43 minute read 06 Apr, 2021

Automated Webinars: Everything You Need to Know (Benefits, Misconceptions, Strategies, and More!)

Automated Webinars: Everything You Need to Know (Benefits, Misconceptions, Strategies, and More!)

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.

Top 6 Questions People Ask About Automated Webinars

  1. What is an automated webinar?
  2. What can automated webinars be used for?
  3. What are the benefits of automated webinars (over live webinars)?
  4. How do you create an automated webinar?
  5. What is the best automated webinar software?
  6. How does live chat work in an automated webinar if no one is there to host it?

5 Common Misconceptions About Automated Webinars

  1. Automated webinars are a bad practice, because they are deceptive.
  2. Automated webinars should not — and could never — replace live webinars.
  3. People won’t engage with a webinar if it is automated.
  4. People prefer live webinars over automated webinars.
  5. An automated webinar, which is pre-recorded, is no different than a video.

 

What is an automated webinar?

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:

1. A pre-recorded presentation

Every automated webinar is built around a pre-recorded video. No one needs to be there to host or present the webinar via livestream.

2. Automated start times (on a recurring schedule or on demand)

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’.

3. Pre-set interactions

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.

Our product, eWebinar, is 100% dedicated to webinar automation. Watch this short 2-minute video for a brief overview of our features and how we meet the above criteria:

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.

 

What can automated webinars be used for?

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.

Video thumbnails of eWebinar customersHear how our customers use automated webinars →

 

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.)

 

Use Case #1: Onboarding and training by SaaS customer success teams

Quote from Annett Vandor of Later

 

Use Case #2: Self-service product demos by SaaS sales teams

Quote from Julian Boyman of Cloudstudios

 

Use Case #3: As part of an evergreen sales funnel for online course creators, coaches, and solo entrepreneurs

Quote from course creator coach, Paul Thomson

Find more case studies and testimonials on our website →

 

What are the benefits of automated webinars (over live webinars)?

There are five key benefits to automated webinars over live webinars:

  1. Time gained (not just time saved)
  2. Higher attendance rates
  3. Increased engagement
  4. Direct 1-on-1 communication
  5. Consistently high quality

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...

 

Benefit #1: Time gained (not just time saved)

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.

 

Benefit #2: Higher attendance rates

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.

eWebinar's scheduling featuresWith 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.

PRO TIP: Make sure the software you choose offers the 4 scheduling features you need to maximize your attendance rates, like eWebinar does.

 

Benefit #3: Increased engagement

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.

eWebinar's interactions: question, poll, and feedbackLive 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.

eWebinar's interactions editor

 

Benefit #4: Direct 1-on-1 communication

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.

Chat conversation in eWebinarIn a nutshell, here is how our chat system works:

  • When an attendee joins your webinar, a personalized welcome message invites them to ask you questions.
  • Chat is private, not public, which puts the attendee at ease and makes it more likely they will reach out to you.
  • With unlimited team members, you can assign as many people as you need to help stay on top of chat, including a centralized support account.
  • Your team gets notified when someone sends you a message in one of three ways: by email, browser notification, or via Slack (provided you set up our direct integration).
  • If someone on your team is free, they simply click the notification and start chatting live with the attendee.
  • If someone is free but not at their computer, they can still chat live with the attendee from our mobile-friendly chat admin or via their Slack app.
  • If no one on the team is free to chat live, an autoresponder lets the attendee know you’ll get back to them later (after a set number of minutes).
  • When you or your team does respond later, the attendee gets your reply by email.

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.

 

Benefit #5: Consistently high quality

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.

 

How do you create an automated webinar?

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:

 

Step 1: Choose an automated webinar platform

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:

12 Best Automated Webinar Software Platforms — How They Differ

If you are interested in learning more about our product, eWebinar, join our 20-minute on-demand product demo or sign up for a free trial.

 

Step 2: Plan your webinar script

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.

This requires careful planning, which can be made easier by following a customizable webinar template and a few simple scripting instructions:

20+ Automated Webinar Scripts Guaranteed to Increase Engagement

If you want to go deeper into how to do all this, register for this free 20-minute webinar:

Best Practices for Creating an Automated Webinar with High Engagement
Hosted by  Melissa Kwan
Learn how to plan your content from start to finish, plus scripts to get you started. How to craft an engaging, participatory experience. What tools to use when recording the video.

 

Step 3: Record your webinar presentation

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:

Software and Hardware Recommendations: Recording a Video for an Automated Webinar

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, 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.

 

Step 4: Customize your automated webinar (in your software of choice)

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's interactions editor

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.

 

Step 5: Publish and market your webinar

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:

Quote from Trevor Larsen of Nectar

 

What is the best automated webinar software?

Here is our countdown of the top five picks for best automated webinar software:

  1. eWebinar (our own product)
  2. Demio
  3. EasyWebinar
  4. WebinarGeek
  5. EverWebinar (WebinarJam)

Though these are our top picks, you may also want to look at BigMarker, WebinarNinja, StealthSeminar, GoToWebinar, ClickMeeting, LiveStorm, and even Zoom.

If you would like to understand how we determined our picks, read this in-depth comparison post:

12 Best Automated Webinar Software Platforms — How They Differ

In it, we cover:

The key problem with automated webinar software

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.

An overview of eWebinar + our 5 differentiating features

There are five key differentiating features that set eWebinar apart from other platforms:

  1. Robust chat system
  2. Recurring schedule with on-demand options
  3. Variety of preset interactions
  4. Superior attendee experience
  5. Quick setup and ease of use

If you would like a detailed overview of eWebinar, join our 20-minute on-demand demo — where you will also get to experience eWebinar as an attendee — or sign up for a free trial.

