I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all sat in on a lot more webinars than usual in the past year or so. For obvious reasons!
Webinars are nothing new – they’ve been around almost as long as the web itself – and their ability to bring a geographically disparate audience together – with maximum convenience and minimum cost – provides some obvious advantages over in-person events.
But there are also drawbacks, digital fatigue being a key one of them. COVID-19 has caused all of us to spend more time in front of our computer screens. Besides webinars, there are an endless stream of emails and video calls to attend to – with far less in-person interaction to break these up than we’re used to. This takes its toll and it’s something we’ve also addressed in a recent blog about Virtual Product Launches and vlog on Virtual Exhibitions.
Maintaining people’s attention is also more of a challenge. At a physical event, people have invested much more, both in time and money, to be there and are more likely to maintain focus. When tuning into a webinar – many people are also attending to other tasks in the background and not necessarily fully engaged.
Nevertheless, webinars are an important platform for reaching a B2B audience – more so now than ever. So how to get the best out of them?
What are your objectives?
It is vital to start here. What are you hoping to achieve? If it is about driving leads, then webinars can be an excellent way of doing this – but you need to think carefully about what the message needs to be to attract the leads that you want. And you also need to know how you are going to follow those leads up to take full advantage. If it is about thought leadership and brand awareness – then the message needs equally careful consideration.
Avoid the ‘thinly veiled sales presentation’ webinar.
Of course – B2B businesses are not organising webinars purely as a public service – they all have a product or a service to sell. Everyone knows and understands this – but they won’t register and they won’t show up just to be sold to. They will register, and take the time to join though, if they think they might learn something interesting or useful. So, the message: “this is what’s in it for you” needs to be central both to the marketing of the webinar (so people show up) and the content of the webinar (so that people don’t drop out halfway through and avoid your webinars in the future)!
Vary it up
One person talking through a slide deck or straight to camera for an hour is not a recipe for holding attention (however skilled a presenter they might be). Conversations between two or several presenters are far more effective – and involving people from outside your organisation is a good way to build credibility and add variety. Involving third parties also broadens the potential audience, spreads out the cost and means there are more people involved in promoting the webinar in advance.
I talked above about some of the disadvantages of webinars compared with physical events – but aside from cost and convenience there are other advantages as well.
A webinar can bring people together from around the world. Most B2B businesses have colleagues, branches, suppliers or clients around the world and a webinar can be an excellent way to demonstrate the global nature of the business. Some of the most successful webinars that our clients have been involved with in the past year have involved sequential live demonstrations in different continents – following the production process of a product. Something that would be impossible to replicate at a physical event.
Audience participation is also a key way to ‘vary it up’ – taking audience questions and devoting a reasonable chunk of time to addressing them.
Aside from all the above – preparation is key – from objective setting; to research into webinar platforms; to scripting; to rehearsals; to follow-ups. A good place to start is with an in-depth Q&A for yourselves on what you hope to achieve and how you plan to go about producing your webinar content. And as it happens – we’ve created just such a thing! Click here to download it for free: