The difference between virtual events vs webinar - Webinar platform Hubilo Webinar+

Virtual Events vs Webinars: What’s the Difference?

Webinars are one-topic based, while virtual events can cover an array of topics. Learn the differences between virtual events vs webinars here.
April 28, 2023

For years, webinars have been used to bring people together and learn! Webinars can provide people with all types of information, depending on what your event goals are. However, over the past few years, virtual events have exploded onto the scene. There may be some confusion about virtual events vs webinars, but this guide will help answer any and all of those questions.

Virtual event vs webinar: unblurring the lines

To some people, webinars and virtual events are the same thing. They are, however, different in multiple ways! Let’s take a moment to define the two types of events.

How to host a webinar

What is a webinar? 

A webinar is exactly what it sounds like - it’s a seminar hosted on the web! Webinars have a host, a topic, an audience, and most importantly, a discussion. All of these elements come together to bring information to people all over the world. Webinars are on average 60 minutes long, and they have the presenter speaking for the majority of the time, with a Q&A session or a discussion at the end. Attendees can register for the webinar and as long as they have a computer and wifi (91% prefer to attend via desktop!), they can attend the webinar from wherever they are in the world! 

What is a virtual event? 

While a virtual event takes place online like a webinar, a virtual event can be a number of different events. Any type of event that can be hosted in person can be turned into a virtual event; for example, conferences, product launches, and trade shows can be classified as a virtual event. Much like a webinar, attendees can register for the virtual event, and attend from anywhere in the world.

Read and Learn: How to Harness Webinars for a 2X Pipeline Boost

The 7 differences between virtual events & webinars 

1. Virtual events are multi-dimensional. webinars focus on one big topic.

Webinars are great for guests who are looking to receive more information on one certain topic. Webinars typically have one speaker who presents their findings to the group, with a small discussion at the end, and usually doesn’t focus on more than one topic per webinar. 

On the other hand, virtual events focus on copying  in-person experiences! The only difference is that the virtual event is now being held online. For example, if you were to host a conference in person, your guests can go from room to room experiencing different topics, chats, and networking sessions. With a virtual event, like a conference, you can create these chats, networking sessions, and breakout rooms right within the virtual event! Attendees are able to customize their day at the virtual event, much like they would if they were attending an event in person. Different topics can be held at the same time with virtual events.

2. Webinars provide minimal attendee data. virtual events go more in-depth in terms of data.

When it comes to obtaining attendee data, you need to gather the correct information to determine if your event is a success or not. If you have no data, or not the right data, your event might be seen as a success by upper management and stakeholders. With a webinar, event hosts are able to see who of the registered attendees attended the event, as well as how long they stayed and what questions they asked. According to Webinar Care, 82% of people like question-and-answer sessions at the end of a webinar. This information is useful but doesn’t give much insight in terms of what they participated in. 

Because there are more things to do, there is much more data to collect from a virtual event. There are better content options for attendees to watch and engage with, and that information can be tracked for event hosts. For virtual events, hosts have the ability to change the format, so the metrics they want to track can be customized as attendees enter each breakout room.

3. Webinars provide group data while virtual events provide account level insights.

As discussed above, webinars only give event hosts certain data and information, and it’s not particularly in-depth information. Webinars track which attendees came into the event, how long they attended, and even how they interacted with the event. Event hosts can see if the event was successful by how much the attendees interacted with the event. 

On the other hand, virtual events have the ability to track every single step that an attendee takes within the event! Virtual events, whatever type they are, can track everything a guest does, down to the clicks that they make. Event hosts can see the data from each attendee, in every aspect of the virtual event. For example, some aspects that can be tracked are sessions viewed, polls answered, every conversation they engaged in, and even every download from the event. Event hosts will have a better picture of whether their event was successful and how the attendee enjoyed each aspect! One thing to keep in mind is that if there is no data collected, from either a webinar or a virtual event, you cannot determine if your event was a success.

Gathering virtual event data

4. Virtual events are great for engagement, while webinars keep the engagement simple.

When attendees sign up for webinars, they know that they are going to attend an event that is on the shorter side and will be full of information. There is typically a discussion or a Q&A session at the end of the event, but other than that, there isn’t much engagement. However, some attendees might like this! They might attend the webinar just to receive the information that is being given and then go about their day once the webinar is over. 

