Matt Francis - Founder at Cloudpresenter
Post by
Matt Francis
Last updated :
February 7, 2024
 | 20 min read

Webinars have become a valuable tool in the world of digital marketing. Many businesses and individuals use them to connect with their audience, share knowledge, and foster engagement.

However, in the ever-evolving landscape of online communication, it is essential that businesses that wish to stay on top of constantly tweak their approach; this has led to a heated debate about live vs. automated webinars.

Both webinars have merits and demerits as a form of marketing and dishing out information. Proponents of live webinars argue that with live webinars, you can reach an immediate audience and interact directly and immediately with potential leads on a one-time basis. However, the enthusiasts of pre-recorded webinars argue that live webinars can only be used once. With automated webinars, you can repurpose your content and learn from your mistakes.

The reality is that both live and automated webinars can benefit the content and digital marketer if they are used correctly. In this article, we will find out just how. 

The difference between live webinars and pre-recorded webinars

Live webinars are conference-like events where presenters and participants interact in real-time. In this case, the presenters give a set time, and the participants have to show up at that time, no matter what part of the world they are in.

This arrangement can present a challenge where participants live in a different time zone from the presenter. To be able to participate in the live event, an attendee has to synch their schedules to catch the presenter. 

This format is different from the pre-recorded webinar. Here, the presenter pre-records the event and sets it up so anyone granted permission can access it. The pre-recorded webinar is either set on a recurring schedule or made available on-demand, causing some people to call them on-demand webinars, too. While this arrangement is convenient for both the presenter and participant, it does come with a lack of live interaction between both parties– making it difficult for the business owner to address the need quickly. 

Another key difference to note is that while live webinars are designed to focus more on the host, how they choose to deliver the webinar content to their target audience. Automated webinars concentrate more on the attendees and how they wish to consume and engage the content, emphasizing the attendee's consumer experience. Due to each webinar's differing focus, their success relies on different shoulders. 

Live webinars depended heavily on the host's ability to juggle delivery, interact with the audience, and keep the whole event on track.

The burden is lighter in automated webinars where the delivery is already pre-recorded, leaving the host to concentrate on engaging the audience. However, if the webinar presentation is recurring or on-demand, the presenter may only sometimes be available to hire as much as possible. 

Pros and cons of live webinars

Although Live webinars have the advantage of connecting easily and instantly with your live audience, they come with their merits and demerits. 

Pros of live webinars

There are several advantages to live webinars, some of them include:

  • It allows you to display authenticity to new leads; this can be valuable to the growth of your brand as your prospective leads can sense your enthusiasm and sincerity and be moved to get into business with you.

  • Live webinars are personal and establish you as a person in your audience's mind, and many would come away with the impression that they know you.

  • The fact that you only get one shot when you go live gives these webinars a thrill of unpredictability. No one knows how it would pan out, and knowing they won't get another shot at it makes them all the more special.

  • If you're starting a new business, an online event can boost your sales funnel and online presence more than any other promotional tactic.

Cons of live webinars

Despite its benefits, live webinars have disadvantages that could mar the experience for both the presenter and the audience. Some of these include:

  • Unexpected technical errors like system glitches, poor internet connection, or bugs in the webinar software can suddenly arise and diminish the webinar quality.

  • Ensuring a smooth delivery is challenging and would require more preparation and rehearsals from the presenter. Stage frights and mistakes cannot be edited out and can give the webinar a poor quality.

  • As live webinars are often held at a set time, this could incur great inconvenience for many participants in different time zones.

Pros and Cons of automated webinars

Automated webinars have merits and demerits despite the relative ease they afford the presenters and participants.

Pros of automated on-demand webinar

Automated webinars have many advantages to them. Some of these merits include:

  • Automated webinars are timeless, as they can be accessed repeatedly. You can use them as good learning references by watching them and correcting those parts you deem under-par.

  • With different people able to view automated webinars at their convenience, it gives them the power of a more comprehensive reach across various time zones.

  • Automated webinars can help you if you struggle with performance anxiety. You can edit out mistakes and parts where nerves get the best of you. Also, you don't have to worry about real-time glitches or can fix any technical issues without messing up your webinar.

  • Pre-recorded webinars allow you to create consistent content whenever your audience seeks it. It also allows your audience to view them at their convenience.

Cons of automated webinars

Although automated webinars have their advantages, there are many demerits to them. Some of these disadvantages include:

  • Automated webinars do not feel as personal as live ones, as there is less interaction between the presenter and participants. Lack of communication means that participants cannot get immediate responses to any questions that may arise while watching the program.

  • Because automated webinars are pre-recorded, the information they contain would be obsolete with time, which can reflect poorly on your brand.

