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January 1, 2014

Do You REALLY Need to Host a Webinar?

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webinar-videoDon't be fooled: Webinars can be a lot more work than they may initially seem.

Conducting one is more than just getting an expert or two in a room together to talk for an hour. It takes careful planning, promotion, content creation, and collaboration.

Before you decide to set the date for one, make sure a webinar is really the right piece of marketing creative based on your goals.

Think about what value webinars bring: a voice to a topic accompanied with a visual that takes place in real-time and makes it easy for two (or more) organizations to benefit from one piece of content.

Do these values align with the projects you're working on, or would your time be better spent on a blog post or ebook? Take a look below to find out if webinars align well with your marketing plans.

When to Host a Webinar

You Know You Can Conduct a Thoughtful Q&A

The topic you're trying to share and discuss is best explained through a live Q&A? Well, a webinar is likely just the thing you need.

Maybe you're doing a follow-up presentation to a live conference you hosted or had a lot of people ask you questions about a recent book you wrote. A live Q&A also allows the current audience to ask additional questions during the event itself through social media or in a questions panel on your webinar platform. 

You're Working With a Partner

Creating a piece of co-written and co-branded content is a great way to expand your brand name and reach to a new audience. Creating that content, though, can be the tricky part. A live webinar is often a solution that can combine two different styles into one fluid webinar.

Find a topic for the webinar that marries the expertise of each partner in a concise manner. Let each partner speak about their area of expertise on the webinar for a short amount of time. Without a ton of editing of content, you now have something both you and your partner can use! 

You Know Human Explanation Will Help

Sometimes, products or processes can be confusing when explained on paper. Instead of creating a 20-page ebook on the step-by-step process to creating an AdWords campaign, make a short webinar tutorial in which you can clearly show each step and explain their importance.

Viewers can follow along and create their own AdWords campaigns during the webinar. If the webinar is live, they can ask questions during it, making it feel like a workshop session instead of a simple tutorial. 

You Need to Interact With Your Audience

Live webinars allow audience members to participate. Does their interaction on social media matter? Are you trying to "create" a conversation? If so, webinars are an optimal tool to get the conversation going.

By asking questions during a webinar and telling people to voice their opinions or questions on a Twitter hashtag, you can get a great conversation going around a specific topic.

Why would you want this? It could be as simple as you trying to create buzz around a topic or product or looking to create a viral affect on a piece of content or topic. Either way, word-of-mouth marketing can help your business grow. 

You Have an Expert for an Hour

Yes, webinars are a lot of work for all parties involved. If you have a world-renowned expert on a certain topic, however, who is willing to give you an hour of their time, take it!

To make this partnership a success, you and your marketing team can do all the heavy lifting and only require a quick dry run and the one-hour live webinar from your awesome expert.

When Not to Host a Webinar

Your Topic Doesn't Merit Holding a Webinar

Sometimes, a webinar doesn't make sense for the topic you are covering. For example, would you sit through a 60-minute webinar about why to do a webinar? Probably not ... which is why I made this into a blog post.

If your topic doesn't need a lengthy webinar to explain it, try another content medium that is less time-consuming but can still easily get your points across.

You Have a Global Audience

Webinars require a live audience. So, unless you are willing to set up multiple webinars for the same content, it is impossible to host a webinar at a time that works for all time zones.

At HubSpot, the majority of our audience is in the U.S., so we try to host a webinar that is a convenient time for the East Coast and West Coast. If we tried to host a webinar that worked for our U.S. audience and our Australian audience, we wouldn't likely find a time that works for everyone. Instead, we would turn that piece of content into an ebook, which can be downloaded and consumed at anytime. 

Your Content Isn't Interactive

The great thing about live webinars is that you can have an audience interact with your content and, in turn, you can play off those interactions.

If your content is simply someone reading off the slides or a heavy educational piece, why bother relaying that content via a webinar? Your audience likely won't enjoy the presentation as much, and a written piece of content will more-than-suffice.

Remember: Always keep your end user's experience in mind when creating content. If your content in webinar form will put people to sleep, you may want to rethink it. 

You Don't Have Help From Others

Speaking from experience, putting on a webinar by yourself is a lot of work. The planning, content creation, technical preparation, promotion, speaking, and follow-up take up a considerable amount of time and energy.

To put it bluntly, if you don't have another person assisting you, a webinar is a daunting task, so without others around to help out, you're better off skipping this content type.

Your Audience is Too Niche

HubSpot hosts webinars to scale up our marketing educational material to a large audience. Because we reach such a large audience, the value we see in virality, branding, and lead generation is very beneficial.

If our audience was much smaller, however, the return on the investment put into a webinar would be much lower, thus making webinars less valuable for us. If your audience is very small, a webinar may not be worth it. 
 
Before writing webinars out of your marketing content mix, think about how they will help you reach your goals. Don't host one just because you think it is the thing to do -- have a goal in mind, and understand how a webinar can help you achieve it. 

Do you think it's worthwhile for your team to conduct a webinar at some point? Share your thoughts, questions, and/or concerns below!

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Topics: Video Event Marketing

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