach practical skills to your employees when you made the switch to remote work, as this type of content is more engaging than written material.
5. Lead generation and list building
When you promote your webinar across different channels, focus on one persona that you’d like to attract. When they register, they will trust you with their email address, and that’s the starting point. You’ll gain valuable and interesting leads you can follow up with, and nurture them into conversion later. You can also host paid and free webinars with the help of marketing funnels.
6. Customer retention and nurturing
While hosting inspiring webinars may be great to attract new people to your brand, it’s equally as good for nurturing customers that are already on board with you. The personal relationship you build along the way is key to keep them coming back. With such webinars, they can keep track of your newest products and announcements. It’s also a great opportunity for your clients to ask important questions when you’re more approachable than ever.
How to run a webinar & webinar best practices
If you’re wondering how to start creating webinars, here are a few webinar tips, and steps you need to take.
1. Choose the right topic, title, and format
First of all, think of what the purpose of your webinar will be.
Is it to generate leads, grow your list, sell a product, or onboard new users?
Then, decide on the topic. What is the most important knowledge you can share with people in an hour or so? If you’re looking for inspiration for your webinar’s content, you can run through your other content’s stats to see what drives traffic to your site, and what your audience is the most interested in. This step will definitely ensure a higher engagement.
Remember to be precise. It helps people understand what they’re signing up for, and it also helps you with your landing page’s SEO. Consider naming it with a question, e.g., ‘How to make a webinar sale? Free webinar with *an industry influencer*’. Whether it’s a webinar directed towards people new to the subject or experts, specify it. It will save you from lots of negative opinions like “I already knew that” and “It was too complicated; I need to know the basics first.”.
When you’ve decided on the topic, choose a format that would suit your webinar’s needs.
2. Choose the presenters & team
When preparing for a webinar, you’ll need to pick a qualified presenter. It should be a person who’s knowledgeable on the subject, not afraid of public speaking and answering tough questions, has good charisma and is at least a bit immune to stress. Of course, your web seminar can have more than one presenter.
Then, you can choose an assistant, who could admin the chat and possibly answer some of the audience’s questions while the speaker continues with their presentation.
After you’ve found perfect people who will create the webinar’s content, you can also ask someone (or a few people) to take care of the technical side of your web seminar (make sure the Internet connection is strong and that you can be heard and, if required, seen)
Webinar Setup Checklist
Want to be sure that your webinar is a success?
Then grab this handy checklist to make sure you’ve covered all the bases.
3. Plan out the content
Planning is crucial If you want to construct an online seminar that’s engaging from start to finish.
Webinars that involve the presenters running through subjects in chaos and stumbling aren’t the best and most memorable. If you plan your webinar right, it should deliver on your promise, and have the perfect amount of content for your audience to absorb.
When you know the topic and purpose of your online seminar, it shouldn’t be hard to create an outline. Remember that the average webinar lasts about 40-60 minutes, so that’s the standard timeframe you’re going to work with. If you’re creating a prerecorded webinar, create a storyboard first, just like a film director would.
The content you provide throughout the webinar should be engaging enough to keep the participants until the end. You can also tease a bonus at the start, to create an incentive to keep watching. Then, it should naturally lead into a paid offering, if that’s a part of your webinar’s purpose. There’s an 80-20 rule for this – make the webinar 80% solid content, and you can promote your product for the remaining 20%.
Always start by welcoming participants. Ask them where they are joining you from, and you’ll create instant engagement.
Make the participants sure that’s the right place for them to be, by specifying who will benefit from the online seminar. Also, introduce not only the subject of your webinar, but yourself. Start with a relatable story to prove you’re trustworthy and keep it brief.
Remember to always save some time in the end for a Q&A session. Mention it at the beginning so that the audience will have time to think through the questions they want to ask.
Read more on how to structure your webinar content.
How long should a webinar be?
In most cases, webinars last from 30 minutes to an hour. 60 minutes is enough time to have a 45 minute presentation and leave room for answering questions the audience might ask throughout the webinar on in a designated Q&A session.
