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Qualifying Business Leads with Webcasts, Web Conferences, and Webinars

All three web education methods (webcasts, web conferences, and webinars) allow you 15 minutes or more of uninterrupted user contact with your business web presence. How can you pass that up, especially when you compare the costs of traveling and staging live events in multiple locations?

These content-driven techniques work well in B2B environments, where you can adapt them for free product demonstrations, market research presentations, or teaching sessions in exchange for contact information. They’re useful for building brand awareness, positioning your company as a leader, and generating sales leads. Don’t poison the well with overt marketing or hard sales pitches.

Segment leads by including on the sign-up form a question about registrants’ levels of interest or decision-making timeframes.

Webcasts, web conferences, and webinars all run in a browser environment. The combination of increased broadband access and the inclusion of streaming media within browsers make these methods much more accessible than they were in the past.

Webcasts

Generally, a webcast refers to a live, video broadcast online. Inherently passive, a webcast is delivered from one speaker to many listeners, often 50 or more. Of the three techniques, webcasts work best in a B2C environment for concerts, lectures, dance, comedy, theater, performance arts, sports events, entertainment, and events of educational or training content.

Depending on its audience and purpose, you can promote a webcast like any other online event. webcasts are often recorded for future replays on any of the video services, such as YouTube. (See Chapter 14 for more information on video sharing.)

Web conferences

A web conference works best with a small-group presentation that’s data or document driven. web conferences support two-way interaction, such as in an online focus group or a presentation near the close of the sales cycle.

Conferences generally involve a combination of two-way audio teleconferencing, live desktop-based whiteboards, PowerPoint presentations, and instant messaging or chat software. For example, Vyew, shown in the following illustration, offers “groupware for bridging time and space.”

[Credit: Courtesy of vyew.com — continuous meeting rooms, real-time and asynchronous]
Credit: Courtesy of vyew.com — continuous meeting rooms, real-time and asynchronous

Webinars

A webinar is more complex than a webcast or web conference, mixing and matching such multimedia components as a one-way audio conference, a video conference (sometimes a talking head, which is more useful for product demonstrations), PowerPoint or whiteboard presentations, live polls or surveys, and one-way instant messaging for participants to submit questions.

Designed to reach a large number of participants over a widespread geographical region, webinars generally require a sequence of activities in order to be successful: promotion, registration, confirmation e-mails, reminder e-mails, thank-you messages, and feedback surveys. Consider these elements as premium branding and lead generation opportunities.

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