With more and more people choosing video over traditional media, it is only a matter of time when webinars become as common as static ads or blog posts. However, the question arises: what format should one follow to attract the most leads and get the highest return on investment?
Automated Vs. Live Webinar: Differences
An automated webinar is just that – automated. You pre-record it in advance and have it available either at a specific time or on demand. You do not have to be there for your audience when it airs. For all they know, you might as well be taking an afternoon nap while your perfect presentation works for you.
A live webinar happens in real time. You have to be there for your audience, delivering your presentation and answering their questions at that very moment. You basically trade off an afternoon nap for a chance to connect with the participants on a more personal level.
There are also hybrid webinars which combine the features of automated and live webinars in a way that most suits your business. For instance, you may greet the audience in real time, move on to a pre-recorded presentation and address their questions and concerns in the meantime.
Pros and Cons of Automated Webinars
These are the main reasons to choose automated webinars:
- Polished content
- High-quality video
- Increased market coverage
- More opportunities
Your automated webinar is usually your best presentation, which, of course, is bound to leave a good impression. What is more, a pre-recorded webinar can be edited, interesting transitions and effects can be added, while long pauses and speech errors – omitted.
While a live webinar is prone to a bad internet connection, cutouts and power outages, a pre-recording is exempt from these issues. Your HD or full HD recording will make you and your business look more professional, thus, rendering your proposition more trustworthy.
An automated webinar allows you to scoop up the audience from all over the globe, without having to disrupt your sleep schedule. Simply make your best presentation available on demand and see your conversion rate skyrocket.
The most obvious benefit of automated webinars is, of course, the amount of time and energy it saves you. This will allow redirecting your efforts towards other imminent goals, such as improving your product, updating the landing page, negotiating with potential partners, etc.
These are the main reasons not to choose automated webinars:
- Less personal
- Less interactive
- Quick to become outdated
- Danger of complacency
Even though your automated webinar is clearly your best effort, it can also come off as devoid of personality. Customers prefer dealing with real people who make mistakes and may have occasional slips of the tongue. To avoid this issue, let small imperfections seep through your ideal presentation.
Your customers can be very busy people, and they simply may not have the time or patience to wait for your clarifications. That is why it is important that you at least tune in to answer participants’ questions or delegate that responsibility to someone reliable, rather than be absent from the webinar entirely.
Whenever you choose to broadcast a pre-recorded webinar, consider how up-to-date the information it contains really is. That includes statistical data, research findings, cultural references, and many other things. Webinars do have an expiration date. You should keep it in mind and re-record if necessary.
One of the less obvious dangers of automated webinars is the danger of complacency. When you have something working on autopilot for a long time, it’s harder to spot a decline in sales or conversions. You should just be aware that nothing lasts forever and monitor the success of your webinar consistently.
Pros and Cons of Live Webinars
Here is why you should opt for live webinars:
- A more personal approach
- Higher adaptability
- Current offers
- Follow-up opportunities
Let’s start from a simple fact that you can address your participants by name, thus, acknowledging their presence and engaging them in a dialogue. This may seem like a minor benefit, but such a simple maneuver can serve as a foundation for a life-long friendship between you and your clients.
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Live webinars are much easier to change and adapt to the ongoing situation than automated ones. However, that requires you to keep your ear to the ground and listen to your audience. Do not get fixated on your webinar, but rather focus on your participants’ current mood and expectations.
While in a live webinar, you can make interesting, time-limited offers that induce a sense of urgency among your participants. A small discount for the next online course, free delivery or brand-specific merchandise – these are just some examples.
Emailing after a live webinar can help strengthen the bond between you and your audience. Thank them for participating and reiterate your offer as well as its time limitations. Give a sneak peek into your future plans and present invitations for the upcoming webinars. Build relationships, not clientele.
Here is why you should opt out of live webinars:
- Error-prone presentation
- Technical difficulties
- Time constraints
- Opportunity cost
Any live webinar is error-prone, for to err is human. This, however, is not as bad as you may think: on the contrary, a minor slip of the tongue can be endearing to your audience, and honestly admitting your mistake can win you more respectability. Still, when mistakes pile up, you may quickly run out of credit.
Even if you take all possible measures to prevent technical issues, you can never know when a blizzard will disrupt your local power system, and you are left in the dark. This, however, does not mean you should ignore necessary precautions such as familiarizing yourself with the webinar system and testing your equipment in advance.
If you target an international audience, you will not be able to please everyone with the timing of your webinar. Unless you are willing to go to great lengths, such as waking up at 3 in the morning, you will not be able to cover everyone – here is where an automated pre-recording may come into play.
Live webinars take a lot of time to prepare, present and conclude. It takes a lot of energy to talk, answer questions and make a sales pitch at the same time. That time could be better spent revisiting your marketing strategy, just as an example. Always keep in mind the opportunity cost you sustain.
It is hard to say with a 100 % certainty which type of webinar will work in your case. But the best way to find out is, of course, to experiment, keeping in mind the benefits and drawbacks of both. If you measure the results carefully, sooner or later, you will figure out the perfect formula for your success.
MyOwnConference blog. Lifehacks, reviews, useful tips for preparing, holding and promoting webinars and web conferences.