One of my most popular blogs during lockdown was my best practice guide to running a webinar – but three years on, when we can run face-to-face events again, is there still value in webinars?
My answer, based on my experiences since March 2020, is a resounding YES. Webinars are still such an effective way to make an instant connection with an audience of any size, and really give an insight into you and your personality (or business brand), showing the audience what it would be like to work with you.
5 benefits of running webinars for your business
Webinars can be a powerful marketing tool, enabling you to:
- Reach a more widespread audience
It’s no exaggeration to say that you can curate an audience from around the world when you deliver digitally, rather than in person. You’re also free from the space restrictions of a physical venue, enabling more people to attend.
- Record (and repeat) your session
Not only is this really helpful for people who sign up but can’t make it on the day, it also gives you the option to run repeat sessions – just make sure people know they’ll be watching a recording.
- Repurpose your material
Recording your webinar(s) gives you a plethora of options for repurposing the content: you can create snippets to publish on your social media channels, or write up a blog using the transcript and screenshots of some of your key slides.
- Save money
Compared to running a face-to-face event, webinars are exceptional value for money. No venue hire, travel costs or catering expenses – you can run a webinar with nothing more than a laptop and a subscription to the webinar hosting software of your choice (see below!).
- Generate leads
Webinars can form part of a wide marketing strategy designed to generate leads for your business. Promoting your webinar gives you a great excuse to get in touch with your connections, and to create social media posts linking to email sign-up forms.
Which webinar platform should I use?
There are, of course, lots of platforms out there, but here at NSDesign we use a combination of GoToMeeting for group webinars (allowing up to 250 attendees) and Zoom for client 1-2-1s and smaller webinars.
The latter has attracted controversy over the years, first regarding its security features (now resolved – and arguably more secure than most!) and more recently for adding a clause to its terms and conditions which implied it was using customer-generated content to train AI models. We were just as concerned about this as the rest of our industry, but Zoom’s T&Cs have now been updated with the following clarification:
Zoom does not use any of your audio, video, chat, screen sharing, attachments or other communications-like Customer Content (such as poll results, whiteboard and reactions) to train Zoom or third-party artificial intelligence models.
The same clarification also appears on a blog post by Chief Product Officer Smita Hashim, so as far as we’re concerned, the issue has been resolved, and we’re happy to keep using Zoom.
If you’re still worried, or you work for an organisation that bans Zoom (like some public sector bodies still do), then there’s plenty other options out there, like Microsoft Teams, which is the tool of choice for a lot of corporates (although I won’t lie – I’m not a fan myself!). For smaller online events, there’s also Google Meet and Skype.
Lastly – if you’re still confused at the options out there, don’t get too caught up in the terminology. Some systems call themselves “webinar tools”; others “live streaming” or “video conferencing” platforms. They effectively all do similar things, and some good simple advice is to use a tool you think your target audience will be familiar with, fits with your budget, and matches your requirements.
How should I get started?
Creating content for a webinar is much the same as creating it for any other channel, like a blog or email campaign: it’s about sharing helpful ‘how tos’ with a targeted audience, so they learn to know, like and trust your brand.
Did I mention I published a best practice guide to running a webinar?! Check it out for all the practical tips you need to get your first webinar up and running.