If you’re a digital marketer, you’re probably familiar with the rising importance of hosting webinars. A webinar, short for web seminar, is a presentation-style digital conference consisting of live audio and video. Hosts typically format webinars as a one-way exchange of information.  A presenter shares this information via screenshare to a remote audience. This results in limited interaction, during an allotted period of time.

You can use webinars to position your company as a thought leader. You can also generate leads for new business and gain feedback from participants. For attendees, webinars are a cost-effective alternative to physical conferences with the same benefit of learning about new topics and industry trends. Based on these mutual perks, it’s no surprise that significantly more people have been attending webinars in recent years. In 2013, webinars with over 1,000 attendees totaled only 1%. One year later, that percentage shot up to 9%.

Read our guide on How to Deliver a Winning Webinar Experience. It will help you learn more about the diverse and amazing opportunities webinars offer marketers.

What’s the problem with webinars?

They are a great way to inform people all over the world. However, attendees can bail on webinars far more easily than their physical counterparts. This is partly due to the relatively nonexistent cost of breaking their commitment. As a digital marketer, this can make you want to pull your hair out.

Many interested webinar registrants will sign up, indicating that they’ll attend, but can’t for a number of causes. According to webinar statistics by Adobe, 51% of page viewers will convert into webinar registrants. However, only 36% will convert into webinar attendees.

So what happens to the other 15% of people who expressed interest but couldn’t show up? Many digital marketers are find that virtual events are a good solution. A virtual event can amplify the value of your investment and save that 15% from being chalked up to a missed opportunity. It can engage more users with the same content over a longer period of time. (The other 49% of your page viewers can join in too, of course!) These, and other statistics show a very clear picture of the attendance at these events. 

Perhaps you’ve hosted a webinar before, but never thought to compliment it with a virtual event. At vFairs, we’ve actually built a webinar component inside our virtual event platform to make it easier.

Hang on, how does a Webinar within a Virtual Event work?

Virtual event attendees log into the virtual event and take their pick from a few destinations:

1) A hall featuring a collection of virtual booths which promote interaction with content as well as people via chat tools.
2) An information desk with information about the event itself and what it has to offer.
3) A virtual auditorium, which is essentially a digital stage. Visitors simply click on the auditorium and open up the webinar page to see the broadcasted video. Here, virtual event attendees can join Q&A sessions and participate in polls.

Virtual events let visitors engage long after your webinar ends.

Let’s say you’re a potential webinar attendee. You’ve been prompted to sign up for a webinar that takes place 2 weeks from now. The topic sounds exciting and your calendar is wide open. You register and submit your information. Then two weeks later the webinar comes around, and BOOM! Your boss wants a meeting with you, the IT guy wants to update your computer, you woke up feeling ill, the power goes out and aliens take over – somehow something comes up and you miss the webinar.

Whereas webinars are set up as one-off opportunities, virtual events give registrants the freedom to return to webinar recordings at their own convenience until the virtual event’s closing date. Those that have to bail last minute (giving a marketer somewhere a headache) can always log into the virtual event to find the information they want (making a marketer somewhere smile).

Sometimes virtual event sponsors choose to keep the virtual event open so visitors can continue to interact with their content after the official closing date. However, this type of virtual event is called “evergreen” and there is no live support or customer reps manning the virtual booths.

Virtual events give you a detailed view of your content metrics

Virtual events can reaffirm your message, knowledge, and expertise through multiple facets of content, not just through a webinar presentation. You probably have a lot of interesting material in your marketing arsenal, such as videos and brochures, which you’d like to share with your virtual event participants. Thanks to the open format of virtual events, attendees can choose when to engage and what they would like to engage on. This can give you better insights than the structured format of a webinar.

Virtual events are a space for meaningful networking

Webinars are typically constructed for one-way communication, with attendees remaining anonymous to other attendees. This is a missed opportunity for people in the same industry to connect, share ideas and network. Virtual events create a digital space, though group and 1:1 chats, for a fusion of thoughts, questions, interpretations, concepts, and beliefs to come together among like-minded professionals.

Final Word

To sum up, virtual events are key to maximizing the impact of your webinar. They keep you at the forefront of the industry with new leads, fresh insights, and happy participants. With virtual events, you can make sure that the missing 15% of registrants get access to your content – after they resolve their issues with their boss, the IT guy, and the aliens.

Want to learn about Virtual Career Fairs? Read “The Ultimate Guide to a Virtual Career Fair”.

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