What is a Webinar and How Does It Work?

What is a Webinar and How Does It Work?
Mahnoor Sheikh

Written by:
Mahnoor Sheikh

May 19, 2020
what is a webinar - header wide

In this day and age, attending an event is as easy as making a few clicks on your computer—thanks to webinars. Businesses use webinars to generate leads, educate their customers and even run team meetings with members from different parts of the world.

So, what exactly is a webinar? And how can you use it for your own business?

In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about webinars, how they work and how to host your own webinar successfully.


What is a Webinar?

A webinar is an online video conferencing tool used to conduct interactive, web-based seminars, meetings, product demos and more.

It’s a scheduled event with a predetermined time and date. Those interested can register for a webinar using their email address, through which they’ll receive a link to access the webinar when it goes live.

Webinars can be a great alternative to physical events. They’re interactive, so attendees can engage with the speakers by asking questions or participating in discussions. Webinars also eliminate the need for renting a venue and save the cost of travel.

Most importantly, webinars can help you reach a bigger and even global audience by being accessible through the internet.

There are three types of webinars commonly used by businesses.

  • Live: This type of webinar usually involves a live video of either a screen or the speaker/s who can actively engage in conversation with the attendees. A live webinar can be a great way to build personal relationships with your audience.
  • Pre-recorded: You can also pre-record your webinar and host it live on an actual time and date. However, the only way to interact with your audience in real-time is through text chat.
  • On-demand: On-demand webinars are recorded versions of live or pre-recorded webinars that can be accessed at any time after the actual event.

It can be tricky to choose between a live and in-demand webinar for your business. But research shows that a combination of both can be far more effective than sticking to one option.

According to ON24’s Webinar Benchmarks Report 2019, live webinars get the most views.

what is a webinar - statistics live on demand views
Customize this infographic template and make it your own!Edit and Download

However, a large chunk of your audience is probably only watching on-demand webinars. The statistics above show that 36% of viewers watch only on-demand webinars and 5% watch both the live and recorded versions.

Additionally, viewers tend to watch live video 10 to 20 times longer than they spend watching on-demand content.

If you stick to only one type of webinar, you might not be able to reach people watching the other type. This is why it’s recommended to host live webinars and then upload a recorded, on-demand version of it later on your website.


When to Host a Webinar

Businesses can host webinars for various different reasons.

However, it’s important to note that webinars might not work for all types of businesses. In fact, research shows that 61% of webinars are hosted by B2B companies while only 17% are hosted by B2C companies.

That said, here are some major reasons why businesses host webinars:

1. Generate leads.

One of the biggest reasons why companies create and host webinars is to generate high-quality leads. Lead generation webinars are usually free of cost to encourage more people to register.

what is a webinar - generate leads

People who actively register for your webinar have already shown a certain level of interest in your business or topic. Their email addresses are truly valuable to you as a marketer as you’d want to engage with them further and nurture them into customers.

2. Educate or instruct.

A large number of businesses use webinars to educate their audience and establish themselves as thought-leaders in their industry.

Webinars are excellent tools for explaining how-tos and instructional guides, or holding a two-way discussion on a relevant topic. You can even repurpose your blog posts into short webinars to turn them into engaging pieces of content.

Visme hosts free educational webinars to help viewers learn more about visual design and marketing. You can register for the upcoming live webinars or watch replays of previous ones.

virtual event - webinar example

Webinars can also help you sell online courses. For example, you can hold an introductory session with registrants to get them interested in buying the full course.

3. Give a product demo.

A webinar can be an effective way to shed light on your product or any new updates that you’ve introduced. It does the job of both an educational and marketing tool.

You can show how your product works in real-time, highlight it’s core features and benefits, and address any questions and concerns to help those interested understand it better.

If your product is technical, you can also use product webinars to onboard new users, conduct training and walk them through getting started with it.

At Visme, we have an on-demand webinar that walks people through the basics of using our design tool to create beautiful infographics, presentations and more.

what is a webinar - product demo

Start watching the Visme 101 on-demand webinar!Register Now

Plus, a product webinar brings all your potential and existing customers in one place, sparks conversation, and ultimately helps you look professional and reliable.

All of this can help you build stronger relationships with existing customers and nurture leads into making a purchase by showing them the potential of your product.

Better yet, conducting product demos online can also help you gather valuable feedback from your target customers so you can further improve your business.

4. Conduct employee training and meetings.

Webinars aren’t just used for marketing purposes. They’re also a wonderful tool for conducting employee training and workshops. This is especially useful if you’re dealing with a large or remote team.

