Live Vs. Pre-Recorded Webinars: Pros, Cons, and Case Studies
We’ve talked about webinars here on the Kajabi blog before, but we know that many of you are interested in diving deeper into this subject. You want to connect with prospects, gain more leads, and sell more online courses.
Webinars — whether live or pre-recorded — can help you achieve those goals.
You might have heard about the exciting new feature that we’ve recently rolled out for our Kajabi customers: Events. You can now host live webinars, as well as other events, right from the Kajabi platform.
But maybe you’re not sure about live webinars. They can seem intimidating at first. And what’s the difference between a live webinar and a pre-recorded webinar?
These are the topics we’re going to cover today.
In addition to tips and strategies for those of you who have never hosted a webinar, we’ll walk you through a couple of case studies that show the power of both live and pre-recorded webinars.
We’re excited to see what Events you host as entrepreneurs and course creators. If you need a little help getting started, this guide will show you exactly how to maximize your webinars for profit and conversions.
What is a Webinar?
Have you ever attended a live seminar? Someone speaks to an audience in a lecture hall or auditorium, then offers his or her products for sale afterward.
That’s what a webinar is — minus the bad coffee, lousy commute, and room crammed full of strangers.
Instead of visiting a physical place, you can tune into a webinar from any device with an Internet connection. Participate on your desktop or laptop computer if you’re at home. When you’re on the go, a smartphone or tablet works just as well.
During a webinar, the presenter typically covers a specific topic relevant to his or her niche. Many webinars also include Q&A sessions during which attendees can ask questions in real time.
Best of all, there’s always a link so attendees can buy your online courses and other digital products.
Generally, you’ll want to highlight just one digital product per webinar. Don’t give the attendees any reason to feel confused or distracted.
Instead, you’ll want to focus their attention on the online course that’s most relevant to the webinar topic.
How do you decide on a topic?
Choose a topic that you can cover in an hour or two, then start mapping out the content you’ll deliver. You’ll speak directly to your audience during the webinar, whether you host it live or pre-record it for future viewing.
Most importantly, webinars offer a fantastic way to drive sales for your online courses. We’ll cover that in more detail below.
Benefits of Hosting Webinars
Webinars might sound like a lot of work, but they’re fairly easy to set up once you get the hang of the process. Additionally, they allow you to reap myriad rewards.
And you might discover that webinars bring in more leads and conversions than any of the other marketing tactics you’ve tried before.
Customize Webinar Delivery
One of the primary benefits of webinars is that you can customize how you deliver each webinar to your audience. We’re going to cover live and pre-recorded webinars in more detail below, but they offer two distinct options for reaching your target market.
You can even make your webinars available only to a certain subset of people, such as email newsletter subscribers or paying members of your membership site.
Exhibit Your Presentation Skills
Many of our Kajabi customers use video in their online courses. We encourage that practice because it’s a more intimate form of communication.
Webinars let you exhibit your presentation skills on camera. You’ll show off your personality and your unique presence, which might help you convert more customers.
Create a Sense of Urgency
Webinars can also help drive conversions through urgency. You might offer a limited-time discount on your featured online course, for instance, but only for the duration of the webinar (or for a specific time period afterward.
Numerous studies have shown that urgency encourages sales. People feel compelled to click on the “buy” button because they don’t want to miss out on a deal that they might never get again.
Webinars build credibility and authority because you’re presenting information in a unique format and because you’re willing to get on camera and promote your brand.
Consumers view your business as more transparent because of webinars. They’re able to see you speak and evaluate your words for themselves. That breeds trust.
Live webinars are perhaps the most common types of webinars. They’re extremely popular in numerous industries and can work particularly well for entrepreneurs who sell online courses.
You’re in the educational field. You pass on your knowledge and skill set to your customers, so webinars become an obvious marketing channel for your business.
Demonstrate that you can reliably teach your customers by showcasing your skills during your free webinar. You don’t want to give away all of your secrets, of course, but you still want to provide as much value as possible.
During a live webinar, you’re speaking in real time to your audience. You’ll tell prospective attendees what time and date you’ll host the webinar so they can tune in and watch it live.
