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Webinars are powerful tools many course creators use to sell their courses. They are particularly effective in course sales because people get to see your expertise in action and experience firsthand what it would actually be like to learn from you. A well-crafted webinar can turn a complete stranger into a paying customer in under an hour. The problem is a long-term live webinar strategy as part of a traditional sales funnel is unsustainable.

This is where evergreen webinars come in.

What is an evergreen webinar?

An evergreen webinar is a pre-recorded webinar that can be set on a recurring schedule and made available around the clock without you needing to be there to host it. It makes it possible for you to sell your course on autopilot by automating your entire sales funnel. The time you gain from automating sales can then be redirected towards other things, like maintaining a good work-life balance, focusing on your current students, or building your audience so the top of your funnel is always being filled up with new leads.

Live vs pre-recorded webinars

There is nothing wrong with hosting live webinars. On the contrary, live webinars are super valuable and an important part of a robust webinar strategy. It’s just that live webinars and pre-recorded webinars have different strengths and are better suited to different types of content.

Live webinars are great for things like panel discussions, interviews with special guests, and Q&A-style webinars, where having questions from audience members answered by presenters for the benefit of the entire group is the main focus of the event. These are one-of-a-kind, spontaneous occurrences not meant to be repeated. They usually center on thought leadership and current topics and trends. You can use live webinars to expand your network, build your audience, and establish yourself as an expert in your field. 

Evergreen webinars, on the other hand, are perfect for the kinds of presentations you need to give over and over again, like for routine lead generation and sales pitches. They are best for reaching the broadest possible audience too, since they can be scheduled around the clock, in any time zone. 

The pros and cons of automated webinars

There are both benefits and challenges that come with using automated webinars to sell your course. Fortunately, the pros far outweigh the cons and there are easy ways to work around the challenges.

Benefits of automated webinars

The biggest, most obvious benefit to evergreen webinars is that they are scalable. If you have ever tried to host live webinars on a regular basis as a way to build your business, you know it is pretty much impossible. No matter how many sessions you schedule, there are never enough to accommodate everyone (especially people living in different time zones). The more webinars you do, the more exhausting they become. Burn out from hosting webinars live is a real thing. 

Pre-recorded webinars are available when your future students are. They can join a session at a time that is convenient for them, without having to work around your schedule. Some automated webinar platforms even offer “just-in-time sessions”, which makes it so there is always a session to join within a few minutes of someone landing on your registration page. This makes your webinars available, effectively, on demand, and means someone can join your webinar at the exact moment they are most interested in what you have to offer and are most likely to purchase your course. It’s called striking while the iron is hot!

Evergreen webinars are stress-free too. Removing the burden of having to present your webinars live is a huge relief. Besides, videos never have an off day. Record the best version of your presentation once and attendees will have the same great experience every time. Automated webinars are not prone to the tech issues that often ruin live webinars and managing chat is a breeze (provided you use software that offers live chat). With live webinars, you often need to have a second person around just to respond to chat messages! All of this stress melts away with webinar automation.

What you may find surprising is evergreen webinars also tend to be more engaging and interactive than live webinars. At a live webinar, you usually just sit there and watch. With nothing to do, it’s human nature to pull out your phone or open another browser window. With automated webinars, you can schedule polls, questions, links, special offers, and more to appear throughout your webinar as a way to make things more fun for attendees and keep them engaged until the very end. Chat helps keep attendees engaged too. If keeping people engaged matters to you, be sure to choose webinar automation software that offers these features.

Challenges of automated webinars

The main challenges with automated webinars are twofold. First, it’s impossible to be available around the clock to answer chat messages. The truth is, though, people generally don’t expect you to be. As long as they get answers to their questions in a timely manner, after the webinar is over, they are satisfied and happy someone was there to help. Choose software that makes this possible, and that also will help manage attendees’ expectations with an automated response when you are not able to reply right away.

The second main challenge with automated webinars is the perception they are “fake” or “canned”. This issue can be easily squashed with honesty. Don’t lie to attendees and make them think something is live when it is not. People are smart. It’s not worth risking your credibility over something so trivial. Many course creators tell people up front that their presentation is pre-recorded but the chat is not, and use it as a way to encourage people to ask questions. However you decide to approach it, don’t be dishonest.

Examples of evergreen webinars and course creators who use them

If you’re struggling to visualize what an automated webinar is like, what better way than to experience one yourself. Register for one of the three evergreen webinars below, hosted by eWebinar.

