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Survey: webinars outperform...but WHY?

The 14th Annual Content Marketing Survey from Content Marketing Insititute and MarketingProfs AGAIN included a statistic that, year after year, shines brightly on the power of virtual events.

For B2B marketers, webinars and virtual events aren't the only way to reach an audience. Obviously. But this year's survey ranks webinars as second only to in-person events in a list of "distribution channels that produce the best results for B2B marketers."

But WHY? Why do webinars consistently outperform other channels?

The "secret sauce" of webinars, like in-person events, is real time human a discount

This bubbles up year after year, including this year's survey -- we love our in-person events, but webinars come in right behind them. And we here at V2 get it... maximum human connection happens when people are together. But in-person events are (by a long way) the most expensive way to build and nurture leads and clients for B2B marketers, and getting the job done well at a discount to the cost is a killer way to get more done with less.

Webinars potentially produce a stunning amount of unique data

A lot of marketing channels give you data, but it's hard to bubble up information about things like behavioral intent. A webinar, by comparison, has a lifecycle -- you have an opportunity to bubble up actional insight from not only registration, but also live polls, chat, Q&A, widgets, and post event surveys. (You should particularly ask us about the work we do in this category using the ON24 platform). In short, the data that fuels B2B decision making, pre-sales efforts, or sales efforts, can be deeper and richer than other distribution channels.

The science behind webinar video is in your favor

Live, real-time video conferencing now has scientific evidence spanning fields such as psychology, neuroscience, and communication. A VERY brief list of known advantages relative to other media include

  1. Transmission of nonverbal cues, enhancing both understanding and emotional connection

  2. Increased sense of social presence, leading to more meaningful interactions

  3. Empathy, leading to trust

  4. Immediate feedback, enabling clarification and improved communication

Obviously in-person events bear these advantages relative to other distribution channels, too. But the power of video may be why marketers rank webinars second only to in-person events in effectiveness.

I did a quick ChatGPT query, and it came back with a host of sources you can review below.

The science behind the power of a human voice is in your favor

The argument for the persuasiveness of the human voice is similarly powerful -- you obviously don't hear an actual human voice in other distribution channels.

Similarly, I did a ChatGPT query (resource list down below), and its summary of findings included

  1. Emotional conveyance that builds empathy and understanding

  2. Neural resonance that activates areas of the brain associated with social cognition and empathy

  3. Trust and persuasion influenced by perceptions of trustworthiness and persuasiveness, particularly when speakers use a confident and warm tone of voice

  4. Memory and recall, particularly when combined with visual elements, are enhanced, leading to strengthened connections

The bottom line

The principle is simple -- people connect with people. And that's not telling B2B marketers anything they didn't already know.

But when we ask a question -- Why do webinars keep getting rated above other distribution channels? -- year after year, it's easy to transform seeing it as "just another channel" and see webinars as facilitating human connectedness.



  1. Burgoon, J. K., Guerrero, L. K., & Floyd, K. (2016). Nonverbal Communication. Routledge.

  2. Mehrabian, A. (1971). Silent Messages: Implicit Communication of Emotions and Attitudes. Wadsworth.

  3. Biocca, F., Harms, C., & Burgoon, J. K. (2003). Toward a more robust theory and measure of social presence: Review and suggested criteria. Presence: Teleoperators & Virtual Environments, 12(5), 456-480.

  4. Stephens, G. J., Silbert, L. J., & Hasson, U. (2010). Speaker–listener neural coupling underlies successful communication. Nature Neuroscience, 13(11), 144-151.

  5. Sherer, M., & Rogers, R. W. (1984). The role of vivid information in fear appeals and attitude change. Journal of Research in Personality, 18(3), 321-334.

  6. Hwang, T. J., Rabheru, K., Peisah, C., Reichman, W., & Ikeda, M. (2020). Loneliness and social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. International Psychogeriatrics, 32(10), 1217-1220.

  7. Liu, L., Gou, Z., & Zuo, J. (2016). Social support mediates loneliness and depression in elderly people. Journal of Health Psychology, 21(5), 750-758.

  8. Olson, J. S., & Olson, G. M. (2000). Distance matters. Human-Computer Interaction, 15(2-3), 139-178.

  9. Hrastinski, S. (2008). Asynchronous and synchronous e-learning. Educause Quarterly, 31(4), 51-55.

  10. Wiederhold, B. K. (2020). Connecting through technology during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic: Avoiding “zoom fatigue”. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 23(7), 437-438.

  11. Bavelas, J. B., & Chovil, N. (2000). Visible acts of meaning: An integrated message model of language in face-to-face dialogue. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 19(2), 163-194.

  12. Berry, G. R. (2011). Enhancing effectiveness on virtual teams: Understanding why traditional team skills are insufficient. Journal of Business Communication, 48(2), 186-206.


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  2. Scherer, K. R. (2003). Vocal communication of emotion: A review of research paradigms. *Speech Communication, 40*(1-2), 227-256.

  3. Stephens, G. J., Silbert, L. J., & Hasson, U. (2010). Speaker–listener neural coupling underlies successful communication. *Nature Neuroscience, 13*(11), 144-151.

  4. Feldman, R., Gordon, I., & Zagoory-Sharon, O. (2011). The role of oxytocin in parent-infant bonding and the development of social reciprocity. *Journal of Neural Transmission, 118*(9), 1121-1131.

  5. Biocca, F., Harms, C., & Burgoon, J. K. (2003). Toward a more robust theory and measure of social presence: Review and suggested criteria. *Presence: Teleoperators & Virtual Environments, 12*(5), 456-480.

  6. Cooper, R. P., & Aslin, R. N. (1990). Preference for infant-directed speech in the first month after birth. *Child Development, 61*(5), 1584-1595.

  7. Smith, R. E., & De Houwer, J. (2020). The impact of voice on persuasion: The role of pitch, speed, and emphasis. *Psychological Science, 31*(8), 1040-1050.

  8. Paivio, A. (1991). Dual coding theory: Retrospect and current status. *Canadian Journal of Psychology, 45*(3), 255-287.


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