Webinars require a huge investment, but they pay off greatly if you deliver the perfect presentation. Here are the best ways to make the most of your webinar.
With the shift to almost entirely digital interactions due to COVID-19, webinars are a panacea to the social distancing dilemma. According to Webinar.net's Benchmarks and Best Practices for Webinars Report, 67% of businesses have doubled down on webinars since the COVID-19 outbreak. 57% of marketers host an average of 50 webinars every year — that’s nearly one a week!
With more screen interaction taking place during extended periods at home, webinar consumption rose by 293% in 2020 compared to the 2019 monthly average according to ON24’s COVID Benchmarks Report. Attendees now watch a webinar for an average of 52 minutes — despite guidelines to keep presentations to 30-40 minutes.
Thanks to the proliferation of self-service webinar software platforms, webinars are now easy and inexpensive to make without any fancy equipment or advanced technical skills needed. Plus, easy-to-format on-demand viewing options extend a webinar’s lifespan and reach.
Based on these trends and statistics, webinars are not a fad—they’re here to stay.
Are you keeping up with webinar best practices? Here are five tips to keep you moving onward and upward:
1. Timing is everything
According to ON24’s 2021 Webinar Benchmarks Report, webinars hosted on Wednesday and Thursday have the largest audience, and the best time to schedule one is at 2 pm Eastern time.
2. Plan ahead
Create a marketing strategy for your webinar that starts at least two weeks in advance, and make sure you send your invitations in the middle of the work week. ON24 found that 20% of registrants RSVP at least 15 days before the webinar, and 15% register on the day of. People most often respond to promotional emails on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
3. Know your audience
53% of viewers will watch your webinar live, and 43% will watch on-demand after the event ends, according to ON24. 5% of viewers will watch both live and on-demand. The number of on-demand viewers is growing, and those viewers are watching for longer: They stay plugged in for an average of 57 minutes, up from 56 minutes in 2019. Consider who will watch the recorded version and make sure you cater to them, too.
4. Manage your expectations
Many marketing leaders agree that webinars will not generate sales-ready leads. Instead, they're an opportunity to educate your audience, increase brand awareness, build relationships, and improve your contact list. Understand that your audience is trying to learn something new, so don’t make your webinar a sales pitch. There are ways to use your webinars to generate sales—you can share it with potential customers who want to learn more, for example—but the day of the event is not the correct time or place.
5. Engage your audience
A typical webinar lasts for one hour, and your audience will watch for an average of 57 minutes. Keeping in mind that your audience prefers a shorter webinar, you'll need to engage viewers throughout the entire event. One way to do this is with interactive content — 86% of webinars now include a Q&A session, while engagement tactics such as social media, surveys, and polling are used less often, appearing in 22%, 43%, and 22% of webinars, respectively.
Amp up your webinar with surveys and polls, and examine the results live with your audience; this keeps them engaged and gives you a chance to amaze them with your expertise. Integrate video into your webinars, or have experts make guest appearances. Your objective is to educate your audience and pique their curiosity and interest in your topic — so much so that they contact you after the webinar to learn more.