If you are looking for events that have higher engagement with either the hosts or other attendees, then choosing a virtual event might be right for you. With a virtual event, attendees have the chance to bounce from room to room, engaging with the activities happening in each room. These rooms can be live speaking sessions, sales booths, or networking events. Attendees can chat with other attendees within these rooms, which can help with expanding their professional network!

5. Virtual events tell your brand story. Webinars stick to the topic at hand.

Webinars and webinar hosts have a task at hand, and that is to deliver the information to the attendees in a short period of time. Webinar hosts usually don’t stray far away from the topic at hand. 

Virtual events, however, have the ability to tell your brand’s story throughout the entire event. Virtual events have the flexibility and creativity to make the event personalized to the event, in turn telling a story. Virtual event hosts can be creative with the way the information is presented, which can be fun and engaging for the attendees! Webinars can still be fun for the attendees as well, with the understanding that the format of the webinar is standard to a presentation-style event. 

6. Webinars are different from virtual events. 

As we have discussed in this guide, webinars are different from virtual events. This doesn’t mean that one is necessarily better than the other; it all depends on your event goals and what you wish to achieve! If you wish to have an event where a presenter presents their information to a crowd and answers a few questions, then you will want to choose a webinar. 

If one of your event goals is to have attendees engage with one another, attend mini workshops or attend a conference, then a virtual event would be the way to go! With virtual events, there are more things to do, in terms of your attendees personalizing their virtual event day. Webinars are shorter in duration, as the information that is being presented is minimal and can be done within a few hours.

7. Webinars are very specific.

Webinars are very specific to the topic being presented; they do not shy away from the topic at hand, as the information being presented is enough to fill the majority of the event time. With the discussion at the end of the webinar, guests can interact with the hosts and ask them any questions they may have. Within your webinar, there may be people gathering from all across the globe, as they want to receive the information being presented. It’s estimated that 77% of the webinar market’s revenue comes from North America. The information being presented to the attendees is limited to the topic at hand, and if there is another topic that needs to be discussed, you can plan another webinar. 

Virtual events have the potential to broaden the topics they are with their attendees. For example, if you were to host an in-person conference, there would be times throughout the conference when attendees would be in different locations, talking to different people about a variety of topics. You can still do this within virtual events! You have the capability to create breakout sessions, conference rooms, and networking rooms for your guests to talk about the subjects at hand.

Presenting questions during a virtual event

Virtual events vs webinars: which one should you use?

Webinars Virtual Events
Target Audience Guests who want to learn about one certain topic, smaller audience, guests who aren’t looking for much engagement Guests who are looking for engagement from both hosts and other attendees, guests who want to learn about several topics
Purpose Educate guests on one specific topic, have attendees ask questions about topic Have several rooms with many topics going at once, guests can create their own event experience like an in-person event
Data To Track Who attended the webinar, what did they do within the event, what questions did they ask Track every click, every session, every download from attendees, more articulate
Features One group meeting, big or small, engagement with the webinar host only Breakout rooms, small networking sessions, polls, sales booths
Size Webinars licenses can host up to 50,000 attendees at a time, anyone can join from anywhere in the world As many people can join virtual events as possible, hosts have the ability to break the large
Timing Webinars usually last around 60-90 minutes, including any discussion time or Q&A sessions Virtual events are like in-person events, so they could last all day, to multiple days like a conference or retreat
Attendees Whoever registers for the event can attend the webinar Like webinars, anyone who registers can attend, attendees can also be invited by the event hosts if the attendee is in their target audience or demographic

The Differences of Virtual Events vs Webinars 

Corporate events are important to the growth and development of your team and your target audience! Whether those events are webinars or any type of virtual event, your attendees will walk away from the event with knowledge and insights about your company. Your event goals should reflect how you plan your event and what type of event you want to have. If you need help deciding on which type of event to plan, reach out to a virtual event-hosting platform to help you plan everything right from the beginning. Hubilo is a event-hosting platform that can help you plan and execute your event, whether it's a webinar, breakout session, or networking event. With their comprehensive features and solutions, you can be sure that your attendees will leave with the most knowledge possible. Request a demo today to learn more about how Hubilo can help you create a successful virtual event.

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Hubilo is the webinar platform built for marketers that helps you 2X your pipeline. Founded in 2015, Hubilo's powerful engagement features, dedicated client experience team, and custom branding tools have helped create over 12K virtual events & webinars, creating hundreds of millions of minutes of high-engagement experiences and counting. Headquartered in Bengaluru and San Francisco, Hubilo's 200+ employees are dedicated to enabling webinars & virtual events that convert.

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