What is a Webinar & Why Should You Host Your First One?

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The question ‘What is a Webinar?’ can be answered with 4 words or with 4000 words. 

Here’s the short version: 

Webinar is an interactive online video seminar that is hosted by an individual or a company. 

Now, here’s the long version: 

Webinars are currently the most lucrative form of marketing. 

Increasingly many small business owners and marketers leverage webinars to convert subscribers and leads into paying customers

And they do it with excellent results.

Successful companies, like Unbounce have reported that webinars are their
No. 1 marketing channel

Why is that?

On average, 19% of the webinar attendees are interested in purchasing the product after attending a 60-minute webinar.

You don’t even need a large audience – even with a couple dozens of targeted attendees, you can generate thousands in revenue.

In this case study, Shauna created her first ever webinar. She emailed 255 people and 55 people signed up. 35 of them attended the live webinar.

The result: $2170.75 in sales revenue.

First ever webinar funnel in numbers
Shauna's first ever webinar results (see case study above)

In this case study, Jenna gathered 30 attendees and generated $5,000 from a single webinar in the first 24 hours.

Some marketers are even generating nearly $300,000 with a single webinar.

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about webinars, why are they so effective and how they can be used in marketing and in training.

You’ll learn about different webinar types, like pre-recorded and evergreen webinars.

Ultimately, we’ll discuss how to create a fully automated webinar funnel.

What are the Features of a Webinar?

Webinar attendees are an exclusive group of people who have signed up beforehand.

There’s a specific set of features that make webinars different for any other type of live event or live video, for example:

  • specific date and time when the event is happening
  • built-in interactive tools to engage with the audience
  • focuses on sharing knowledge and teaching practical skills
  • creates a personal connection with the audience via video
  • ability to share your screen to show a product demo or slides

To get a better idea, let’s see why so many small business owners and marketers are adapting webinars as their primary marketing channel.

What are the Advantages of a Webinar?

Technology has created a whole paradigm shift in presentations and knowledge sharing.

Hosting an online webinar offers some serious advantages, for example: 

  • Far wider reach compared to seminars
  • Easy to join from anywhere
  • Live or available on-demand after the event
  • New ways to interact with the audience

Here are the main reasons why companies have shifted from seminars to webinars.

1. Webinars are Easily Accessible

When is the last time you heard someone say „I have too much time on my hands“?

Never.

People are busy. Literally, all the time.

A really practical advantage of hosting an online webinar is that it’s just so much more convenient to host and to attend.

Attendees don’t even have to leave the building.

In today’s hectic time schedules and busy lives, this is key. Especially when selling a B2B product. Anyone can participate while being at home, at work, on a business trip or even on vacation.

Let’s do a quick comparison:

An average webinar duration is 52 minutes.

To attend an hour long seminar, participants might have to drive to you for an hour. And then back home. That’s at least 3x more time investment.

Hosting an online webinar also lowers the barrier for your potential guest speakers, because they alike don’t have to spend their valuable time and money.

Easier entry-barrier for everyone! That’s a no-brainer. 

2. Webinar Hosting is Cheap or Free

Speaking of time investments, hosting a seminar requires you to:

  • Rent a venue
  • Hire catering for coffee breaks
  • Organize transfers
  • Print materials/branding
  • and much more...
The average cost to host a live event is $ 1,294 per participant, including travel (Oxford Economics Event Council study).
Seminar vs Webinar costs
Seminar vs Webinar cost comparison

You’re shooting yourself in the foot by hosting a physical event.

Hosting a webinar online has dramatically lower costs. 

It’s possible to even host it for free. However that’s not recommended, because the free webinar software we’ve tried is lacking in reliability and features. 

Check out the pricing on Webinar Ninja (my favorite webinar software). You’ll be surprised.

3. Webinars are Available On-demand

Like any live events, they always have a specific time they’re happening.

However, people can’t always make it to the live event. The reality is that only 35% – 45% of your signups actually attend it live.

what is a webinar attendance rate for live webinars
About 35-45% of signups on average actually attend the webinar live

But that doesn’t necessarily mean the rest just don’t care. For some, time zones are just way off. For some, things just come up. Some just want to attend just exactly when it’s convenient for them.

