Discovering Simulive, an Easier Way to Schedule Webinars

Webinar dates are locked in, speakers are on board, and timings are confirmed. Everything seems to be in working order — until an inevitable issue arises to interfere with the scheduled webinar flow. The best way to avoid these abrupt circumstances is a simulive webinar event. In a simulive webcast, all audio, video, and presentation materials are pre-recorded. The webinar is scheduled and delivered to a live audience at a designated date and time. This gives you the flexibility of creating an on-demand presentation, plus all the benefits of running a live webinar. It’s almost like hosting a fully automated webinar.

As a Demand Gen Marketer at ON24, I execute a variety of marketing programs and, with the help of simulive webinars, I am always prepared for sudden changes with my programs. Here are some ways simulive webinars can help:

Global webinars

A webinerd and her community dancing happily in a virtual circle

One problem I have faced when working across global teams is trying to find the best time that can fit the schedules of all parties involved (including those overseas). It is technically possible to find a time to air a live webinar in EMEA or APAC from North America, but only if someone is sacrificing their sleep!

Marketing programs are a global effort. EMEA and APAC timings are drastically different than in North America. Running our webinars simulive has been a life-saver! Now, our EMEA webinar hosts jump right into the ON24 platform and record their slides during the time that fits best with their schedule. This relieves the stress of late-night or early morning phone calls and juggling a million schedules at once. Simulive webinars are also a great way to repurpose content that was created in North America as an EMEA or APAC resource. With simulive, we can simply copy over an existing event and select for it to air “live” in an EMEA or APAC specific time zone. Pretty cool!

Speaker unavailability, PTO, and OOO

Simulive webinars are a GREAT way to keep your webinar on track. More often than not, I receive email notifications from a speaker mentioning that they are unavailable to commit for a live date proposed on the marketing calendar. With simulive webinars, I have the option of letting my speaker know that they can always pre-record the event at their convenience and we can still run it on the date that best fits in our calendar. It’s a win-win situation!

By setting up an event as simulive, we can pre-record the entire webinar before the scheduled “live” air date. Speakers can go into the recording platform and record audio on their own time in the comfort of their homes, hotel rooms — literally anywhere (with a working wifi connection, of course)!

Simulive webinars take the stress out of running around attempting to lock down guest speakers. During the “live” air date, the producer and/or presenter(s) will just be monitoring live questions that come in during the Q&A session of the webinar.

Speaking nerves

Webinerd holding a webinar.

I work with a variety of speakers daily. Some speakers are extremely outgoing and able to do live webinars in a breeze, while others are a bit timid and prefer to not be put in the spotlight. Simulive webinars are a GREAT way to calm your speaker’s nerves. Simulive webinars allow speakers to log in to the event on their own time and comfort, without feeling the stress of a live event. If the speaker makes a mistake, he or she can simply go back into the event and re-record over any slides.

Simu-live also gives speakers an opportunity to hear their recorded presentation from start to finish. If they don’t like what they hear, speakers can go back into the event and make edits or re-record. Having control over what can be changed in the presentation relieves speakers and calms their nerves.

Live event emergencies

Webinerd looks out for hazards

 

All marketers running webinars have experienced a couple of live webinar event emergencies: The speaker can’t dial into the event, the phone bridge doesn’t seem to be working, the slides aren’t progressing, screenshare isn’t sharing to the audience, etc. Simu-live webinars help avoid any live event emergencies. You have the ability to pre-record your entire presentation, so if something does come up, it’s easily fixed and redone! Especially when speakers decide to screenshare and present a live demo, it is extremely convenient to leverage simulive. You can take the time to make sure the functionality is working correctly and pre-record rather than project an empty screenshare to an impatient audience during a live event. Simulive relieves all the stress of a live event, so all you have to do on the air date is sit back, answer questions, and enjoy the show.

Multiple webinar events

Webinerd social media

Webinars are important for our business, therefore we do A LOT of webinars every month. There have been times where we book two or three webinars on the same date because that’s what makes sense on our marketing calendar. Simulive webinars make it easy for the producer to be in multiple webinar events at once. Personally, I have managed multiple webinar events that happen on the same day because they run on simulive. I have everything set up for the webinar events before the air date and can monitor the Q&A for both events without a hassle. It’s that easy!

