[Updated for 2021] The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything, but online events - specifically webinars - have seen immense change over the past 18 months.
Chief among these changes has been the increase in the number of people and businesses who now see how webinars can be used to engage their prospects, delight their customers, and communicate with the world at large. If we know webinars should be a key part of your strategy, the real question is, what webinar platform should you be using?
Have 15 minutes? Learn everything you need to know about choosing a webinar provider from WorkCast's webinar experts.
There has never been more choice in terms of webinar platforms - all you have to do is Google the word 'webinars' and you’ll be inundated with choice. It can all be really confusing, even if you’re already using a webinar platform.
However, before you go ahead and choose a webinar software provider, there are a few key things to consider: your goals, your budget, your content, and your audience. Once you know what you need from a webinar platform you can then begin to research and determine which provider has the best product for you.
Part of this research is making sure that their solution and business model are compatible with what you want to offer to your audience and that your ROI plans can be achieved with them.
We know it can be confusing to navigate the world of webinar platforms and providers, so we’ve identified some of the best webinar questions customers have asked us and some of the most important questions you should ask to make sure you’re on the road to webinar success.
Branding is super important for any company, regardless of its size. What we’ve noticed from speaking to prospects and customers is that not all webinar platforms offer you the option to customize the entire attendee workflow experience - right from the landing page to the live event page to email communications. There are many out there that provide you with a bog-standard template that you slap your logo onto, and some even feature their own branding more prominently than your own (on your webinar!).
This can be a big issue if your webinar is sponsored and if your sponsor has certain requirements. In some cases, featuring your logo or your sponsor’s logo and brand creatives can cost extra, so make sure you ask about this upfront.
When it comes to webinar packages, features, and additional features, things can get complicated. But, that’s only if you let them.
Make sure you know exactly what you want from your webinars and webinar platform, and when asking for a quote, be clear about what you need and make sure those features are included in the total price.
A lot of people will go for a basic package - too tempted by the £99.99/month to realize that the features they actually need will be added costs. Before making that decision, compare the offers and the features. There’s nothing worse than realizing that what you actually wanted and needed for your webinar isn’t included in the package.
All marketers know, the USP (unique selling point) is key. Don’t hesitate to ask webinar providers what makes their solution unique, what makes them stand out from the crowd.
This will help you better understand how they can best serve you and help you stand out to your own audience.
Are they offering a unique way in which you can monetize your webinar? Do they have an innovative way to present your content? You may find out that one platform has a cool feature you didn’t know to ask about, but that will make a real difference when engaging your audience.
Needless to say, in business, marketing and sales, KPIs, reports, and figures are important. If you’re using webinars to promote your content, generate leads, engage and generate revenue, you will need data and insights to measure their effectiveness.
Think about your webinars’ KPIs and about what sort of reports your business would need (drop-offs, engagement, interaction, subscribers vs attenders, revenue, etc.) and see which of the webinar providers can offer you the right reporting tools for your business.
You’d be surprised at the differences in reporting capability between webinar companies, and what some will charge you extra to be able to see.
If you already know your target audience and the personas that go along with them, then you should also have data related to the devices they are using and how they access your content. So, it’s vital that any webinar software you plan to use will reach that audience.
Does your viewing audience use Chrome? IE11? Will they be watching on a laptop or their mobile? Are they Android or Apple users? These are important things to know so you can ensure your webinar platform can cater to their needs.
And, even if you don’t have that data, you want to ensure that your content is accessible, and that means being available across browsers and devices.
While it seems like a given that webinar platforms would perform across all devices, there are barriers - some require app downloads, others may not be available on older browsers - so, it’s important to know before investing your time and your money.
Smartphones overtake laptops as UK internet users’ number one device.
Another thing to consider is how your audience will access your webinar. Many companies restrict plugins (some webinars request plugins in order to work) or access to websites such as YouTube. If your target audience works for the NHS, for example, a solution that relied on either of these would make it impossible for them to join your webinar.
You‘d be surprised to discover how many people don’t ask about security and access levels when signing up for a webinar solution.
We are all aware that security is important, especially these days. Webinar platforms are not all created equal when it comes to security - not everyone will have an end-to-end approach that not only keeps your (and your customers’) data secure, but also ensures performance reliability. Webinar security issues can lead to data breaches, platform downtime, and unexpected headaches for the user.
Another important element is a variety of access levels. Let’s say that you have four speakers invited, they all need some sort of access to upload their content and present. You don't give them all admin access - customer lists, analytics, etc. - or access to your entire webinar. You might consider giving them restricted access, which would allow them to use only the features that they need, without interfering with the rest of the webinar’s content.
You’ll need to make sure that this is a feature the webinar platform offers so that you don’t run into security issues down the line.
Your webinar’s life shouldn't be over once the live event is over. Webinars are evergreen content, and you should leverage them outwith the live event to maximize your ROI.
When considering a new webinar platform, make sure you know whether they offer access to your webinar once it’s over, with specific attention to on-demand availability. Does on-demand cost more? Can you run simulive? If you’re planning a series of events, a personalized channel with references to all your events might be a great idea for better engagement.
If you’re moving over from another webinar platform, it will also be important to ask about housing webinars from your old platform. Will your new webinar provider have the ability to migrate these over? You don’t want to lose your entire webinar library just because you didn’t ask the question.
Support, both technical and otherwise, is essential, especially when you start using a new product. Make sure you ask about what kind of webinar support your new provider can offer you and what is included in your quote. Do you get email support? An account manager? It’s good to know, so you can plan accordingly.
You may want also want to investigate a fully managed event solution, where the webinar provider sets up and manages the event, so you can focus on content and presenting. Consider your options, the benefits, and your budget.
The important thing when making any decision, but especially when comparing webinar platforms, is to define your goals. This is the only way you’ll know what you need from a webinar solution. So make sure you ask these important questions before you commit your time and your budget.
Want to see if WorkCast can help you with your webinar goals? Get started with a free trial today.