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There are so many ways, in which you can engage with your audience digitally: E-mail, Social Media, Website, Influencers etc.

New methods keep coming up as the market matures.

One such method is the Webinar. It is increasingly becoming an integral part of a marketer’s arsenal. Some have even considered replacing in-person event engagements with them.

Before you consider anything of this sort, it is important to weigh out all the factors.

Please Note: The comparison wouldn’t be made from a conference/seminar where the main objective is networking and building relations within the community. It would only be related to product/service related events which marketers conduct as part of their day to day marketing routine.

Benefits of Conducting a Webinar

Webinars do have a significant advantage over Events when it comes to the following factors:

Reach

Events can only be conducted physically, which restricts their ability to cross geographical barriers. Webinars are location agnostic and can be attended/accessed by anyone around the world.

Cost Effective

You need a physical space to conduct an event. This, along with event arrangements, transportation, and lodging, can make events a costly proposition.

Webinars do not come with any such burden. You only need a software, which allows you to broadcast across the world by paying a minimal cost (When compared to an event).

Always On – Record and Use Continuously

Once conducted, there is no way to re-use / re-package the live event to others. It must be conducted again for that purpose. However, for a webinar, once conducted, the recording can be made accessible always to anyone. This allows a company to generate leads continuously by putting a single-time effort.

Benefits of Conducting an In-person Event

However, Events, despite their obvious disadvantages, trump Webinars when it comes to the following factors:

In-person Connect

Webinars happen online, which makes it extremely difficult to develop and sustain a relationship with an individual or a company, due to its digital nature.

However, the chemistry is palpable when it comes to events. It allows you to have a conversation with the audience, which helps you to know more about them and connect with them on a more personal level.

Un-cluttered Environment

On an average, a person is subjected to more than 5,000 ads every day. Further, there are so many distractions online. It is difficult for someone to focus completely on the content in an online environment.

Events offer that uncluttered environment to you where an individual is completely focussed on what you have to share.

How Do You Choose between a Webinar and an In-person Event?

Both Live Event and Webinar have strong points in their favour. So, how do you select which marketing tactic to go ahead with?

Below, are 5 consideration points to help you guide your thinking:

Target Audience

The first step before you decide any campaign is to understand who are you trying to reach out to?

  • What is the size of the company? Is it an SMB Company or an Enterprise?
  • What is the role of the person? Is he a Senior Decision Maker in the Organization or is he a Mid-level employee?

Senior Decision Makers in an Enterprise Company have a large budget and portfolio under them. Hence, it makes more sense to bring them in a single room and develop an in-person connection with them.

However, when it comes to other organizations or individuals, Webinars prove to be an equally useful tactic for reaching out to them.

Objective

It is important to understand your marketing objectives. If your only objective is to build awareness about your product and generate top of the funnel leads, then Webinar is a great way to do that.

It allows you to generate awareness at a large scale. Additionally, it helps you to continuously add leads to the pipeline.

However, if your prospect is in the final stages of the buying journey, it makes more sense to bring him in a room and develop an in-person connect rather than connecting with him virtually.

Budget and RoI

Another major consideration is how much are you ready to spend on your campaign and the returns that you are expecting from it.

As mentioned early, events can be a costly affair and might take a good chunk of your budget. It is tough for companies to execute them if they are on a shoestring budget. Also, it does not make sense to conduct an event if the deal size is small. You won’t get the desired Return on Investment.

In this case, Webinar makes more sense since they enable you to engage with a large audience at a relatively low cost.

Buying Journey

This is another major consideration which marketers usually ignore: What does the buying journey look like?

  • How complex is the buying process?
  • How long does it take for a buyer to move from Awareness to Purchase? 1-month, 3-month, 6-month or a Year?
  • How many stakeholders are involved in the buying process?

Answers to these questions help you identify whether you should go ahead with events or not.

If the buying journey is long and complex, it becomes imperative for you to develop that in-person connect with your prospect. This helps you to develop a strong relationship with him which eventually helps you in closing the sale.

If the buying journey is small and is usually less complex (Product purchase does not have a lot of consideration points for the buyer), you should consider webinars as an ideal option.

Geography

Finally, it is about where your Target Audience resides. If it is spread over the Globe and you need to reach out to them in a single go, then Webinar is a better option than an in-person event.

However, if it is concentrated in certain locations, then you would want to consider In-person Event over a Webinar.

Final Table

Here, I have listed down all those cases when you should consider organizing an in-person event. There are some cases where both Webinar and an In-person Event would work. You need to try those cases out with your audience.

Either other cases are not possible, or you need to consider Webinar for them.

Size – Enterprise / SMBRole – Decision Maker / Mid-LevelStage – Early / FinalBudget – High / LowDeal Size – Large / SmallBuying Cycle – Long / SmallGeography – Distributed / ConcentratedWebinar vs In-person Event
EnterpriseDecision MakerEarlyHighLargeLongConcentratedIn-person Event
EnterpriseDecision MakerFinalHighLargeLongConcentratedIn-person Event
EnterpriseDecision MakerEarlyHighLargeLongDistributedWebinar / In-person Event
EnterpriseMid-levelEarlyHighLargeLongConcentratedIn-person Event / Webinar
EnterpriseMid-levelFinalHighLargeLongConcentratedIn-person Event
EnterpriseDecision MakerFinalLowLargeLongConcentratedIn-person Event

Conclusion

Both Webinars and In-person Events are powerful tools in the hands of the marketer. Contrary to some perceptions, Webinars do not replace but aid In-person Events.

What are your thoughts on this? Please comment below