Marketing and Sales

The Business Cost of Hosting a Webinar

8 minutes

The Business Cost of Hosting a Webinar

Webinars are an excellent way to engage with your community, get your name out there, and give some real value to your customers. Moreover, webinars are successful. According to On24’s Webinar Benchmark Report, 95% of surveyed marketers said that webinars form a key element of their strategy.

But what is the cost of hosting a webinar? Is it feasible for those with a limited budget?

We can’t give you an exact figure for webinar costs. There are so many variables involved that it really depends on what you want to achieve. Theoretically, you could produce a webinar for next to nothing. On the other end of the scale, you could spend thousands on fancy production tools, equipment, and special guests.

The best way to work out a webinar budget is to determine what you need, your aim, and the resources you already have at your disposal. To help you get started, let’s look at the financial considerations associated with hosting a webinar.

Webinar hosting financial considerations

When calculating the business cost of hosting a webinar, there is no single answer. But to find the best budget for you, there are some key considerations. You may even find that the benefits far outweigh the costs.

Platform cost

There are various webinar platforms out there, each with different features. But rather than selecting the first one you come across or that’s recommended to you, it’s essential to determine which one is right for your specific needs.

Some webinar platforms are free up to a certain point. If you want to host a basic webinar, you could use Facebook Live or YouTube. The former now allows users to go live from Messenger Rooms, connecting your broadcast to a Group or Page.

host a webinar using Facebook Live
You can host a webinar using Facebook Live; source: Meta

That said, it’s worth noting that you can’t charge for attendance on these free platforms, which will massively slash your ROI.

On the other hand, if you’re aiming for a more engaging and profitable webinar for a wider audience, it’s worth investing in webinar software.

Check out some of the best automated webinar platforms.

The webinar platform you ultimately go for will depend greatly on your particular needs. For example, some platforms specialize in high-quality experiences for large audiences, while others offer enhanced group discussion features, workshopping tools, and more.

Make sure the platform gives you good ROI. Don’t compromise on the features that you want, and try not to end up paying for features that you don’t.

Equipment and technical support costs

While you can, in theory, host a webinar with little more than a computer, webcam, and microphone, the quality of your webinar will improve if you use more professional equipment.

To create a slick, sophisticated, and memorable webinar, consider investing in the following equipment:

  • Headsets. This will ensure a crisp, clear sound that’s free from background noise.
  • Microphones. Some headsets incorporate these, but if you’ve decided against headsets, you should still consider microphones.
  • Webcam. This is especially important if you are streaming a live event to an online audience, but it can also be helpful when you are hosting an entirely online webinar. A good webcam will deliver a clearer picture and enable a more immersive experience.
  • Software. Webinar hosting platforms aren’t the only digital tool that can improve your webinar experience. It’s also helpful to utilize software that integrates things like registration data, feedback, and even costs. Whether or not you already have an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) strategy in place, it’s worth investing in a cloud-based ERP solution that can streamline and synchronize all your registration and webinar data for ongoing insights.

Promotion and marketing costs

Securing webinar attendees is an art form. Even if you have the most fascinating topic and speakers in the world, you still have to put in a lot of effort to pull in the people.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to go wrong with webinar promotion strategies. So it is very much worth investing in a proper, well-thought-out promotional strategy.

reasons why someone may not register or attend a webinar
Some of the main reasons why someone may not register or attend a webinar; source: BrightTALK Benchmarks Report

That said, good webinar promotion doesn’t come cheap. Costs can include any or all of the following:

  • marketing tools and software;
  • marketing content (particularly if you are hiring content creators);
  • promotion costs across your chosen channels and platforms;
  • landing page creation;
  • SEO;
  • marketing automation.

As to how much the total will come to, it all depends on what you use and to what extent. Promoting your webinar on the cheap is possible by creating your own content and using free marketing and promotion tools.

But, you can also go the other way and pour considerable resources into extensive marketing campaigns. The direction you choose depends on your own resources, the channels you are using, and what your target attendees will best respond to.

