What is a webinar and how does it work: The Ultimate Guide
We answer the question "What is a webinar?" and learn how to make engaging webinars in 2024. Your ultimate webinar guide.
What is a webinar?
A webinar is a seminar or presentation hosted online, where participants from anywhere can participate and learn valuable knowledge on a relevant topic.
Webinars are interactive - meaning the attendees can get answers to their questions from the speakers in real time, and impact the content that is being presented.
Typically, webinars are business-related, where a guest speaker or panel of speakers present on a relevant business topic.
Their professional nature, makes webinars an excellent tool in a content marketing strategy 2024 - to inform, educate, and market to potential new leads, or existing customers.
Usually webinars are broadcasted live, but they can also be pre-recorded, simulated, or available on-demand at the convenience of the attendee.
As webinars are hosted online - they are an easy way to reach a lot of relevant people, compared to in-person events - only requiring a reliable webinar tool. They are also environment friendly, as less traveling is needed. Finally, webinars a part of the new remote world 2024, as attendees expect to be able to attend and engage remotely.
How does a webinar work?
So a webinar is like an online seminar, and usually works by one or a panel of speakers being visible in the video. Typically, the speakers share their screen with informative slides, a product demonstration, or video material.
The audience can simultaneously join in via their browser to watch, chat, ask questions, and interact via polls.
Do attendees have their cameras on?
No, in general, the webinar attendees in the audience do NOT have their cameras on, as in a typical video meeting.
The webinar format is a perfect way to reach a large audience at the same time and is also easy to host yourself - with some training, the right equipment, and an easy-to-use webinar software.
Your introduction to webinars
In the video above you will learn:
Why you should host a webinar
How does a webinar work
How to host a webinar in 3 easy steps
How to host a webinar in 3 steps
Set up and market your webinar 🪄
Go live 🎥
1. Set up your webinar and start marketing 🪄
When it comes to launching a successful webinar, the key is preparation. You'll want to set up your presentation, prepare a webinar script, and start marketing your landing page early, for maximum engagement with your audience.
First of all, make sure you choose a perfect topic and format of your webinar. Try to focus on specific topics that are relevant and interesting to your target audience.
2. Go live 🎥
Once you've prepared, reviewed your webinar script, and completed a tech check together with your co-hosts - it's time to go live and start engaging with the audience. Ask questions, highlight the chat, and encourage feedback throughout the presentation. This will help keep everyone feel included and engaged - creating an interactive experience together.
Also, don't forget your call-to-action. Clarify the next steps, highlight why they are of value to the attendee, and make it super easy to take the desired action.
3. Follow-up ♻️
Finally, after the webinar is over, be sure to follow up with attendees. Provide links to additional resources related to the webinar, send out the recording as soon as possible, and provide suitable call-to-actions.
For example, send out the link to sign up for the next webinar in your series!
Also, make sure to follow-up on the KPI:s and goals you set - to be able to improve in the next one.
The different types of webinars
There are a number of ways to divide and categorize webinars.
You can divide webinars with regard to area of use - the webinar that is about driving sales, making a demo of a product, generating awareness, educating or even launching a new product.
A common way to divide webinars is also to divide them based on how they are conducted - then these three categories are common and good to know when deciding which type of webinar is right for you:
What are the different types of webinars?
There are a variety of webinar formats and funnels out there, depending on your business goals, available resources, and type of message. Popular formats include live webinars, on-demand webinars, automated webinars, etc.
1. Live webinar 🔴
Here there is a high tempo and a lot of nerves, as these webinars take place completely live.
Since everything happens live, in real time, however, there is little room for technical errors and retakes. It can therefore feel stressful if you are not comfortable with your script, software, or have a too complex webinar tool.
Live webinars typically see the highest conversions, connecting with your audience and creating a unique experience that can't be waited for or taken next week. Therefore, this is one of the most common forms of webinars.
In these types of webinars, you can work a lot with interaction via polls and quizzes, and constantly work on activating the audience. A live audience can give you tons of valuable feedback and input, and you can get to know your target group and buyer persona better.
Also, interaction is a great way to ensure they really stay focused throughout the webinar through activities and polls.
Live webinars are particularly suitable for areas of use such as:
Onboarding and education, as you can evaluate how your candidates or students absorb the information, and adapt the content in line with their progress
Sales and product demos, as it opens up a great opportunity to maximize the chances of influencing the customer, answering their specific questions and leading them to a final purchase or conversion
2. On-demand webinar 🎬
This is as it sounds, a webinar that is pre-recorded and can be viewed at any time, entirely on the terms of the customer or viewer. Imagine a Youtube video, which viewers can watch anytime, anywhere. The advantage of this type of webinar is that you can afford to do retakes and perfect details before you publish it.