But they still want to attend. 

Luckily, most webinar software have video recording built into them.

That means you can easily feature the event video replay in the event follow-up e-mail

Follow-up e-mail example
Follow-up e-mail example

In fact, 26% of signups say that they only signed up to watch the replay.

4. Webinars are Engaging and Interactive

One key difference between a webinar and online video is that a webinar is interactive.

Desktop sharing, visualizations and even whiteboards are excellent to emphasize your key points during a webinar.

As a webinar host, your goal is to educate and ultimately encourage some action. Interaction during webinars likely converts to action after the webinar, like a sale.

You’ve cleared away doubts and created trust with our attendees. With barriers dismissed, they’re willing to buy. 

That’s why most webinar software have tools to get attendees from passively watching to actively engaging. Most popular webinar engagement tools are:

  • Q&A (used by 81%)
  • Resources for download (used by 69%)
  • Surveys (used by 36%)
  • Social activity (used by 25%)
  • Polls (used by 22%)
  • Group chats (used by 10%)
Most popular webinar interaction tools are: Q&A (81%); Resources for download (69%); Surverys (36%); Social (25%); Polls (22%); Group chats (10%)
Interaction tools by popularity of use

5. Great Webinars are Educational

Why would anyone attend your webinar?

Well, for some type of value, obviously. But what is the most valuable to the attendees?

The answer: Timely and highly actionable advice from a leading industry expert.

Often, webinar attendees seek career advice that they can use right away.

In fact, 34% of all webinars fall under the category of Online Education.

what is a webinar use case
34% of webinars are educational

Attendees can ask questions and get instant feedback on specific problems they’re struggling with.

As a host, make sure you communicate this value to your attendees to maximize your participation rate. Show them what they will learn after attending your webinar.

Read more: A step-by-step guide to hosting your webinar

There’s a lot lower entry barrier to sign up for a webinar when compared to other live events.

Attendees can essentially tune in from work or from home, not having to sacrifice that much time to attend.

Disadvantages of a Webinar

To be fair, there are some disadvantages to hosting webinars, for example: 

  • Harder to create human contact when you don't see your audience
  • Harder to use body language during presentations
  • Low commitment makes it easy to skip attendance

However, luckily it’s possible to overcome these obstacles and reap the benefits of online webinars. 

Next, we’ll discuss how to use them for different fields and purposes. 

How to Use Webinars for Digital Marketing?

Hosting webinars is an effective marketing tool to build brand awareness, create a powerful lead magnet and to convert those leads into paying customers.

Many successful companies have included webinars into their marketing strategy, for example:

HubSpot webinar example
HubSpot example
Kissmetrics webinar example
Kissmetrics example
Unbounce webinar example
Unbounce example

There are multiple reasons why top marketers have started using webinars: 

1. Increased Brand Awareness

Webinars are usually not created for the sole purpose of selling something right on the spot.

The majority of time in a webinar should be spent on educating and sharing useful knowledge. Industry-specific, actionable knowledge.

And by doing that, you’re effectively associating yourself and your brand with the cutting-edge practices in the industry. This creates a connection and a memory of you and your brand as an authority within the industry.

60% of people are more likely to buy a product if they are familiar with the brand.

Some brand awareness webinar types are:

  • General industry talks – Share some case studies and stories about your industry with your in-house experts. A good story will hook your audience.
  • Customer research insightsGather some interesting data about your customer and share it during a webinar. Actually, the surveys and polls are a great way to gather this data in the first place.
  • Expert guest talks – Having an industry expert as a guest in your webinar can help establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry. You could run an „Ask Me Anything“ (AMA) webinar, where attendees write in some questions beforehand and the whole webinar is your guest answering them. This is a highly personalized webinar type and gives tons of value.

Remember, these are awareness webinars, so focus more on educating and providing insight and less on promoting your product.

2. Targeted Lead Generation

The registration page allows you to collect more data about your attendees. 

Here’s an excellent example by Unbounce where they collect some relevant information about the attendees that help them in targeting: 

Example of webinar sign-up by Unbounce for Lead Generation
Example of a registration page by Unbounce for Lead Generation

Here are some other webinar landing page examples.