On a final note, it’s important to be equipped to face any webinar scheduling troubles/live day hassles and provide your speakers (and yourself) with seamless alternatives and sanity. Most of the time, simulive webinar events are the answer to all my webinar worries. On the day of the scheduled “live” event, there is minimal effort to be done by the producer and presenters; they can sit back and enjoy the show — literally. Bring out the popcorn!

Mastering the Webinar Introduction Script

It’s funny, when it comes to webinar best practices, the one thing that rarely gets discussed is the opening. And openings are important. I have attended and delivered a LOT of webinars in my life and it occurs to me that the most boring section of most webinars is actually the intro. There, the host will greet everybody and go through some kind of housekeeping section that feels like the presenter would rather be doing anything else in the world. It’s often painful to listen to, even if some of the information is important.

Do we will still need to do webinar intros and housekeeping? Sure — they establish the host, set the tone and provide valuable information to the audience about how to navigate the next hour. Can this be done better? You bet. Here are a few tips that will help make your webinar intros much more effective.

Set the tone

So many webinar presenters have a weird misconception by about tone. They believe that webinars have to have a dry, professional, but personality-less feel to them, and tend to speak to the audience in a monotone voice, like they are reviewing tax documents. Horrible!

When you greet your webinar audience for the first time, do it with energy and enthusiasm. Let them know that they are amongst friends. Give them a warm greeting and show them that they are in for a non-painful, and perhaps even fun, hour of education and inspiration. Even if you are delivering webinars for a serious industry such as healthcare or financial services, that doesn’t mean that your webinars should feel emotionless. There is nothing wrong, EVER, with greeting your audience with a smile.

Don’t read your abstract

Another strange thing I see companies do at the beginning of webinars is to read the abstract or email promotion for the event they are already attending. Hey, they are there, you don’t need to convince them again! They know why they signed up and are in your webinar and ready to go. The best way to keep your audience is to get on with the show.

Master the webinar basics:

Script the intro, carefully

I often get asked if webinars should be scripted and my answer is always a definitive no… except for intro scripts. There is simply too much detail to review with your audience to try to memorize it all. You have enough on your mind just preparing for your presentation. Also, you want to make sure that you get the instructions right. There is nothing worse than someone stumbling through housekeeping recommendations, confusing the audience before the presentation even begins.

Housekeeping: Be thorough but quick

If you have set up a bunch of features for your audience, you certainly need to point them out. There is nothing wrong with reviewing all of the features of your webinar (free content downloads, Q&A, links to other assets, etc.) but do so quickly. Try to review them in order, perhaps reviewing widgets from left to right to make it easy to follow. And don’t leave your smile at the door. Maintain your happy demeanor, even as you read the script.

Choose one CTA to emphasize

Most of the extra webinar features that you make available to your audience are there to elicit an action. Perhaps you are linking to a free trial or a demo. Maybe you are using your webinar to promote another upcoming event. There is a limit to how much you want to do in your housekeeping, so try to focus on one key CTA that you can emphasize as something that your audience should pay special attention to.

Use a visual

A lot of companies actually create a housekeeping slide to show what is available in the webinar console. The speaker can either highlight what is on the slide or simply let the audience view for themselves during the welcome, saving more time for content. If you do this, however, it’s as important to make sure that you are constantly updating that slide as you customize each webinar console.

Some companies have even made housekeeping videos that run before the webinar starts. This can be a fun way to check the housekeeping box — but it’s hard to make changes to a video, so be aware.

Save the intros

One thing I always thought was awkward is when webinar hosts introduce speakers, then pause to review the housekeeping, then go back to the speakers. The audience can get confused as to who is who, and you end up having to re-introduce the speakers all over again. This is especially true for audio-only webinars. Welcome your guests, review the housekeeping and then segue to your speaker and content introductions. It will make everything flow so much better.

A webinar is just like any other type of entertainment. People can lose interest quickly if the beginning isn’t engaging and the show isn’t easy to follow. Greet your audience with a smile, quickly let them know what they need to know, and get on with the show.

