March 22, 2024
By Hope Salvatori

Webinars have become an integral part of many companies' event programs. But what is a webinar? For starters, they're an excellent way to engage an audience between larger events, create a reputation as an industry thought leader, and educate attendees on niche topics. 

So, how do you craft a webinar that can do all this? And how do you attract attendees when there are so many other digital events going on? Let's start with the basics, then we'll dive into everything you need to know about hosting successful and memorable webinars.

What Is a Webinar?

Webinars are seminar-style virtual events hosted by an individual or panel of experts who share their knowledge on a particular topic. Webinars generally last about 30-60 minutes, providing an opportunity for attendees to learn from experts in a convenient and cost-effective way using a video conferencing tool.

Your Guide to Planning and Conducting Webinars in 2024

For planners, marketers, and sales teams alike, building an effective webinar program is a major priority. In fact, 73% of B2B marketers say webinars are the best way to generate quality leads, and 99% of marketers believe webinars represent a critical element of their marketing plans.

Clearly, webinars are a necessary part of your organization's total event program, and your webinar strategy should evolve to meet current expectations and technological advancements.

This ultimate guide to webinars will help break down webinar basics and offer tips to improve your webinar programs to better feed your webinar funnel and maximize your ROI.

Benefits of Hosting a Webinar

Webinars are held for a variety of reasons, including generating leads, educating or training attendees, conducting product demos or product launches, and hosting internal meetings. Webinars have long been used as an effective way to expand a brand’s reach, establish a company as a thought leader in the industry, and engage with prospective customers through an accessible platform.

In meeting these goals, webinars offer immense benefits not only to attendees but to the organizations who host them. The benefits of hosting a webinar include:

  • Reaching a global audience
  • Cost savings associated with virtual events
  • Ability to offer access to on-demand recordings for those who cannot join the webinar live
  • Increased brand engagement
  • Continuous between larger events
  • Lead generation (this one is HUGE, with webinars offering an average conversion rate of 55%)
  • Establishing hosts as industry thought leaders
  • Building brand trust and loyalty
  • Opportunities for networking

Types of Webinars

If you're unsure whether a webinar is the right format for your event or you just want to see all the possibilities of hosting webinars, read on to understand the various types of webinars, including webinar formats and reasons you might choose to host a webinar. 

Cvent Webinar

Webinars can serve many purposes, and with a short window of time to engage attendees, webinars must have a clear intention. Here are just a few examples of webinar types your organization might choose to host:

  1. Thought Leadership Webinar

A webinar hosted by an industry expert or influencer to share insights, trends, and expertise on a particular topic within their field, positioning themselves and their company as a thought leader.

  1. Panel Discussion Webinar

A webinar that features a panel of experts discussing a specific industry topic or issue, providing different perspectives and engaging in interactive discussions with the audience.

  1. Educational Webinar

A knowledge-sharing webinar hosted to deliver lectures, workshops, or training sessions on a specific subject or topic.

  1. Training Webinar

A webinar conducted by a company or organization to provide training and education to employees or clients, covering topics such as onboarding, software training, or compliance regulations.

  1. Professional Development Webinar

Similar to a training or educational webinar, professional development webinars are intended to educate attendees with a specific goal of helping them achieve their professional goals.

  1. Internal Communication Webinar

A webinar conducted within an organization to communicate important updates, share company news, or conduct a webinar meeting with remote or distributed teams.

  1. Product Demo Webinar

A product demo webinar is a great lead generation tool companies can use to showcase and demonstrate their product or service to potential customers, highlighting its features, benefits, and use cases.

  1. Sales Webinar

A webinar hosted by a sales rep or team to showcase products or services, address customer pain points, provide solutions, and allow for feedback and questions from prospective customers, with the goal of generating leads and closing sales.

  1. Customer Success Webinar

A webinar hosted by a company to onboard new customers, provide ongoing support and guidance to customers, showcase best practices and new features, and answer customer questions.

