Webinars are an effective marketing tool typically used to share knowledge, engage with existing and future customers, and position your organization or brand as a thought leader.
But existing webinar formats rely on basic video conferencing tools and outdated modes of live streaming — the webinars you host in the future will need an upgrade.
So before you start creating your 2022 webinar plan, in this post, we explore what’s new in the world of webinars, how you can elevate your production quality, and what innovative new tools can help you turn your good webinar into a great webinar.
Webinars in 2022
This simple event format has many uses like product demonstrations, training, workshops, dialogues, and feedback sessions while allowing clients to engage with their market directly. Webinars also come with additional benefits, like global reach, greater accessibility, and cost savings, compared to full-blown virtual or hybrid events.
However, in most cases, the basic webinar formats that marketers and planners used before will no longer meet client needs and attendee expectations.
Let’s find out why:
Webinars of the past generally comprised a speaker, or multiple speakers, talking for an hour to a screen. Interaction between speakers and attendees was kept to a minimum at the end of the session, like a 5-minute Q&A, which meant that participants were passive in their engagement — essentially, it was a static experience with limited opportunity to follow-up on attendee contributions in real-time.
The other hallmark format was either a recorded webinar (on-demand) or live (taking place at that moment). There was no mixing it up and different production formats.
Further, because webinars were predominantly hosted on third-party platforms when connectivity issues arose, speakers and attendees would drop off, which also led to limited engagement and produced an overall unsatisfactory attendee experience.
Because of the above factors, engagement was (almost) non-existent when it came to webinars of the past with opportunities for branding following a similar path. Now, marketers and planners understand the benefits of high event engagement between all event stakeholders, like increased ROI, return event participants, and better event and brand experiences.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM WEBINARS IN 2022
In 2022, webinars are being reimagined.
Webinars of the future will allow opportunities for branding and in-depth personalization. While outdated webinar models delivered a one-dimensional experience, webinars in 2022 can adapt to attendee interests and needs via webinar tech that generates attendee profiles through tools like registration and management systems.
Interactivity and engagement are further enhanced by incorporating tech that delivers smooth transitions with one click of a button for breakaways, live Q&As, polls, and networking.
In addition, the content becomes the center of the event through professional webinar production tools that have the option of being live or pre-recorded, or a combination of both.
The golden rules of great webinars
The rules of webinars pre-2022 no longer apply to webinars of the future. For marketers and planners to turn good webinars into great webinars, they need to follow a new playbook:
DEFINE YOUR WEBINAR OBJECTIVES
Like any event type, the first step to producing great webinars is defining your webinar objectives and audience. In other words, what are you trying to achieve by hosting a webinar?
Questions to consider include:
- What is the purpose of my webinar? Educational, training, awareness, or connecting with clients via thought leadership sessions.
- What outcomes would I like to see? Engagement and feedback around a relevant topic, concept creation, upskilling employees, or lead conversion.
- Who is my target audience? Internal staff, external stakeholders and suppliers, public, or industry professionals.
- How would I like to get there? Webinar tech, tools, structure, and production.
Further, markteres and planners should also look at the content they wish to include. Is it relevant, informative, and valuable to the target audience?
CHOOSING YOUR TECH PARTNER
By now, marketers and event planners know that choosing the correct event tech partner is crucial to ensuring the success of any digital event format. And webinars are no different.
If planners aim to deliver great webinars in 2022, they must partner with an event tech provider that can supply the appropriate tech, tools, and integrations specifically designed for webinars.
When looking for a webinar tech partner, check the following:
- What kind of visual branding can be added to the live feed? Like translations, company logos, speaker names, and branding across different webinar sessions.
- Is it easy to insert pre-recorded content into an otherwise live session?
- Do speakers and moderators/emcees have a way to communicate privately?
- Is there live support for tech glitches?
- Do attendees and speakers have to sign into a different platform to access the webinar front end/back end?
The ideal webinar length is generally 60-minutes for live webinars and 30-minutes for on-demand recordings. Although, if your webinar falls somewhere in between the 30-60 minute time frame, it could still work, regardless of the format. Remember, webinars are designed to be educational or for generating awareness and don’t need to drag on too long.
However, don’t be afraid to get creative with your webinar format, like having two 15-minute speakers sessions broken up by a poll, interactive Q&As, or networking for attendees in private breakout rooms. The aim is to structure your webinar to keep attendees engaged.
And while listening to a speaker of interest talking to an audience instead of with them may have worked in the past, people gain more value from attending a webinar that facilitates engagement through robust discussions, key takeaways, and snap sessions to avoid disengagement (or someone falling asleep!). Another example of this type of structure could be including a mini-wellness break in your webinar agenda like stretching, a mindfulness exercise, or a 5-minute dance recess.
DRIVE ACTION AND ENGAGEMENT
The word engaged loosely means to be busy or occupied. While listening to a topic of interest for 45-minutes may have worked pre-pandemic, many attendees are now suffering from Zoom fatigue and have started to avoid attending digital events where they are passive participants.
Instead, people want experiences that provide real value and opportunities to become actively involved. To ensure your webinar meets these needs, planners must encourage interactivity attendee to attendee and attendee to speakers. By using a webinar-focused platform, planners can now include live polling, up-vote questions, and Q&As — similar to the tools seen in virtual events. Similarly, utilizing breakout rooms during a webinar will increase engagement and attendee value through additional insights and a deeper understanding of the topics while fostering a sense of community.