  • Although automated webinars bring in more viewers, they convert those prospects to sales less than a live event. A significant reason for this is how impersonal they tend to feel; this cannot be good for you if you're a new business seeking to boost sales.

  • The advantage of the convenience that automated webinars afford participants may also lead to complacency and procrastination. As they know they can access the information at any point, it could cause them to put it off for so long that they never get to do so.

  • While you can easily edit pre-recorded webinars to guarantee the best quality, any unnoticed mistake will be replayed for a long time.

When should you use live or pre-recorded webinars?

Considering that both webinars have inherent advantages and disadvantages, what is the best form of webinar to promote your business or the service you offer, and when should you use them? The truth is that only some types of webinars are suitable in some situations. As a marketer, you want to be adaptable to use the best webinar for just the right occasion. 

When live events are preferable over automated sessions?

Live webinars over the most benefits for you and your audience in the following situations:

  • When hosting a one-time event or presenting information with little or no re-use value. Such information could be news or temporary offers.

  • A webinar with an interactive format, such as a live Q&A session or Discussion forum. In this case, a live event is preferable.

  • An event with a loose schedule. Live webinars sometimes follow a flexible schedule due to the interactions. If you are not time-strapped, then a live event is for you.

  • If you wish to connect more with the audience or introduce a new product or business. The live chat features on most webinar platforms will make it more memorable and interactive for the audience.

  • Live webinars may determine what is best for your personality or business brand. If you want to feel the connection between you and your audience, then live webinars will provide you with that.

  • Live webinars will work better for an audience with whom you have gained credibility or have an established relationship. 

When automated webinars are preferable over live webinars?

An automated webinar can be preferable over a live webinar in the following situations:

  • An automated webinar can be suitable for training sessions so the trainees can go back and access these lessons repeatedly. The training sessions may be for the product you're offering or for your staff. You need to update them consistently so you can get an evergreen webinar.

  • They are perfect for onboarding new customers or clients. These webinars allow them to come up to speed at their own pace without requiring your presence throughout the process.

  • Automated webinars can save you from burnout.

  • You can also use automated webinars to add new value to old videos by adding interactive elements to breathe life into them.

  • Automated webinars are the best avenue if you wish to use them to reach a larger audience. They are convenient for people from different time zones.

  • Automated webinars are often the best option if you intend to launch a robust email marketing strategy due to its sign-up process.

  • They are also suitable for product demos or service tutorials. The product demos you put out can create urgency among your consumers. And can lead to more sales. You want to ensure that you update as your brand grows and changes.

  • Pre-recorded webinars are great for building brand awareness and lead generations.

Conclusion

Webinars are essential for online marketing, but there is a current debate about which webinar format would be best for your digital and email marketing efforts. Both live and automated webinars have their advantages and disadvantages. There is no form of webinar that is better than the other. A savvy marketer would realize that each webinar type has unique features that make it useful in specific situations. Hence, the best practice in digital marketing is to use each webinar style correctly. The rule of thumb is to use automated webinars to introduce new businesses or products and lead generation. Live webinars are better later on when you have acquired some form of rapport or credibility with your customers.

Frequently Asked Questions

The question of live and automated webinars usually raise questions among digital marketers and other entrepreneurs in the online space. Here are some of the popular ones:

Do automated webinars work?

Automated webinars are perfect for re-engaging and building relationships with existing customers. They are also great if you intend to scale your business and expand your reach because of the ease of access. When you share your webinar link across social media platforms and email lists, you can easily reach potential customers even when they're in a different time zone. 

When are webinars useful?

Webinars are beneficial for marketing purposes. They can help your business generate leads, demonstrate product features, or educate prospective customers about a topic relevant to your business or service. 

Are there any disadvantages of hosting webinars?

Webinars have a lot of advantages to businesses and people selling in the online space, but they have one slight disadvantage. Webinars, especially live webinars, can offer a semblance of interaction with your customers, but they must match the physical interaction and the benefits they bring. Still, when trying to reach audiences across the globe, webinars are your best tool for that. 

What things should I avoid doing in a webinar?

If you want your webinar to be a success, there are some pitfalls you need to avoid. Some of them include:

Don't start too early. This rule applies especially to live webinars; you want to give people a few minutes to connect. 

  • Don't use audio only; you want your audience to see you.

  • Only run a webinar with pre-prepared materials.

  • Only finish a webinar with a Q&A session (especially if it’s a live webinar). You want to address your audience's concerns as soon as possible.

  • Don't stay too long, so your audience doesn't get bored or lose interest.

How do you keep your audience engaged in a webinar?

There are several things you can do to keep your audience engaged. Know your audience, address their needs, and encourage participation by taking a poll, opening chats, acknowledging the chats, and leaving plenty of time for questions. Use slides and other visual components to hold the audience's attention.

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