  1. How-To Webinar

A webinar that breaks down simple concepts, product features, or service options to help attendees better understand how to accomplish a particular task.

Webinar Formats

Now, you might be wondering, Does a webinar have to be live? No, a webinar does not have to be held live. There are various types of webinar formats to choose from, including live streamed, simu-live, and pre-recorded. Let's break down these options:

  • Live Video: The webinar occurs in real-time. Doing a webinar live can be more challenging, as there is no room for mistakes, but it also allows more options for attendee engagement through live polls, Q&A, and responding to comments in a live chat.
  • Simu-live: This is a webinar that is mostly recorded ahead of time, but the presenter jumps on to answer questions or discuss recorded elements. This format can allow for greater production value and requires less on-the-spot involvement from your hosts.
  • Pre-recorded: This is a webinar that is recorded ahead of time so attendees are logging on to watch at their leisure. This format allows you to push your content on-demand immediately without the hassle of live streaming. The downside here, of course, is decreased engagement from attendees.

The type of webinar you choose to host will play a large part in determining the best webinar format for your event. In many instances, on-demand Webinars offer a great solution for quick and routine communication, such as internal onboarding, new customer onboarding, trainings, and how-to content.

6 Tips on How to Conduct Webinars Effectively in 2024

In the past, webinars were a flat and passive experience for attendees. There was little branding, low interactivity, and the production value was practically nonexistent. Webinars were episodic, online broadcasts with a "talking head" or voiceover with a presentation deck as a backdrop. While this format worked well enough, as technology has improved, so have expectations.webinar content engagement

In 2024, we've reached an age of digital disruptionone that is helping planners and marketers alike reimagine the webinar format and reevaluate how they utilize webinar programs to make the biggest impact. Webinars can range from single speaker presentations or multi-person discussions to open forums and interactive conversations with attendees.

With improved webinar software, webinar programs have grown leaps and bounds, offering exciting new ways to engage with attendees, increased levels of interactivity, and heightened production value. If you aren't making the most of the latest webinar tech, it’s time to rethink your strategy and tools to meet attendees' heightened expectations for webinar engagement.

Before we dive deeper into the finer details of planning your webinars, here are a few tips to help you conduct webinars effectively in 2024:

  1. Choose a reliable webinar platform: Select a Webinar Platform that offers advanced features, seamless integration options, and excellent technical support to ensure a smooth and glitch-free webinar experience for both you and your attendees.
  2. Make your webinars free to attend: While there may be instances where it makes sense to charge for attendance, if your webinars are part of your total events program and help feed your marketing funnel, you'll likely get more out of them by charging no fees and raking in as many attendees as possible.
  3. Leverage interactive features for improved engagement: Encourage active participation by using interactive features like quizzes, audience polls, live chat, Q&A, and breakout rooms for group discussions. This will make your webinars more engaging and help your attendees find greater value in the experience.
  4. Incorporate multimedia elements: Make your webinar visually appealing and dynamic by incorporating multimedia elements such as videos, animations, and interactive slides. This will enhance engagement and make the content more memorable.
  5. Keep it concise and focused: Webinar attendees likely spend many hours a day at their desks staring at their screens. Keep your webinar content concise, focused, and relevant to ensure maximum engagement and keep the attention of your attendees.
  6. Provide valuable takeaways: Offer valuable insights, practical tips, and actionable takeaways that participants can apply immediately after disconnecting. This helps attendees recap what they're learned and decide how to put this knowledge to use.

Of course, there's always more to learn and consider when planning your webinars. Forbes even has 12 commandments for hosting a great webinar if you're looking for more tips!

Planning a Successful Webinar

Though webinars are everywhere, not all are created equal. It takes careful planning to create an effective webinar. From content to engagement, webinars must be created with the attendee in mind, and webinar hosts should utilize a webinar hosting platform that's up to the job.