Quick eWebinar Overview & Demo
Hosted by  Melissa Kwan
Tired of doing the same webinar over and over again? In this 20-minute overview and product demo, CEO, Melissa Kwan, shows you how eWebinar will allow you to create, host and automate your webinars in minutes. You'll learn why hundreds of companies are using eWebinar to scale their onboarding, training, and sales webinars and how they're getting their time and energy back because of it. At the end of the demo, you'll get a chance to sign up for a free trial so you can get started with eWebinar today!

 

12 options for automated webinar software and how they differ

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:

12 Best Automated Webinar Software Platforms — How They Differ

Each product offers a free trial — which may require a credit card — or a money-back guarantee, so you can try them out.

 

Zoom on-demand webinars: Where do they fit in?

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.

Zoom integration with eWebinar

 

How does live chat work in an automated webinar if no one is there to host it?

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:

How does chat work in eWebinar? + Chat FAQ

 

Misconception #1: Automated webinars are a bad practice, because they are deceptive.

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:

Quote from course creator coach, Paul Thomson

Here is what we will cover in the rest of this section, if you want to skip ahead:

 

Deceptive features in other automated webinar platforms

To illustrate the kinds of features other software platforms offer that are designed to trick attendees, imagine the following scenario:

  • You discover a webinar that looks interesting. The landing page warns you to register quickly because of “limited space”.
  • When you join the webinar, you see a “LIVE” indicator, assuring you you are watching a live event.
  • As the webinar starts, you see other attendees slowly join. The attendee count slowly climbs until it is in the hundreds.
  • Audience members start posting comments in chat: Jan says, “Sounds good to me!”. Alexis adds, “That’s a great point!” followed by Marcus, “God, I love that!”
  • The host takes an audience poll that pops up for you to answer. When the results of the poll are shared, you are surprised how different they are than what you thought they’d be.
  • Later in the presentation, the host makes a sales offer. Shortly after the offer is made, you start to see alerts pop up, “Sally just signed up!”, “Mahesh just signed up!”, they just keep coming.

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.

 

How eWebinar was built for authenticity and transparency

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.

eWebinar's presentation roomWe 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:

  • Real live chat: Attendees are amazed when they get a real response from someone during one of our pre-recorded webinars. They kind of can’t believe it. Private, 1-on-1 communication creates an immediate connection with attendees that is more personal than could ever happen in a live webinar (where chat is public).
  • Conversion alerts of actual sales: Our conversion alerts are tied to tracking code you place on your checkout confirmation page. Only people who converted as the direct result of attending your webinar will appear in conversion alerts to future attendees. If you have no conversions, there will be no alerts.
  • Actual attendee count: We let you show the total number of people who have attended your webinar over time (“Viewed”) or the actual count of those in a current session (“Viewing”), but whatever your choice you cannot fudge the numbers.
  • No misleading copy: You will not find any deceptive or misleading copy in any of our customizable webinar templates, including on the webinar registration pages or in the email notifications.
  • Real accumulated poll results: Poll results are real and accumulate over time, which also means they get better with time. You can choose to display them or not, but you can’t make them up.

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.

Want to give eWebinar a try?

Join our 20-minute on-demand product demo — which demonstrates our core features while also letting you experience eWebinar as an attendee — or just sign up for our free trial and get started now!

Quick eWebinar Overview & Demo
Hosted by  Melissa Kwan
Tired of doing the same webinar over and over again? In this 20-minute overview and product demo, CEO, Melissa Kwan, shows you how eWebinar will allow you to create, host and automate your webinars in minutes. You'll learn why hundreds of companies are using eWebinar to scale their onboarding, training, and sales webinars and how they're getting their time and energy back because of it. At the end of the demo, you'll get a chance to sign up for a free trial so you can get started with eWebinar today!

 

Misconception #2: Automated webinars should not — and could never — replace live webinars.

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.

Look at our responses to misconceptions #1, #3, and #4 — and read the benefits of automated webinars over live webinars — and you’ll see why we believe this so strongly.

 

Misconception #3: People won’t engage with a webinar if it is automated.

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.

To understand how and why this is true, refer to the top 5 benefits of automated webinars, particularly Increased engagement and Direct 1-on-1 communication.

 

Misconception #4: People prefer live webinars over automated webinars.

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!

eWebinar's webinar registration form

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:

12 Best Automated Webinar Software Platforms — How They Differ

 

 

Misconception #5: An automated webinar, which is pre-recorded, is no different than a video.

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:

  1. Better attendance
  2. Increased engagement
  3. Customer feedback to improve your product or business
  4. Analytics to improve your content
  5. Effective relationship building
  6. Lead capture and sales revenue

We wrote an entire article on the topic if you want to learn more:

Automated Webinar vs Video on YouTube: What’s the Difference?

 

Ready to get started with eWebinar?

Learn more about eWebinar by joining our 20-minute on-demand product demo or get started today and sign up for our free trial!

Quick eWebinar Overview & Demo
Hosted by  Melissa Kwan
Tired of doing the same webinar over and over again? In this 20-minute overview and product demo, CEO, Melissa Kwan, shows you how eWebinar will allow you to create, host and automate your webinars in minutes. You'll learn why hundreds of companies are using eWebinar to scale their onboarding, training, and sales webinars and how they're getting their time and energy back because of it. At the end of the demo, you'll get a chance to sign up for a free trial so you can get started with eWebinar today!
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