When it comes to webinars in general, few strategies generate a greater number of leads or sales. In fact, most statistics suggest that nearly two-thirds of marketing gurus use webinars in a regular basis. In the past, however, live webinars have been preferred because they have enjoyed greater times of viewing. Compared to on-demand webinars, those watching live streams tend to stay engaged twice as long. Interestingly, this simple fact still holds true. But this statistic no longer tells the complete picture. Based on recent shifts on consumer behaviors, on-demand content options now look to be the preferred approach.
When it comes to on-demand webinars, there are many advantages that viewers appreciate. More than ever, time is a precious resource, and there are ever-increasing demands on our time. In contrast to live webinars that require attendance at a specific time, on-demand options offer flexibility. As a result, businesses and marketers alike can attract the attention of larger audiences using on-demand webinars. But this is only one of the benefits that these platforms offer. This is a major reason why many companies are changing their approach when it comes to various types of streaming content.
“Pre-recorded webinars are focused on the attendees and how they want to consume and engage with video content. Pre-recorded webinars prioritize the attendee & consumer experience, whereas live webinars prioritize the host’s content delivery.” – Todd Parmley, COO, eWebinar
Changing Consumer Trends in Webinars
Live webinars have been shown to be highly effective in a variety of settings. Marketers have recognized for decades that these platforms are quite lucrative. Roughly 5% of attendees to these discussions make purchases. But they are also effective in other areas as well. Educational training webinars are routinely used when onboarding employees or updating employee skills. And certainly, during the pandemic, live webinars were utilized among remote workers during presentations.
In recent years, however, live sessions have slowly given way to on-demand webinars. Just as many consumers came to appreciate on-demand television streaming, they too have embraced on-demand webinars. Time constraints and a greater desire for flexibility are driving these trends. But these aren’t the only ones. Global audiences cannot always attend live webinars, and on-demand platforms provide alternative solutions. Plus, on-demand streaming enables many to attend who might otherwise have scheduling conflicts.
“On-demand webinars are my favorite type of video because of their return on investment (ROI). It is the video version of email — not particularly sexy or trendy, but makes you money on autopilot once set up.” – Nathan Isaacs, Senior Content Producer at UserTesting
The Good and Bad of On-Demand Webinars
When comparing live webinars to on-demand ones, there are several other advantages. For example, the lifespan of on-demand webinars is tremendously increased. Once content is created and uploaded for audiences, it can be used indefinitely as long as it’s relevant. For companies using videos for training and onboarding new hires, on-demand webinars are great. In addition, these provide a level of consistency and quality that may be difficult to achieve with live sessions. And naturally, the time and effort invested in these presentations over the long-term is much more efficient.
There is a few downsides to on-demand webinars when compared to live interactions. Live webinars offer better engagement with the audience, which can be appealing at times. For instance, live discussions permit question-and-answer sessions. They also tend to maintain viewership for longer periods of time. While audiences prefer on-demand discussions of 10-15 minutes, audiences will remain attentive to live platforms for 30 minutes. However, it has also been shown that attendance rate doubles for many companies when switching. Some businesses have reported 40% attendance with on-demand platforms compared to 20% with live-streaming.
“Since live webinars are happening in real time, the success of the live event depends on the host. The host is responsible for staying on track, interacting with the live audience, and ensuring that the technology is fully functional.” – Todd Parmley
Best Practices for On-Demand Webinars
Given that on-demand webinars will hopefully have lasting value, it’s important to invest effort into making them. A little bit goes a long way in this regard. If done well, these can offer high-quality professional presentation that best serves the audience being pursued. Taking the extra time upfront can therefore provide better results for a long time to come. Understanding this, there are some key best practices to consider. By taking these into consideration, viewer engagement and attentiveness will be much higher.
One of the things to consider involves imagining being an audience member. Because these are not live webinars, it’s important to plan content creation with anticipation. (Read more about the rise of content creation apps in this Bold story.) Marketing gurus tend to create a customer journey map when constructing on-demand webinars. They place themselves in their shoes when creating the structure of the presentation. They also often pose questions that they then answer. In addition, customer personas are also considered to help identify what key points deserve attention. Customer journey maps can actually be used for any type of on-demand recording as a way to enhance content. In this way, they can better engage the audience and mirror live webinars.
The Best of Both Worlds
It can be appreciated that on-demand webinars will not and should not replace live streaming sessions completely. In some instances, live webinars are ideal, especially when dialogue is important. Understanding this, some companies are turning to simulated webinars and shared sessions as a result. In this regard, the initial live webinar is transferred to a platform for later streaming or shared publicly. In fact, Zoom now offers this routinely via Twitch where live sessions may be stored and shared. However, it’s important to also appreciate that an increasing number of employers, consumers, and staff prefer on-demand webinars overall. Thus, companies must not only change their approach but how they measure success as well. Attendance and conversion rates for on-demand platforms will become a more standard metric in the years to come.