We now offer this functionality through Kajabi Events. You can schedule your webinar for whatever time you like, then begin broadcasting at that moment.
Live webinars let you speak directly to your audience and answer their questions as they come in. It’s almost like the seminar we mentioned before, but you don’t have to physically meet with attendees.
Pros of Live Webinars
We’ve uncovered several critical benefits of hosting live webinars. They’re an extremely powerful way to reach your audience quickly and to convert prospects into customers in less time.
Let’s look at a few of the most compelling benefits that your business can enjoy once you start hosting live webinars.
Make an Emotional Connection With the Audience
Would you rather see your spouse in person or talk to him or her on the phone? You’re raising your hand for the first option, right?
As human beings, we put a lot of stock into physically seeing another person. Words on the page are great, and still images pack plenty of punch, but live video seems to perform better than other marketing channels.
It’s the “live” part of the channel that drives emotions. Your prospective customers will watch you in real time, connecting with your story and tactics you use to sell your online courses.
Answer Audience Questions
As mentioned above, you can use live webinars to answer attendees’ questions in real time. Why does this matter?
You might already know that, as an entrepreneur, you need to be able to anticipate prospects’ questions and objections. But you’re not a mind-reader, right?
Instead of guessing about what’s in your prospects’ heads, you let them tell you during the webinar. You’ll increase transparency and credibility because you have to answer immediately. You’re not giving a prepared branding statement. You’re communicating honestly.
Build a Rapport With Repeat Attendees
You might discover that some people reliably attend your webinars again and again. They’re big fans of your brand and they don’t want to miss an opportunity to connect with you.
No, they’re not stalkers. This is a good thing!
You’ll begin to recognize their names so you can give them shout-outs during your webinars. Plus, rapport will gradually build between you and these fans, which generally translates into more sales and even brand ambassadors.
Become Part of Your Audience’s Lives
It sounds corny, we know, but the most successful brands in entrepreneurial history have found a way to become part of the conversations and lives of their customers. They integrate themselves into their fans’ daily activities.
Maybe you won’t become as successful a company as Coca-Cola or Google, but you can still achieve a high level of emotional rapport and brand recognition with your audience. It’s just on a smaller scale.
Cons of Live Webinars
While we’re big fans of live webinars, we have to admit that there are a few downsides to hosting webinars in real time. They’re not necessarily disadvantages — they’re just obstacles that you’ll need to overcome if you want to become successful.
Timing Your Webinar With Audience Availability
You create digital products for people all over the world. This means that, while you’re eating lunch, some of your customers have just gone to bed for the night.
Time zones, work schedules, and other timing complications can prevent people from attending your live webinars — even if they’re interested in the content. Furthermore, if you only show your webinars live, you can’t reel in customers who missed the show.
Inability to Edit in Post-Production
There’s a reason that companies film commercials for television in advance. They want every frame to be picture-perfect.
During a live webinar, you might experience glitches and other issues that reduce production quality. That’s part of the process.
While small issues can make your live webinar more intimate and transparent, it might also irritate audience members if things like audio cut-outs or pixelated video feeds carry on for too long.
That’s why you have to invest in good equipment if you want to host live webinars. Make sure you have a reliable Internet connection and backup equipment in case something fails.
Potential for Uncomfortable Situations
Let’s face it: Sometimes we embarrass ourselves. We trip over words, lose our trains of thought, and accidentally let a curse word slip in front of a conservative audience.
These little missteps can either help or hurt your brand depending on how you handle them. If you try to cover them up or mislead your audience, you’ll blow your shot at credibility.
However, if you’re able to laugh them off and remain authentic, even embarrassing moments can count in your favor.
Live Webinar Case Study
If you think that you need a “sexy,” captivating niche or topic to make webinars work for your brand, think again. Recall, a document storage business, managed to generate nearly $300,000 from a single webinar.
We mentioned during our announcement of the new Events feature on Kajabi that live webinars and other events can work wonderfully with pipeline marketing. That’s exactly how Recall and The Arketi Group managed to generate such high ROI from a single live webinar.