As a presenter, you also avoid making your presentation several times, but can instead make a good presentation which you then reuse. If you have an audience that is very busy and lacks time, on-demand webinars are well suited.
On-demand webinars are well suited for areas of use such as:
Lead magnet to generate awareness and SEO - these webinars can capture long-tail and become part of a webinar funnel or re-purpose strategy for your content marketing.
Online courses - "flip the classroom" and allow your audience to watch material before, and then focus on live Q&A:s
Building your content library - build up your own knowledge bank for your customers and leads - where they can educate themselves about your services or products
3. Automated webinars 🤖
Automation is definitely one of today's big buzzwords. Throw the term AI, ChatGPT into the mix and you have a really modern solution?
The truth is that it's not just buzzwords - there are actually a lot of scenarios where automated webinars can be a fantastically powerful tool - for example, scaling onboarding of new customers, building webinar funnels, or educating new employees.
Just like on-demand webinars, automated webinars are pre-recorded, i.e. recorded in advance. But instead of viewers being able to go in and watch at any time, automated webinars are typically in one of the two following formats:
Simulive webinar: broadcasted on a specific day and time
Evergreen: played as soon as the viewers starts the simulated live experience
It is important to make sure that you have prepared ways for the participants to be interactive during the webinar; maybe sit behind the scenes and answer the chat or send out polls! Or automate everything. Your sales funnel decides where and what your bottlenecks are.
Learn more about how to set up a simulated live webinar - a popular type of automated webinars
Often, if your a smaller business that lack the resources to run live, automated webinars can be a good way to go. Otherwise, live is preferred as it has the highest conversion rates.
How to create a webinar in 10 steps
The following steps will take you through how to set up an engaging webinar in 2024, that both draws an audience and converts towards your business goal.
Step 1: Brainstorm - set your topic and webinar format
Focus on your customer, their pain points and challenges - not selling your product.
Be hyper specific to your target group and ideal customer (ICP). Good questions to ask in terms of ICP and topic - what does the ICP need to solve to get promoted in their current role? What KPI:s are the ICP measured on?
Think of your ideal customer and build a concept for this dream attendee
Also, think about what type of webinar you want to host and the outcome you want to achieve. Some questions to ask around the format of your webinar:
Should it be live, automated, or only on-demand?
Does it include guest speakers and/or existing customers?
What length should the webinar be?
Step 2: Invite speakers and panelists
Speakers and presenters are important for attracting audiences and interest. Choose carefully here - make sure to use people in your organization, but also be open to bringing in guest speakers and creating a panel of experts.
Speakers of a webinar - featured on the webinar landing page
Step 3: Choose the time and date for your webinar
You want to maximize the amount of signups to get the most out of your webinar efforts. In this guide about webinar registrations - we explain 5 ways to increase webinar registrations. Choosing the right time is definitely one of them.
Where does your audience or target audience live? Be sure to keep track of time zones and consider holding multiple webinars on the same topic if you are targeting several different geographic zones.
Check out this free webinar scheduler we built for this exact purpose - to help you schedule webinars on the perfect time.
Webinar countdown before going live
Step 4: Choose a platform for your webinar
The first step to creating a webinar is to choose the webinar software. Important factors here are to explore opportunities to:
add a call-to-action button
customize with your own branding
keep the audience engaged
collaborate with team members and guest speakers
what analytics and engagement insights are available afterwards
Step 5: Create the webinar content and plan out interaction
This is where the majority of the work takes place before the webinar. Make sure to prepare what is to be said and presented, but also how the webinar is to be marketed, and how you will engage your audience when live.
The content of a webinar includes a script for what to say - in other words your support notes.
Plan for interactivity and how you will engage the participants - maybe through a few quick activation polls to get to know the audience in the beginning.
The 15 minute focus dip and how to think about energy levels when creating your webinar
A success factor for engagement: Briefly introducing the Q&A and polls in the start will boost your engagement during the webinar significantly.
Step 6: Invite participants and start marketing
Be sure to be out well in advance here and market the webinar several weeks before it's time. The majority of participants sign up 1 week before the time, and about 30% sign up the day before the webinar.
Typically attendance rates can be between 40-60%, so make sure to this does not come as a surprise, when you look at your registration list.
Marketing before the event includes creating some form of registration page before the webinar. It's important to include both a confirmation email, once a registrant signed up, but also reminder emails before the webinar. A typical interval could look like:
Webinar reminder #
Time before webinar
2 days before
1 hour before
Ideal reminder email intervals, when hosting a webinar
Typically, a good webinar tool, should have these options automatically configured for you - so you can have branded reminders go out. Also, sending them from a reliable webinar tool - means the emails will get through to your registrants, and not get stuck in email spam filters.