Everyone who signed up to your super industry-specific webinar is a highly targeted lead who is a lot more likely to convert to a sale. Especially if you’re giving up-front value in your webinar.

73% of marketers say that webinars are the best way to generate high quality leads.

Some signups will not attend your webinar. There are always some who can’t make it. However, the fact that they signed up shows their intent and interest in in-depth information on the subject.

That means they’re more responsive and likely to be a qualified lead.

Use those leads in your e-mail campaign!

3. Highly Effective for Acquiring Paying Customers

Videos and online streaming account for around 75% of internet traffic. That means video is becoming an increasingly popular medium to consume information.

Taking it a step further, webinars are the best video format to engage and interact with your audience. Engaged attendees are more likely to follow your call-to-action and convert into a sale.

Being in this group of attendees feels exclusive.

And the fleeting live-ness factor adds to the feeling of scarcity. Participants are forced to pay attention, so they don’t miss anything important.

With webinars, you can deliver the full message, you can really paint the picture. Whereas with blogs, readers can just skim through.

Let’s use average webinar statistics to illustrate how much potential there is for someone who is just starting out.

78% of webinars have 50 or less attendees.

Let’s say for your first webinar, you manage to attract around 25 attendees, which is very doable.

Now, the average webinar attendee-to-sale conversion rate is 15%.

Webinars work best for high ticket B2B product sales.

Let’s say you have a B2B SaaS product with an average customer lifetime value of $300.

Based on these averages, let’s do some math:

25 (average attendees) * 0,15 (average attendee-to-sale conversion) * $300 (estimated B2B product price) = $1125 (estimated price per webinar)
Estimated average sales revenue calculation

That’s more than a thousand dollars of revenue for a 1-hour webinar (excl. prep. time)

Depending on your landing page and registration form, you could reach a significantly higher attendee count.

The interaction tools like Q&A, polls and call-to-actions increase audience engagement.

So, having an engaging presentation and using these interaction tools, you could even boost your attendee-to-sale conversion rate up to 20%.

Smart webinar marketers maximize each webinar topic by repeating each event multiple times for different audiences.

Webinars have high intent, interaction and a personal touch. These factors combined make it an extremely efficient marketing tool.

36% in early stage; 47% in middle stage; 17% in late stage
B2B buyer's journey by effect in different stages

Some experiments show that video call-to-actions receive 380% higher conversion rate.

4. Increased User Activation and Reduced Churn

Show your audience how to solve a problem with the software you’re promoting.

Set a real-world problem, like building a website. Then show your attendees how to solve it during a demo webinar.

That’s an excellent way to educate your attendees while showcasing your product use cases and features by explaining the benefits of using it.

All webinar platforms have a screen sharing feature that enables this.

User onboarding webinars are a smart and efficient way to introduce product use cases to new users. Especially if you’re running a complex product with tons of features and endless options to customize.

These onboarding walkthrough webinars can be recorded and watched on-demand later.

39% of all the webinars conducted in 2019 were product demo webinars.

39% of webinars are product demo webinars
39% of are product demo webinars

An introductory webinar can massively improve the user experience and dramatically reduce the learning curve and frustration it takes to get the most out of a product.

Run a feature update webinar to your active users. Once you roll out a set of new features, host a webinar to showcase how your existing users can benefit from using these new features. This can be a valuable method to convert users to the next product plan. 

Hosting these webinars will decrease the churn rate and the amount of detractors. In fact, 95% of GoToWebinar users say webinars improve training and learning retention.

Example of product demo webinar sign-up e-mail by Elementor
Example of product demo webinar sign-up e-mail by Elementor

5. Partnership Opportunities

Having a co-host or a guest speaker can give a fresh perspective to your audience. An opportunity to deliver even more insight and value. 

However, before inviting a co-host or a guest speaker, do your homework.

A little research can help you understand in which areas are they most knowledgeable. What are they really good at?

Create a mutual promotional schedule together which would detail the specific dates and marketing channels that both parties would use to promote the webinar.

Schedule your e-mail campaigns, social media campaigns and blog posts to boost your webinar attendance. Have your guest host do the same.

If both parties leverage their audiences in multiple marketing channels, it can really skyrocket your signups and reach a wider audience.