Use this training certificate template to appreciate your employees after the webinar.

what is a webinar - train employees certificate

Customize this certificate template and make it your own!Edit and Download

You can also use webinars to host team meetings that are interactive and completely remote. Use tools like whiteboards, presentation slides and screen sharing to make the experience even better.

Here’s a meeting agenda presentation template you can use during your team webinar.

presentation slides - meeting agenda template visme

Customize this presentation template and make it your own!Edit and Download


How to Host a Webinar in 7 Steps

Now that we’ve gone through the various purposes of hosting a webinar, let’s find out how you can actually create one for your own business.

The process of hosting a webinar is pretty simple. This is because most of it relies on choosing the right webinar software to work with.

Follow the steps below to get started.

Step 1: Plan your webinar content.

It can be tempting to jump right into the webinar creation process. But if you want your webinar to be a success, make sure you have everything planned out beforehand.

This means you need to have a content plan that outlines all the details. Decide on the topic of discussion, map out the format and structure, and jot down the talking points to focus on.

What tools are you going to use? Will you be facing the camera or sharing your screen? Who is going to be participating in the webinar?

Use this event planning template to put together a solid content plan for your webinar.

virtual event - event plan template

Customize this event plan template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Don’t forget to set the duration of your webinar and pick a suitable title before you start.

The title should be catchy and intriguing, but should also make it easy for viewers to understand what the webinar is about.

As for the duration, an ideal webinar should be between 30 to 60 minutes long. Make sure you leave some time for questions and answers at the end.

Step 2: Choose a webinar platform.

Once you have all your content planned out, it’s time to choose the perfect webinar platform for your needs. But before you choose one, there are a few things you need to consider, such as:

  • The number of attendees you’re expecting.
  • The number of speakers who will be participating.
  • The duration of your webinar.
  • The ability to share your screen or use a whiteboard.
  • Support for text chat during the webinar.
  • The cost of the webinar tool.

Pick a tool that offers you the most value for your money in terms of your usage requirements.

Some popular webinar tools include Livestorm, ClickMeeting, GoToWebinar and BigMarker. You can also choose to use a free video conferencing tool like Zoom or Google Meet.

Step 3: Schedule your webinar.

After you've decided on a webinar platform, pick a time and date for your event.

This naturally depends on your business type and customers. For example, B2B webinars are more likely to be viewed during the weekdays during business hours. If you're a B2C company, though, your webinar might get more views on the weekends or after work hours.

Make sure you schedule your webinar at least 2-3 weeks in advance so you have ample time to promote it and get as many people to register as possible.

Step 4: Promote your webinar.

So how do you actually get people to register and participate in your event?

This is where webinar promotion comes in.

You need to make sure you promote your webinar on the right channels to attract people who are genuinely interested in knowing more about your topic.

Most businesses create a landing page for their webinar.

A dedicated landing page helps you share a compelling description of what your webinar is about and how viewers can benefit from it.

Here is some essential information to include in your webinar landing page:

  • The title of your webinar.
  • Short and compelling copy that provides an overview of your webinar.
  • Bullet points detailing what viewers will learn or how they’ll benefit from it.
  • The exact time and date of the event, along with the timezone.
  • Headshots, names and titles of the featured speakers.
  • A call-to-action (CTA) encouraging people to register.

The next step is to promote your webinar on different social media channels.

It’s a good idea to create promo graphics to share on social media as they’re likely to grab more attention than plain text-based posts.

Here’s a Twitter post template that you can edit and use for your own webinar.

what is a webinar - promote template twitter

Customize this social media graphic template and make it your own!Edit and Download

You can also use animated GIFs to share on your socials instead of just static images. Animated graphics are engaging and are more likely to stand out in the sea of visuals on your audiences’ feeds.

Here’s an animated social media graphic you can use.

what is a webinar - promotional template

Customize this social media graphic template and make it your own!Edit and Download

A CTA button like in the template above is a nice touch for encouraging more people to register instead of just scrolling past.

You can also use this graphic as a paid ad to promote on Facebook or Instagram.

Don’t forget to use Instagram stories to promote your webinar. Instagram stories are engaging and interactive. You can even add a link into your story so users can simply swipe up to register.

Here’s an Instagram story template to get your audience excited about your event.

what is a webinar - promote template instagram story

Customize this Instagram story template and make it your own!Edit and Download

It’s good practice to plan out your promotional campaign in advance to see better results out of it.

For example, you can create a webinar marketing plan to share with your marketing team so everyone is on the same page.

Another idea is to create a roadmap or Gantt chart to organize the tasks involved in your promotional campaign. Here’s a Gantt chart template you can use.

what is a webinar - promotional campaign gantt chart template

Customize this Gantt chart template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Last but not least, make sure you reach out to your contacts via email. If you already have an email list of leads, send them an attractive email to invite them to your webinar.