  • Define the Purpose of Your Webinar

What is the purpose of your webinar? It's a simple enough question, but your answer guides everything elsecontent creation, the tech you need, how you interact with attendees. It's important to view the purpose of every event through two lenses: what you want attendee to gain from the experience and what you want to gain from the experience. Webinars are no differentwebinars boost your profits and provide valuable data, and they also offer attendees something they were missing, whether it's information, training resources, access to experts, or otherwise.

Webinars work so well for both hosts and attendees because they’re accessible. They don’t take an enormous time commitment those producing nor attending them, they're often free, and getting to the "venue" is as simple as clicking a link. That’s why webinars are a wonderful lead generation tool. With the right form fill, you can collect key information about your attendees that can be used to set them off on their attendee journey to engage with more content, establish their level of intent, and get them in front of sales.

  • Set Goals for Your Webinar

Once you've defined your purpose, you can set more specific goals for your webinar. Whether this is your first webinar or hundredth, you need some benchmarks, or key performance indicators (KPIs) to help you track and measure your success. 

The best goals are based on past performance. If you regularly get 100 registrations, make the goal of increasing that number by 20%. If you often achieve huge registration numbers but significantly lower attendance rates, set a goal for attendance to better measure the impact of your webinar. Because webinars use technology at every stage, there is no end to what you can track and improve upon.

Think about your attendee touchpoints when setting your goals. Set goals for email marketing campaigns, social media, time on the webinar event website, form fills, attendance, view time, and, of course, survey results after the event. Data is powerful. It should be analyzed, learned from, and used to set new goals.

When choosing goals, don’t forget to think about your stakeholders. What do they want to see? Do they care how long an attendee watches the webinar, or do they care more about how many leads are sent to sales and the quality of those leads? Often, your internal stakeholdersfrom leadership to marketing, to planning, to techall care about something different. Articulate stakeholder needs, and use them to guide your goals.

  • Build Engaging Webinar Content

Your content is everything. This step will take the longest, but if done right, the investment in your content will be worth it. Not only do webinars engage in the moment, but they can also be used after the fact on-demand or be repurposed into eBooks, infographics, and blog posts.Build a webinar website for registration

  • Find the Right Topic

You have your purpose, now you need to create a webinar topic that will match your purpose. A great webinar starts with great content. What do your attendees want to see? What products is your organization trying to drum up interest for? Once you have an initial idea of your webinar market, you can refine your topic. Want to teach customers to use new product features? A how-to webinar with an open discussion style allows attendees to learn and ask questions in real time. Trying to spark discussion in the industry? Start thinking of expert speakers to bring in for a lively panel discussion.

The right topic can only be chosen when you have an audience in mind. Who is your target audience? The topic you choose should interest potential attendees and align with a pain point they need to solve.

  • Pick Your Webinar Content Format

This is where content creation gets interesting. Webinar tools have grown leaps and bounds, and you no longer have to put up with a pre-recorded webinar built from simple slides, zero video elements, and no live features like chat or Q&A. You have options! As you consider the format of your content, keep in mind the different webinar formats available, including live streamed, simu-live, and pre-recorded.

Popular Webinar Content Formats:

  1. Single speaker presentation
  2. Multi-speaker presentation
  3. Panel discussion with moderator
  4. Live Polling with moderator
  5. Interview led by moderator
  6. Open Q&A led by moderator
  • Choose the Right Date

While a webinar can be thrown together quickly, the best ones take preparation, especially if you’re planning to promote the webinar in advance. A strategic email marketing campaign cannot be thrown together at the drop of a hat. When choosing a date and time for your webinar, first consider your webinar process. How long will it take to find a speaker, build the event, create a marketing campaign, and so on?

With an idea of how long it will take to execute, it’s time to open the calendar. Go as many weeks in advance as it will take to build your webinar. Webinars that take place on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday see higher registration than those on Monday or Friday (and much higher than those on the weekend).

If your webinar is global, consider that when choosing the time. Otherwise, choose 11:00 am or 1:00-2:00 pm as your start time. Why? Participants are unlikely to attend webinars early in the morning, during lunch, or late at night.