Your Webinars Are Really Not That Interactive

What makes webinars one of the most valuable marketing tools we have today is the ability to directly engage an audience in ways that most marketing tools simply can’t. But most webinars today still fall into the “we present and you listen” model. At this point, you are probably saying to yourself, “Not us! We do Q&A at the end of every webinar.” Well, that’s great, but it’s not enough.

According to the 2017 ON24 Webinar Benchmarks Report, 82% of webinars have Q&A during the webinar, most of the time at the very end of the presentation. The problem is that if you save Q&A for the end of your presentations, your audience is in passive listen-only mode for a majority of the webinar. But this is easy to change.

There are many interactive tools available, including Q&A, to make your webinars more engaging. And how you use these tools is just as important as using them in the first place. Here are some ideas to quickly add energy and engagement to your webinars:

Polling

Polling is one of my favorite engagement tools. I love to add at least 2–3 polls to every webinar. They keep the audience active and involved, and they get to have a voice in the conversation. Polls are great because the force the listener to take an action, which keeps them mentally dialed-in to the presentation. I usually start every webinar with a poll, just to get the interact

Group chat

Group chat can be a fun way of keeping your audience connected to the content and the webinar. Your audience has an opinion and would love the chance to comment on what is happening in the webinar. The key is to make sure that you have someone (not the presenter) managing the discussion to keep the discussion positive and on track.

Social Media

Getting your audience engaged socially is another great way to connect and interact with your audience. Twitter can be a really effective way of extending the conversation beyond the webinar. With a pre-set hashtag, your audience can comment on your content and highlight what they think are the most important parts. After the webinar is over, you can favorite and retweet those comments to continue the conversation.

Gamification

Why not have some fun with your audience? Use polls or the Q&A feature to quiz your audience or do raffles or give-aways. It’s another way to let the audience get involved and feel more connected to the webinar. Also, when they know there is going to be a give-away, they will pay more attention.

More Q&A!

But even if you are just doing Q&A, why not consider taking questions throughout the webinar instead of just at the end? If your presentation is broken into a few different topic areas, pause after each section to take a few questions. It’s a great way to keep your audience engaged.

The modern webinar is much more of a conversation than a presentation. Don’t talk at your audience, talk with them. Increased interactivity and engagement will lead to longer attendance times, more content retention, and ultimately, better leads. So don’t make your audience wait for their chance to speak, get interactive right from the start.

How Does Your Webinar Stack Up?

OK, I admit it. Here at ON24, we may be just the tiniest bit obsessed with webinars. We think about webinars. We write about webinars. We dream about webinars. And, of course, we deliver webinars. Then, once a year, we step back to do something completely different: we measure all of the thousands upon thousands of webinars.

Our annual Webinar Benchmarks Report lets us take a detailed look at the wide world of webcasting to identify key trends and actionable best practices. The insights we get are so interesting that we can hardly wait to share them with you in a special edition ON24 Best Practices Webinar. This year, webinar marketing maestro Mark Bornstein dove into the benchmarks data and brought us four data-driven webinar tips that you can start using today:

Don’t Shortchange Your Promotion Cycle

Over and over again, we hear that the single biggest webinar challenge for marketers is driving registration. So why are so many people only sending out one or two emails to promote their events? Our benchmark data shows that a full 23% of webinar registrations come in more than two weeks before the event. WOW.

If you’re only promoting your webinar for a week or two and only sending out a couple of emails, you are missing out on an enormous potential audience. Instead, plan on a promotional cycle that lasts around three weeks, and send at least three emails (at ON24, we usually send a mix of formatted HTML and plain text emails to appeal to a wider audience). And don’t forget the day of the webinar itself! More than a quarter of all webinar registrations come it at the last minute!

Don’t Fear the One-Hour Webinar

Think all your content needs to be snackable? Think again! Since we started tracking webinar benchmarks, we’ve seen the average viewing time go up every year, reaching an all-time high of 57 minutes in 2016, up from 38 minutes in 2010. As much as people love infographics and listicles, there’s also a huge appetite out there for long-form, in-depth content — and the 2016 data shows that nothing satisfies an appetite like an engaging and interactive hour-long webinar.