All three feature top course creators who also happen to be Thinkific experts:

Successful course creators like Kyshira Moffet of The Power Collective and Carly Adams of Tidy Revival have been using automated webinars to grow their businesses on autopilot for a while now. If you’re interested in learning more about what they did and how they did it, check out their stories

“Using the eWebinar app resulted in nearly $15,000 in sales within the first week. I didn’t have to do sales calls for that; all they had to do was watch the webinar, apply, and enroll.” Kyshira Moffet, owner of The Power Collective

How to create an evergreen webinar

Every evergreen webinar starts with a pre-recorded video. So while there are other components you’ll need to put together, like the copy for your registration page, the most important thing is the presentation itself. 

Here’s the twist. Your webinar should not focus on your course or on why people should take it. 

The most effective evergreen webinars used to sell online courses employ an indirect sales technique. The idea is to use the webinar as an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise, establish credibility and trust, and prove you are capable of bringing about a transformation in others. Your webinar should have standalone value that doesn’t require people to register for your course to learn more. They should be able to take what you teach, put it into action, and start seeing results immediately. By giving students a taste of what you offer and getting them to experience how you can make their lives better will leave them wanting more. All you have to do then is end with something like, “If you like what you learned today and want to go further with it, here’s an offer to enroll in my course.” It’s a soft — but powerful — sell.

As you plan the content of your webinar, here are three other things to think about:

Follow a proven formula

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel when scripting your webinar. Follow a presentation structure that is proven to work. A good webinar formula is all about the order in which you present things, including the timing of your offer at the end. Spend about 80% of the time on your topic of choice, and no more than 20% on your pitch. There are plenty of great webinar formulas out there to follow, but here are two options to get you started: one from Aaron Morin, Customer Education Lead at Thinkific and another from top course creator, Haley Burkhead.

Test out your material

If your webinar is something you have never presented before, it’s a good idea to test it out with live attendees first. You won’t have to do this more than a couple of times, but it will give you a chance to hear what questions and objections people have, find out what works and what doesn’t, and discover what messaging resonates most strongly. Incorporating what you learn from those live presentations into your script will go a long way in making sure your webinar successfully converts attendees into paying students once it has been automated.

Don’t try to make things perfect

While it is good to practice your presentation a few times, don’t let trying to make your presentation perfect keep you from getting it recorded and out there, selling your course for you as an automated webinar. The nice thing about webinars as a format is no one expects them to be highly produced or word perfect. If you flub your words a little, just correct yourself and keep going. Let people see the real you. Authenticity is far more important than perfection. 

Once your webinar is written and recorded, you’re 90% of the way there. All that is left to do is host it with the webinar automation software of your choice.

Related: How To Use Webinars To Promote Your Courses (Complete Guide)

How to turn an automated webinar into a sales funnel

Now that you have an evergreen webinar, how do you turn it into a sales funnel? A funnel is made up of key stages through which leads must pass in order to become paying students. In the simplest terms, a sales funnel built around an evergreen webinar is made up of four of these stages:

  1. Traffic: You need to drive traffic to your webinar registration page. This can be done using social posts, by linking to it from other content like blog posts, through involvement in online communities, by partnering with people who have similar audiences, and through paid ads.
  2. Registrants: Once visitors have landed on your registration page, they still need to register. Build a registration page that speaks clearly and simply to the benefits people will get from joining your webinar. Remember, you are not trying to sell your whole course here, just the key outcomes of the webinar itself.
  3. Attendees: After leads have registered for your webinar, the next step is for them to attend. The good news is attendance rates of automated webinars are significantly higher than for live webinars, since people can register for a session that is super convenient for them, including one that starts right away. 
  4. Conversions: Finally, attendees must sign up for your course at the end of your webinar. If you are able to deliver real value during your presentation, there will always be a good number of people who will want to take the next step.

The above four steps are easier said than done, but they do comprise the basic stages of a sales funnel, with an evergreen webinar at its center, that can then be automated.

How to build an automated funnel from your evergreen webinar

Once you’ve built your sales funnel, the next step is to automate it. The goal is for it to reliably and consistently sell your course for you on autopilot. To get it to that point, you’ll need to do two main things.

Verify every stage of your webinar is healthy and functioning

To ensure every stage of your sales funnel is functioning properly requires diagnosis and iterative improvement. For example, if people are arriving on your registration page but not registering, ask yourself what it is about the page that is not working.  Play around with its messaging, imagery, and format to try and drive up your registration rate. If people are attending your webinar but not signing up for your course, look at the formula of your webinar. What’s the ratio of time spent on valuable content versus time spent on your pitch? Is the timing of your special offer in the wrong place? Are people asking questions or raising objections that should be addressed in the webinar itself? Approach everything like a detective, run experiments, and optimize each stage in the funnel until it consistently delivers results.