Reach out in a personalized manner instead of sending a generic, promotional email. This will make your contacts feel special and more likely to sign up.

Step 5: Send a reminder email.

Webinars are scheduled and promoted well in advance—it’s only natural that some people would forget they even registered.

To increase your webinar attendance, send registrants a reminder email a day before the event. You can send another email an hour or two before the event just to be sure.

Here’s an example of a quick reminder email that Visme sent over to its webinar registrants.

what is a webinar - send reminder email

Make sure you add all the necessary details. In the example above, we have not only added a link to the event, but also options for registrants to add the event to their calendars and a list of recommended browsers for the best viewing experience.

Step 6: Run your webinar.

Finally, the big day arrives.

Make sure you have all your tech and equipment in order before the event. Double check your microphone, camera, screen sharing feature, slides and anything else you’re going to use.

During your webinar, keep track of the comments and questions in the text chat. If possible, try to answer the most important questions on video or have a dedicated member answer them in the chat.

Step 7: Follow up with the attendees.

Just because your webinar is over doesn't mean your job is done here.

To make the most out of it, follow up with your attendees through email and thank them for their participation.

Give them an opportunity to reach out to you if they have any questions, and don’t forget to add a link to a recorded version of the webinar in case they wish to revisit it in the future.

This gesture plays an important role in building a relationship with your attendees and leaving them feeling satisfied with your event.


Tips for Making Your Webinar a Success

Creating a webinar is a fairly straightforward and easy process. But hosting a successful webinar is a whole other story.

Here are some tips and best practices to make your webinar a success.

1. Put together a slide deck

If you’re hosting an educational webinar where you need to explain concepts, steps or processes, using an engaging slide deck is a great idea.

A well-designed presentation can help you introduce statistics, outline steps and visualize processes using images, videos, charts and graphs.

Visme user Claudia has saved over 100 hours by putting together entire webinars using presentation decks and the ability to add audio in the background.

visme case study - how to record audio in visme

Create your own webinar using this template.Edit and Download

If you’re hosting a webinar to educate your audience about a topic or your product, an engaging presentation like the one above can come in handy.

You can also use a slide deck to conduct webinar training sessions. This helps you clearly communicate training goals, key takeaways and activities.

Here’s a presentation template you can use for training webinars.

presentation slides - training plan template visme

Customize this presentation template and make it your own!Edit and Download

You can easily share your screen and navigate through the presentation during your webinar. Make sure you discuss the topic in detail instead of just reading points off the slides.

2. Use a virtual whiteboard

An online whiteboard tool is just like a real whiteboard, except that you use a digital pen or your mouse to draw on it. There are tons of whiteboard tools available online and you can use any of them.

All you need to do is share your screen during the webinar. Some webinar tools even come with their own whiteboard tool, like ClickMeeting.

Virtual whiteboards can be very useful for brainstorming sessions or explaining concepts while speaking. You can also use them for annotation purposes.

You can also easily share your screen using a webinar tool like LiveWebinar, helping you to illustrate your point even further.

3. Find top presenters and industry experts

Encourage more people to register for your webinar by inviting well-known speakers from your industry. This adds value to your event and makes you look more professional.

Reach out to top presenters and industry experts and ask them if they’d like to speak in your webinar. Create a compelling infographic or proposal to explain your event idea and get them onboard.

This Visme user got a 70% closing rate from the speakers he approached for his virtual summit by creating an infographic.

4. Share live updates on Twitter

During the event, share live updates of insightful tidbits on Twitter, along with a branded hashtag. This helps your webinar get more eyeballs and encourages people who missed out to sign up for the next one.

You can also ask your attendees to tweet quotes or insights from your webinar that they like. Don't forget to ask them to tag you or include your branded hashtag!

5. Practice before the event

A webinar is an opportunity for you to represent your business. If you want to look professional and make your event a success, you need to come prepared.

Make sure you rehearse before the actual event. Write down a webinar script and practice speaking in front of some friendly faces, like your colleagues.

This helps you be more confident during the webinar and prevents you from stumbling over your words or making silly mistakes during the live event.


Get Started with Your Own Webinar

Webinars can help you achieve various goals for your business or organization, like educating a global audience, generating high-quality leads and shedding light on your product.

Ready to create your own webinar?

Start planning your webinar content using Visme’s plan templates, put together a webinar presentation or create some great-looking social graphics to promote your event.

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    About the Author

    Mahnoor Sheikh is the content marketing manager at Visme. She has years of experience in content strategy and execution, SEO copywriting and graphic design. She is also the founder of MASH Content and is passionate about tea, kittens and traveling with her husband. Get in touch with her on LinkedIn.

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