Most importantly, be aware of holidays or special events. If you decide to plan a webinar on a government holiday, there is a good chance you will have very few registrations. Remember, attendees want times that are convenient and don’t take away too much time from their personal or professional lives.

  • Choose a Relevant Title

Many companies have their own terminology and are used to phrasing things in a specific way. But that doesn’t mean attendees speak the same language. As you refine your webinar topic, look to SEO keywords to guide the way. You’ll want to create an engaging title that will show up in search and explains what the webinar is about.

How to Pick a Title That Will Show Up in Organic Search

  1. Find trending keywords using Google Trends and keyword tools
  2. Think about industry terms
  3. Utilize keywords in the title
  4. Keep the title short and keyword-focused
  5. Make sure the title properly conveys the topic of the webinar
  6. Test a few titles with colleagues to see which resonates most
  • Find the Perfect Webinar Host, Speakers, or a Moderator

Webinar speakers are a major draw for attendees. Whether you choose to have one speaker, multiple speakers, or a moderator, you’ll want to choose experts on the topic your webinar will cover. From there, a well-known speaker can draw in more registrants. Use your speakers as a tool to create the best webinar possible. After all, without an engaging speaker, you won’t see as many registrations or high attendee engagement during the webinar.webinar presentation

Choosing a group of speakers can be a challenge but can also help to vary the webinar format. A team of speakers that is well-practiced at switching back and forth and sharing their thoughts can help to keep attendees engaged.

A moderator can be used when there are many speakers or if the webinar is a Q&A or an interview. A moderator should be thoughtful, able to think on the fly, and good at keeping the conversation moving. If you’re conducting a live poll, your moderator will need to understand how your webinar technology works so they can pull questions from the live audience.

Webinar Best Practices

Here is a quick list of webinar best practices as you plan your webinars:

  • 60 minutes or less
  • Schedule for midweek at 11 am or 2 pm
  • Pick a title that is SEO optimized
  • Make sure the presentation is branded
  • Follow presentation best practices
  • Vary formats during the presentation
  • Engage attendees with quizzes, chat, and surveys
  • Break long sessions into a webinar series
  • Provide speakers with instruction or tech

Check out the full list of webinar best practices!

Difference Between Webcast and Webinar

The difference between a webinar and webcast is that a webinar is an interactive virtual event designed for smaller groups of attendees in the hundreds, whereas a webcast is a more like a broadcast, allowing for no input from attendees and generally streaming to larger audiences with thousands of attendees.

Must-Have Features in an Ideal Webinar Tool

Watching a screen for an hour (unless that screen is playing your newest Netflix binge) can be boring. Why is it so hard to keep attendees engaged? Whether our attention spans are getting shorter or the world is getting noisier, the best way to keep attendees interested during your webinar is to engage them as much as possible. Boosting Webinar Attendee Engagement through Mobile Event Apps

From high-quality production to chat features, here are a few webinar platform features that will help improve the viewing experience and ensure great ROI for your webinars.

  • Webinar Registration Page

By creating a branded, detailed registration page for your webinar, attendees will be able to understand the purpose of your webinar, see critical details like the date, time, and speakers, and register for the webinar.

  • Embedded Video

Display embedded video live streams or recorded videos within the your webinars for a seamless virtual attendee experience.

  • Live Q&A

With a Q&A feature, attendees can submit questions to speakers for an additional layer of interactivity. This allows attendees to engage with the event more fully, personalize their experience by having their questions answered, and impact other attendees' experiences by bringing forward topics they might not have considered.

  • Session Chat

If you want attendees to feel more like they're watching your webinar together and have the ability to engage directly with your webinar hosts, allow them to use a session chat. This is a great way to encourage networking, raise quick questions, and highlight great points made during the webinar.

  • Web Analytics (Clicks & Views)

Get page-by-page web analytics with clicks and views to understand what content is being engaged with the most so you can modify your future webinars and inform your total events program strategy.

  • Engagement Scoring

Engagement scoring gives your sales and marketing teams a simple, actionable view of attendee activity for faster and smarter follow-up.

