The pandemic made us rethink the way we work. It also made us rethink the way we sell products and services. When in-person opportunities faded, marketers that still wanted an interactive way to share information with their target audiences turned to an old standby—the webinar.
Marketers’ use of webinars is up 11% year over year. Furthermore, more than half plan to incorporate them into their video marketing strategy in 20211, and almost all believe webinars have increased understanding of their product or service.
From a viewer (customer) perspective, one survey found that 63% of respondents were willing to share contact information to access webinars2, making them a particularly effective lead generation tool. And if you think they’re too old-school, you’re wrong. Webinars are rated one of the top five most valuable content formats, along with research/survey reports, white papers, e-books, and case studies.
What Makes Webinar Content Memorable Enough to Warrant a Sales Call?
Per respondents, to the DemandGen 2021 Content Preferences Survey Report3, it’s content that:
- Conveys a strong story that resonates with buying committees (55%)
- Is research-based (40%)
- Uses data and research to support claims (52%)
- Is packed with shareable stats and quick-hitting insights (40%)
- Is personalized/tailored to their needs (32%)
The people who signed up to watch your webinar are already interested in what you have to say. That’s because webinars are inherently opt-in. They provide the most value to potential customers in the early stage of the buying process when they’re researching solutions to their problems. However, they continue to draw interest during the middle phase as they begin to compare competitors.
How to Incorporate Webinars into Your eCommerce Marketing Strategy
With all the above in mind, here are four ways you can use webinars in eCommerce to increase brand awareness and build your sales pipeline.
Instead of a how-to video, consider doing a how-to webinar. Videos are great teaching tools, but they’re not interactive. With a webinar, viewers can interact with the host, asking questions and getting clarification when need be. Viewers can also crowdsource wisdom on the subject and learn from the other participants.
Be thoughtful when choosing your host. You want someone who is:
- Comfortable interacting with others
- Comes across as a subject matter expert
- Has enough knowledge to answer most questions
- Confident enough to say, “I don’t know. I’ll get back to you on that.”
Credibility, authenticity, and approachability are essential to your brand.
Webinars work well as part of the eCommerce marketing package for introducing new products and services. They provide you with the opportunity to go into more detail than a video. Viewer expectations and tolerance for length are different – 30 minutes for webinars vs 30 seconds for videos.
Webinars also add a personal touch, putting a face on your brand via the host. Of course, your webinars should employ a script. And the best webinar hosts come across as knowledgeable brand ambassadors who believe in and are comfortable with your product or service. They also need to be ready to have a conversation with the audience. Plus, the interactive quality of webinars enables you to break up the “present-to” flow with quick surveys and Q&A sessions.
Whether you make food or fuzzball removers, people want to know how your products are designed, sourced, manufactured, and delivered. They like to see real people who’ve successfully used the product or service you’re offering, too.
Introducing potential customers to the people, processes, and customers behind the scenes at your organization humanizes your brand. Furthermore, it projects confidence and trustworthiness by using a “show, don’t tell” approach.
Webinars make it easy and economical to shift from one topic, location, person, or group of people to the next as you tell your story. Doing so with video can be time-consuming and cost-prohibitive.
With webinars, you also have the opportunity to linger on any topic you believe requires a moment to absorb detail. For example, if there is data that backs up a claim, display it onscreen. Your webinar host may either walk viewers through the numbers or give them a few seconds to do so themselves.
The same principle applies for displaying the following:
- Specs and schematics
- Product views from various angles
- Product/service features and benefits
- Competitive comparisons
The host controls webinar pacing. They can introduce numbers and statistics in a way that doesn’t make them seem like dead air.
Displaying vital information onscreen also opens up space for audience questions in real-time, rather than waiting until the end.
And be sure to match audience size to intent; although webinars can accommodate hundreds of people, you may prefer something much smaller if you want meaningful interaction with attendees.
When to Publish Your Webinars
With any webinar, it’s vital to post it after the live session. You also need to publish any associated materials at the same time. Not everyone who signs up will attend, and not everyone interested in the subject will have received an invitation.
How Long Should Your Published Webinars Be?
There are some interesting differences between how long viewers stay engaged with live webinars vs how long they do with on-demand versions. Attendees are comfortable spending up to an hour with live webinars.
However, those viewing webinars on-demand aren’t so generous. They engage for 15-20 minutes on average4.
To accommodate both preferences, you can live stream the initial webinar, then post a series of bite-sized “chapters” of the full-length webinar online. If you choose the latter, include relevant contact information, URLs, and suggestions for further viewing/reading at the back end of each segment for people who don’t view the last one in the series.
Make Your Webinars Mobile-Friendly
About 73% of all online orders will be made via a mobile device in 20215.So it makes sense to make it easy to view your webinars on a tablet and smartphone. Remember to make signing up for the webinar super simple, too—no one likes to fumble around filling out a long-form on their phone. If you’re gating the webinar, get the bare minimum of information you need for a sales contact. Usually, your name and email will suffice.
Final Thoughts on eCommerce Webinars
Webinars are a cost-effective way to help you build your brand and entice people further into the sales funnel. They’re advantageous for eCommerce businesses that do 100% of their sales online; without a brick-and-mortar store, it can be challenging to build a brand presence online that people find engaging and credible. Almost two-thirds of video marketers have integrated webinars into their marketing efforts. Of those, almost all of them (91%) agree that their webinars have been a success. Thus, it’s safe to say that webinars are a valuable tactic for eCommerce marketing in 2021.
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- The State of Video Marketing 2021, wyzowl.com
- 2019 Content Preferences Survey Report, DemandGen.com
- 2021 Content Preferences Survey Report, DemandGen.com
- Webinar Myths: How Long Should a Webinar Be?, Melissa Hugel, WorkCast.com, January 13, 2021
- How Many Ecommerce Sites Are There – 2021 Ecommerce Stats, balancingeverything.com, April 5, 2021
Ray Ko is the Senior Ecommerce Manager at ShopPOPDisplays, located in New Jersey, shopPOPdisplays is a leading retail displays manufacturer of point-of-purchase displays. Combining over 20 years of experience in branding, content, search engine marketing, Ray is an expert in formulating and implementing e-commerce strategies to drive site traffic, improve user engagement, and increase revenue.