Get Interactive

When it comes to webinar interactivity, Q&A still leads the pack. In our study, we discovered that 81% of webinars include a Q&A portion. But there are so many more options available! Social tools are on the rise this year, with nearly 1 in 3 webinars integrating social media. And polling and surveys are still strong performers, each making an appearance in nearly a quarter of all webinars.

If you aren’t using these tools in your events, you could be missing out on a chance to engage with your audience in a fun and meaningful way. And if your event attendance is falling short of the average 57-minute mark, adding moments of interactivity may draw people in and keep them around for longer.

Have an On-Demand Strategy

Believe it or not, 1 in 3 people who watch a webinar miss the live date entirely, as they would rather watch it on-demand. Let’s face it: we’re all getting used to an on-demand world of binge-watching and streaming services that put the viewer in control of the media experience. So, why would webinars be any different? As marketers that means that we need to think beyond the launch date alone. When planning your webinar promotion strategy, you need to have a plan for promoting the on-demand version of the webinar as well so that you don’t miss out on a much larger potential audience. 

There are a lot of ways to promote on-demand webinars, from banner ads to emails. Personally, I’d recommend a nice blog post — after all, you’re reading this one!

For more great tips and a ton of webinar data, catch up on our latest edition of the ON24 Webinar Benchmarks Report.

Three Things Your Audience Wants from Your Webinar

We all know what we want from our webinars: more leads, more exposure for our company’s thought leaders, and more chances to share our message. But what about the people who attend those webinars? Ultimately, our webinars are only successful when everyone gets what they need — and giving your audience what they really want means understanding why your audience is attending, and ensuring that you cater to their content needs.    

How do you do that? Easy! Just follow these three tips for giving your audience what they really, really want:

Create an engaging experience

Sure, you could just let your audience stare at slides for an hour. But where’s the fun in that? Instead, you should think about every webinar as an opportunity to craft an immersive, engaging multimedia experience. Put your presenter on camera and add video clips or screen sharing to your presentation. Build in time for interactive tools like polls and surveys.

Every time you can get a response from your audience — whether it’s a click to download more content or a simple smile — you’ve succeeded at engineering a valuable fan experience.

Give your audience a chance to be heard

The number one mistake people make with webinars is assuming that the presenter is the only one talking. False! Everyone who signed up for your webinar is there for a reason: they want to know more about how your products will make their life easier, they need answers they haven’t been able to find anywhere else, they want to catch up on the latest trends in your space, etc. But unless you listen to them, you’ll never know what those exact reasons are and they won’t come back for more.

Q&A is the easiest way to give your webinar audience a voice (and most of us do that already), but it’s hardly the only option you have. Integrate social media tools into your webinar environment so that attendees can ask questions and share their experiences with a broader audience, but without leaving your event.

You may even want to include idea storming or group chat tools so that the audience can share their excitement, questions, and expertise with one another. Attendees will walk away from your webinars feeling like someone was really listening. And that’s always a great feeling!

Bonus points if you pass on these questions and conversations to the rest of your marketing team so they can pinpoint common themes around which you can develop related content. Pass this information to your sales team too so that they can send related content to qualified leads.

Make sure they feel like they’ve learned something new

These days, it seems like everyone is constantly juggling a million items on their to-do lists. So when someone carves out an hour from their busy schedule to attend your webinar, they expect to get something truly valuable from it. Keep that in mind as you’re planning your presentation: are you covering the same old ground, or are you exploring new trends, revealing unexpected results, and sharing new tips to make them smarter and faster at their job. 

Everyone who comes to your webinar should walk away knowing something they didn’t know when they signed up. Don’t solely use your webinars as a platform for pitching your products. Instead, focus on best practices and actionable advice that your audience can put into practice right away. Doing so establishes you as a trusted expert, leaving your audience with nothing but positive feelings about you and your webinar.

Of course, this is just the beginning!