  • Virtual Attendance Tracking

Track attendance during sessions for governance and enable CE credit tracking. Data from tracking can help marketers and planners understand trends.

  • Screen Sharing

Screen sharing is a great way to share your screen with others during a webinar. This feature allows you to share your screen with participants and even give others control of your screen so they can navigate and interact with your content. 

  • Elevated Production Tools

If you want your webinars to be more than a slide deck viewed over screen share, opt for a webinar platform that features elevated production tools to help you build a more engaging, visually appealing webinar. Production tools can help you customize backgrounds with preloaded options, create lower thirds, switch between layouts, and use smooth transitions between videos, speakers, or slides.

Choosing the Right Webinar Platform

You may already have an event management platform that's capable of handling your online events, including webinars. If so, that’s great! But even if you have a tool that works, take a moment to consider whether it does everything you need it to do. 

Webinar hosting technology has exploded in recent years, and capabilities are improving and expanding every day. As you execute your webinars, keep track of what did and didn’t work from a technical perspective, and consider how different webinar platforms might better meet your and your attendees' needs.

As you look at webinar solutions, ask yourself the following:

  • What features does my current webinar platform provide?
  • What capabilities do I need (Chat, Quizzes, production help, etc.)?
  • What is my budget for webinars?
  • Is there free webinar software that can meet my needs?
  • Do I need a total event management and marketing platform that can be used for all my events?
  • Is the webinar software user-friendly?
  • Does the webinar tool integrate with the event software I already have?
  • How many attendees can a room hold?
  • Can I have more than one presenter?
  • Do I need to host live webinars, on-demand webinars, or both?
  • What data do I need, and what data and analytics can the webinar tool provide?
  • Are there support resources available?

Read more - How to Create and Host a Webinar

Let Your Webinar Software Lead the Way

Webinars are often lower effort than in-person, virtual, or hybrid events, but the benefits they provide long-term can be just as impressive. From establishing your organization as a thought leader to gathering leads, webinars play a big role in your total meeting and events program

With a great team that combines the expertise of planning and marketing, your event program can be a huge driver for sales and impact the organization as a whole. As you build your webinars, do it thoughtfully and strategically, and consider how your webinar software can not only help you deliver great content but track your success.

Start creating webinars with the Cvent Webinar Platform today!

Webinar FAQ's

Still have questions about planning and hosting webinars? Check out these FAQ's!

Are Webinars Effective?

Yes! Webinars can be highly effective for delivering targeted content, generating leads, building brand awareness, and engaging a wide audience. Take a look at the section titled "Benefits of Hosting a Webinar" at the top of this post for all the great ways webinars can bring value to your marketing funnel!

How to Create Webinars?

When you're ready to start creating webinars, you'll first need a webinar platform that can engage your attendees with interactive features, offers top-notch production capabilities, allows your speakers to collaborate easily, and offers you the insights you need to measure your KPIs.

How Do You Make Webinars Interactive?

To make webinars interactive, utilize features such as live chat, Q&A, live polls, post-event surveys, breakout rooms, and interactive multimedia content to encourage attendee engagement.

What Is the Difference Between a Meeting and a Webinar?

While a meeting typically involves collaboration among participants with very little production involved, a webinar is primarily a one-to-many presentation or training session with visuals, audio, and other elements produced in advance.

How to Cancel a Webinar?

Although canceling a webinar is generally worst-case scenario, sometimes it can't be helped. In such cases, you should be able to easily cancel your webinar from within the webinar software you're using and automatically notify attendees that the event has been canceled. Of course, it's best to reach out to attendees directly to explain why the webinar has been canceled, whether it will be rescheduled for a different date, and whether there are any resources or other events they might be able to access instead.

Hope Swedeen

Hope Salvatori

Hope is a Senior Content Marketing Associate who has been with Cvent for more than two years. She has 8 years of experience producing content for corporations, small businesses, associations, nonprofits, and universities. As a content professional, she has created content for a wide range of industries, including meetings and events, government and defense, education, health, and more.

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