According to Google, a webinar is a "seminar conducted over the Internet." While that webinar definition is true, a webinar is more than that. When done correctly, it's a powerful marketing tactic that can position you as an expert in your field, allow you to connect with your audience, train new employees, as well as increase your profit margin.
In this article, we'll explain what a webinar really is, how to use webinars in your business, and discuss how webinars work so you can walk away with some practical ideas about running and benefiting from webinars. We'll also answer some questions like "are webinars live" and "how do I make a webinar?"
What Is a Webinar?
As mentioned in the earlier webinar definition, a webinar is a seminar conducted online. It allows you to host a virtual meeting without the need to find a suitable physical venue. With a webinar you can share your presentation with your audience without physically being there.
Your audience, on the other hand, gets the benefit of participating without leaving the comfort of their home as they can simply watch your webinar using their desktop or laptop computer or mobile device.
In most cases, webinars are business-related and are used as an authority-building or relationship-building tactic. However, webinars can also be used internally for team meetings, especially if you work with an international, remote team.
A webinar offers the following benefits when it comes to communicating with your audience:
- Interactivity through live chat between the host and the attendees as well as attendees themselves, which not only allows webinar host to engage with their audience and build a relationship but also to improve the webinar based on the feedback received.
- The ability to share your screen and your webcam so your audience can not only see your presentation, but also your face.
- The ability for your audience to ask questions and participate in polls, which is another way to keep the audience engaged throughout the webinar.
- Webinars can be recorded and then repurposed later on as digital products such as workshops and training sessions.
- Webinars can accommodate a large number of participants due to the fact they aren't limited by physical space.
If you've been wondering, "are webinars live," here's your answer. There are two different types of webinars:
- Live webinar. Live webinars happen in real time and allow for much more interactivity as the audience can ask questions at any time and get an answer.
- Pre-recorded webinars. Pre-recorded webinars have already taken place and are usually offered as a replay, which means the audience can't participate in a live chat nor can they get their questions answered. However, with a pre-recorded webinar, you can offer several replay times to allow anyone to register and view it at a time that’s convenient for them.
How to Use Webinars in Your Business
Now that we've covered what webinars are, let's discuss different ways they can be used in your business. Here's a list of common uses for webinars:
1. Use Webinars as a Marketing & Sales Tool
In most cases, webinars are used as a part of a business or brand's marketing strategy. Webinars aren't reserved for just large companies and corporations. They can be successfully used by small businesses, solopreneurs, and startups as well. In this case, requesting registrations for the webinar allows you to significantly grow your email list and to pitch your product and service at the end to an interested and engaged audience as well as follow up with them later on.
2. Free Content as List Building Strategy
While webinars usually involve a sales pitch at the end, it’s not uncommon for business owners to run a "no-pitch" webinar purely to build their email list. In this case, all that's required out of participants is to register for the webinar with their email address.
An alternative to this is using a social media platform such as YouTube Live, Instagram Live or Facebook Live to host a free webinar and encouraging attendees to follow you on those platforms so they don't miss it.
The main goal for this type of webinar is to establish your expertise and build a relationship with your audience by providing value instead of focusing on the sale.
Once you've connected with them on social media, you can continue to engage and turn them into email subscribers where you can nurture the relationship even further.
3. Live Q&A Sessions
Another way to use webinars is to run a live Q&A session where you answer your audience's questions about your products or services. This type of webinar works well with product-based business owners, whether the product is digital or physical. You can not only answer questions about your product, but also offer product demonstrations or interactive walkthroughs.
You can use this type of webinar as an opportunity to move your customers from a trialing stage into a paid tier and keep your retention rate high. You can also use this to upsell the next paid plan or other products and services, which represent the next logical step in their customer journey.
Q&A sessions also work well for authors, independent musicians, or film-makers as they can be a great way to connect with your audience, but also to get feedback on the direction of your creative work.
Once your audience feels involved in creating the final piece, they'll be more inclined to not only purchase it but to also spread the word about it to their friends and family.
4. Live Training
If you've got a remote team, a webinar is a great way to train them on a new piece of software, walk them through the standard operating procedures in your company, update them on the latest changes, and more.
Due to the fact that webinars can be recorded, you don't have to worry about team members missing it as you can simply send them a recording of a webinar.
5. Interactive Interviews
You can also use webinars to conduct live, interactive interviews where your audience can join in and participate. You can provide your customers with more value by bringing on an expert and get exposure to their audience once they register for the webinar.
6. Customer Onboarding & Training
If you've got a software company, you can benefit greatly from using webinars to onboard and train your customers. This can happen live as well as in the form of a pre-recorded webinar, but it allows you to eliminate the confusion and frustration that comes from having to learn new software which then increases your churn rate.