Speaker fees

A lot of influencers and thought leaders charge speaking fees. After all, it costs them time and effort to prepare and give talks for webinars, so it’s not unreasonable that they should ask for compensation.

Learn more about finding genuine opinion leaders and accomplished bloggers in your particular field.

Fees vary considerably depending on who the speaker is, their area of expertise, talk length, the number of attendees you have, whether they are speaking live or pre-recorded, whether or not they will be taking questions, and so on.

As your webinar speakers make a big difference to the attendees you attract, your promotional strategies, and how much you will need to charge them, it is well worth getting fee estimates from prospective speakers in advance.

Attendee limit

The number of attendees you want to attract can impact your webinar hosting costs. Most high-quality webinar platforms increase their prices for larger audiences.

If you are charging for attendance and are confident that you can attract the maximum (or close to the maximum) number of attendees, it may be worth your while to pay extra for a high number of attendees.

But if full attendance is not guaranteed, opting for a lower attendee limit and paying your webinar platform less may be prudent.

Interactive features cost

Interactive features can help attract webinar attendees and make the webinar experience more dynamic and engaging. But, interactive features can bump up the price of webinar hosting.

Interactive features can include (but are not limited to):

  • Question facilities. This may include a “hands up” feature that enables attendees to alert hosts that they would like to contribute or chat boxes for real-time question-and-answer sessions.
  • Surveys and polls. These are highly beneficial features for engagement and feedback.
  • Breakout rooms. Excellent options for live discussions and networking.
  • Reaction options. For example, attendees could send “heart” or “laugh” reactions during talks.
  • Challenges and exercises. Why not incorporate event gamification elements like the quiz below to keep visitors engaged?

You can see an example of how gamification can be used in the image below:

make webinars more engaging
Interactive quizzes and leadership boards can make webinars more engaging; source: Slido

Custom branding cost

Most webinar platforms and hosting software will come with their own branding. While you can change themes to a certain extent, aligning preloaded themes with your own branding isn’t always possible. Besides which, if you have a memorable logo and your brand is recognizable, it makes sense to include your own branding in your webinar.

But once again, custom branding will inevitably increase your costs. You may have to pay a developer and/or graphic designer to create branding that fits your webinar schema, and you will probably have to pay a fee to your webinar hosting platform to apply your own branding.

To save a cent or two, you could incorporate branding with a bespoke background. But, this also has costs. For example, printing a branded banner to use in the background of your webinar stream will incur printing costs, which can be high depending on the size and complexity of your banner.

How much should you budget when hosting a webinar?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to setting a webinar budget. Rather, it’s entirely dependent on your KPIs and end goal.

Is it possible to run a webinar on a tight budget? Absolutely, but you’ll need to minimize resources and accept that free tools will have limited capabilities. On the flip side, you could opt for all the bells and whistles and invest in the highest-quality tools, platforms, and speakers. Or, you could pick and choose where to save and where to splurge.

As a general rule, consider the saying, “You have to spend money to make money.” If you want to see a significant ROI, you may need to increase your budget.

Why? For a start, webinar hosting platforms that enable an attendance fee usually cost more. And if attendees are paying to be there, they will expect to get good value for their money.

Investing in well-known and experienced speakers as well as high-quality production equipment is also more likely to attract attendees and create a more engaging and memorable experience. This ensures people register for your future events, so it’s really a win-win.

If you’re really struggling to establish a budget for webinar hosting, business management software can help. These platforms allow everyone on your team to gain real-time insight into different areas of the business, which is essential for creating a budget.

You can also use the software to see what resources you already have at your disposal and identify new ones you may need to invest in for your next webinar. This will give you a clearer idea of what you have, what you require, and how much you need to spend to achieve your aims.

Final thoughts

Webinars are a great way to boost your brand, spread your knowledge, engage with your market, and make some money. That said, as with many things in business, you tend to get more out if you put more in.

We can’t say the exact cost of hosting a webinar, as these vary significantly depending on the aims of your webinar. But, as a general rule, the more you budget for production, promotion, and platform, the more likely you are to pull in attendees and host a memorable event that will be worth every penny.

Date of publication:

June 14, 2023

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