So, it’s been 1 whole year. This time last year I entered the world of webinars, and what a journey it has been! In my short time in the world of webinar marketing, I’ve seen a lot, I’ve experienced a lot, and – more importantly – I’ve executed a lot! Being a webcast manager has really got me thinking about webinars (obviously!), and I have set out some of my key findings and observations from my first year in webinars. Here are five key webinar observations on the current state of webinars:
1. Webinars are still a thing… a big thing!
You might say that I would say this – given my role, but I particularly feel with the current trends in media consumption that webinars are one of the most effective methods of communication. Live streaming is quickly becoming an absolute giant in media consumption (twitch, Youtube, Facebook live), and it’s not much different for on-demand video content in today’s market (Netflix, amazon prime video, Youtube). There’s no reason not to apply the same principles in the way we communicate in business. Especially, as a good webinar platform provides more analytics and insight than any other marketing asset. In the era of marketing and tech stacks, in-depth insight is a must – particularly in B2B marketing.
But let me take a step back – why do people doubt? Well like anything, we all have different experiences. Webinars have been around for a long time, and many of us have experienced them at different stages of their lifecycle. It’s safe to say that webinars in 2019 are different to webinars in 2009, and yet people still hold onto their negative experiences. If we look at the Gartner Hype Cycle, there’s always a growth, a dip, and then a rising slope upwards, and webinars are on that rising slope now – we’ve survived the dip of bad user experience, and now we’re in the age of webinar growth and maturity.
2. Want success? Treat your webinars like events
This is something I’m particularly passionate about, and at first glance it makes sense, but dig a little deeper and you realise how we can all fall short of this sometimes. From first ideas to final follow-up, we should be treating the whole experience as if it were a physical event, ensuring the customer/consumer experience comes first.
Allow me to break it down and apply this idea: Imagine you turn up to an event that you found out about last minute, only to realise that the event would be half a day rather than the expected full day. You then listen to the speaker, who isn’t interested in any interaction whatsoever, and then once they’ve finished you get handed a survey – no explanation as to what it is, just an expectation to fill it out. Doesn’t sound too good right?
Unfortunately, this is what webinars can be like, i.e. a bigger concern for just running through a slide deck and machine-gunning a sales pitch rather than providing an engaging experience for the customer. I’ve heard the arguments before:, “physical events are completely different”, “physical events are way more important” you name it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying ditch your physical events for webinars, I’m suggesting an ongoing customer journey that flows consistently from big wow moments in physical events to the development of those moments in your webinars, providing your customers with an ongoing interest and excitement.
To round up, the diligence and attention to detail we have with physical events should be directly transferred and applied to webinars. It changes the webinar from just another online piece of content to an engaging experience that leaves people wanting more.
3. There are a lot of misconceptions…
Technology moves fast. Webinar technology moves fast. Webinar platforms are moving fast. Always keep this in mind when thinking about how you use your platform, and when comparing with other platforms. So often we can get caught up in the 50 other tasks that we have to do in the day that we don’t take time to research and understand the technology we’re using Of course, if it works it works, but we can often fall into a trap of not knowing the full potential of the platform, causing either missed opportunities or opinions based on outdated information.
But wait, you don’t have time to spend hours looking into release notes and understanding how to best use tech for webinars. Well, that leads me onto my next point…
4. …So have someone who knows their stuff
I’ll just take a moment to provide a shout-out to another company – AutoTrader. The folks from AutoTrader are avid users of webinars. They made this exact same point during their main-stage talk at Webinar World in September – have someone who understands the technical side of webinars! Streaming technology is moving very fast and having an advisor who specialises in the technical side of webinars makes a huge difference. I’d even go so far as to say a “webinar dream team” should consist of someone who approaches webinars from a marketing and strategy perspective, and someone who approaches them from a technical/execution perspective. So find those people who are audio/visual geeks, let them execute and innovate, and watch your webinar experience increase and expand before your eyes!
5. Sustainability is key!
To wrap things up, this is a big one to remember when it comes to webinars. Anyone can hire in a production team and make one flashy webinar that will wow people for however long you have budget to promote it for, but the real indicator of success is a sustainable webinar programme. An experience that keeps people coming back for more is better for you, and better for your company, so don’t get caught up in the “1 big webinar mentality”. Always think about what’s coming up next. Come up with plans, strategies, schedules, and innovations that will provide a sustainable flow of webinars for your company. Like all things, it may seem difficult at first, but once you get into that rhythm you’ll see the results.
So that’s about it from me for my five key webinar observations, I hope to write some more blog posts in the future about some of the points I’ve mentioned here, so make sure you keep an eye out, and of course if you have any questions reach out, I’d be more than happy to discuss anything that I’ve mentioned… or everything else webinar related for that matter!
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