Make sure there is always a steady stream of traffic flowing to your registration page

Once you’ve optimized your registration page and webinar, you may not need to revisit them very often. Driving traffic to your registration page, however, will be an ongoing process. 

Here are three key strategies you can follow to build your audience and keep leads flowing:

  • Join and participate in online communities

Find online communities, like Facebook groups and subreddits, of like-minded people who are interested in your area of expertise. Join conversations and answer members’ questions — asking nothing in return — to establish yourself as a trusted resource. (Another great place to answer questions online is Quora.) Once you have some credibility, start sharing the link to your webinar registration page in the appropriate context.

  • Create and distribute high-value organic content

Develop a simple but sustainable strategy for creating new content. Focus on delivering value from your unique point of view and experience. Your content can include everything from e-books and blog posts to Instagram Reels and Facebook posts. Distribute it through social channels and share it with the online communities you belong to. Find ways to promote your webinar within your content.

  • Establish partnerships with people who have similar audiences

Reach out and establish relationships with people who have audiences similar to yours but with whom you don’t compete. Partnerships can take many different forms. Find ways to collaborate, co-host interview-style webinars, or run joint promotions. You can even offer a percentage of sales you make from people referred by your partners. The point is to look for opportunities that are mutually beneficial. 

A word of caution about paid ads. Until you really understand who your audience is and how to target them, and are certain your registration page and webinar reliably convert, paying for ads can quickly land you in debt with little to show for it. One rule of thumb is to make sure you are bringing in enough money from the leads you generate at no cost (outside of your time) to pay for your ads up front. This will ensure you have a working sales funnel before you pour fuel on the fire. Another good piece of advice is to work with an expert when placing ads, especially if you are just getting started.

One final tip for automating your sales funnel is to make sure you continue to follow up with the leads who did not convert. People who registered for your webinar but failed to attend or who attended but didn’t buy your course are some of your hottest prospects. Feed them into a CRM or email marketing platform, automate your follow up, and continue to nurture those leads until they are ready to convert. Don’t let anyone fall through the cracks!

What are the best automated webinar platforms?

There are a number of webinar platforms out there, but when it comes to creating the best automated webinar experience, a few stand out. Here are our top three recommendations for best pre-recorded webinar software:

1. eWebinar

Cost: $49/mo (Level 1) | $99/month (Level 2) | $199/mo (Level 3) | $250/mo (Enterprise)

Best Features: Easy to use; most interactive; robust chat system

Available in the Thinkific App Store!

eWebinar is our top choice when it comes to automating webinars. Features include live chat, personalized welcome messages, polls and survey questions, special offers and downloads, requests to contact, and attendee reactions.

Its best features include the ability for moderators to respond to live chat during the event or via email once attendees are offline, its warm but professional look and feel, and its flexible options when setting a recurring schedule. Additionally, eWebinar has the most comprehensive analytics dashboard of any webinar solution.

2. Zoom

Cost: $400 to $64,900 per year per license depending on package

Additional Cost: Must be purchased as an add-on to a Zoom Meetings license

Best Feature: On-demand videos that remain available after recording a live webinar

Available in the Thinkific App Store!

If you already use Zoom to host your live events, you can also use it to share video replays on demand. Zoom lets you record your live webinars and then make them available afterward for people to register for and view as a replay. This makes it so you can continue to generate leads from a single event instead of hosting the same webinar over and over.

The drawback to Zoom is their on demand option isn’t really an automated webinar, but rather a gated replay people can access after registering. This means chat and interactions, like polls and questions, don’t exist. However, if you’re already using Zoom to host live webinars, you can import your recordings into eWebinar or a similar solution, so you can create the best automated experience from them.

3. GoToWebinar

Cost: $104/mo (Starter) | $239/mo (Pro) | $539/mo (Plus) | Custom pricing (Enterprise)

Best Feature: Ability to repurpose recordings into automated webinar sessions with limited features

GoToWebinar is a live-first webinar solution with some automation features. Their Simulated Live option lets you quickly upload a video, schedule it as automated sessions in the future, and customize as needed. The programmable polls allow for some opportunities for automation.

Unfortunately, GoToWebinar doesn’t have live chat for its evergreen webinars. Instead, messages get sent to the host’s email. They have GoToStage too, which lets you turn your live webinars into on-demand replay videos.