An important rule for co-marketing a webinar is to make sure you have similar goals with your co-host or guest speaker. Establish that your audiences’ intent is similar, so you’ll be delivering the most relevant information to everyone.

However, avoid stealing customers! Try to establish up-front if your products/services are too similar that they’re actually competing for the same customers.

6. What is a Webinar Software for Marketing

Choosing the best webinar software for marketing depends on what is your goal with hosting webinars. 

WebinarJam has the most diverse feature set and is really easy to set up. 

Read the full review about WebinarJam here

How to Use Webinars for Training?

Highly skilled and motivated workforce can be your most valuable asset.

So, it makes sense to invest in trainings and seminars to help your teams collaborate more effectively, boost customer satisfaction and hit those sales targets. 

1. Employee Onboarding

Company newcomers are usually greeted with a huge wave of new information they’re expected to understand and remember. This can be a daunting challenge.

The interactive tools of live webinars can really take the stress off by enabling newcomers to engage more.

Active participation helps them retain the information a lot better. For example, learners retain:

  • 50% of what they learn when engaged in a discussion
  • 30% of what they see being demonstrated
  • 20% of what they see in an audio-visual
  • …and only 5% what they’ve learned from a lecture

You can easily test their knowledge with polls and survey tools. Additionally, this gives you better feedback on which parts of the onboarding material you should improve on.

Newcomers might be shy to ask questions, especially if they lean more to the introverted side. They’re afraid they might ask stupid questions in front of their new colleagues.

The webinar Q&A feature helps to really take this stress off, since they can just type their questions without fearing the judgemental looks.

2. Staff Training

Sales reps and marketers need to be familiar with the latest industry trends and technology to be the best at what they do.

However, hosting training events can be really expensive and time consuming. Hosting your training events as webinars can be a great solution to that.

On average, companies spend at least $1,200 per employee on training and development per year, and it’s increasing each year.

Costs $1252 and 33,5 on average per employee training per year
Average employee training costs per year (time and money)

Some of the higher costs are venue rental, logistics and catering. These are all costs that don’t add to the content quality of the training.

Cutting those administrative costs and investing in a higher profile trainer and a professional webinar software will have dramatically higher ROI for your employee skill-set.

You can also easily share files and training materials directly with the attendees, so they can download them, without the additional printing costs.

Webinar training is also reported to have higher productivity during the training sessions because of the focused content.

Additionally, most webinar platforms have a feature to record the webinars. You can make these webinars accessible to your employees on-demand, whenever they feel they want to revisit the training material to remember it better.

3. Enabling Remote Work

Remote jobs are rapidly becoming more popular globally. Flexible work hours and location independence are attractive to software developers, marketers, sales people and customer support reps.

According to a report by Zapier, 74% of employees would be willing to quit their current job to work remotely.

26% of the employees have actually quit their job to work remotely.

Some successful companies, like Buffer, InVision, Hotjar, Toggl, Toptal and Zapier have even gone fully remote.

They’ve realized that in order to attract and keep top talent, they have to offer location independence and flexibility.

Companies are starting to realize this and are adapting their internal processes to enable remotely working employees.

Hosting more company events as webinars is a great segway into doing that.

4. What is a Webinar Software for Training

The overall best webinar software for training is GetResponse

Read the full GetResponse webinars review here

What Types of Webinars are There?

Live Webinar

Webinar definition – An interactive seminar conducted over the internet. An online seminar, basically.

Live webinar is where the most enticing benefits of a webinar can shine – the high engagement and interactivity, like answering live questions from the audience.

For example, 92% of attendees want a live Q&A session.

Pro’s of hosting a live webinar:

  • Higher engagement rate due to interactive options
  • Ability to taylor the direction of your webinar to your audience’s feedback
  • Higher attendance commitment due to a specific date and time scheduled in their calendar
  • Emotional connection and rapport with the audience. Real-time events create a certain connection between people
  • The average viewing duration is 30% longer compared to a pre-recorded webinar
  • Have a feeling of scarcity, which makes the content feel more valuable

The feeling of urgency encourages sales and makes the attendees stay for longer. 

Attendees stay for 55 minutes
Live webinar
Attendees stay for 42 minutes
On-demand webinar

Live webinars take up more effort, but also have the highest engagement and conversion rates.

