State of the Webinar in 2017: It’s Time to Shake Things Up

Webinars have been a trusted tool for marketers and lead gen pros for quite some time, but we find ourselves at a crossroads this year. Research gives us every indication that marketers are using webinars in full force and to great effect. But that may not be the case for much longer if we don’t take an in-depth look at where webinars stand and how they can be improved, rather than exhausted. Through our work with customers and prospects, we’ve observed and distilled five key trends that constitute the “State of the Webinar in 2017.”

 

Engagement is imperative.

 

We spent a week at Marketo Summit (read our full set of learnings here), where there was a clear theme: Customer engagement needs to replace marketing. Nowhere is that more true than in webinars. Audiences are no longer willing to sit through a sales pitch to get to the meat of the presentation. Even presentations are evolving radically, and are moving away from static slides (no matter how beautifully designed) accompanying speakers droning on for 50-60 minutes. Framing the webinar as a conversation rather than a presentation, with 30 minutes (or less) of speaking followed by a balanced amount of Q&A time, is an emerging trend. We’ve even seen experiments that mix live and pre-recorded segments so the presenter can engage real-time with the audience via chat or social, providing additional value during the event.

 

Video makes its way into webinars.

 

This probably isn’t a shock, but video is showing up in webinars more frequently than ever, just like any other online channel. Making a webinar video-centric goes a long way toward making it more intellectually and visually engaging. It modernizes the look and feel of the content far beyond the capabilities of traditional slides. Don’t be surprised when you start seeing more “fireside chats” or one-on-one interviews when you join webinars. Now that video streaming technology (both live and pre-recorded) has achieved more reliable quality and scale, video is undoubtedly going to reign supreme in the webinar realm.

 

Everything’s gone mobile; webinars are no exception.

 

As part of the Future of Work Movement, webinar attendees aren’t always consuming content in a standard office setting on a desktop, and often aren’t tuning in to the webinar at the scheduled time. This will be the year that mobile support for on-the-go webinar consumption becomes absolutely critical for vendors. We’re predicting that mobile browser-friendly dashboards and content will prevail over forcing people to download yet another app to attend or re-watch a webinar on their mobile devices. Because the end goal is always to make the interface and experience as simple and frictionless as possible for the end user, expect to see more integrations with single sign-on (SSO) providers, as they work particularly well across mobile platforms.

 

Not all industries are created equal.

 

We’ve primarily talked about trends on the cutting edge of webinars, but the reality is that not every company or industry has utilized webinars for as long as others. Even in 2017, there’s a broad spectrum of use cases and experience, ranging from companies just kicking off a webinar program to those embracing a video-first mindset. The hospitality, legal, healthcare and public sectors tend to be more fledgling in their familiarity with webinars and are still navigating their way through strategies and decisions that other industries (like high tech) faced three to five years ago.

Advancing analytics will always be a top priority.

 

The years go by, but marketers and lead gen experts still crave the same thing: the latest and greatest way to measure a webinar’s effectiveness and extended ROI as part of the sales funnel. Basic metrics (like attendance duration, chat questions asked and link clicks) have been available for a while, but as webinars and content enter the era of engagement, analytics must evolve too. This is the year of connecting the dots and reaching real webinar insights, rather than making assumptions based on discrete . Try ReadyTalk, and see how webinars can help you reach your marketing goals.

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Samantha Morgan

Samantha

Samantha Morgan - or Sam to friends - is the Senior Product Manager at ReadyTalk. Sam geeks out on understanding how ReadyTalk can help marketers share their best ideas with their audience, and take the stress out of webinars. She also works with our customers and partners to build integrations with the ReadyTalk platform, including Salesforce, Marketo, Eloqua and more.

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