Most people consider an on-demand webinar to be nothing more than a recording of a live webinar. It’s a video you can conveniently watch at any time, somewhere like YouTube.
On-demand webinars of this kind have two big benefits:
- Scalability: A pre-recorded webinar can be watched 1000X over, unlike a live webinar which is tied to the availability of the host.
- Time saved: Time that would have been spent hosting a live webinar can be spent on other things.
The big problem, however, is that a traditional on-demand webinar is impersonal, a passive viewing experience that doesn’t share the characteristics of a “real” webinar.
Fortunately, on-demand webinar software has come a long way and now delivers benefits that are entirely unexpected. So much so, most people don’t even know they exist.
Here are the five most unexpected benefits of modern on-demand webinars:
- Increased attendance
- More opportunities for interaction
- Longer watch times
- Higher engagement
- A personal touch at scale
1. Increased attendance
With the advent of Netflix and other streaming services, consumer expectations have changed with respect to how accessible video content should be. People want everything to be available at their convenience, whether that’s “right now” or at a time that fits nicely into their schedule. On-demand webinars meet this demand and the result is higher attendance rates.
When you are choosing webinar software, however, be sure to look for a product with more availability options than just “on demand” — there are a few out there — including things like a recurring schedule, just-in-time sessions, and webinars replays. It is the power of these scheduling features combined that makes attendance rates go up so much. The average attendance rate across all of eWebinar’s users, for example, is 65% — 63% higher than the industry average of 40%.
2. More opportunities for interaction
Webinars are meant to be interactive. Attendees expect to be able to ask questions, whether through chat or during a Q&A at the end. And the audience is often asked to participate in the experience by responding to questions and polls or by sharing feedback. It’s a big part of what makes a webinar a webinar.
While it might seem counterintuitive, on-demand webinars can offer attendees more opportunities for interaction than most live webinars. This is because you can plan your script and program interactions — like questions, polls, tips, special offers, and more — to appear automatically throughout your webinar at predetermined times, giving your audience a way to participate in the experience from beginning to end.
3. Longer watch times
The natural result of more opportunities for interaction is longer watch times. Without something to hold their attention, people can easily get distracted and switch to another browser tab or open Instagram. Interactivity is the thing that keeps them watching longer, so they don’t miss your all-important CTA at the end.
For example, one company switched from a different webinar platform to eWebinar and added interactions to the exact same video they had used before. The result was that their watch times increased from 70% to 90%. This is typical.
Other platforms that offer a variety of interactive elements are Bigmarker and WebinarGeek.
4. Higher engagement
Another byproduct of greater interactivity is higher engagement all around. When people respond to your polls and questions or reach out to you with their own questions through chat, a feedback loop is created that becomes an invaluable source of actionable information. You can find out who your audience is and what they are looking for. Or learn how to improve your product or service. Or use the data you collect to predict behavior, such as the likelihood of purchasing.
Whatever your goal, all of this data, including behavioral data captured for you automatically, can be sent to your CRM or marketing automation software of choice for audience segmentation and targeted post-webinar follow-up.
5. A personal touch at scale
Finally, the last benefit of modern on-demand webinars — a personal touch at scale — springs from having a robust chat system.
To help demonstrate this benefit, here is how eWebinar’s chat works for attendees and hosts:
How chat works for attendees
A personalized chat message welcomes attendees to the webinar shortly after they join. This lets them know they can ask questions at any time during the presentation, instead of having to wait for a Q&A.
Because chat is one-on-one and private — not public as it is in live webinars — attendees have a direct line of communication to you. They don’t have to worry about their questions not getting answered, which makes them feel extra special and heard.
How chat works for the webinar’s host
When an attendee sends a message, the webinar’s host — or team, since you can assign whoever you like to assist you with moderating chat — gets notified.
If the host is free, they can jump in and have a real-time conversation with the attendee. This gives them the golden opportunity to answer questions, resolve objections, and close deals in the moment — and to offer exceptional customer service.
If, on the other hand, the host is not free to respond, an auto response lets the attendee know that their message was received and that someone will get back to them later. (This puts the attendee at ease and keeps them from feeling ignored.) If the host is still unable to respond before the webinar ends, their reply gets sent to the attendee by email automatically.
The flexibility of this system lets you run your webinars around the clock without worrying about missing a question or leaving an attendee hanging without a response. It also ensures that attendees can always get answers to their questions. It strikes a balance between the importance of offering on-demand content and the personal touch of direct, one-on-one communication — at scale.
If you were surprised to learn about any or all of these unexpected benefits of on-demand webinars and are interested in experiencing them for yourself, there are a number of software options out there for you to try. Whether you choose to go with eWebinar or something else, I hope you will come to realize that the preconceptions people have about on-demand webinars are no longer true and that you can make your webinars available in a way that is convenient for attendees without sacrificing the things that make webinars special: interactivity and chat.