Webinars make it easier to learn new software and adjust to it. In return, once your customers know how to use it, they're more inclined to stay as well as open new support tickets.
How Does a Webinar Work?
To host a webinar, there are a few things you’ll need to take care of first. Let's address them more in depth below:
1. Webinar Structure
Most webinars are usually between 45-60 minutes long and involve the host presenting a specific topic, a Q&A session with the audience, and a sales pitch at the end.
First, you'll need to come up with a topic for your webinar. Your topic should be of interest to your audience, so it pays off to keep a running list of common questions and interests that you notice with your current customers, clients, and followers. The topic should relate to your business if you plan on using it as a marketing or sales tool.
Once you know what your topic will be, you'll need to outline it and then create a slide deck for it using a program like PowerPoint or Keynote. A template like those available through Envato Elements is great way to create a professional-looking slide deck quickly.
You'll also need to create a marketing plan that'll promote your webinar to your audience.
After you've taken care of those details, it’s time to consider the technical requirements.
2. Technical Requirements
When it comes to technical requirements, you’ll need to consider the following:
One of the first choices, you’ll have to make is your webinar platform. There's no shortage of webinar platforms to choose from, ranging from free to paid, depending on your budget.
Almost all of the paid platforms offer interactive features such as live chat, polls, the ability to share your screen and your webcam, and more. They also offer the ability to record the webinar and set up an automatic replay schedule. The price will depend on the number of participants that show up live. Some of the most popular platforms include WebinarJam, Webinar Ninja, Demio, and others.
If you’re on a budget, you can use YouTube Live to host a webinar for free. For this, you'll need to set up a YouTube channel first. The downside of using YouTube Live is that you can't set up an automatic replay of the recorded webinar, but you can download the recording from your YouTube channel and repurpose it as a digital product.
You'll also need a camera so that your audience can see you. This allows you to build a better relationship with them and adds a dose of personality to your brand. You can use your webcam if you've got nothing else, but keep in mind that you don't have a lot of control over your built-in webcam.
You can also invest in a more professional USB webcam or even take advantage of a pro-video camera if you've got one already. The latter options give you more control over the position of your camera and can be used with software that adds extra effects or allows you to fine-tune details such as brightness, contrast, and more.
The next piece of equipment you'll need is a microphone. As with the camera, there's a wide variety of choice from using USB microphones to lavalier microphones to boom microphones. The choice will, again, depend on your budget as well as personal preference, but keep in mind that you'll get better sound quality than with a built-in microphone.
Lastly, your internet connection will play a role in the quality of your webinar. Ideally, you want your download and upload speeds to be between a minimum of 4 Mbps and optimum speed of 15 Mbps.
Test your internet speed with a tool like SpeedTest.net and talk to your ISP about the possibility of upgrading your plan if need be.
3. How to Join a Webinar
How your audience joins the webinar depends on your chosen platform. Some of them will require the attendees to download a small application first and enter their registration details.
Some platforms will require a special link that'll be emailed to them before the webinar starts. On some platforms, your audience will have the ability to call in and attend by dialing a specific phone number.
Remember to read through the documentation of your chosen platform so you can set up all the necessary emails to ensure your audience doesn't miss the webinar.
4. Post-Webinar Follow Up
Finally, once the webinar is over, you’ll want to follow up with audience members who registered but didn't show up. You can send them a replay link and give them a limited timeframe such as 24 or 48 hours to view the recording.
You can also send a special-offer email if your webinar was focused on a sales pitch and remind them when the offer expires.
Learn More About Webinars and How to Use Them
You can better understand the answer to "how does a webinar work" by studying one or more of these tutorials:
- WebinarsHow to Set Up & Run a Professional Online WebinarBrenda Barron
- WebinarsHow to Successfully Host an Online Webinar (With Free vs. Paid Tools)Brenda Barron
- WebinarsWebinar Marketing: How to Market Your Online Webinar RightBrenda Barron
- Webinars15+ Best Live Online Webinar Software for 2018 (Free + Paid)Laura Spencer
- WebinarsHow to Create Webinar Landing Pages (That Get Registrations)Brenda Barron
- PowerPoint PresentationsHow to Design Killer Webinar Slide Decks (With PowerPoint Templates)Brenda Barron
Improve Your Business With Webinars
No matter what type of business you run, you can realize great benefits from hosting a webinar. Now that we've answered the question, "what is a webinar," you're ready to create your own webinar. With the tips in this article and the rest of our webinar series, you’ll become a webinar pro in no time. Start using webinars in your business to connect with your audience, establish your expertise, and reach your business and sales goals.