The webinar is an innovative and very effective tool for training, events, and to develop lead generation. An opportunity not to be overlooked.
1. What is it and how the webinar works
The webinar (literally: Web + seminar) is a live event delivered through the net, which allows more people to connect live to participate in an interactive lesson, a training course, a workshop or a conference. Just like in a real classroom you will find yourself at the scheduled time and they all have the opportunity to attend and speak at the event to ask questions and share ideas. The speakers, using a common webcam, can comment on the slides appearing on the same screen pc (split screen) and the participants can participate in real time during the presentation and ask questions via chat or if they have a microphone. In some cases it is possible to manage small surveys (polls) and share files and audiovisual material. You can even record the entire event and then review it later, but the live broadcasting is the main feature that distinguishes the webinar webcast, which instead is stored and then retransmitted on demand.
The increased use of webinars is obviously training: it saves time and costs without sacrificing quality. Compared to the traditional distance learning, (availability of content in any place at any time), the webinar has a unique strength: it combines the convenience of remote use (home, office) with the effectiveness and interactivity of a classroom lesson.
But the webinar can be very useful also to “hybridize” meetings and business meetings which, through a remote maintenance and the use of such innovative instrument, can become immediately more interesting and helps to increase authority and reputation. The webinarcan build a little (or big) event within the event. For example, in the case of “physical”conferences, we can connect to extend the audience, or to have the assistance of an expert, or to hold a atypical press conference.
Another purpose for the use of the webinar is to improve the internal communication. A group of people working remotely on a joint project (virtual team working) rather than interact through e-mail and phone calls, will have a unique working environment where you can share links and files and necessary “meet” online to discuss together and keep track of the meetings. It looks like Skype, but with more possibilities.
Finally, the webinar can play a very powerful role in web marketing, as we see in the next section.
A well-done webinar can also become an effective marketing tool to canvass new customers and retain current ones. A research by Wainhouse Research on 416 Americans marketing executives, highlighted the reasons for the use of webinars as a lead generation tool. Here are the most frequent reasons:
• effective alternative, with lower cost, compared to other e-marketing tools, such as banner advertisements or by e-mail marketing;
• relaxed context putting little pressure on participants making them more available;
• Detailed qualifying of leads thanks to information previously collected, during registration, during the webinar (questions to the presenter or other participants) and after (evaluation questionnaires event). This allows the marketers to provide sales a series of contacts with potential for higher conversion, and not to “burn” those not yet ready.
To achieve a webinar you need to use a dedicated platform that allows not only to connect at the specified time in order to follow the event live, but also to plan the event, invite attendees via email and provide many collateral services giving quality. On the Internet there are numerous platforms for the delivery of virtual meetings and webinars, whether gratis or for a fee, and with more or less advanced functionality. In recent times, some Italian companies specialized in management education have created proprietary platforms, which offer greater customization for live events and the opportunity to interact between participants because of the “social” mode.
To ensure that your webinar is successful you should follow a experienced process leaving nothing to chance, just like for an “physical” event.
Here are the main steps:
• choice of speakers (cv, web reputation, communication skills);
• definition of the contents according to the target (market analysis, innovation, degree of detail, case studies);
• practical organization (day and time of the webinar, duration, interventions, multimedia);
• communication strategy (email, invitations, social networks, blogs, press releases);
• Direct management (moderation of interventions, questions and answers, chat, polls);
• post-webinar (video sharing, customer satisfaction, reporting, digital pr).