We have been running automated webinars daily for over five years now. In our experience, and in our conversations with many of eWebinar’s thousands of users, we have noticed there are certain things people always want to know about automated webinars that come up frequently.
In response, we put together this comprehensive post that boils down what we have been asked over the years into the top 6 questions we get about automated webinars.
While we’re at it, we’d like to address the top 5 misconceptions people have about them too, since those also come up alot.
An automated webinar is a pre-recorded webinar that has been set to run without a host on autopilot on a recurring schedule (or on demand) and that may have interactions — like polls, questions, handouts, and CTAs — preprogrammed to trigger at specific times throughout the video.
The key is nobody needs to be there to run an automated webinar for it to be a success. It can all happen automatically.
Automated webinars have three main characteristics:
Every automated webinar is built around a pre-recorded video. No one needs to be there to host or present the webinar via livestream.
Automated webinars can be scheduled like a recurring calendar event and/or made available on demand. Either way, sessions start automatically. No one needs to be there to press ‘Play’.
Automated webinar software lets you create and schedule interactive pop-ups to appear at set times throughout your video presentation — in real time for the attendee — including things like polls, questions, handouts, links, and more.
If you would like to experience an automated webinar firsthand to get a sense of how they work, join our 20-min product demo — which uses eWebinar to demo eWebinar!
In other respects, automated webinars are more similar to traditional, live webinars than they are different and come with the things one would expect, like a landing page with a registration form, reminder and follow-up emails, a webinar room attendees must join, and chat (more on chat later).
Many of the webinar hosting features offered by traditional webinar software platforms also come with automated webinar software, like metrics and analytics dashboards, webinar registration page builders, and integrations with CRMs, email marketing tools, and other marketing automation software.
Automated webinars are best for the kinds of presentations you give repeatedly — where the content is effectively the same every time — especially if you have hit the limit of how often you are able to give those presentations or of the size and type of audience you can reach. This includes things like sales pitches, product demos, onboarding webinars, trainings, info sessions, and company overviews.
Automated webinars are also great for the presentations you wish you could do repeatedly but can’t because of resource constraints or because of the nature of the webinar (i.e. one with a special guest). This includes things like content marketing webinars, top-of-the-funnel lead generation, and thought leadership.
Some companies simply convert the recordings of their live online events into automated webinars as a way to recreate their interactivity and engagement but as evergreen content.
Below are the top 3 uses of automated webinars that we see among our customers:
(Click the links to learn about each use case on our website.)
There are five key benefits to automated webinars over live webinars:
The only automated webinar solution that offers all of these benefits is eWebinar. The fourth, “Direct 1-on-1 communication”, is 100% unique to our platform. Our robust chat system is the key to scaling your presentations in a sustainable, low effort way while also maintaining a high-touch experience for attendees.
Let’s quickly take a look at each one of these benefits...
The biggest and most obvious benefit of automated webinars is how much time they save you since no one needs to be there to present them live. Though our customers are always astonished at the sheer number of hours they save, they are more amazed by what they are able to accomplish with the time they get back.
But it goes much further than that…
An automated webinar effectively lets you clone yourself, which means you can do as many webinar sessions as you need. Our customers have been able to scale their time in ways they did not know were possible.
For example, one of our larger customers was doing 2-4 live webinars a month at capacity before they started using eWebinar. Now they do 100+ webinar sessions per month and only spend an hour or so each day responding to chat messages. It’s as if they conjured hundreds of hours out of thin air.
The average attendance rate of live webinars industry-wide is somewhere between 40% and 50%. The average attendance rate across all of eWebinar’s customers is 15 to 25 percentage points higher at 65%. At the time of writing, the attendance rate of our own 20-minute product demo is 87%. And we have customers regularly report weeks of 90% to 100% attendance.