But, the ‘usual’ webinar length isn’t set in stone. If you have well-structured content that will take you over an hour to present – go for it. If you have just a short presentation, TED Talks style, you can make it a webinar on demand, as audiences tend to engage with longer video content when it’s live.
4. Prep the tech & environment
Before you run a webinar, make sure you have a camera (a working laptop camera is good enough) and a working microphone with settings adjusted to the environment you’re in. Speaking of which, choose a set for your webinar – it can be your office, or even your living room, but keep it professional and ensure nobody interrupts you during the webinar. It can throw you off guard and disrupt the focus of participants.
To minimize the risk of some miss ups, check if your Internet connection is stable, make sure your laptop charger is plugged in, or that your computer won’t start updating itself.
And it should go without saying – if you’re going to share your screen, don’t have any unnecessary tabs open in your browser and possibly clear your desktop.
It’s also best to log into the webinar room 20 minutes before the scheduled meeting and check if everything goes smoothly.
5. Attend other webinars beforehand
It’s hard to imagine how to prepare for such an event if you’ve never attended one yourself. Find a few seminars with experienced hosts, like industry influencers, and register now. Make notes of everything you find interesting, starting from the webinar’s landing page, to the way the speaker talks. See what you can implement in your own preparation.
6. Schedule your webinar
What is the best time to run a webinar?
It’s hard to pinpoint the ‘perfect’ date and time, but the rule of thumb is to schedule a webinar for the middle of the week, Tuesday to Thursday (with Tuesday as the winner). The other days are more likely to have people vacationing. Most people will only commit to one webinar per week, so you’ll be competing with other players in the field.
While you may assume people want to attend web seminars in the afternoon, when they’re off work, it’s not entirely true. Some statistics suggest that the time most people prefer to attend webinars is 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. Keep in mind that you’ll probably have guests from different time zones, and if you’re really far away from your targeted audience, you may even have to sacrifice some sleep to host. And, try not to schedule the seminar for lunch hours.
While promoting your video seminar, mention that it will be recorded – people will know it’s worth signing up even if they can’t attend and that they’ll receive the recording later.
7. Promote your webinar
To run an online presentation, you need people to register for it. It’s not just the content that makes them register – it’s how you promote it. Mixing different digital marketing tools is the way to go.
Webinar landing pages
Create a landing page with an invitation, that will encourage people to sign up and tell the audience everything they need to know beforehand.
First, write a short copy explaining the topic. In a few pointers highlight what the participants will take away from it. Then, place a signup form where your leads will leave their name and email, and finish it off with a clear CTA button – the word “register” should be enough.
Don’t forget to introduce the hosts. It’s a nice touch that will set the foundation of your newly-built relationship.
And there’s the last step that you should never skip – highlight the date and time of your webinar (especially the timezone if you expect participants from all over the world).
Below’s an example of a webinar registration page we used for one of our webinars.
In this post, you’ll find more great webinar landing pages.
If you’re feeling extra fancy, when creating a landing page in GetResponse, you can add a countdown timer.
Banners, popups, ads
Place a banner on your website or blog in a visible spot at least a week before the scheduled date. The CTA button, again, is of the utmost importance – build a sense of urgency by using phrases like “save your seat” or “register now”. Then, link it to your landing page.
You can promote your event in popup forms on your website if you want a quicker way to get people to register.
Advertise where the people are. If you know your audience’s preferred mean of communication is social media like Facebook or Instagram, create social ads that lead to the registration page. Try the GetResponse Social Ads Creator if you want to use fun templates and create video promos in no time.
Spreading the word
When you have a great following on social media like Twitter, you can use it to your advantage and spread the word, possibly gaining new followers along the way. Create a dedicated hashtag – it can engage the participants you before, during, and after the seminar and allow you to interact with them.
Share links and tease the presentation’s content. And, just before the start of your online seminar, state that it’s about to begin – the audience will be reminded of it in real-time while scrolling their feeds.
