When it comes to hosting a webinar, you have two main options: you can do it live or you can record it and play it for viewers later. Before you make a selection, keep reading about the pros and cons of the latter version, an automated webinar.
What Is an Automated Webinar?
Before we jump right into things, let’s make sure everyone is on the same page about the definition of an automated webinar.
Simply put, an automated webinar is a webinar that is prerecorded. Therefore, it’s not “live” when people see it. As you can then continue playing it whenever you like (e.g. based on actions from another person), it’s referred to as an automated webinar.
Pro: You Can Use It Again and Again
This leads nicely to our first pro of using an automated webinar, which is that once you have yours done and recorded, you never have to go back and do either again. You’ll always have this great evergreen content on hand.
Companies that utilize live webinars have to host them over and over. This means that someone has to take time out of their day to stand in front of a camera for 30 to 60 minutes. If there are graphics involved or any other part of their presentation, those have to be synced up and played, too.
With an automated webinar, that’s not the case.
Pro: Automated Webinars Can Be Viewed 24/7, 365
It’s because of this that your company can use an automated webinar around the clock and around the year.
Another drawback of the live version is simply that you’re leaving out a whole lot of people who would like to attend but can’t because of scheduling conflicts.
This includes people who may have prior obligations, but we’re also talking about whole countries in other time zones for whom it might simply be too inconvenient to attend your webinar.
By recording an automated webinar, people can watch yours whenever it makes the most sense for them. Never again lose viewers because of timing issues.
Pro: There’s No Need to Be Around
This is similar to the last point but worth bringing up by itself, too. Some of you may be small business owners or entrepreneurs who are pretty much going at it alone.
Among other things, this means you’re solely responsible for doing the work it takes to keep your company afloat.
If you have a webinar recorded that you can play whenever it’s needed, all of a sudden you have some serious time freed up. You could use it for any number of productive activities.
Pro: You Can Make It Absolutely Perfect
The biggest fear most people have before hosting a webinar is that they will screw up. This isn’t hard to believe given that the majority of people’s greatest fear is public speaking. Just because they’re not directly in front of an audience doesn’t necessarily make things any easier.
Some people definitely do screw up, too. While no one’s perfect, you don’t want to have your company poorly represented because the host of your webinar isn’t able to deliver when you go live. This could make your business look amateur, especially if competitors are doing much better with their webinars.
An automated webinar not only erases this problem but actually gives you quite the advantage, too. You can take all the time you need to create the perfect webinar. You can even edit the best shots from multiple versions so you get the most impressive version possible. Obviously, this would be impossible to do live.
Pro: Your Sales Funnel Just Received a Valuable Component
Some companies use webinars as standalone solutions. Others use them as a source of revenue (more on that in a moment).
Still others rely on webinars as part of their sales funnel. When qualifying potential customers, a webinar can be an attractive method for moving customers from one step in the funnel to another.
If you only ever do recorded seminars, this can be a bit trickier. They’re still helpful but because you need to make your prospect wait until the next time you’re giving one, you run the risk of losing them.
With an automated webinar, the moment they make the qualifying decision, you can send them the next webinar.
Pro: Automated Webinars Can Mean Automated Incomes
As we touched on a moment ago, an automated webinar could also mean a reoccurring source of revenue for your company.
After all, as you’re probably aware, lots of companies charge viewers to watch their webinars. Just because yours is automated doesn’t mean you need to charge any less. Although you definitely want to be honest with them about this, if you have some powerful testimonials to advertise from people who gained a lot from your webinar, this won’t be a problem.
Pro: You Can Produce Them Whenever You Want
Finally, just because you record a webinar doesn’t mean you have to keep using it for the remainder of time. Although one of the strengths of automated webinars is definitely the fact that you can use them over and over, this doesn’t mean you can’t create new ones whenever you want.
Look at people with YouTube channels who regularly create new content. They don’t let their preexisting library limit how much content they create going forward. You shouldn’t let this stand in your way, either.
As time goes on and you get better and better at recording webinars, it will become that much easier to launch a new one whenever you like. If you have an email list, it will also be easy to put these webinars in front of people who have already enjoyed your earlier efforts.
Now, that being said, automated webinars aren’t perfect, either. There are some serious potential drawbacks to think about, too. Let’s look at them now.
Con: No Urgency
One very powerful way to get people to sign up for your automated webinar is by emphasizing a sense of urgency. Many companies do this by letting people know they will only let attendees sign up until a certain day or up to a certain amount of people. After that, no more people will be allowed to attend.
