Webcasts: Marketing the Interactive Way

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BusinessmenTransitioning from traditional text-only methods of advertising/teaching to multimedia ones can seem like a daunting prospect, but for marketeers today it is far simpler than it sounds.

Webcasts – also referred to as webinars – are just one example of using multimedia as a means of presenting one’s value proposition and targeted messaging to the masses in a streaming, live, interactive format. And for those of you who are under the impression that you essentially require a video studio in your office to put on a good webcast, rest assured that is not the case! And the benefits to using webcasts as part of your integrated marketing campaigns are multiple.

Webcasts are easy to produce.

Online tools like WebEx, GoToWebinar, On24, and Webcasting.com offer even the most technologically-inexperienced individuals the opportunity to produce webcasts with simple, intuitive formats. These service manage everything beginning with the registration process to providing dial-in numbers to putting on the actual live webcast to ultimately recording the event so that you may offer it on-demand. Plus, you can produce a webcast from anywhere you like, so long as you have a stable Internet connection, and not all presenters need be in the same location at the alloted time. For a presenter, doing a webcast can be as simple as clicking through a slide show in PowerPoint. And I know you corporate folks are capable of that.

Webcasts are cost-effective.

Yes, you can pay upwards of $30k to have a webcast managed, promoted, and produced by an outside vendor, but think of it this way: if your webcast generates 800 leads, which with a broad subject they are very inclined to do, that’s a very acceptable $38 per lead; in addition, paying an outside vendors means you get a guaranteed number of leads anyway, which is usually in the 400 range. For those of you who have tight budgets, there is inexpensive webcasting software to be had. GoToWebinar, for example, which my company uses for all of our internally-driven, very technical webcats, runs at about $100 a month. You get just 20 people to sign up and that’s five bucks a lead right there. The possible downfall to this is that you must do your own promotion, but that does allow you the flexibility to decide whether to hire an outside firm to run banner ads or email blasts for you or simply hitting your own internal database, which costs you nothing.

After you’ve run the webcast and have recorded it for future use, hosting it on your site or elsewhere allows you to enjoy a stream of interest long after the live event has taken place, thereby constantly improving your return on investment (ROI).

Webcasts are versatile.

Yes, you can simply give your presentation with PowerPoint slides, but webcasts can also incorporate Flash, video, and even live demonstrations via desktop sharing. An effective method for me has been to incorporate two or more of these; for example, have a few PowerPoint slides at the beginning, describing the company, the speakers, and what is to come, and then share the desktop so that the presenter can walk through a demo of, say, the cool features of your product.

Webcasts fit the criteria of social media.

My previous post about building the social media foundation mentions the importance of communicating with, not to, your prospective customers. With a webcast, you can present your message in an honest, clean format and then answer questions that have been directly fed to you by the audience. By discussing topics about which the attendees themselves have asked, you are nurturing the relationship between you and your following. In addition, by offering an on-demand recorded version after the event, you provide a means of spreading your message indefinitely, be it through a post on YouTube, links from other sites, email blasts, and so forth. I am still generating interest from a webcast my company hosted back in March of this year, simply because it’s available on-demand and is easily accessible.

In May of this year, Frost & Sullivan released a white paper for On24 (which I suggest you read) that discusses the increased use of webcasts as a marketing tool. “Smart companies use technology to its fullest potential,” it says. “The ubiquity of the Web offers avenues to make a message heard, and powerful web events can be a critical tool in a corporate communications arsenal.” That is, utilizing webcasts within your marketing program can be an extremely worthwhile, cost-effective method of spreading your message to a wide audience.

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