2018 has been a great year for webinars and webcasts. An increasing number of marketers (and businesses) are making webinars a key tool in their marketing arsenal.
Across the industry, innovation has been ramping up, with trends like security and ease of use being important to webinar producers and presenters. Our own team has been leading the way with enhanced platform and studio security updates to ensure our platform is the most secure on the market, improved presenter studio design and usability for increased efficiency for users within the platform itself, and advanced interaction for simulive events because we knew that improving audience engagement was an important metric for a lot of marketers.
2019 will be no different, with trends already sprouting up amongst leading webinar platforms. While there is never any certainty when it comes to making predictions, here are the top 5 trends we think will take the webinar world by storm in 2018.
Organic Audience Generation
‘How do I get people to attend my webinar?’
This is a question we hear all the time, as I’m sure other webinar providers do. That’s why, when looking to 2019, organic audience generation is going to be super important. To address this, webinar platforms like WorkCast are going to look to proven inbound marketing strategies and how these can be adapted to grow webinar audiences in-platform.
In inbound marketing - of which webinars are an important part - organic lead generation is a key component. In fact, businesses have entire teams dedicated to growth marketing and content marketing, all with the same goal - to increase organic leads. 2019 will see this ethos extend to webinar leads and attendees.
What does this mean? Essentially, webinar platforms like WorkCast will be looking to provide or adapt technology that will allow you to grow your audience using inbound methodology (organically).
There will be a lot more emphasis on social integration, allowing not only hosts and presenters to leverage their social networks, but attendees as well. You could see webinar platforms offer the ability to register for an event using LinkedIn, for example, with the additional functionality of allowing them to forward the webinar event on that same social network.
The thinking behind this type of innovation is to empower attendees to promote the event as effortlessly as possible. This could also mean looking toward social automation. It probably won’t be long before we see webinar platforms offering hosts the ability to create tools, such as a dashboard, with pre-approved automated social content that attendees can easily disseminate to their own networks.
How soon that becomes available is unclear, but this increased integration with social media to help webinar producers supercharge organic audience generation is a trend we will definitely see over the course of 2019.
Improvements in Low Latency Streaming
The FIFA World Cup saw some controversy in the UK this year and it had nothing to do with Marks and Spencer waistcoats (or vests for our North American readers).
During the tournament, there were massive complaints from people streaming the games on the BBC iPlayer who were experience time lags of up to 30 seconds. So they were hearing their terrestrially-minded neighbours cheers of joy (or screams of agony) before seeing Harry Kane’s golden boot for themselves.
The issue they were having was with the stream’s latency or the time between when a video is captured to when it’s broadcast on screen. This is actually a common issue in the webinar world. Almost all webinar platforms experience some sort of delay between a presenter and audience.
Why? Because it takes time ensure that the stream gets to your device properly and in the right quality. While this lag is pretty much standard across presenting platforms, it can be jarring to presenters and hosts, especially when it comes to audience interaction.
In 2019, webinar platforms will look to change all that. We are going to see more webinar providers investing in low latency streaming (bringing down the lag between live and audience). Not only will this make hosting/presenting webinars much more straightforward, it will also allow for new types of interactivity even on larger events.
That’s because, without a time delay you’ll be able to bring in a greater amount of engagement. The ability for two-way communication will be greater than it ever has been in the webinar and webcasting world.
Massive Scale Events
Can you reach 50,000 attendees per event with your current webinar provider? Honestly, there aren’t many out there that make that claim, but 2019 could see that all change.
Now, I know most webinars and webcasts are done on a much smaller scale (the majority of those hosted on the WorkCast platform see attendance rates of under 1000 people), but there is definitely a market for large-scale, premium virtual events and webinar platforms are catching on.
The coming year will see webinar platform providers investing in infrastructure so that customers can truly scale their events. That 50,000 attendee mark is not at all unrealistic, and in fact, WorkCast will soon be able to offer this sort of premium functionality.
This means that webinar platforms will be able to compete with the live streaming giants while still offering customers the flexibility and functionality of a premium webinar service.
Combined with improved streaming latency, 2019 could very well be the year of the super-webcast.
More Webinar Experiences
If there is anything I learned in 2018, it’s that most marketing teams feel they are vastly under-resourced - all while more and more importance is being placed on marketing and lead generation.
And this comes at a time when marketers are making webinars a key part of their strategies. So what’s a marketer to do when they want to provide an awesome webinar experience but don’t necessarily have the resources to put into it?
Webinar platforms have taken notice of this and will be looking to address it in 2019. One way they’ll look to minimise the impact on marketers is to provide them with a greater number of bespoke, branded webinar experiences.
We all know that branding is super important, especially when it comes to webinars and webcasts. In providing marketers with a greater number of resources, webinar platforms can create good will amongst one of their top target audiences - marketers.
Improved Integrations with Marketing Platforms
In 2018, WorkCast partnered with HubSpot to create a fully integrated webinar experience. WorkCast’s partnership with HubSpot allows HubSpot users to create entire webinar workflows in their HubSpot account, streaming webinars directly into the platform. It’s also a great tool for agencies, allowing them to create and manage webinar campaigns for clients directly in HubSpot.
This type of tight, seamless integration is what customers will be looking for in 2019, and not just in HubSpot. Marketers and businesses use a variety of CRMs - SalesForce, Eloquoa, Marketo - and while there are some good integrations available, webinar platforms (including WorkCast) will be looking to take that one step further.
Over the course of the next year, webinar platforms will step up their integration efforts so they can fully utilise CRM infrastructure to create end to end webinar workflows directly in the CRM or marketing, saving marketers time and improving brand experience and webinar quality.
Obviously 2019 will see some great innovations in webinar and webcasting experiences, and there may even be some surprises. But what I do think will be at the centre of any innovation from webinar platform is the desire to make hosting online events as simple and efficient as possible for businesses and marketers alike.