You may use the webinar as a mean to build your list. But, what about the people that are already on it? Seize the opportunity and invite them to your web seminar by email.
Start with the subject line. To make clear what you’re promoting, consider stating it first, in brackets, like so:
If you’re partnering up with an industry expert, don’t shy away from namedropping here 😉
In the copy, don’t just communicate the details and reiterate on the webinar’s topic. Address your prospects’ pain points and tell them how the webinar will help. Only then you should jump into the details and write about the overall agenda, the date and time, how long will it last, and how they can register.
I will touch on the subject of emails one more time in a minute, but in the meantime, you should definitely check out our article on how to design great webinar invitation emails.
How to Promote Your Webinar in 9 Easy Steps
Want to make sure your next webinar is a success? Promote it in 9 easy steps. In this guide, you’ll find our best webinar promotion strategies plus tips on how to sell more with your online presentations.
You shouldn’t jump into your first webinar without proper preparation, with the hopes to improvise. Sure, being flexible in your presentation is an asset, but practice a lot in the days leading to your seminar to make everything smooth and sound convincing and knowledgeable. Also, everyone on your team should have a bit of first-hand experience with the webinar software you’re going to use – so it’s great to do a dry run with everyone involved.
Keep away from last-minute tweaks and changes in your scenario. They usually make everything a bit messier and cause unnecessary stress.
8. Send reminders
As I mentioned before, there are more emails you should send than just the invitation emails.
On average, only about a third of the people who have registered will attend your webinar, so you should really make sure they don’t forget to join you.
When people have registered to your event and left you their email address, it’s expected of you to, firstly, thank them for registering.
Secondly, remind them of the upcoming seminar.
Marketers usually agree that the best times to send event reminder emails are a week before, an hour before, and 5 minutes before.
One week before encourages the registrants to mark the date in their calendar for the next week.
And the email sent 5 minutes before the webinar creates such a sense of urgency, that they make up for the greatest percentage of attendees.
Sounding both professional and personal in these emails is crucial. One of my favorite examples is an email from GetResponse’s Irek Klimczak. It asked a question in the subject line: “Will you make it today?”. This line alone gave him surprising results. It generated a 42.41% open and a 3.67% click-through rate and boosted the registrants-to-attendees rate by 5%. It also received a decent number of personal replies.
9. Run the webinar
It’s time to host. Get ready and familiar with the number of attendees you’ll be dealing with.
Keep a glass of water nearby. Now, focus and go through the planned agenda. Don’t let anything distract you – you’ve got only about an hour and there are many people excited to hear you. Good luck!
10. Follow up!
Now that the webinar is over, you need to follow up on it.
If you were recording the webinar, make sure to send the recording to people who have registered, but couldn’t attend.
If the attendees didn’t make a purchase, it doesn’t disqualify them from being valuable leads. They may need more information.
Ask for feedback – you could use it in the future to improve your webinar endeavors. Provide them with additional resources to continue the nurturing process, and guide them through your sales funnel, converting them as a result.
What equipment do you need for webinars?
If you’re planning to host a webinar, the equipment you need is:
- A webcam (if you’re showing your face)
- A good headset with a microphone – you don’t want to use speakers, as they might create an unpleasant echo when you talk during your presentation. A microphone will be necessary to host.
- Reliable webinar software
- A steady internet connection.
How to record a webinar?
You may want to record your webinar to repurpose it later (please, mention the recording to your audience before you begin). If so, you should find out if the webinar room has a “Rec.” button in the menu. Then, after clicking, usually the recording will be saved as an mp4 file. Also, make sure that you don’t exceed the time limitations.
If you want to learn more, read our article: How to Record a Webinar: Everything You Need to Know.
When you’re comfortable recording webinars, consider using on-demand webinars to make your webinar available to new leads anytime, anywhere, even long after it has taken place.
When you know you’ll be hosting a webinar so good that it could be promoted and generate leads long after it has ended, that’s when you should start using “webinars on demand”.
