5 Ways that Webinars Outperform Ebooks for Content Marketing

April 27, 2015

6:00 pm

Different content formats are most effective for different phases of the conversion funnel, and best-in-class marketers know how to offer the best content marketing experiences to the right audience members.

For top-of-the-funnel (“TOFU”) content marketing, blog posts and social media activity undoubtedly rule the roost. But for the next steps, the middle of the funnel (“MOFU”), when your audience is ready to start learning in detail about the specifics of your solution, articles aren’t going to cut it. In recent years, eBooks have emerged as the go-to format for long-form, deep-dive content marketing, which makes a lot of sense. eBooks get shared a lot, they’re timeless, and they’re great for developing a reputation for thought leadership.

But eBooks aren’t perfect. Like most web content, eBooks are skimmed, ultimately squandering dozens of pages of quality, detailed content in which you’ve invested a great deal. Interactive video and webinars, however, have some distinct advantages. They support a similarly robust level of information for buyers who are ready for the nitty-gritty, but they do so in a format geared more closely to the way we prefer to consume content today – visual, demonstrative, interactive and with moving pictures.

Although webinars are widely recognized as being among of the most effective digital marketing techniques, only 62% of B2B marketers host webinars, according to the Content Marketing Institute. Perhaps it’s time to inspect the value of webinars over eBooks as a preferred MOFU tool. Here are five aspects of webinars that make them superior to eBooks.

1. More Conversions with Real Time Interaction

Social posts, emails, and phone calls are easy for prospects to push aside and ignore. In this regard, eBooks are the same. The last thing a marketer wants is to be relegated to a prospect’s proverbial “deal with it later” pile. When someone joins a webinar, on the other hand, he or she is there to pay attention.

When people interface, collaborate, and offer feedback, they begin to feel invested in the proceedings. One of the aspects of webinars that makes them so powerful is that participants often form an emotional connection with the content, rendering them all the more likely to become customers. Interacting also gives presenters valuable insights into what each prospect, and the audience pool as a whole, cares about most.

2. More Enticing to Commitment-Phobes

In the digital age, we’ve all been inducted into the “cult of busy.” No one has time – or at least no one thinks he or she has time – to pay proper attention and read a book cover to cover. Even more powerful than our overloaded schedules is the feeling of overwhelm that’s become so culturally pervasive. Downloading an eBook, unfortunately, may feel like too much of a commitment for some.

Although it might actually take someone less time to read an eBook than to attend a webinar, perceptions can be as important as reality. And as any content media junky knows, eBooks can clutter hard drives and reading queues for months on end. With webinars, it starts, it ends, and everyone’s happy – even those among us who are prone to avoiding commitment.

3. Better “Completion Rates”

Just because someone downloads an eBook doesn’t mean he or she will ever read it in its entirety… or even open it at all. Take a moment and be honest with yourself – how many eBooks (downloaded with great intentions of expanding your knowledge about industry trends or a specific product which might make your life easier) are sitting unread on your hard drive today? As a marketer promoting an eBook, you’d never know the difference. It’s easy to track downloads, but reads? No solution for that just yet.

With webinars, people drop out partway through far more rarely – and you’ll be able to track when they do, which can help you to optimize your next presentation accordingly. This type of analysis is easy with a professional-grade webinar platform like ClickWebinar, or a Group Conversation platform like Google Hangouts.

4. More Qualified Leads

People download eBooks for any number of reasons other than those intended by the publisher, especially given that eBooks are often shared on social media in high volume. Valuable eBooks also commonly speak to industry analysis as much as they speak to the benefits of your specific product.

As a result, eBooks can often generate plenty of low-quality leads alongside high-quality ones. Webinars, however, are focused much more specifically on your product, so people who opt in are more likely to become your paying customers.

5. More Sophisticated Product Demos

Although eBooks can include product screenshots, descriptions of digital tools, and advice how to best utilize them, they are simply the wrong format for showcasing product demonstrations.

Webinars are far better suited for showcasing actual use cases for digital product, since they are made for giving walk-through tours and showing people how to leverage tools from start to finish. The demo itself, a squandered opportunity in an eBook, is a powerful tool that catapults leads along the conversion funnel.

Cover Your Bases

Ultimately, your digital marketing strategy obviously needs to address both TOFU and MOFU content needs. A healthy combination of formats is imperative for both brand awareness and a successful conversion pipeline. It’s critical to offer content that’s at once audience-focused, dynamic, original and informative, and that means staying active with blogs, social posts, infographics, podcasts and webinars alike.

eBooks have their place and can be utilized effectively, but webinars blow them out of the water in the MOFU customer research sales stage. Since they foster interaction and completion while avoiding the pitfalls of commitment-phobia and lackluster demonstration options, webinars are the clear MOFU leader.

Image Credit: Dave Meier

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Tracy Vides is an independent researcher and content strategist, who blogs about things as diverse as tech, fashion, cars, and finance. You can follow her on Twitter @TracyVides or catch all her posts on Google+.

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