As you can imagine, this can make a webinar “sell out” quickly, even if the sense of urgency created is completely artificial.
This is difficult to do with an automated webinar. It’s not impossible, necessarily. You could say that you want to keep attendance to a minimum to make it easier to answer people’s questions afterward, but you’d have to make a pretty good case for this.
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Otherwise, it will look suspect. People will also know that you’ll most likely be offering your webinar again later, so what’s the point of rushing?
Con: Lack of Interaction
One big drawback you really can’t overcome when hosting an automated webinar is that you can’t count on the same level of interaction as you would get during a live version. There’s just no way for someone to ask you a question while a recorded webinar is playing.
If you were to somehow allow this, it would just make more sense to do the webinar live in the first place.
This is no small drawback, either. Many people look forward to webinars because they know they’ll get a chance to ask questions of an authority figure.
Other times, someone might be a bit confused by a certain point and now have no way of asking for clarification. You’ll most likely lose these people even if they were originally quite enthusiastic.
Con: They’re a Lot of Work
Any webinar is going to take a lot of work. The difference is that, as we just touched on, during a live one, you can answer questions, ad lib and roll with the punches as necessary to create the best possible experience for your attendees.
With an automated webinar, you need to do your best to anticipate what people may be thinking as they watch your program. You also have to do your very best to limit the questions someone could possibly have.
After you launch your first one, you should receive sufficient feedback for making necessary changes that result in a better product. Nonetheless, this can be a bit frustrating and definitely requires a lot of work.
Con: If You Don’t Do Them Well, There’s No Point to Doing Them at All
Along the same lines, your automated webinar needs to be perfect. The people on the other side can usually tell that your program was prerecorded so they won’t have much patience for anything other than a flawless delivery.
If you mess up a word or screw up a line even a little bit, you’ll have to start over. No matter how small the mistake may be, it must be redone.
Otherwise, your viewers are going to feel like you don’t really care. Even when the automated webinar is completely free, remember that they’ve set aside 30 minutes or more to listen to you, so you have to make a sufficient effort.
Con: You Can’t Reference Time-Sensitive Events
Depending on how dynamic your industry it is, you may have to stay away from references to time-sensitive events during your prerecorded webinars. Otherwise, they’ll quickly become outdated, which definitely will not help your cause.
For example, say you mentioned a certain regulation that plays a big role in your industry, but it is repealed or otherwise modified within a month or so. Your webinar is now going to confuse people or, again, make your business look out-of-date.
Con: They Can Come Off as Cheap
Finally, there are a couple of reasons your automated webinar may come off as cheap, which is just about the last thing you want.
We’ve touched on these to some extent or another, but we’ll summarize them here.
First, the lack of engagement can make it seem like you weren’t concerned about your viewers and just wanted to put something together. As live webinars continue to grow in popularity, this will increasingly become the case. Someone who attended a webinar last week where audience members could ask questions will be shocked to find they can’t at yours.
Also, as engagement continues to be seen as a premium, not having it will look like a rip-off.
Second, being able to access a webinar 24/7 is great, but it also makes it look less valuable. Unfortunately, humans tend to correlate exclusivity with value. Therefore, by trying to be helpful and make sure people can watch your webinar whenever you want, you’re actually hurting your chances of impressing them a lot of the time.
How to Have the Best of Both Worlds
We’re going to end with this final section about how you can have a webinar that benefits from both versions.
To begin with, if you’re nervous about recording, either have someone else do it or practice until you get it right. Also, as we’re going to recommend you do a live version, don’t expect too much from yourself at first. Know that you probably will make a mistake or two, but that it’s okay because you’re going to be improving.
Once you have the live version done, you’ll then take the recording and offer it to people. Just like with an automated webinar, this can be incredibly helpful for those who can’t attend when you hold the live version.
Don’t keep it up indefinitely, though. To ensure you leverage the power of urgency, only leave it up for a week or so, depending on your market.
Also, make sure you’re gathering emails in exchange for access. This introduces a certain amount of exclusivity but is also just great for building that all-important email list.
If you have the time to put out new webinars regularly, continue using this formula. Your list will make it easy to keep bringing in new viewers.
Overall, as long as you put time into your automated webinar and understand your market, it should be a major asset for your company. To start hosting effective, amazing automated or live webinars, check out BigMarker to get started. Or send us a message if you have any questions.
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