The reason behind the higher attendance rates of automated webinars is convenience and availability. Since they are pre-recorded, they can be made available as often as necessary, including on demand, to reach the largest possible audience. Webinar attendees can either find a time in their own time zone that fits their schedule or join a webinar right after finding it at a moment of high intent.
With live webinars, people may sign up with every intention of attending, but then their schedule changes, they lose interest, or they just plain forget. Live webinars can only be done as often as the host can present them, which is never going to be convenient for every potential attendee.
With the advent of Netflix and other streaming services, consumers' expectations have changed. People expect to be able to get their video content when they want it without having to wait. Automated webinars let you do that.
Tip: Make sure the software you choose offers the 4 scheduling features you need to maximize your attendance rates, like eWebinar does.
While it might seem counterintuitive, automated webinars, if planned properly and created with the right software, are more interactive than live webinars. Our customers often report huge increases in engagement and watch time after transitioning from live to automated.
Live webinars are pretty passive. They generally don’t have much audience participation, outside of Q&A at the end. The presenter might take a poll or ask a question of the audience, but it’s too distracting for them to do that more than once or twice since those things have to be triggered manually and creating an interactive audience experience requires planning and scripting, which is generally not worth spending the time on for a one-time event.
It’s the opposite with automated webinars. Since they can run indefinitely, it is worth spending a little extra time to script them in a way that makes the experience more interactive for the audience by working things like polls, questions, tips, contact forms, handouts, and links into the presentation itself. Since these interactions are preprogrammed, you can add as many as you want. Everything is automated.
Having interactions appear every few minutes throughout your webinar gives the audience something to do, keeps them engaged, and helps maintain their focus so they stay until the end. eWebinar offers more types of interactions than any other webinar software, giving you more tools in your toolbox to keep your audience interested.
We also offer a unique interaction editor, inspired by video editing software, that makes it easy to add, edit, duplicate, and move interactions around on your video’s timeline.
There’s an aspect of engagement in automated webinars that gets overlooked: live chat.
Live chat is the most interactive aspect of any webinar. Yet other automated webinar software providers only let you chat live with attendees if you show up for every single session. (We don’t count this as an automated webinar, since someone must be there.)
eWebinar is the only platform that has truly solved the problem of live chat in the context of webinar automation.
In a nutshell, here is how our chat system works:
Every inquiry gets a response. None falls through the cracks. If attendees can’t get an answer from you during their session, they know their message was received and that they will hear back from you later.
Meanwhile, you can run your webinars around the clock without sacrificing the opportunity to chat live with attendees when you are able.
Live webinars don’t always come off smoothly. The presenter might have an off day or leave something out by accident. Or maybe they’re burned out from having to give the same presentation over and over. Or maybe technical difficulties ruin the event for everyone. If you’ve run live webinars before, you know that things go wrong.
With automated webinars, these problems go away. You can perfect and record the best version of your presentation, so it always goes exactly as planned. Automated webinars are not prone to the tech problems that are common with live webinars. You are able to show the best version of yourself every time. The result is a reliably consistent attendee experience that ensures you always make a great impression.
The process of creating an automated webinar is similar to developing the content for a live webinar, but with a different mindset. Automated webinars can require more upfront planning and preparation, but the payoff is you get an evergreen webinar that can effectively and consistently deliver results for a long time, over hundreds if not thousands of webinars sessions.
Here is a high-level overview of the steps to create an automated webinar:
We discuss how to choose automated webinar software later on in this article, or you can check out this in-depth post we wrote on the topic:
Automated webinars are a two-way conversation. They can be as interactive as you wish since everything is preprogrammed. If you weave interactivity into and throughout your webinar script, you will be able to keep your audience engaged until the end of your presentation and learn all kinds of things about them.
If you want to go deeper into how to do all this, register for this free 20-minute webinar:
Before you record your webinar, you’ll need to figure out your recording setup, including what you plan to use for lighting, a mic, camera, and recording software. Here are some recommendations:
Practice your webinar a few times in front of a live audience so you can find out how well it works and make improvements. Since your webinar will run on autopilot, you want it to be as optimized as possible.