According to The Arketi Group, Recall hosted a live webinar that was designed to educate its audience on the importance and best practices surrounding data and document control.
Not exactly an exciting topic. Yet the plan worked.
The webinar drew nearly 30 percent more attendees than predicted. How did they manage this?
They offered a special discount in a call to action for anyone who registered for the webinar. That’s excellent pre-webinar marketing.
Recall continued with several 30-minute webinars that continue to bring in leads today. By posting the recorded webinars on their website, the company has managed to continue to generate leads from those one-off events.
We’re convinced that live webinars offer a unique and valuable opportunity for Kajabi entrepreneurs. Not only can you generate sales during your live webinar, but you can use the recorded version as a lead magnet for as long as you want.
Plus, you can duplicate your success by hosting subsequent webinars.
Your second option is to broadcast pre-recorded webinars. In other words, you record your presentation without a live audience, then either roll it at a specific time and date or release it for anyone to view on a landing page or blog post.
You can also record live webinars, then release them as pre-recorded webinars. But we’ll discuss that more below.
For now, let’s stick with the pros and cons of pre-recorded webinars and how you can use a successful case study to inform your own webinar.
Pros of Pre-Recorded Webinars
Pre-recorded webinars offer plenty of advantages for entrepreneurs like you. Whether you’re hoping to entertain, educate, or inspire your audience, you can keep disseminating this content as long as you want.
Following are some of the most illuminating benefits of pre-recorded webinars.
Map Out the Content Before You Record
A live webinar requires you to think on your feet. You’ll prepare an outline beforehand, most likely, but you have to respond to the demands of the moment.
Edit the Video Content in Post-Production
If you record a webinar for future viewing, you can map out every second of content before you record. Plus, you can splice in photos, other videos, and special content to make the presentation more professional.
Add Special Effects and Other Extras
You can also edit the video content however you want. Maybe you want to add special filters, transitions, or other effects to the presentation.
If you’re skilled at post-production (or if you hire a post-production team), pre-recorded webinars might seem more attractive than the live version. You get complete control over the finished product, which might appeal to entrepreneurs who like to exhibit a polished finished product.
Keep Nerves at Bay
Some people experience more anxiety when they speak in front of a live audience than when they record footage for future consumption. You know you can edit out the mistakes and redo sections that don’t come out how you planned.
However, this benefit can also become a drawback. If you’re too focused on perfectionism, you might never release the webinar at all. You’ll simply keep editing and re-recording it, which can lead to lost revenue and conversions.
Cons of Pre-Recorded Webinars
When comparing live and pre-recorded webinars, you might discover that the pre-recorded variety comes with a few disadvantages. Weigh them carefully before deciding how to structure your marketing campaign.
Lack of Serendipity
There’s a certain level of serendipity that comes into play during live webinars. You get to play off your audience and adjust your direction based on what they want to learn. If you pre-record your webinar, you miss out on that opportunity.
Less Emotional Resonance
Similarly, you might not connect with your prospective audience as deeply as you would during a live webinar. It’s a more static form of marketing — similar to a speech or even a blog post. However, if you put some personality into your presentation, you can still win over prospects.
Pre-Recorded Webinar Case Study
Let’s take a look at a case study in which Jenna Soard, an entrepreneur who owns YouCanBrand.com, generated $17,000 from two webinars, the second of which inspired sales long after the webinar went live.
According to Femtrepreneur.com, Jenna generated $5,000 from her first webinar, which drew just 30 attendees. Most of those sales occurred during or right after the live webinar.
However, her second webinar didn’t generate nearly as much case during the live portion of the event. She found herself frustrated by the lack of interest in her product, but she didn’t know where she went wrong.
But she didn’t just give up and assume that those conversions were lost for good. Instead, she took a proactive approach and figured out how to generate conversions from her pre-recorded webinar.
Since she’d already done the work with the live webinar, she decided to use the recorded version to bring aboard more customers.
According to Femtrepreneur, 70 people showed up for her second webinar. That’s more than double the audience of her first webinar. Still, she generated no sales.
