Webinars are content marketing’s version of a late-night talk show. They’re not only captivating and informative, but when they’re done right, they can also be effective, carrying customers all the way through the marketing funnel from interested prospect to loyal consumer. And right now, with shelter-in-place mandates in effect across the country, the value of remote experiences is only increasing.
As your marketing team grapples with how to generate new leads through engaging digital experiences, it’s an excellent time to reevaluate your webinar strategy. Webinars come in all shapes and sizes, each one individually tailored to your company’s goals and whatever insights it wants to share. But all good webinars have one thing in common: an unique, intriguing topic that’s delivered well. And in some ways, good delivery—that elusive marker of success—is really what’s it’s all about. A good webinar isn’t just about being informative, it’s about being engaging, too.
Here are some strategies for giving your webinars a creative boost.
Pick the right host(s)
According to GoToWebinar, an attendee’s average viewing time for a webinar is 61 minutes. That may sound like a long time to hold an audience’s attention, but the truth is, people love long webinars. Hour-long webinars attract twice as many registrations as 30-minute webinars—and 90-minute webinars attract over four times as many. In part, this is because long webinars generally have extensive insights—people love a good, informative deep dive.
If you want to make sure that your audience stays engaged throughout your presentation, you better have the right person delivering it. Here are some things to consider as you pick the best possible presenter.
- Have more than one host: Webinars are almost never delivered by just one person—it’s a team effort, with a group of behind-the-scenes organizers making sure that everything runs smoothly. So why not make that true on screen, too? It’s so much easier to keep the energy up, and to keep the conversation going when you have more than one host. Plus, it’s more engaging to watch.
- Keep it conversational: Scripts are important, but so is charisma. It’s time to let the old solo-speaker-with-slides model go. Don’t be afraid to break the script a little—it’s important to have fun with your co-organizers and your audience. The sense of immediacy and intimacy you’ll create by improvising will go a long way to getting your messaging across. (And this is where having more than one host comes in handy.)
- Turn on your webcam: This might seem like a no-brainer, but it bears repeating: Don’t rely on your slide deck and visuals to do all the work. If you want your audience to engage with you, then make yourself available. Keeping your video on also gives you additional opportunities for levity—a sight gag, a backdrop, a prop, and so on. So turn on your webcam and encourage others to do so, but first, make sure there aren’t any lunch stains on your shirt.
Lively up the chat
No matter what the topic or format, the best way to keep a webinar audience engaged is to keep them talking in the chat. According to the webinar platform ClickMeeting, over 53% of webinar attendees respond to group chats. Still, few webinar hosts use it. According to digital marketing company Deck 7, only 12% of 5,619 webinars they studied utilized chat. So many brands are missing an opportunity. Not only can the chat give you live feedback on the topics you’re covering, but it can also provide presenters with ideas of how to tailor the information they’re sharing to better meet the needs of the audience.
There are also many benefits to an open chat that extend beyond the chat itself. For example, it can help you prepare for a live Q&A session at the end of your presentation. If you use it to generate questions in preparation for the Q&A over the course of the webinar, organizers can compile the best questions in advance, streamlining the whole experience.
Here’s a tip: Make one of your co-organizers responsible for monitoring the ongoing conversation during the live presentation, and keep it off the presenter’s plate.
Video killed the boring webinar
There’s a reason video content is growing in demand, both in and out of webinar experiences. It’s because engagement is high. According to Deck 7’s Webinar Benchmarks Report, video is the most popular form of multimedia interaction used in webinars, with 45% of companies relying on them. The more stimulating and immersive you can make your visuals, the higher your engagement will be.
Informative videos are a sure-fire way to capture an audience’s attention, while also sharing information that would be difficult to glean from skimming a PDF. For example, you can show them features of a product, or share a heartwarming story from your company—something that can add excitement to a presentation but would be hard to incorporate otherwise.
Use the right tools
When it comes to keeping your audience engaged, nothing is better than an activity. Try incorporating no fewer than four interactive features into each webinar you organize. This helps with audience engagement, but it will keep the flow of your webinar flexible and dynamic, giving your presenters more opportunities to get to know their audience and to improvise.
- Survey the audience: That “show of hands” tool can do a lot more for you than you’re letting it. It’s not just there to get people to raise their hand to answer a specific question—it’s to get the audience comfortable with participating in the webinar on all fronts. So, break the barrier to participation by prompting responses early and often. Even if you just ask a simple, “By a show of hands, how many of you are familiar with our product?” That will help you gather intel on what exactly brought them to the webinar, and it will help you tailor your messaging as you go along.
- Feature polls and quizzes: Polls and quizzes can give you so much valuable information in real time—and the results can take the conversation in unexpected directions, generating conversations that can get picked up in the ongoing chat, or even readdressed during the Q&A session at the end, when your audience has an opportunity to take the floor. According to webcast platform INXPO, 74% of webinar attendees respond to polls. You don’t always know the expertise your audience holds, but it’s always worth it to try to figure out what they can bring to the table, to elevate the level of the conversation.
- Distribute digital handouts: One of the best ways to ensure that your audience walks away from your webinar with practical, applicable information is to distribute handouts with relevant facts and figures. A good handout goes a long way as an engagement tool, because not only does it engage live audiences, but it aids replay audiences, as well. For the most part, webinars are designed to be live events. But the truth is, according to a recent GoToWebinar poll, 84% of B2B consumers prefer replays over live events. Handouts are a great way to play to both sets of consumers.
PS: we know a little bit about how to get this done 😉. Check out how some of our clients are creating rich, interactive digital experiences to complement their events.
The more interactive, the better the experience
Ultimately, using interactive methods to engage your audience will help them remember what you’re saying. The point of a marketing webinar is not only to educate, but also to help inform and influence future decision making—that’s how good marketing turns into future sales. The best way to get messages to stick in people’s minds is through active participation. The more you can encourage your attendees to visualize, consider, write, share—or encourage other participatory responses, the more successful your webinar will be.