3 Types of Webinars to Host and How to Use Each
October 1, 2015
So far in this blog series, we’ve covered the 5 R’s of putting together a webinar and tactics to increase your attendance rate.
Let’s back up a bit, though, and talk about the different types of webinars and how each can be used to appeal to leads at different stages in the buyer’s journey.
The buyer’s journey is the three-phase process people go through in purchasing … well … anything. (Albeit for consumables, the first two phases are quite short.) In the Awareness stage, someone realizes they have a problem and are doing research on that problem. In the Consideration stage, someone is weighing his or her different options and ways to solve the problem. In the Decision stage, someone has narrowed the list down to one or two vendors and is getting ready to commit.
HubSpot has typically put webinars in the consideration stage, as this type of content requires an hour-long commitment that those in the awareness stage often aren’t ready for.
However, I think that webinars are a powerful tool for all three stages of the buyer’s journey. First, some of your leads will undoubtedly prefer audio/visual content to text and a webinar will thus appeal to them over an ebook. Second, many professionals find it difficult to block off time to read at the office (noise, interruptions, etc.). However, watching a webinar is possible by blocking off a time period on the calendar and using ear buds or closing an office door. Finally, webinars offer an interactive experience with a live Q&A period that, due to its very nature, text can’t provide.
In a greatly simplified world, there are three main types of webinars: educational, product, and a blend of the two. Each corresponds to a stage of the buyer’s journey.
Awareness: Educational Webinar
An educational webinar should be about giving away knowledge to the audience on a particular topic related to your business. Educational webinars should be informational only and not pitch your product or company.
Speakers from outside your company (“external speakers”) are excellent for educational webinars, especially if you can get an expert on the topic. However, employees (“internal speakers”) can also present one if they are able to put in the time and effort to create the content and become an expert on the topic.
For a fictional dog sitting business, an educational webinar might be on ways to minimize stress for your dog when you are out of town or tackling dog behavioral problems when you work from home.
Two key points for awareness webinars. 1) Don’t pitch your product. Period. 2) Take the time ahead of the webinar to determine what you want the next steps for attendees to be. Awareness webinars do not have the direct link to your company (see point #1), but think about what will get someone to that next stage in the buyer’s journey, whether that be downloading a consideration ebook or registering to attend your next consideration webinar. Even visiting a consideration blog post might be an appropriate call-to-action after the webinar.
Consideration: Blended Webinar
As leads begin to think about the different options available to them, they enter the consideration stage. Since they are researching all options, your product comes into play for this stage. (Thus, this webinar is “blended” between product and educational.)
This is still not a product demonstration. A webinar discussing the different options is what you are aiming for.
For our dog sitting business, a consideration webinar might be three people (who each talk for 20 minutes) on what they did with their pooch the last time they went on vacation – one person who left their dog with a friend, one who took their dog to a boarder, and one who paid a dog sitter to stay at their home.
Customer case studies can sometimes also be a blended (consideration) webinar depending on how much time the customer spends talking about the problem they were facing and the options they considered to solve the problem. If they spend a great deal of time covering your product, though, it becomes a product webinar.
Decision: Product Webinar
A product webinar, on the other hand, is ALL about your product. These types of webinars are great for leads who are further down the buying cycle and are interested in learning more about your product and its benefits.
For our dog sitting business, a decision webinar would be a brief overview of your business, why selecting your business makes sense for attendees, and your business competitive advantages such as offering doggie daycare cameras and pet insurance while their dog is with you.
For software companies, product webinars usually involve some type of demonstration whether that be live or screenshots via PowerPoint.
The goal of product webinars is to help answer the final questions attendees have on why they should pick you.
Regardless of which type of webinar you choose, make sure that your promotional materials accurately reflect what content will be covered. Don’t make a product demonstration sound like an educational webinar if it’s not. Attendees will be disappointed and not only will they leave early, but they also won’t come back to any future webinars.
A final note on how to decide which webinar you should have. Your goal (the first thing you should decide) will determine which type of webinar you want to conduct.
For example, if you are trying to attract and convert leads, an educational webinar is definitely the way to go. If you are aiming to create opportunities for your sales team, a product webinar will make more sense.
A well-rounded webinar program will include presentations for all three stages of the buyer’s journey.
Need help determining which webinar you need to host next? Contact us!
About the author
Jessica Vionas-Singer is the Senior Director of Client Success at SmartBug Media where she leads a team of SmartBugs who focus on HubSpot onboarding for clients new to the system and other project-based work, oversees new employee onboarding, and rolls out new process and procedures within the Client Services department. She fell in love with marketing at her first job at a technology company specializing in credit evaluation software. Her background includes more than 20 years of marketing experience in content creation and lead-driving tactics, online presence and blog creation, social media engagement, budgeting and project plans, webinar and trade show event management, public relations, comprehensive promotional campaigns, and analytics. Jessica has a BS in Sociology from Montana State University – Bozeman. Read more articles by Jessica Vionas-Singer.
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