To rebound from what she considered a “failure,” Jenna sent out a series of post-webinar emails. From those emails, she earned $12,000 in just 24 hours.
As we’ll cover below, your post-webinar activities can make a huge difference in your overall profits. And pre-recorded emails can help you bring on more customers even after your live webinar has aired. Alternatively, you can skip the “live” portion of the process and simply post your pre-recorded webinar on a landing page.
It’s completely up to you.
Get the Best of Both Worlds
Keep in mind that you don’t have to choose between a live and pre-recorded webinar. Why not combine them?
You’re putting time, energy, and money into creating a webinar, so it might as well pull in as much ROI as possible. Consider recording your live webinar, then making it available to your audience as expandable content or another form of lead magnet.
You could even use it to bring in new customers on your landing pages or sales pages. It all depends on your specific goals and how your recorded webinar will serve you best.
After the live webinar, you can edit the footage however you wish. Maybe you stumbled over your words at the thirty-minute mark. Just edit out that portion so it doesn’t exist in perpetuity on the Internet.
You’ll also want to edit out any segment of the video that involves a limited-time offer, such as a discount on an online course. Since you likely only made that offer available to live webinar attendees, it shouldn’t become available to people who watch the webinar later.
Host your webinar on any part of your Kajabi website to serve as a conversion machine. Since you already created it, you might as well continue to profit from it.
The Importance of the Pre-Webinar and Post-Webinar
A webinar is an event — something that deserves special consideration — which means that deciding between a live and pre-recorded webinar is only the beginning. In fact, the pre-webinar and post-webinar parts of the event are arguably just as important as the event itself.
Think about the seminars you’ve attended in the past. How did you learn about them? What arrangements did you make to attend? Who did you tell about the seminar afterward?
Just because you’re hosting a webinar virtually doesn’t mean that you should neglect the pre- and post-event promotions.
Before your webinar airs, whether you’re recording it beforehand or going live, you need to generate buzz. Let your audience know what you’re planning so they can get excited about it.
Send out an announcement as part of your email marketing strategy. Use a drip campaign to continue to leak more information about the upcoming webinar. Consider adding a countdown timer to your emails if you’re planning to go live for the event.
You can also blog about the webinar, post about it on social media, and add announcements about it to your course pages. For pre-recorded webinars, consider including a countdown that automatically resets and an introductory video to your Kajabi homepage.
The more you promote your webinar, the more people will see it. For live webinars, you’ll also want to encourage people to register. That way, you’ll have a better idea of how many people will attend.
Just don’t let the numbers scare you. As we illustrated in our case studies, low attendance doesn’t mean low ROI, especially since you’re selling a relatively big-budget item. Even if you only charge $100 for your online course, five conversions will net you $500, minus the expense of the webinar.
After your webinar airs, don’t let the excitement die down. Instead, follow up with attendees. You might send them a poll or survey to find out whether they enjoyed the event and to offer feedback for future webinars.
If you’re offering a discount for 24 or 48 hours after the webinar, you also need to follow up. Remind attendees that they only have a limited time to get your online course for the discounted rate. Stress that you won’t offer that same discount again — you want them to fear missing out.
As we mentioned above, you can always use a recorded webinar after it’s gone live as a lead magnet or other type of marketing strategy. Consider working in another incentive that’s different from the one you used during the live webinar to inspire conversions.
Conclusion: Choosing Between Live and Pre-Recorded Webinars
We don’t believe that there’s a one-size-fits-all answer to any question when it comes to marketing your online courses. Each business is different, and you need to choose between live and pre-recorded webinars based on your specific goals and needs as an entrepreneur.
With that said, our new Events feature on the Kajabi platform makes bringing live webinars to fruition faster and easier than ever before. We encourage you to give it a shot.
From establishing yourself as an authority in your industry to boosting conversions on your existing online courses, both live webinars and pre-recorded videos can help your business grow. Maybe you’ll find yourself wearing one of those coveted Kajabi Hero T-shirts soon after your webinar goes live.
However you choose to use the Events feature on Kajabi, we’re sure you’ll find unique and effective ways to reach your audience.
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