Finally, when it comes time to record, test your camera setup by recording yourself speaking, then watch the video and make sure it's clear and easy to understand. Then, present your webinar as if you were doing it live. If you mess up a little, correct yourself and keep going. No one expects a webinar to be perfect. It is the content itself that matters.
Aside from a pre-recorded video, an automated webinar has other components you will need to create and customize within your software of choice, like its email notifications (reminders and follow-ups), the copy for the registration page, interactions (including your special offer or primary CTA), and the webinar’s schedule.
eWebinar has a straightforward, step-by-step method for creating an automated webinar, outlined in the “Brief Overview” section of this article. The process generally takes less than 10 minutes and requires no instruction.
The last step is to publish and promote your webinar to your intended audience via various channels like online communities, social media, organic content, or paid ads.
No matter your level of marketing expertise, one easy thing you can do to drive signups to your webinar is install a webinar marketing widget on your website or blog. (If you want to see what that would look like, go to the homepage of our website and look in the bottom left corner for the pop-up promoting our demo.)
One of our customers, Nectar HR, created an on-demand product demo and installed our pop-up registration widget on their home page and saw these results in 3 months:
Here is our countdown of the top five picks for best automated webinar software:
If you would like to understand how we determined our picks, read this in-depth comparison post:
In it, we cover:
The automation features of other webinar platforms feel like an afterthought. We know because we ran automated webinars daily for years while growing our previous SaaS company and our experience with them was painful and frustrating. It is what drove us to build eWebinar, the only webinar software 100% focused on automation.
There are five key differentiating features that set eWebinar apart from other platforms:
We did an in-depth comparative analysis of every major webinar software provider that offers automation features, including eWebinar, and catalogued their relative feature sets as objectively as possible — with links to their pricing and plans. We did this so you could transparently understand your options in the marketplace and make an informed choice.
Here is our in-depth post on the topic that will give you all of the details:
Each product offers a free trial — which may require a credit card — or a money-back guarantee, so you can try them out.
As a side note, people often want to know how Zoom fits into the picture. Zoom offers what they call on-demand webinars, which are effectively a video on a landing page you must register for to watch. They are not automated webinars as there is no interactivity or chat.
For those of you interested in turning the cloud recordings of your Zoom webinars and online meetings into automated webinars, our direct integration with Zoom makes that possible in just a few clicks. Here is how.
Other software providers avoid this question altogether, because it is not possible to do using their software. They either require you to attend every session in order to chat live with attendees (which means someone has to be there) or you can turn chat off and have attendees submit questions to you by email (which means you can’t chat live). It’s one or the other, but not both.
Three-quarters of consumers feel the problem with automated experiences is they are too impersonal. eWebinar's proprietary chat system lets you address that sentiment while balancing it against the need to deliver webinars at scale. It gives you the ability to chat live with attendees 1-on-1 when you can with the flexibility to personally respond to messages later via email when you can't. Here is a summary of how our chat works and its benefits.
You may also want to read this article from our Help Center:
Automated webinars have a bad reputation, and not without reason. Other automated webinar tools have features that were specifically built to deceive attendees. Our frustration with these types of webinar features was a driving force behind our decision to build eWebinar.
eWebinar customer, Paul Thomson, had this to say on the topic:
Here is what we will cover in the rest of this section, if you want to skip ahead:
To illustrate the kinds of features other software platforms offer that are designed to trick attendees, imagine the following scenario:
If you have been in a similar situation and felt like something was off, your instincts were right. It was all BS. The webinar was automated and designed to trick you.
Everything about the experience is fake: the “limited space”, that it is being done “LIVE”, the attendees joining, the chat messages, the poll results, the sales notifications, all of it. The creator of the webinar made everything up to manipulate their audience, which was only possible because of the software they used.
