What is a Webinar?
The word webinar comes from a combination of “web” and “seminar,” so a webinar is a seminar-style workshop or presentation that is hosted online. Webinars have become more popular in recent years, possibly due to the expansion of webinar-hosting software and the increasing use of video as a medium for conveying information. According to a study by ON24, more than 40,000 hours of webinar content are watched every day.
Webinars are often used for product demonstrations, in-depth coverage of industry topics or common practices, or overviews of processes like sales funnel breakdowns or job application timelines. Webinars are typically anywhere from 30-90 minutes long, with the average viewing time in 2018 coming in at 58 minutes according to ON24.
Webinars are often hosted by individuals or teams within a company or multiple companies who partner on the content. However, webinars can also be hosted by knowledgeable individuals who are not associated with a brand. The main commonality that all webinars share is that the goal of a webinar is to share information with a group of viewers online.
Here is a recording of a webinar from our team at Lemonlight to provide an example of the concept.
What Are Common Webinar Components?
There are a number of popular platforms for hosting a webinar, including Zoom, GoToWebinar, ClickMeeting, and more. Each platform offers different functionalities, so the specifics of each webinar often depend on the software the host is using. However, there are several components that webinars tend to involve, regardless of the platform.
The first component of a webinar is the speaker. The speaker (or speakers, if there are more than one) is responsible for teaching the audience the concept that the webinar is about. Sometimes, the speakers will take on the roles of moderator and panelists, while other times, the speakers act as their own moderators and move the presentation along themselves.
At Lemonlight, our webinars are typically hosted by our Content Coordinator, Chloe Romero. This makes sense for our brand since our webinars frequently cover video marketing topics and our audience is often made up of marketers, but other companies might want other team members to lead webinars depending on the relevance of the topic.
For example, in most cases, it wouldn’t make sense for a marketing team member to lead a webinar on engineering. For that reason, there’s no standard practice for which person in an organization should be in charge of webinars. It will depend on the company, the topic, and the audience for the specific webinar in mind.
Almost every webinar will also have some form of visual aid, like a slide deck or other presentation material. This gives viewers something tangible to follow while the speaker talks, and it’s a great way to call out important information to make sure it doesn’t go unnoticed.
One key differentiator between webinars is whether the speaker’s face will be shown on video alongside the visual aids. Some webinars will show both the speaker and their presentation slides side-by-side, while others will solely show the slides with the speaker acting as a voice-over for the material.
Most software platforms will offer some flexibility here, but it’s up to you to decide what makes the most sense for your audience and their understanding of the material. Seeing the speaker often adds a personal touch to the webinar and can make it feel more personal and interactive, but it has the potential to distract from the content contained in the visual aids. Again, there’s no standard practice here, so make whatever choice aligns best with your needs.
Another essential component to a webinar is the viewers, who “attend” online from virtually anywhere with a strong WiFi connection. Many webinars will offer the option to register in advance and then watch the webinar at a later date, to accommodate those who have conflicts with the live broadcasting time.
This can mean that the number of attendees on the day of the webinar differs significantly from the number of registrants, but that’s a common practice that is to be expected when hosting a webinar. Often, attendance rates are around 50% of the registration total, but many of the registrants may watch the webinar at their convenience at a later time.
Note, though, that this requires the webinar link to be sent to all registrants after the webinar is completed. Otherwise, this option won’t be available, and those registrants will miss out on the content.
Q&A or Chat Box
Finally, one goal of many webinars is interactivity, and speakers encourage the audience to participate via a chat box or Q&A sessions. Typically, the chat box will be open during the entire webinar, but speakers will often prompt responses by asking specific questions throughout the webinar.
The Q&A feature is often separate, with questions going directly to the speaker to address either during or at the end of the webinar. These tools are great options for engaging with the audience, and they also make it possible to gauge understanding and go back to any topics that were unclear to the audience.
Why Should I Host a Webinar?
Companies host webinars for a variety of reasons, but 95% of respondents in the ON24 study use webinars to generate leads. Many respondents also see webinars as an important tool for digital communication, with 38% considering them to be “critical” for this function. Finally, webinars are also generally cost-effective, with 80% of respondents reporting that hosting webinars helped lower their cost-per-lead.
Beyond capturing leads, webinars can also be a valuable opportunity to engage with existing customers. For example, a software company might host a webinar for new customers to explain use cases for the platform.
Other companies even use webinars to train new employees, allowing for a more efficient and consistent onboarding process for employees who would otherwise be trained in different offices or locations.
Given the increasing popularity of webinars, it’s likely that webinars offer a useful application for your needs. It’s up to you to decide what that application will be, and then decide which platform will offer the functionalities you need to serve that purpose effectively.
How Do I Launch My Own Webinar?
So, you want to host your own webinar. Great! There are two important first steps: decide what content you’ll be presenting, and choose a platform to host on. At Lemonlight, we use Crowdcast for our monthly webinars. We’ve found that the platform works best for our needs, which include slide sharing, accommodating multiple hosts, and using Q&A and chat boxes, for example.
There are plenty of other platform options, though, so you’re sure to find something that’s perfect for your company, no matter what your needs involve or what budget you’re working with. Note, though, that most webinar-hosting platforms have some sort of cost involved, although it’s generally pretty minimal (<$100) for most companies’ needs. Additionally, some platforms bundle webinar hosting with other services like video conference calls or other capabilities, so it may be most cost-effective to take advantage of those other functionalities as well.
You’ll also need to know your content, and should make some sort of visual aid to go accompany your explanations. As we shared earlier, this often takes the form of a slide deck, but you can use whatever visuals make the most sense for your brand.
Finally, get promoting! Any successful webinar needs attendees, so share your webinar registration link with your marketing team, your personal network, and any other distribution means that make sense for your topic and your intended audience.
Get creative here—think through what problems your content will solve, and where on the Internet people may be searching for answers to those problems. You may find prospective registrants in online forums, Facebook groups, the comment section of a blog post, or on your own website’s FAQ page. Just make sure that the information needed to register is readily available in these locations, and then wait for the day of the webinar to come! We can’t wait to see what you come up with.