Webinars - Live, Prerecorded, Simulive, On Demand – What’s the difference and does it matter

Barney Brown
05-Oct-2016 10:30:00

Webinars are a valuable part of our content marketing tool kit, we all know it.

We already know that they Should be an essential part of our lead generation, nurturing and education programs. There are countless stats, research reports and experts telling us this

  • Webinars are one of the top 3 techniques for generating leads
  • Webinars provide the most qualified leads of all lead generation techniques

Why are webinars so effective? Well, there are many features that can contribute but essentially it’s because of these 2 core reasons:

  1. They allow subject matter experts(presenters) to present live content to dispersed audiences and still have interaction with their audiences which
    1. Reduces costs
    2. Increases reach
  2. It allows audiences to receive information in an engaging way whilst still being able to ask questions without travelling which
    1. Improves productivity, saves time and cost
    2. Gives audiences access to live content and presenters that they may otherwise have been unable to get

The access to the presenter deals with the question of why webinars are more effective when they are Live rather than On Demand. I will deal with the hybrid scenarios Pre-record and Simulive later.


Webinars in the Content Marketing Mix

So, why, as busy marketing professionals we are still finding it really hard to do them regularly and produce them consistently.

At the heart of our content programs and as content producers we are constantly looking for ways to either:

Many other forms of content have benefited from the emergence of an array of technology that helps in one of these 4 keys areas. Take this blog for example, written in my car waiting for my son’s football practice to finish on a tablet. When connected later, I can upload it through my CMS or MA platform straight to our website and then it can be used as a key piece of content in an email campaign or newsletter. Oh, and Google likes it from an SEO perspective too as its original content.

But, whilst blogs are essential content, easy to produce and publish, they are not as effective as webinars because they are not live and you have no access to the author. However, the same automation principles are starting to emerge in the world of webinars.


Are Webinars Video?

Before I deal with the how different techniques are helping marketers with their webinar programs, I wanted to deal with a common question we get. We know as Marketers that we also want to produce more video because its more engaging and google likes it from an seo perspective in fact 69% of marketers intend to increase their spend on video this year, while 80% are now dedicating in-house resources to video production and you may know one astounding fact - It's 50 times easier to get a video to rank on the first page of Google than other content types. So, Are webinars Video? Well, if you watched my recent webinar on ‘how to use video in webinars’ What many marketers fail to realise is that webinars ARE video and will be ranked as such if done properly. Unfortunately, this rules out any webinar delivered on a web conferencing tool such as GTW or WebEx as these are not indexed or treated as video by Google until they become OD and only if they hosted correctly.


Webinar Production Productivity

So, how can technology and best practice help with the productivity of Webinar productivity? Well the good news is in multiple ways including the following which will be the topics of future blogs and help articles:

    • the automation of registration forms and confirmation
    • branding of experiences
    • dispatching of emails to confirm and remind people of webinars
    • collation of data
    • Integration with existing systems such as MA and CRM.

However, the area that I want focus on is the presentation content and how it can be delivered. This is the area that can cause the most pain when it comes to production and delivery.

Typically, webinars are run live and typically the content is someone speaking over slides or speaking over sharing something on their desktop. Why have we done it this way, because we have had to. Technology has not allowed us to replicate television and record the content and then broadcast this back out at a given time as though it were live.

This scenario is called pre-recording or Simulive and is effective because it can enable marketers to achieve a,b,c or d above. Let me explain why.

Subject matter experts(SME’s) are just that, experts, and so the content they produce increasingly reflects the topic they are discussing. The adage ‘death by PowerPoint’ is becoming a thing of the past as new content production techniques become easier to use. This is great news because it’s now easier than ever to create great looking presentations including slides, video, demos, animations etc.

SME’s and their marketing teams are now great at finding ways/tools to visualise their subjects to make it more engaging by creating great animations, cartoons, videos, demos etc but are finding webinar technology is letting them down when it comes to presenting it Live.


Let me take a couple of typical examples:

Webinar Scenario 1:

Firstly, a product expert wants to present some introduction slides, give a software demo, show a video and then do a live Q&A session. Before prerecording, this scenario has to be done live and there are many risks, what if the demo goes wrong, what if my screen share fails, will my video play, will the audience be able to see and hear the video properly?

How To Use Pre-Recording or Simulive

With the ability to pre-record this scenario is much easier to run. The demo and video can both produced offline, with or without audio and then embedded with your slides. When the webinar is run, the demo will be seamless, the video will play when you click on it and the risk of failure will be reduced

Content Benefit

This has the benefit of both making the content more engaging and making it easier to distribute.

Webinar Scenario 2:

A marketing team wants to run a webinar but the presenters time is limited and they can only get to a phone when the webinar is due to run. This is classic scenario that de-rails webinar production. This scenario can now be handled too.

How To Use Pre-Recording or Simulive

A webinar can be recorded in its entirety online or offline at your desk. This can be achieved in a number of ways. For example, Powerpoint 2010 onwards allows you to record audio over your slides, embed videos and record your screen creating a highly engaging presentation. It allows you to save this in video format as an mp4 file.

Or, with some webinar technology, you can present your webinar with no audience present and this will create the video recording that can be used to playback. Some webinar providers will even provide an editing service so cut out all the mistakes! This video can then be set to play at a point in time through your webinar platform just like TV and the presenter can dial into the webinar at the end to do the Q&A session, wherever they are! You could even prerecord a Q&A session based on question gathered at the registration phase.

Content Benefit

Easier to produce and distribute

Webinar Scenario 3

A customer support marketing team have realised that the same content is being asked for over and over again. They have recorded a demo that explains the message and posted it OD but it doesn’t get many views as people always like to ask questions. regularly is a highly effective and way to distribute content and drive engagement.

How To Use Pre-Recording or Simulive

Again, using this recorded content and then re broadcasting it live with Q&A.

Content Benefit

Easier to distribute and drives engagement.

Webinars - Live, Pre-recorded, Simulive, On Demand – What’s the difference and does it matter

Hopefully, the article has gone some way to explain what the difference is between the different examples but what has become clear to us as a vendor is that as the number of use cases for webinars continues to grow, the requirement for different delivery mechanisms is increasing. As the technology landscape changes and webinar technology improves the level of automation is increasing making it easier for marketers to produce engaging content and deliver it in a number of innovate ways.

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