Webinars have been around for years – but, far from being yesterday’s news, it seems their popularity is still on the rise.
While only 44% of marketers have actually hosted or participated in a webinar, 87% found it to be an effective strategy. Webinars have built up so much steam that 49% of marketers say they plan to host or participate in a webinar in 2018.
A quick search on Google Trends reveals that the search term ‘webinar’ has steadily and inexorably grown from 2004 to the present day. Demand is growing, and marketers who tap into that demand can take advantage of one of the web’s most engaging marketing strategies.
Webinars can help you build thought leadership, reach a new audience, share your knowledge (while learning from others) and put a face to your company.
If you’re wondering what all the fuss over webinars is about, we have the answer. Here’s several benefits of holding a webinar for your company:
Humanise Your Company
When we view social media posts by companies or read their brochures, it’s easy to forget there is a human being behind them. It’s easy to view businesses as steel and concrete buildings or emotionless, faceless blurs.
But that changes when people can see your face and hear your voice. Suddenly they have a person in mind when they think of your company.
I can distinctly remember many of the webinar speakers I’ve listened to, as well as where they worked or what they did. Many of them I’ve followed on Twitter and still learn from. But the ones who I don’t remember and didn’t follow are those who were, well, . . . boring.
They didn’t make their session interesting, their voices were monotone, or their content wasn’t engaging. All I remember about those people is how boring they were. But the others? I remember that they seemed trustworthy, they really knew what they were talking about, and they were friendly and engaging. So I followed them.
And I’m not the only one who thinks like this. In one study, 32% of webinar attendees said they felt most engaged when the webinar host was passionate and energetic.
Example: Mari Smith
Mari Smith, also called the Queen of Facebook, is the perfect example of an interesting speaker who engages her audience.
Your attendees will remember you if you engage them. Your brand won’t be just a building to them anymore. They’ll think of you and remember their impression of you. So make sure it’s a good one.
You can humanise your webinar by:
- Letting guests see your face
- Not reading off a script
- Allowing yourself to ad lib at certain times
- Using humour
Become a Thought Leader
Sharing your knowledge and expertise in a webinar is an easy way to position yourself as an industry expert. You build your credibility as you prove what you know and the value you can offer.
When you hold webinars that answer your prospects real questions, address their real fears, and solve their real problems, you earn their trust. Especially when they realise that you gave them so much value for free.
In order to be considered as a thought leader, you need to fill your webinar with more than generalisations and well-known facts. It needs to be packed from the very start with actionable tips, fresh and proven stats, and specific advice.
One social media marketing webinar I attended gave all the guests a downloadable packet of social media marketing stats, as well as downloadable versions of the presentation slides. I was able to use these resources months down the road, and each time I did, I was reminded of the knowledgeable company/person who gave them to me.
This Hubspot webinar offers specific comparisons, how-to’s, and a case study as a step-by-step example. Their presentation reinforces their credibility and expertise.
Prove the Value of Your Service or Product
Webinars are not a sales pitch. They’re not a free 45 minutes for you to rant about how amazing your services are. You’ll lose what little trust your prospects have in you when you only try to sell to them.
Instead, webinars a chance to prove yourself useful to your audience by giving them real value. You do this by addressing their actual pain points and answering their actual questions without pitching your products at the same time.
Marketo offers email marketing services, but in their webinar about marketing automation, they didn’t try to sell their service the entire time. They also explained exactly how to set up an organised, successful email marketing campaign, even if the user isn’t using Marketo.
A satisfactory middle ground between not speaking about your services at all and speaking about them too much is to give a special offer or bonus exclusively for your attendees at the very end of the webinar.
By the end, you’ve hopefully proven your value to your audience, and they now have a good reason to trust that your product will be worth buying. Their perceived value of your product doesn’t come from a sales pitch but from the value and expert advice you provided them. Their perception of your product will be authentic and paired with their impression of you. It’ll be a perception they created themselves, not one you tried to force on them.
There’s a few ways you could go about giving your audience a special offer:
- At the very end of your webinar, explain what their next step should be and mention that you have a resource or class that teaches how to do it. You can even offer them a discount, if they sign up during the webinar.
- Or offer them a discounted price on a service you offer that’s relevant to their needs.
- Or send an email after the webinar explaining the service you offer, why it would be helpful to them, and giving a discount code.
Prove Your Leads
Webinars give you the chance to identify which leads are serious about your field of expertise.
No one is going to sit down and listen to you talk for 45 minutes if they aren’t genuinely interested in the topic. Simply by joining the webinar, they’re showing that they need what you’re teaching or selling. And they may be interested enough to buy from you—maybe not right then, but later. Webinars are only a step in the process, not the finish line.
Your webinar attendees have proven their intent when they click that “Join Webinar” button. They’re no longer unengaged prospects. It’s then up to you to deliver what they’re expecting, wow them with your knowledge and helpfulness, and remain in contact with them afterwards.
Move Leads Down Sales Funnel
This is the benefit most marketers know about. Webinars give you a chance to move mid-funnel leads down further.
People are more likely to buy from someone they trust. As humans, we are risk averse. And buying from someone you don’t know and have no previous experiences with is risky business.
This logic is the same reason why you shop at the same stores all the time. Why you order the same foods from your favorite restaurant. Why you’re hesitant to switch phone service providers. You make decisions based on previous experiences (or a lack thereof) with brands.
But attending a free webinar held by you isn’t nearly as risky as blindly buying from you. And as you give them the answers they need and touch on the concerns they’re facing, their confidence in you will grow. They’ll have had a positive experience with you—something to look back on when they are considering buying from you.
How can you ensure they have a positive experience with your webinar?
- Walk them through exactly how to do each step with screenshots or a live demo
- Engage them in a live Q&A session at the end (92% of webinar attendees want a live Q&A session).
- Don’t just answer their questions. Go above and beyond by suggesting tools to use, showing how to use them, recommending further materials to read, etc.
- Include elements they can interact with—chat room, live polls, clickable links, downloadable materials, etc.
Marketo’s webinar about social media secrets incorporated screenshots of social media examples throughout the presentation.
More and more marketers are discovering the many benefits of using webinars. If you join in and take the time to do your webinars right, you’ll be able to find more engaged leads, identify the less engaged ones, bring a human touch to your brand, and prove your value and expertise.
To learn more about the effectiveness of webinars and video marketing, visit our State of Video Marketing 2018 page.