To increase attendance rates - the reminder emails should contain 1. the time and date of the webinar, 2. the title, 3. add to calendar buttons, and 4. a clearly visible 'join webinar' button.
A landing page that can be promoted on LinkedIn and other growth channels
Step 7: Do a test run and get comfortable
Make sure everything is ready for the webinar and that you have tested all the critical steps before going live. Test all tech before, including headphones, internet connection and the webinar software, so that the webinar flows on without interruption or annoying stress.
Step 8: Go live with your webinar
The big day is here and it's time to host your webinar. Make sure to be on time, test all the technology one last time with the other speakers and wait for the time for you to go live.
A live webinar session in Univid - interaction via chat, polls and live reactions
And don't forget to drive your next steps through the call-to-actions.
Here is a video explaining the top 5 CTA:s to use when creating your webinar (with examples)
Step 9: Analyze engagement and outcome
Depending on the tool you used, your webinar has now generated some very interesting data. Make sure you get a clear overview of the most important KPI:s to make sure you know what to improve and what went well.
Remember: It's better to consistently measure 2-3 KPI:s time over time, so you can improve, rather than trying to look at all details at once. Then you can improve and add more KPI:s as you go.
The analytics dashboard where you can follow up on your webinar KPI:s
Step 10: Follow-up and send out the on-demand recording
The live part of your webinar is now over! Great, it's now time to nurture the leads you have generated.
But before you jump into that. Don't forget to send out the recording of the webinar to the attendees as soon as possible.
Follow-up email after a webinar
How to participate in a webinar in 3 steps
To understand webinars and how to host them - you also have to put yourself in the shoes of the recipient - the attendee of the webinar. Being a participant in a webinar should be super straight-forward - as long as the host knows what they are doing and uses a solid webinar tool.
Register - fill out your information ✍️
Interact and get your value 💬
Enjoy the recording 🎬
1. Register - fill out your information ✍️
When registering for a webinar, the host typically want some information from you as a participant - in order to get to know you, provide relevant value and be able to follow-up. This also allows you to get reminders and a personal link to add to your calendar.
Make sure to register on the landing page and provide all the necessary information. This can include basic contact information such as name, email address, and phone number.
Depending on the platform and type of webinar, you may also be asked to provide additional details such as job title and company name. Some platforms might even let you upload a profile picture or biography.
If possible, input a free text answer as to what you want to get out of the webinar - and the hosts can prepare their content to cover that.
2. Interact and get your value 💬
It's time to join the webinar and extract the value you signed up for. Listen to the presentation, ask questions and use the opportunity to engage with other participants.
The other attendees often have the same problems, pains, challenges and interests as you, as they signed up for the same content - so often you can extract a bunch of value from these peers.
Participate actively by asking questions, engaging in chat conversations, providing feedback and taking advantage of any call-to-actions provided during the webinar.
3. Enjoy the recording 🎬
After the live session is over - don't forget to take advantage of the recording. You can re-watch it, or check out the parts that you missed during the live webinar.
You can also use this opportunity to share the presentation with your peers who couldn't make it to the live event. People love and remember others who share real value - so this your chance to help out.
What is not a webinar?
Webinars vs. virtual events
Webinars are mostly hosted without much external help, unlike large virtual events that often involve more technically complex equipment and production.
In addition, quite simple equipment is often used, often only the built-in webcam and microphone on the laptop! In some cases, of course, a studio and slightly more professional equipment such as a DSLR, green screen, or mic are also used.
At live-streamed events, it is more common to have the help of both a studio, event company and professional equipment, as it might involve many different sessions, breakouts and meeting formats at once.
Webinars vs. virtual meetings
The big difference from virtual meetings is that the participants in a webinar are typically NOT visible in the video feed.
Instead, it is one or more selected speakers who present to an audience that participates by chatting, answering polls and asking questions!
Often a webinar is more structured than a regular virtual meeting, with a clear common agenda, call-to-actions, and slides. Interaction is facilitated via channels like Q&A, polls and chat, where there is structure and can handle multiple 100s or 1000s of participants.
Video conferencing is often a bit more open in the format, as you are fewer people, with free-for-all discussions where all participants are welcome to jump in with video and share!
The webinar can be a powerful tool with great benefits to market, grow, and automate your business.
With webinars you can position yourself as expert, show product demos to potential customers, create content that lives on, increase visibility for your business, and close more deals. All in a very cost-effective format that you can do from your living room with just a laptop.
You also drastically reduce the travel world over for both yourself and your audience and can reach new target groups in other geographical zones. Awesome, right?
Try creating your own branded webinar below, using Univid. It takes 60 seconds to get started.