Of all these features, we think fake chat is the most problematic because it leads attendees to think they will be able to get answers to their questions when in fact their messages are either going into a void never to be seen by anyone or there is no mechanism within the software for the host to even send a response. It is all smoke and mirrors.
To be fair, no single platform has every one of these deceptive features, but they all do exist and some platforms have most of them.
These are dangerously flawed marketing and communication tactics for businesses who want to maintain their credibility and build long-term relationships with customers. Modern consumers are smart and once you’ve lost trust, it's impossible to get back.
Our philosophy at eWebinar is that if the experience is engaging and authentic — and attendees have a way to connect with you — it shouldn’t matter that the webinar is pre-recorded, nor should that fact need to be hidden.
We encourage our customers never to lie in their videos and claim their webinars are live. In our own webinars, we always share upfront that they are pre-recorded but that the chat is live if people have questions.
We do more than just preach authenticity and transparency to our customers, however, we built it into our platform. Here are five examples of how we did that:
If you were turned off by automated webinars in the past or never wanted to use them to begin with because you didn’t want to deceive your customers, we ask you to give them a second look with eWebinar. We think you’ll be amazed at how well you are able to maintain authenticity and a personal touch at scale. Plus, the benefits eWebinar offers are sizable.
When people share this thought with us, our immediate response is, “We agree!” Live webinars are and will continue to be a critical part of any mature webinar strategy. They are important for special events, guest speakers, panel discussions, and any presentation where it only makes sense to give it once or twice (i.e. the content loses relevance immediately).
We would never advocate for the elimination of live webinars. Rather, we believe people should automate their repetitive webinars, the ones where they must deliver the same content again and again, so they can free up their time and focus on other things, which could very well be on the development of new live webinars!
If you read between the lines of this misconception, however, you will find the other common misconceptions from this article hiding inside of it.
People think automated webinars could never replace live ones, because live webinars are “just better”: they are more engaging, authentic, personal, and impactful. And people like them better.
While there is some truth to these statements in the context of — and only in the context of — the kinds of presentations mentioned above that are best suited for live webinars, we think automated webinars are decidedly better than live ones for repetitive content, provided you use the right software. Like, way better.
In our experience, the opposite of this statement is true. People actually engage more with automated webinars — at least they do with ours.
Attendees don't just sit there. They get to participate in the experience, which makes it fun and interactive. Each attendee can directly message you or your team at any time via chat. Direct, private communication is the best kind of engagement there is!
eWebinar was built with the attendee experience first and foremost in mind. With a little planning and preparation, our interactions and live chat system create a more personal, engaging, and interactive experience than could ever be achieved in a live webinar.
We find people often prefer automated webinars to live webinars without realizing it.
When it comes to things like product demos, onboarding, and training, consumers expect to be able to get the information they want when they want it. They don’t want to have to wait a week for a product demo (let alone talk to a salesperson) or wait for the next onboarding webinar a month from now.
The scheduling features of automated webinars (esp. just-in-time and on-demand sessions) let consumers watch your webinars at their convenience, which they love!
Something else people like better about automated webinars (created with eWebinar, at least) is they tend not to be as boring as live webinars, where you just sit there and watch. Real-time interactions and live chat give people a way to participate in the experience, which makes them feel more invested.
Finally, people are happiest in any webinar when they have a forum for getting answers to their questions during the webinar. eWebinar is the only webinar platform that allows for live chat and still lets you make your webinars available 24/7.
If you are at all skeptical, read more about the webinar automation features that make eWebinar’s superior attendee experience possible and that differentiate us from other webinar platforms:
If you’ve considered automated webinars to deliver your video content, you have probably had this same thought. I mean, how different could they really be?
For specific types of video, the difference is huge and the benefits of automated webinars are so much greater than what you can get from standard video, you may never go back to video once you have experienced those benefits for yourself.
Here are the 6 core benefits of automated webinars over videos hosted on YouTube or embedded on a landing page:
We wrote an entire article on the topic if you want to learn more: