Online events, specifically webinars, have seen immense changes over the past 18 months with the COVID-19 pandemic. Chief among them has been the increase in the number of people and businesses who now see how webinars can be used to engage prospects, delight customers and communicate with the world at large.
But which webinar platform should you be using?
There has never been more choice, which only adds to the confusion of selecting the right one.
Before you move ahead, consider your goals, budget, content and audience. Once you know what you need from a webinar platform, you can then begin to research and determine which provider has the best product for you. Part of this research involves making sure the provider’s solution and business model are compatible with what you want to offer your audience and your return on investment (ROI) plans.
To simplify the selection process, here are eight questions to ask that will ensure you’re on the road to webinar success.
1. What are my webinar branding options?
Branding is important for any company, regardless of size. Yet, not all webinar platforms offer the option to customize the entire attendee workflow experience — landing page to live event page to e-mail communications. Instead, many provide a bog-standard template that you can slap your logo on. Some even feature their own branding more prominently than your own. This can be problematic if your webinar is sponsored, especially when the sponsor has certain requirements. In some cases, featuring your logo or your sponsor’s logo and brand creatives can cost extra, so make sure to ask about this upfront.
2. What are the real webinar costs?
A lot of people will go for a basic package, often tempted by the $99.99 a month fee, only to realize the features they actually need cost extra. When asking for a quote, be clear about what you want and confirm those features are included in the total price. There is nothing worse than realizing what you needed for your webinar isn’t included in the package.
3. What are your unique webinar features? And how can they benefit me?
All marketers know the unique selling point is key. Don’t hesitate to ask webinar providers what’s exceptional about their solution.
For example, do they take a unique approach to monetizing webinars? Or is their content presentation strategy innovative?
These questions will help you better understand how they can best serve your needs. You may find out that one platform has a cool feature that will make a real difference when engaging your audience.
4. What types of webinar reporting and analytics do I get?
Needless to say, in business, marketing and sales, key performance indicators (KPIs), reports and figures are important. If you’re using webinars to promote your content, generate leads, engage and produce revenue, you will need data and insights to measure their effectiveness.
Think about your webinars’ KPIs and what sort of reports your business would need (drop-offs, engagement, interaction, subscribers versus attendees, revenue and so on). Then, see which webinar providers offer the right reporting tools for your business. You’d be surprised at the differences in reporting capabilities between webinar companies and what some will charge you extra to be able to see.
5. Will my webinar be available on multiple devices and browsers?
If you already know your target audience and the personas that go along with them, then you should also have data related to the devices they are using and how they access your content.
Even if you don’t have that data, you want to ensure that your content is accessible and that means being available across browsers and devices. While it seems like a given that webinar platforms would perform across all devices, there are barriers — some require app downloads, while others may not be available on older browsers. It’s important to know before investing your time and money.
6. How secure is your server? And can you provide different levels of access for my webinar?
Not every webinar platform has an end-to-end approach that not only keeps your (and your customers’) data secure but also ensures performance reliability. Webinar security issues can lead to data breaches, platform downtime and unexpected headaches for the user.
Another important element is access levels. Let’s say you have four speakers. They all need access to upload their content and present. You won’t want to give them admin access or access to your entire webinar. Instead, you might consider giving them restricted access, which would allow them to only use the features they need without interfering with the rest of the webinar’s content. You’ll need to make sure this feature is offered by the webinar platform so you don’t run into security issues down the line.
7. Will I be able to access my webinars after the live event? And can I archive them?
Your webinar’s life shouldn’t be over once the live event ends. Webinars are evergreen content and you should leverage them with the live event to maximize your ROI.
Make sure the webinar platform offers access to your webinar once it’s over and that it’s available on-demand. Also, confirm whether you’ll incur an extra cost for on-demand service. If planning a series of events, a personalized channel with references to all your events might be a great idea for better engagement.
Should you be migrating from another webinar platform, ask whether the new provider can move your existing webinars and house them. You don’t want to lose your entire webinar library.
8. What kind of webinar support do you offer?
Support, both technical and otherwise, is essential, especially when you start using a new product. Be sure you ask what kind of webinar support is offered (for example, e-mail or an account manager) and what’s included in your quote.
You may also want to investigate a fully managed event solution where the webinar provider sets up and manages the event, so you can focus on content and presenting. Consider your options, the benefits and your budget.
Melissa Hugel is the marketing manager at WorkCast, a software-as-a-service platform designed to bring together innovative online events with proactive support. WorkCast and its team make webinars, webcasts and virtual events simpler and more engaging, allowing users to generate more leads and connect with audiences on a global scale. Melissa can be reached at [email protected].