This webinar engagement style also provides autonomy to attendees through real-time interaction and feedback, as opposed to feedback given in the planner’s time (usually post-webinar).
Webinars are all about the content. Without a relevant and useful topic (and the content to go with it), you cannot expect your webinar to meet its objectives. And to deliver quality content, you must first know your audience (which you would have already mapped in the “define your webinar objectives” section).
To elaborate, you need to craft your content according to your audience interests, news-worthy topics they may follow, how they think, what they want to learn, and, most importantly, how your content will provide value to them. Essentially, webinars (and the brands that host them) have to translate their key messages into a language their audience understands and relates to.
But webinars, like other digital event formats, rely on visually appealing content, and in this case, the adage, it is not what you say but how you say it, matters. The basics of good content include storytelling, minimal text on-screen, relatable images, video clips, graphs, and using humor. Everyone loves to laugh, and by incorporating a funny meme or two, the content will become more human.
Depending on the topic, speaker choice is also a vital aspect to consider when designing your content. An innovative and robust topic may require a speaker with a high-energy personality, whereas a speaker for a medical webinar may need to be more reserved — whatever you do, make sure your speaker is knowledgeable, trustworthy, and engaging.
Further, to provide a deep dive into your chosen topic, or topics, planners may want to consider spreading their content out over a series of events to provide more opportunities for engagement, brand connection, and webinar ROI.
To produce broadcast-quality webinars that keep attendees engaged and enhance the experience, planners should shift from the presentation to production mindest.
To start, planners must ensure that speakers have access to webinar equipment, like adequate lighting, a mic, a good quality camera, and be in an environment that is visually appealing with minimal distractions. Testing of all equipment should be carried out in dry-runs and on the day of the webinar. Another aspect to consider is internet connectivity.
Marketers and planners should see the webinar in its entirety, and speakers should see attendees, which is especially important for interaction. In addition, transitions should be smooth and take minimal effort on the attendee (and planners) part — think one-click transitions to breakout rooms.
Some other production suggestions include making use of your whole screen like the lower third, overlaps, pop-ups (fun facts and stats), and screen shares and changing the audience view (side-by-side speakers, or full-screen with voice-overs).
Experienced marketers and event planners expect the unexpected and are ready for anything. However, it benefits everyone to cover the basics again.
When planning your webinar, always make sure you have a Plan B. Plan B refers to backup solutions for the weeks leading up to the webinar and includes the actual webinar day. This plan could involve having alternative speaker options available, should a speaker no longer be able to attend, or pre-recorded content in the event of power outages or to minimize potential connectivity issues. This structure is yet another benefit of having the option to mix webinar formats.
Be sure to set up clear lines of communication with your tech provider and their support team throughout the process. Dry runs should also be carried out before the webinar to iron out and prepare the webinar team and speakers regarding any existing problems while establishing a plan of action ahead of time if anything goes wrong on the event day.
Should things go wrong, your team should all be ready to follow Plan B and have a single line of command with a clear leader that can make decisions and adapt accordingly. With adequate preparation a well trained team should be able to deal with almost any occurrence provided you include your Plan B in the foundational planning stages
MEASURING YOUR EVENT’S SUCCESS
In the past, webinars measured event success through metrics pulled from registration, attendance, and audience drop-off rates. However, while these are still relevant, webinars in 2022 will require deeper layers of data measurement and insights to demonstrate attendee ROI.
Webinars should now capture data from attendee engagement like chat, Q&As, and click-throughs alongside standard metrics. Further, webinar tech must merge engagement scores with current lead scoring systems and integrate with well-known CRM platforms. By collecting this type of data from the webinar, planners can decide how they wish to use it (think new sales leads) and produce better webinar experiences in the future.
If you ever feel stuck, by following three (new) basic best practices for webinars in 2022, you can shift your perspective and make your webinars work:
1. Approach webinars like a TV show
2. Be specific about the data you want to track on your webinars
3. Don’t be afraid to explore new presentation ideas and technologies in webinars and make them stand out.
BONUS: WEBINAR TOOL CHECKLIST
Event tech tools should increase engagement, deliver broadcast-quality productions, provide seamless tech integration, and be easy to use and scalable while offering data insights. Follow our essential tool checklist to deliver high-quality webinars:
Lighting, cameras, and mics
By using quality production tools for speakers, like a good mic, camera, and adequate lighting, you can deliver a professional webinar that looks and sounds good.
Production software for branding and dynamic presentations
Producing a professional-looking webinar also requires your platform to have integrated software that helps you create brand-focused multi-dimensional presentations.
Engagement-focused virtual presentation platform
By using a virtual presentation platform that puts engagement at the center of the webinar, planners can move away from one-dimensional PowerPoint presentations and involve webinar attendees from the start.
For a comprehensive webinar checklist take a look at Cvent’s blog post on the topic.
Before the influx of digital event formats like hybrid events, standard webinars worked well. However, while previous webinar tools delivered the basics, many have become outdated.
In 2022, marketers and planners will need to up their webinar game to meet attendee expectations while providing enhanced engagement opportunities and content-rich experiences. By following the golden rules of webinars and using webinar-focused event tech, you can turn your good webinars into great webinars and make this event format work.