Pre-recorded Webinar

The main benefit of On-demand (pre-recorded) webinars is that they’re available for your audience in their most convenient time.

Pre-recorded webinars will save you from technical difficulty hell – when your mic doesn’t work for whatever reason, your demo product doesn’t work like it should or the internet connection decides to lag.

Your entire audience will associate your webinar with bad quality.

All this nonsense can be avoided.

Also, pre-recorded webinars make the webinar content available instantly, without the wait.

Your attendees register by providing their e-mails and get the webinar content right then and there, while their intent is the highest.

Strike while the iron is hot!

Pre-recorded webinars are not live, as the name suggests.

Good news is that your attendees can still ask questions. You will get these questions sent straight to your e-mail immediately and reply to them. However, your attendees won’t be getting the answers live in the video.

Usually, pre-recorded webinars are just replays of live webinars.

Here’s an example of a great on-demand webinar from CXL:

Example of on-demand webinar from CXL
Example of on-demand webinar from CXL

However, you could take it a step further.

After a live webinar, it’s best to edit your recording to make it more to-the-point and easily digestible.

Example of digestible clips from a pre-recorded webinar
Example of small, digestible clips. These can be made from a pre-recorded webinar video.

Pros of pre-recorded webinars:

  • Time zone differences are not a problem
  • Edit and polish your content in post-production, cut out or redo the bad parts
  • No chance of technical difficulties or other mishaps
  • Add special effects (transitions, filters) and call-to-actions
  • Easier on the nerves, less performance anxiety

Should you choose to do live or pre-recorded webinars?

To maximize your audience, you should do both. Get the best of both worlds.

Evergreen Webinar

Evergreen webinars are what the name suggests – they’re everlasting. That means the content won’t get easily outdated and can hold true even for several years.

They’re ideal for sharing timeless information that will stay fresh for the majority of your attendees each time.

Pro’s of evergreen webinars:

  • One-time recording and production costs
  • The same webinar can be used continuously
  • Full of content that will stay relevant and interesting

Cons of evergreen webinars:

  • Hard to create content that is permanently fresh
  • Have to avoid time-sensitive references and examples
  • Loses the interactive component

The reality is that industry best practices change. Technology changes. Times change. And your pre-recorded webinar relevancy suffers.

If you share case studies and time-tested advice in your evergreen webinar, it’s more likely to stay relevant and fresh.

It won’t stay like that forever, though. But for as long as it does – automate the delivery!

Automated Webinar

This is the most advanced form of webinars – evergreen webinars delivered to your audience automatically.

As your webinar content quality improves and you’ll start attracting more audience and hosting each event will eat up your calendar.

To start with automated webinars, first record all your live webinars, track your conversion rates and improve your content each time.

Once you’ve reached around 10-15% conversion rate (depending on your product pricing), proceed to automate your webinar funnel

Traffic -> Webinar registration -> Webinar attendance -> Follow-up e-mail -> Purchase
Funnel steps

Once you’ve established your funnel, it comes to customizing, testing and measuring each step of the way – your webinar landing page, invitation emails, video content, follow-up emails, etc.

It’s important to choose a webinar platform that enables  tracking and optimizing each step.

We’ve found that Everwebinar is the best platform for that.

Everwebinar also allows you to have live chat for your automated webinars. You can reap the benefits that come with audience interaction, without having to host the webinar live every time over and over again.

Pro’s of automated webinars: 

  • Fully automated. Keeps generating leads while you focus on closing them
  • Less time spent on managing the audience communication
  • All the pro's of evergreen webinars apply here too

Cons of automated webinars: 

  • When attendees discover it’s not actually live, they might be disappointed (Be transparent!)
  • All the cons for evergreen webinars apply here too

With valuable and polished content and delivery, you can decrease your cost by 10x just by automating your webinars!

With automation, your webinar sales funnel becomes a money machine, where you want to focus on optimizing each step of the funnel.

What are the Best Webinar Platforms?

Choosing the best webinar software is the most important decision you can make for your webinar marketing strategy.

Luckily, we’ve tested them all and found the best ones for each specific purpose. 

The top 5 webinar software are: