Many of us feel pretty familiar with the concept of webinars, without really knowing what exactly makes a webinar, a webinar. You’ve likely participated in a webinar - maybe you’ve even hosted a webinar or two, but despite webinars' relevancy in everything from socialising to connecting business across the world - many people don’t know exactly what a webinar is or where webinars have their roots. We’ll clear all that up for you, just keep reading.
Let's start from the beginning …
Did you know that ‘webinars’ have been around since 1960? In fact the earliest versions of a webinar could be found on the PLATO computer learning system. It had all the bones of the webinars we have today, with its focus on online message boards and remote screen sharing. PLATO created and prioritised these features for students and educational programs, which is likely why we still see them in use today - and why educational webinars are one of the most popular types of webinars.
Now over 60 years after its original advent, a webinar happens approximately every 2 seconds!
Our webinars today are much more dynamic than those of the 1960’s, but they still focus on the key component of a webinar - two-way communication. Case in point, the ‘webinar’ (or web seminar) is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “a live online educational presentation during which participating viewers can submit questions and comments.” Webinars are online seminars, where people meet to share and discuss information. A webinar can be an event, video presentation, workshop, seminar, training session, product demonstration, business pitch or classroom lecture hosted online using webinar software. In other words, webinars are an extremely flexible tool for two-way communication.
That is, two-way communication across the world. Since webinars are hosted online, both attendees and presenters have no geographical bounds. This means that people from everywhere can come to contribute and learn from presenters around the world, it also means that webinars are a great way to reach new customers and businesses that may otherwise be hard to connect too. Online webinars bring personalised chat, connection and business right into peoples homes and offices. With many webinar platforms boasting the ability to hold up to 1 thousands participants, it's fun to imagine what the engineers who created PLATO would think of webinar’s transformation now!
Now that we know what a webinar is, lets chat about how it works
First it's important to note that a webinar is not a pre-recorded video that is broadcast online, that's a webcast. Webinars are streamed live, with real-time engagement between presenters and attendees. A live webinar can take on any form, from a powerpoint presentation with a Q&A session to a B2B business pitch and roundtable discussion - webinars are a key tool for communication.
Q&A’s are used in 81% of webinars.
This is why any industry that relies on communicating with an audience can benefit from webinars. With a broad range of applications, low entry costs and high return webinars can be useful for a variety of needs. Webinars are a great way to build connections within a company via training and onboarding sessions, and connect outward with other businesses to establish long term relationships, generate leads and finalise business deals.
Webinars can consist of multiple different types of engagement tools. For example, one webinar may have a host who live streams, another person who presents a powerpoint, a Q&A session and the ability to re-watch or download materials from the webinar post-event. On-demand content, or webinars shared online post-event, are growing in popularity, with one industry report finding that nearly half of all webinar attendees watched webinars on-demand.
Other formats include:
- Live video: The most common and engaging webinar format.
- Pre-recorded video: Either webinars recorded in advance or webinar elements pre-recorded and introduced during a live webinar.
- On-demand: Recorded webinar shared post-event.
- Text: Most webinar platforms have a chat box option for audiences to engage with and ask/answer questions.
- Whiteboard: A tool to draw out or explain important topics live.
- Surveys and polls: An engagement tool used to ask attendees questions and organise their responses.
With all these engagement options and flexibility, webinars are an ideal tool to share knowledge and build long term brand awareness in a holistic style as it connects with people and businesses at every level. 48% of B2B marketers in one survey said that webinars work best with their lead nurturing initiatives, making webinars a powerful marketing tool.
Webinars are also a stellar way to position your company as an expert in the field. Businesses can lead industry discussions, educate new and current customers, and collaborate with other businesses. When webinars are done right they maximise their value by building businesses authority, credibility and thought leadership within the industry while simultaneously strengthening their brand value.
One industry survey found that nearly all (99%) marketers cite webinars as a key component to their marketing strategy.
The same survey found that webinars increased 162% in 2021, with attendance quadrupling to more than 60 million people!
Even crazier, webinars make it possible to reach 60 million people without any event manager having to book venues, catering or equipment. That's a lot of money and time saved!
Webinars are the ideal tool to maximise marketing budgets. Many webinar platforms host built in data collection and engagement measurement tools which makes consistent growth possible and efficient. You can also use templates that allow your company to easily tweak your webinar platform to your audience needs, so no matter if your event is 5 people or 100+ you have brand consistency. Webinars are created for creativity and connection, now that you know what a webinar is, their use is limited only by your imagination!
Webinars may have their roots in the 1960’s, but they are more relevant than ever today. In other words, webinars should be your new shiny tool in your marketing strategy tool box! Here at Tame, we offer free demos tailored to your webinar needs and personalised support so you won’t have to dive into this alone. Reach out to us and we’ll help you every step of the way.
- WebinarCare: “39 Webinar Statistics 2022 – Effectiveness, Attendance and All”
- Parmonic: “The History of Webinars”
- Marriam-Webster: “webinar”
- 99 Firms: “Webinar Statistics”
- On24: “Global Report Shows Use of Webinars Triples, Driving Digital-First Engagement Across Industries”
- Demand Gen Report: “LEAD NURTURING & ACCELERATION BENCHMARK SURVEY”