I think we can all agree that 2020 was the year of the webinar. Many of us are still experiencing things virtually, and 42% of marketers say they plan to host or participate in a webinar in 2021.
As with all stats coming out of North America, we in the Caribbean have to take it with a grain of salt, but webinars are likely to remain popular this year.
If you’ve been thinking about hosting a webinar or you’re actively planning one, you’ll realise that there is no shortage of webinar platform options. The process of choosing one platform can be overwhelming. Each has its pros and cons, and when it comes to ‘the best platform’, it really depends on your needs.
Before you even attempt to look at various platforms, we’ve got eight key questions you should ask yourself when choosing a webinar platform.
8 Key Questions When Choosing a Webinar Platform
- The reason for the webinar
- The number of attendees you’re aiming for
- The type of audience engagement you want
- How you’ll be presenting
- Measuring effectiveness
- The resources and time you have
- Sign up
1. What is the reason for this webinar?
If your reason is to educate, finding a platform that just lets you host and talk to the audience may suffice. However, if you really want to engage with your audience while educating them, find a platform that allows for polls, questions, or maybe for participants to video call in to give their opinion. This keeps the audience interested and allows for two-way learning; because we’re presenting doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the audience’s experiences.
On the other hand, if you are looking to sell or generate leads, a platform that allows you to link your landing page to promotions with Facebook pixel built-in or even send emails to the audience may be your best bet. These tools are great for following up with the audience and pushing specific messages to them.
2. How many people do I want to attend this webinar?
You probably have great ideas for your webinars. Your ideas might be for a small group or a large group. Some webinar platforms allow a maximum of 50 persons, and then some allow for thousands. Look for a platform that can be used medium to long term and suits your needs. It doesn’t make sense paying for a platform right now for 50 people and a month later realising you need one that allows for 500 participants.
If you are promoting your webinar to your customer base but also to the public, take this into consideration. Sometimes social media promotions get you loads of registrations but not the right audience, so account for this when looking at the registration capacity.
3. What type of engagement do I want with the audience?
This question is extremely important because everyone’s goals are different. Goals range from lead generation to awareness or simply to connect. Some platforms allow everyone to speak, giving mic and video controls to the organisers; if your goal is connecting, this could be useful. Some also allow you to have special offers, polls, and questions but no real video or voice chat from participants. A setup like this could hinder your connection goal but still allows for great conversation among participants without compromising the main contributors’ presentations. Remember your goals and objectives and how you wish to connect with the audience as you evaluate webinar platforms.
4. Who is presenting, and how are they presenting?
Capturing people’s attention isn’t always about what you do, but how you do it, the same goes for webinars. Based on your current and future webinar plans, determine what would be the optimum number of presenters on a panel to help you determine which platform suits your needs. Additionally, you don’t want to choose a platform that only allows for video chat. Platforms that allow for screen sharing, screen sharing with video, presentation uploads or pre-recorded sessions will enable you to cater to different types of learners in the audience.
5. How do I measure the effectiveness of my webinar?
We all aspire to do better in life, sometimes we can, and sometimes we just don’t know how to. I’ve found it best to find a platform that allows for direct feedback from participants via a rating survey. Using this information and making small changes to please your target audience can make your next webinar an even bigger success.
6. What resources do I have, and how much time do I have before execution?
Some platforms only host the webinar; this can be a task. I’ve found it easier to use platforms that allow for simple sign-ups and customisations of landing pages or registration pages and have lots of built-in features.
7. Where do our members sign up?
If you’ve got an in-house web team, a landing page can be quick, easy, and inexpensive to build, but if you don’t, this is just one element that can bump up your webinar budget. I’ve found it easy to use platforms such as Webinar Ninja that come with templated registration pages. Templated options allow for easy development and a quick page to direct your traffic from social media or email invites. This can be a great help because while having your in-house team may be quick, you’ve still got to think of copy and finding all the information to build your registration page. Platforms such as Webinar Ninja provide great layouts, and you can easily use the temples for copy as well. They even allow you to edit your registration form to gather key information on the audience, for example, if an attendee is an existing customer.
Budget is another aspect that plays a big role in the selection of your webinar platform. Who doesn’t want a webinar that allows as many people as you wish and makes sending emails, registration, and engagement extremely easy? The webinar platform of your dreams might be out of reach of your budget. After you’ve made your checklist of elements you’d like to have, check your allocated budget, as now might be the time to make some adjustments.
When choosing your webinar platform, just remember, it’s all about what best suits your goals and needs (and budget!) as well as the intended audience.
Kwesi is a Digital Market Development Specialist (that’s a mouthful) at imagine Digital and has had a passion for marketing from age twelve. As the youngest on the marketing team, he’s excited about his journey in the marketing world and thoroughly enjoys new challenges which allows him to be creative in a corporate environment. Kwesi is also a baker and loves to extend his creativity to the kitchen.