So, I just watched my first live webinar—okay, so I’m a little behind. I mean, I’ve watched events streamed live before, like the Clinton Global Initiative University the year I couldn’t attend the annual meeting, but I don’t think I’ve ever participated in a live webinar...or have I? It was kind of fun following the live feed video and the adjoining chat room with questions and comments. I just don’t know how affective it is as a marketing tool… Since I don’t even remember if I’ve participated in one before, it doesn’t make that much of an impression.
The webinar I participated in today was put together by Blurb, a self-publishing platform for books and magazines. It was titled “How to Design the Ultimate Magazine” and featured typography expert Bob Aufuldish and a Blurb.com representative, Dan Milnor. They did a great job staging the space, trying to have as many hard-copies of examples on hand, and the producer cut fairly smoothly from Dan’s digital presentation feed to their live video stream. I believe it was visually appealing enough to set it apart from a tutorial-type video or an average interview video.
A series of webinars builds legitimacy and a following.
I only knew of this specific webinar from an email forwarded to me by a colleague and fellow magazine-publisher. I had to register through Eventbrite and was reminded of the live feed and sent the link to it an hour and 30-minutes before it began. Once I was watching the feed, the chat room only said that 200 people were watching and participating. From the looks of it, most were already Blurb users looking for specific advice about Blurb functions or best methods of distributing their magazines made with Blurb, rather than utilizing the typography expert on-hand to ask questions regarding that. I, not currently a Blurb user, was just in for the ride to see if I could learn anything I didn’t know. Although I took a few notes, nothing was revolutionary or too inspiring to me, but I appreciated the level of expertise they had and the vernacular they spoke in—using design and typography terms, talking about specific industry professionals, and offering other resources. It was a fun experience.
"People try to build something monumental, when, in essence, they should just build SOMETHING.” – Dan Milnor, Blurb.com
My biggest question, post-webinar, is: What is the return on investment (ROI) for webinar productions as a form of content marketing? This stems off some other questions: How many people of the 200 in that chat room are going to subscribe for premium services or buy new products as a result of the webinar? How many people (besides me) Tweeted about the webinar or are writing a reflection on it outside of the webinar chat room to drive engagement and attract potential customers? How many people are going to contact Blurb to ask further questions outside of the realm of typography as a result of the specific topic? –> (seemed like many were) How many people will follow Blurb or the individual experts on social media/connect with them on LinkedIn and engage with them as individuals? How many people will switch from similar self-publishing services like Issuu or HP Magcloud as a result of this webinar? And lastly; How many people will share the link they receive tomorrow with their network as a great resources to learn about how to make the ultimate magazine?
The webinar was only an hour, so it didn’t take too much time resources, but the tech component takes time and a team of people who know how to produce live streaming video and edit it later to distribute a link to the viewers. It also requires a charismatic host to present the webinar.
I decided to do some research on whether or not there is a good ROI with webinars.
Are webinars just a bunch of fluff…or valuable content for a great ROI?
What I learned:
“A webinar offers many advantages over traditional media formats.” Okay, tell me more…
If done right, they can be a highly effective and a cost-efficient way of communicating because they generate a lower cost per lead and high level of engagement with prospective clients. They are directly communicating to and answering the questions of a large amount of people in a short amount of time.
Webinars are ranked high as an effective method of content marketing, and, used in education, webinars lead to a higher study success rate and greater satisfaction among students. Why? Because they’re digital, can be watched nearly anywhere, can be reviewed/shared at anytime, and usually include a mix of notes and lecturing for various types of learners.
As organizations gain more experience in when and how to use webinars, the effectiveness will only increase. In other words, webinars are a great long-term content marketing strategy. They are not something to do sporadically or half-assed.
Some key advantages of webinars, if done right, include the ability to:
Reach a targeted audience—either live or on demand—quickly and efficiently
Have people pre-register and therefore email capture potential leads
Engage participants through the use of video, audio, slides and interactive options
Achieve greater reach at a generally lower cost than face-to-face meetings
Re-broadcast as on-demand versions, to share at any time for optimum utilization
Save users money: no travel or accommodation costs involved
Practice sustainability: all digital (no paper), decreases carbon footprint by limiting travel
Be everywhere: on a PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone
Be appealing: innovation is cool and puts you ahead of the pack
What are your thoughts on webinars, or even vlogs, as a form of content marketing? Whether your company is small or large, do you think it would be worth the ROI? Do you have the resources to produce, star in, or contact a list of people to watch the webinar? Do you like watching and participating in webinars yourself? Post your thoughts below in the comments.
P.S. – Photos via HubSpot’s awesome free stock photo collection They DO work for almost any occasion! Check them out here.