On-demand webinars (evergreen webinars, or webinars on demand,) are the best option to extend a live webinar’s shelf live. With such webinars, there are no time-zone constraints, there’s less manual work, higher engagement potential, and they’re an ongoing & automated list building method. What’s not to love about it? See the article about on-demand webinars in GetResponse to learn more.
How to make your webinar more engaging?
There are many rhetorical tactics to make a speech or presentation insanely engaging, but webinars give you more (and slightly different) options to get your audience involved and listening.
Here’s how to engage the audience during your webinar:
- Make the waiting time more pleasant
Greet the attendees. Mention that you’ll wait a minute for the other registrants to show up, or ask the attendees where they’re from, what industry they’re in, etc..
- Start with introducing yourself in a relatable way
The attendees know you’re an expert (they wouldn’t register otherwise), so make sure to show them you’re approachable – so that they can ask questions, and relatable – so that they can empathise with you, which will result in higher engagement.
- Speak with passion for what you present
If you sound uninterested in what you preach, why should your audience care?
- Make relevant comments throughout the webinar
Don’t just read aloud what’s on the slides. Allow yourself to digress in moderation, but keep the digressions relevant to the webinar or your audience. A good-ole pop-culture reference or an inoffensive joke is also a good idea ;).
- Do regular check-ins with your audience
Pause for a minute and ask the attendees if they understand everything you’ve covered so far. Make sure they’re comfortable sharing what they’re struggling with at this point.
During your webinar, people might get stuck on something hard to grasp, and if a burning question pops up – answer it along the way. It will result in a sigh of relief from the audience, and they’ll be able to get back to listening carefully.
- Have the right people around
Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with an overload of questions from the webinar attendees – that’s why you should have a dedicated moderator on board. They should regulate the chat, and direct its course in a professional way.
Also, if you can bring in a guest during your webinar, the element of surprise, the slight change in tone, and the additional expert to learn from, will surely get the audience’s attention!
Making the webinar interactive doesn’t have to be all about you answering questions – stimulate your audience’s brains by devoting a few minutes during the webinars for a pop-up quiz. Share the answers straightaway, or make them wait until the end!
- Ask your audience for feedback
This one has two main benefits – it will make the attendees active in the comments, and provide you with information on what you can improve for the future, or what was great (bonus benefit: good webinar feedback will make your day!).
How to create a paid webinar?
Free webinars are a great option for spreading brand awareness, generate quality leads, present an offer, or maybe even hold a meeting. But, you might be wanting to gain something more from a webinar, and you’re sure the knowledge or a skill you’ll be teaching is worth investing in. That’s when you host a paid webinar.
Remember that your audience will expect more from a paid webinar than they would from a free one. When hosting a paid webinar try to steer clear from up-selling your audience at the end. Also, a “thank-you email” afterwards will be greatly appreciated.
You can create a paid webinar funnel in GetResponse. It’s really easy, quick and GetResponse provides you with four of the most trustworthy payment processors to choose. With a webinar funnel, you’ll also have an easier time setting up funnel stages I mentioned earlier (like a signup page, post-registration welcome email, a sales page and a confirmation page). Once these steps are set up, in the funnel you’ll be able to see how many people completed the funnel and purchased access to your paid webinar.
For detailed instructions, click here.
How to participate in a webinar?
To participate in a webinar, you need to register first, through a form provided to you via a landing page or a registration email. Then, on the day of the webinar, join the room a few minutes before the start (via the link provided after registration). When the presenter joins the room, the webinar will begin.
Do you need to be on camera for a webinar?
If you’re hosting a webinar, you don’t need to be on camera as long as you have a visual presentation to engage your audience with. Although, an added webcam segment is always recommended, as it makes the experience more personal and enjoyable.
If you’re attending a web seminar, you don’t have to participate on video. Unless the host invites you to co-present, neither the host nor the audience will see you. Usually the preferred way to engage with the host is the chat window.
What do you use webinars for?
So, now it’s time to hear your opinions – what do you / will you use webinars for?
Let us know in the comments below!
By the way, we also have a few tips for you if you need to know which mistakes to avoid while creating webinars.