Webinars have exploded. Working as a fix for brands to reach their audience in the age of COVID-19, webinars have proved to be an effective solution.
Their use and popularity have soared. At this point, it is near impossible that an event professional has not attended a webinar in the last few months.
However, not all organizations have stopped to consider whether they are the right long-term solution to connect with their audiences.
And, not many businesses either have analyzed better alternatives as these same audiences are growing tired of webinars.
What are webinars and why did they become so popular?
As the word webinar has entered the marketer´s vocabulary emphatically, it is worth outlining what a webinar is in the first place.
A webinar is a presentation, hosted by an organisation on the Internet, usually including an expert discussing a specific topic.
Common characteristics of a webinar include being relatively short in time and being broadcasted to a select group of people. Additionally, webinars often include a moderator taking questions from viewers at the end of the session.
Webinars have distinct benefits that have made them mainstream among many organisations throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
They are easy to set up and to access, as you only need a Zoom account or a YouTube channel to host or watch one.
Also, a webinar featuring a renowned expert in the field as a speaker, introducing thought-provoking solutions or tackling burning questions can certainly increase a brand’s awareness and build its reputation in the industry.
Then, the potential viewership is immense, as practically anyone in the world can tune into a webinar. In that sense, webinars are not bound by geographical limitations. They can reach people from different locations and cultures and thus expand a brand´s audience.
And, if the webinar is promoted well and attracts a large audience size, business opportunities can follow. Lead generation is undoubtedly a key reason businesses organize webinars.
Yet, it is becoming increasingly clear that organizers and attendees have arrived at a point of saturation, a webinar burnout.
For attendees, webinars no longer create the same level of excitement as they did at the beginning of the year.
Consequently, webinar organizers struggle to attract the levels of participation and audience engagement. And as a result, the value of hosting more of them is becoming less certain.
Why is that?
Far too often, webinars feel like simply watching content rather than participating in an event. In that case, potentially interested people do not have a clear incentive when it comes to taking part live.
For many webinars, the prevailing feeling is that you are not really missing out if you don´t tune in live. You can easily opt for watching a replay instead, at a time of your choosing. And sometimes, you might end up not even watching it at all.
The result is a declining ratio of registrants to live attendees – certainly not a great signal for webinar organizers.
Going beyond webinars: interactive virtual events
In this scenario, the question for event professionals becomes how to go beyond webinars, considering the audience fatigue following months of growth.
Businesses now need to transition from a simple broadcast of a talk or panel to a virtual event that engages attendees meaningfully, encourages participation, and strengthens relationships with their audiences in the long-term.
Some have already recognized that, and have set up virtual events or conferences that feature much more than streaming content.
Indeed, organizations such as Sana Commerce have delivered a different kind of virtual event. By focusing more on the attendee experience and less on one-directional communication, they successfully engaged their customers and partners.
Crucially, having effectively used a dedicated virtual event platform, Sana delivered a memorable event experience. To do so, they catered to the attendees´ personalized interests and embedded unique live engagement features such as 1:1 networking and polling.
In brief, a change of approach and tools can be immensely beneficial for brands. By thinking out of the “webinar box” and exploring platforms and features to engage audiences in the long term, companies can significantly expand their opportunities for growth.
If you are amongst the ones that haven’t yet experienced the power of virtual events, we encourage you to take the leap. Discover it now!
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