What Type of Webinar Works Best?

Live or pre-recorded — both have pros and cons

Webinars have been a major marketing tool for the last decade. In order for somebody on your database to qualify as a lead, they need to take certain actions that determine that they’re interested in you and what you do. Without that, they’re just one more person on your database of people who just aren’t worth the time to call and try to sell to. It takes a long time to turn somebody brand new to your database into a qualified lead.

A popular method of determining whether somebody is a lead or not is if they attend your event — a seminar, a networking event, etc. The fact that they took time out of their day to attend is a clear sign that they’re interested in you, and thus that they’re a lead.

While events are still a great way of doing this, other ways of achieving this have come about in recent years, thanks to the internet and other technology advances.

Webinars have become a great way of separating those who aren’t interested in you from those that are, as webinars require a degree of commitment to attend and watch.

In the meantime, we’ll be focusing on webinars today. But before we’ll get started, for those of you who aren’t entirely sure about what webinars are, here’s a quick description.

What Are Webinars?

Webinars are presentations that are given to one or more people, much like at seminars or training — but are not actually in person. They run entirely on the internet, and the host can be sitting at their home or office running it, while people all over the world can tune in and watch.

This may sound like just watching a video, but they’re much more than that. Webinars are designed specifically for interaction. Viewers can ask questions to the host and interact with their fellow viewers. They can answer polls, click links, and in many cases make a purchase or commitment for a product that is being promoted.

Webinars can have many formats, but the typical format used the most because it is the most successful is:

  • 30 to 90 minutes long.
  • First 2/3 of the webinar is typically free valuable education — with this, there are a number of problems that are addressed that the viewers can identify with.
  • The final 1/3 usually covers a sale of a product or service, as well as a Q/A — the product or service offered usually ties in with the problems that the viewers previously identified with, and should be presented as a solution to the problems.

Anybody can run a webinar, and there are many different software providers out there — some of the top-performing ones are GoTo Webinar, WebinarJam, and Click Funnels (which does so much more than just webinars). My personal favorite is GoTo, as it’s reliable and cost-effective.

Once you have webinar software, you only need something like Microsoft Powerpoint (or for you Apple users out there, Keynote) to build and then play through the presentations like you would normally in person.

Without further ado, let’s dive in deeper to both Live and Pre-Recorded webinars, starting with Live.

What Are Live Webinars?

Live webinars are exactly that — they happen live and are instantly transmitted to the audience. They require a host to always be there to start, run and close the webinar.

Live — pros

  • Live webinars allow you to be able to keep up with the times, the recent news, and anything that impacts your industry, and add that to each webinar. This keeps them constantly up to date, which can often aid your presentation.
  • Live webinars are great practice for presenting not just webinars but anything in general, and for testing, measuring and optimizing them over the long term.

Live — cons

  • Live webinars require a host to have to take time presenting it every time you want to run the same webinar at an average of 90–120 minutes per webinar, which can really add up if you do a lot of them (which by the way, you definitely should!).
  • More technical glitches can happen with the software or webinar when it is live, although you’re able to react and fix it because you or the host are there on-hand.

What Are Pre-Recorded Webinars?

Pre-recorded webinars are… well, pre-recorded! That means that they were originally recorded live, and then saved like any other video. BUT, they’re more special than a mere video on YouTube. Pre-records allow all of the functionality of a live webinar, such as interaction, polls, etc.

Pre-record—pros

  • With pre-records, you only have to record once and then you can keep re-using it (providing it is a good quality recording with no errors or anything out of date, etc. This saves you several hours per webinar!
  • All of the popular webinar software such as GoTo allows the running of pre-records in a way that makes them seem like they’re live — with automated polls, Q/A, etc.
  • With the right training and practice, the host can, well, host the webinar in a way that makes it not seem pre-recorded in the past. If they avoid things like date stamps, mentioning something that happened yesterday, things like that — then the audience will not know any difference between a live or pre-recorded webinar.
  • Pre-records allow the usage of On-demand webinars. On-demand is basically an off-branch of pre-records. They allow you to run advertisements promoting a webinar happening literally now, and to have anybody who clicks the ad to go to a pre-record which they luckily were able to get on before it starts. This allows the trickle of constant and consistent leads.

Pre-record — cons

  • It may take a few times to record and perfect a usable pre-record, especially in terms of avoiding date stamps and anything that identifies the webinar as outdated. This can be a tricky skill to master, and it only takes one slip to corrupt a live webinar and make it unusable as a pre-record.
  • While it’s difficult to identify a pre-record, your regular audiences and those on your database may start to realize you’re using pre-recorded webinars if you invite them often — although that shouldn’t matter too much to them, as people tend to understand technology better these days and how certain marketing works. For example, when somebody receives an email with their name in it, they no longer think it was written by hand specifically for them, and are aware that it’s an automated process that plucks out their name from the sender’s database.
  • Are you planning on changing/updating the offer on your webinar? Or merely changing the price point? Well then, unfortunately, you’ll have to go back and do a live webinar with the updated information before running more pre-records, sorry!
  • It’s easy to become complacent and run the same pre-record monthly, and expect nothing to go wrong. And if one time the software failures or there is a technical error, there is no host around to fix it, blowing the whole thing.

The Winner?

There is no absolute winner — both live and pre-records have their place.

Use live webinars for practicing presenting and selling, as well as for avoiding anything specific you can’t use for pre-records.

Then once you have a perfect recording, you can start using pre-records. BUT, only for a short while. You need to ensure your webinars are constantly getting optimized and have relevant up to date info on them. Otherwise, they’re of no use to your viewers taking their free time out to watch!

By combining the two, you can really create a powerful lead creation system. Having analyzed many well-known businesses and their webinars hosted by their founders, I believe the perfect system is this:

  • Record a live webinar for the first time.
  • Take the feedback from viewers as well as things you know you could do better to run it live again in about a months time.
  • Do this one more time to perfect everything.
  • Use that recording as a pre-record for the next 4–6 months, once a month. Depending on how up to date it needs to be and any changes to your offer.
  • Then, run a live and updated version — try to improve on your best version last time to make it even better.
  • Use that recording as a pre-record for the next 4–6 months, once a month. Depending on how up to date it needs to be and any changes to your offer.
  • Then rinse and repeat this — you could easily run 4 different webinars a month using this system, and each can address a different problem and offer a different solution (your products)!

Again, this is just a rough system that I’ve seen many successful businesses do in both the UK and US, including one of my clients, and I think it works well. I am not really able to speak from personal experience as I have yet to enter the webinar arena just yet!

One Last Thing

Many businesses generate 99% of their leads from just webinars, so if you’re not even running one webinar a month, I suggest you get started as soon as possible!

They’re an amazing way of generating consistent, high-quality leads — and even if you don’t believe me, just look at what everybody else is doing. They wouldn’t be running webinars so often if they didn’t work for them. And they can, and will, work for you if you go and give them a try!

Dan

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