Webinars are no longer the boring PowerPoint presentations of our past. These days, the benefits of webinars have cemented them as a game-changing marketing channel ripe with opportunities for exchanging information, promoting brands and messaging, and maximizing engagement.
In fact, it’s estimated the global webinar-and-webcast market will garner a revenue of $5 billion by the end of 2035 by growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 8% between 2023 and 2035.
What Is a Webinar?
Let’s start with the basics: A webinar is a live or pre-recorded online presentation intended to help the hosts connect with their audiences, share information, and interact with attendees in real-time.
Webinar Vs Seminar
Webinars might be considered the online version of a seminar. While seminars are events conducted in person that bring attendees together for information sharing and connection, webinars serve the same purpose but are conducted entirely online.
This allows attendees to participate from anywhere in the world rather than traveling to attend. Webinars can also allow for more attendee interaction than seminars, as they can include features like live chat, Q&A, screen sharing, polls, gamification, and real-time engagement with presenters.
During seminars, on the other hand, though attendees are physically present, interactions are geared heavily toward information delivery, usually limited to presentations, lectures, or workshops.
Another key difference between webinars and seminars is that webinars are often recorded and made available for on-demand viewing following the event. This means that even if an attendee misses the live webinar viewing, they’ll be able to watch the recorded version on their own time.
Seminars, however, are generally not recorded and are available only to those who attend in person. As such, webinars are often a more flexible and convenient option for attendees.
What Is the Main Purpose of a Webinar?
The main purpose of webinar hosting is to connect with a target audience to share information about a specific topic, engage with attendees, and foster community. While every organization has different, more specific, reasons for hosting webinars, they’re all related to these core goals.
At an organizational level, webinars are often used for these purposes:
- Marketing/Promotion: Webinars are a great tool for promoting products, services, events, and brands, as well as generating leads and sharing marketing materials.
- Training: Whether external or internal, webinars can be used to assist in training, including employee training, professional or personal development, continuing education, software usage, and more.
- Education: Webinars are a great way for educators to connect and share information with students in all fields, allowing for knowledge exchange and the development of expertise.
- Communication: Webinars can be used for internal and external communications to allow organizations to connect with partners, customers, clients, or other stakeholders in a setting that’s a bit more formal than a Zoom meeting.
11 Benefits of Webinars
The benefits of webinars are numerous when compared to other event formats. Here are several benefits that might help you decide whether a webinar is the right format for you:
- Cost-effective: Webinars are far less expensive than in-person events, as they don’t require travel, a venue, vendor rentals, catering, and all the other trappings of an in-person event. They’re a great budget-friendly way to meet – especially if you’re able to leverage free webinar software!
- Broad audience reach: Because webinars can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection and can be viewed on-demand, they allow hosts to reach a wider-spread audience than in-person seminars allow.
- Convenient for attendees: The ability to watch webinars from anywhere and view an on-demand recording makes webinars a convenient option for attendees who are tight on time, need to attend when their schedule allows, or can’t travel.
- Increase engagement and interactivity: Creating engaging webinars is a cinch with the right tools, from live chat and presenter discussion to Q&A and polls.
- Facilitate lead generation: Webinars are a great tool for generating leads, as attendees can supply information like contact details, pain points, topics of interest, and more in exchange for access to the webinar.
- Nurture quality leads: Webinars provide an opportunity to connect with and nurture leads by demonstrating value and showing your target audience how you can solve their pain points.
- Build brand awareness: Getting your brand in front of your audience is a critical piece of establishing your organization’s place within your industry, and a webinar is a perfect opportunity to subtly promote your products or services.
- Data collection and analysis: With the right webinar software, you’ll be able to collect webinar engagement data to gain insight into attendee behavior and inform your future events and marketing efforts, including your webinar marketing strategy.
- Build industry credibility: Providing your audience with insightful information that speaks to their pain points and priorities is a great way to cement your position as a thought leader within your industry. And webinars are a great platform for this task!
- Repurpose content across marketing channels: Webinars can be repurposed and reused to enhance your other marketing channels, allowing you to make the most of your content-creation efforts. Generating compelling webinar content means you’ll be able to repurpose your recorded webinars to create content like video clips, blog posts, podcasts, eBooks, and more!
- Boosting revenue: It goes without saying, but if you charge attendees to access your webinar, you’re creating a revenue source based on attendance.
While webinars offer all these advantages, they aren’t the perfect solution in every scenario. As with all things, there are advantages and disadvantages of webinars.
Before you begin planning and executing webinars, think about your goals and capabilities. A webinar might not be complex enough, or it might even be more work than it’s worth.
Here are a few challenges and disadvantages of hosting webinars that might make you think twice about whether this format is right for your event.
- High attrition rate: While webinars can reach a virtually limitless audience, attendees can easily forget to attend, run into a scheduling conflict, or fail to attend for a variety of other reasons. Attendees might also assume the webinar will be available later on demand, so they might choose not to attend live.
Webinar best practices to combat this challenge: If you’re worried about attrition, try including features like Q&A in your webinar that will entice registrants to attend live. Make sure you also prioritize webinar promotion, including emails and social media, to ensure you’re reminding attendees that your event is happening.
- Limited audience-presenter interaction: Unlike at an in-person event, webinar presenters cannot see their audience, which means they can’t evaluate interest or attendee reactions or adjust their presentation based on the audience’s reactions. Additionally, if time runs out for the audience to ask questions, the presenter can’t simply stay behind and answer any remaining questions.
Webinar best practice: To ensure all attendees have an opportunity to have their questions answered, supply a Q&A or survey feature where attendees can ask questions and supply feedback that can be reviewed following the webinar.
You can also make your webinar more interactive by offering a live chat feature to allow attendees to stay engaged and comment on the presentation.
- Technical issues: As with anything online, attendees need to have reliable internet and equipment to successfully attend a webinar. These aren’t always guaranteed and can mean attendees miss out because of unreliable tech.
Webinar best practice: While webinar hosts can’t do anything about attendees’ tech, you can offer an on-demand option after the event is live so any attendees who have technical difficulties can log on when they’re able. To help limit glitches and complications, ensure you’re using reliable webinar technology you can trust!
- Limited attention span: It’s no secret that virtual attendees aren’t always the most attentive. While hosting a webinar, it’s possible you’ll lose attendees to multitasking, work or personal interruptions, and other outside distractions.
Webinar best practice: To help keep attendees engaged in your content, try incorporating interactive features like live chat, Q&A, polls, and gamification.
- Different time zones: While reaching a widespread audience is a huge benefit of webinars, it does mean you might be catering to attendees in vastly different time zones, and your webinar might not be at a convenient time for everyone.
Webinar best practice: If you’re dealing with disparate time zones, consider hosting the same webinar live twice so everyone can attend if you want your attendees to interact with the content or presenter. If you’re more concerned with sharing information and don’t need every attendee to actively participate, simply offer an on-demand recording of the webinar for those outside the ideal time zone to attend at their leisure.
Want more tips to help make your webinars a success? Check out these webinar best practices!
Make the Most of Your Webinars
With all the advantages and challenges of webinars in mind, consider what’s right for your program. If you’re looking for a way to get information out to your audience in a cost-effective, interactive way, a webinar might be the way forward!
Need help bringing your webinars to life? Find out how our webinar platform can help you meet your goals and boost engagement, and check out this webinar checklist to help you through the planning process!