Live vs. Memorex?

by Shelley Ryan on July 8, 2010 · 9 comments

Tape Recorder

Is this better?

A question just came up on the MarketingProfs Know-How Exchange, a free forum for getting marketing advice.

“Anybody have data on whether live vs archived webinars do better? I know the argument goes that since you’re gonna do it live, why not record it and advertise it later, but my question relates to a decision I have to make:  Which to spend more money on online advertising to promote aggressively? Will people more likely click-through and register for a live or on-demand webinar?”

People perceive a LIVE webinar to be worth more pesos than an identical event that’s been recorded. (I’ll talk about this in a different post, I promise.) So if you’re going to ask people to PAY to participate, your advertising should focus on the live event. In the fine print, you can still say that the webinar will also be available for on-demand viewing later.

That said, RECORDED webinars get a lot more viewers! I don’t have official stats to cite from Guiness, but I know from my days as Webinar Diva for MarketingProfs that a typical broadcast would get replayed 2-3 times the number of live attendees. If the speaker/topic were really fabulous, the replays were even higher. Keep in mind, though, that the inevitable snafus that come up during a live broadcast are there for eternity in your recording.

My advice is that if you’re going to advertise a FREE webinar that you’re offering to generate leads, make it strictly ON DEMAND. Then put some of your advertising budget into creating a truly kick-ass presentation that gets people talking! That way you can benefit from the word-of-mouth gravy, too.

Anybody had experience with live vs. recorded?  I’d love to hear your comments.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Marina July 9, 2010 at 11:44 am

I think that live webinars are great, especially those that have a live Q&A session at the end and the participants can ask the speaker questions. On the other hand, recorded webinars are good for those who are short on time, who cannot be online to watch a live webinar at a given time and date. Recorded webinar links are more likely to be “shared” on social networking sites, thus driving more traffic to your site.



Shelley Ryan July 12, 2010 at 2:47 pm

I suspect that live webinars get more tweets when the presenter suggests a hashtag to use during the broadcast. But I’ll bet you’re right, Marina, recordings get shared more often with LINKS, which are way more valuable for word-of-mouth success!


Su Doyle July 9, 2010 at 1:45 pm


Having recently run webinars in the industrial mfg, aerospace, retail and direct mktg spaces, I would recommend having BOTH a live and a recorded version, as well as first dibs on complimentary content (white paper, ROI calculator). Why?

1)For some reason, live & recorded tend to attract different audiences – often the higher-level contacts will only listen in live.
2)On the industrial side, I’ve seen 2x the registration for on-demand webinars
3)It’s a good excuse to remarket to non-registrants & no-shows – If your’e working with a publication, you can use a low attendance # as leverage to get more publicity in house mailings & newsletters.
4)Recorded webinars can be repackaged (in bite-sized pieces) as individual podcasts, slide decks can be turned into individual PDFs.

When I’ve pulled together stellar speakers and content, it seems a waste to only use the good stuff only once!

Cheers, Su

PS – I’m still amazed at how many execs still view webinars as a low-level logistical task — it’s all about rich content that engages potential buyers. Thanks for rightfully taking the discussion up a notch!


Shelley Ryan July 9, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Great points, Su! You’re doing what the best content marketers do — getting every ounce of value you can squeeze from a single webinar.

Thanks for sharing your experience. :)


Matt Bovell July 13, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Great article! I’m not sure I would even let the “snafus captured for eternity” to hinder me since with some platforms (I believe Adobe Connect is one) you can edit your recording. Now you’ve got a recorded product that is even more polished than the live event.

So, yes, I don’t think you can go wrong with recording!


Gary May 18, 2011 at 7:11 pm

I`d like to transition from live webinars to recorded ones. I currently use Gotowebinar
any suggestions for a platform for recorded ones?


Shelley Ryan May 18, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Good question, Gary! If you’re thinking of recording a presentation strictly for on-demand viewing, you can use an app like Camtasia or Captivate to add narration to slides, video, or image files. You can probably use any “movie maker” app for this, as long as it’s able to render a video file in a format that you can embed on your website, via a hosted service like YouTube or Screencast. Best output options are FLV, SWF or MP4 files.

Keep an eye out — I’m going to be posting a recorded webinar of my own here soon, explaining options for doing recorded vs. live webinars. In the meantime, I hope this helps a bit!


Shelley Ryan July 28, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Gary, sorry for the delayed response! It would be hard for me to make a suggestion without knowing more about your goals. I’d be happy to discuss that if you still need to make any decisions. 888.449.8929


Arnoldo Schan June 8, 2011 at 7:01 pm

74. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch as I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!


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