5 Ways to Boost Webinar Attendance

I have a confession to make: last week I forgot to take out the trash, ordered takeout more times than I’d like to admit, and sent my laundry out to be cleaned because I didn’t have time to do it myself. I was just too busy to do it all. Likewise, your fans — people just like you and me — are busier than ever. We’re constantly being pulled in a dozen different directions, bombarded with industry news and marketing messages, when all we really want is something that will help us get our jobs done faster and smarter. In such a busy and noisy marketing world, how can you make sure people take the time to come to your webinars? The answer is deceptively simple: your webinars need to be relevant, informative, and most of all, convenient. Here are a few easy tips to get you started:

  1. Make The Title Pop

Think about the last webinar you attended. With all the invites that pour into your inbox, why did you not only register for but also attend that particular one? Chances are, you signed up because the title spoke to you. If the title of a webinar promises to deliver information you need or actionable advice, you are much more likely to register and attend.

Keep that in mind when you’re naming your own webinars. Craft a title that directly addresses a common pain point and lets people know that they’ll walk away with tips they can immediately put into action. Webinar titles like “10 Secrets for Creating Great Webinar Content” or “5 Signs Your Webinars are Falling Short” tell people exactly what they can expect. And that translates into more people attending your event.

  1. Get More From Your Registration Page

Too often, marketers think of the webinar registration page as nothing more than an abstract and a form fill. But if you don’t take your reg page seriously, why should your fans?

Make sure you have calendar links on your registration page so it’s easy for people to add the webinar to their calendars. This gives them an easy and fast way for them to block out the time in their work calendars so no one books a meeting at the same time as your webinar. You wouldn’t agree to a professional development meeting and not add it to your calendar — treat your webinars the same. Adding buttons that automatically drop the webinar on someone’s Outlook or Google calendar is a quick and easy way to help ensure they attend.

  1. Don’t Be Antisocial

If you’re not promoting your webinars on social channels, you’re missing out on a huge potential audience. Just remember that social audiences have a different set of expectations, so you might have to nuance your message a little bit. Use different copywriting based on the platform (more light-hearted on Facebook, short-form with a point of view on Twitter, and a more skills-focused approach for LinkedIn).

Be sure to establish a hashtag for your webinar or larger webinar series (and check that hashtag to make sure that no one else is using it or that it’s not currently being used in a different, inappropriate context!). Then get creative about how you promote the event: tease key tips that will show up in the webinar presentation, ask provocative questions about the pain points the webinar will address, create a teaser video, or throw out intriguing stats or quotes that are related to the subject of your event. And, finally, try posting at different times to appeal to your audience. A well-crafted tweet a few days before the webinar may help drive registration, while timely day-of messages counting down to the start of your event will probably encourage more spur of the moment attendance (like how Periscope works by promoting the “I’m doing this now. Tune in now” mentality).

  1. Send a Reminder Email

This is such a simple one, but it is so shocking how many people forget to send a reminder email! Sometimes I get so busy that I forget to little but important things like buy groceries or take out the trash, so imagine how easy it is for people to forget about your webinar. No matter how excited someone was when they signed up, you need to take the opportunity to remind them.

Segment your database and email sends so that the day of your webinar anyone who has not registered yet receives a “last chance” email. And all the people who have registered should get a friendly reminder with a link to the event a couple of hours before you start delivering your webinar. This keeps your webinar top of mind as they’re starting out their day, helps fans prioritize their work for the day, and makes the event link easily accessible.

  1. Get Sales Involved

You want more people to come to your webinars. Sales want a good excuse to reach out to prospects. This is a textbook win-win situation and is key to any good some good sales and marketing alignment strategy.

Draft a simple email template for your sales team and encourage them to reach out and personally invite their most promising prospects to your webinar. Sales will appreciate having a reason to continue the conversation with a strong lead, you will enjoy an engaged addition to your webinar audience, and the prospect gets all your tips and webinar content. If the webinar helps move the prospect down the funnel and encourages them to buy, then your webinar can be directly attributed to revenue generation. How great is that?!

People are busy. Make it fun and easy for them to attend your super relevant and informative online events and they’ll be sure to keep coming back for more! If you’re looking for more tips to drive webinar registration, check out 7 Ways to Enhance Your Webinar Promotions.