I group webinars into three categories: lead generating webinars, product demo (sales) webinars, and customer success / expansion webinars.
Lead generating webinars
Lead generating webinars appeal to a broad audience and are intended to attract people earlier in the sales cycle, convert anonymous people into leads, and help establish the company as a leader in the industry.
These play a similar role as whitepapers, etc., in terms attracting new leads and building marketing lists. These are typically higher-effort than some of the other materials, because they require good content and presentation skills, and are less able to be outsourced, but can be great.
One benefit of webinars is that they are date driven, which can be both a marketing boon and an extra challenge. Unlike a whitepaper or other lead gen piece, when you commit to doing a webinar, you need a solid marketing plan as well. Even though it'll be available as an on-demand webinar after, to take advantage of the time pressure, you want to have as many people in the initial audience as possible.
Product demo webinars
Product demo webinars are just that – demos of a product or an aspect of the product. These are typically for people later in the sales cycle.
Every company should do these, if possible, on a standing, periodic basis. I love the idea of having a monthly 20-min demo of the product led by sales reps/SEs. It forces the company to really nail down demos, and get the sales reps good at giving them.
Promote these as part of your outbound lead gen efforts, in SDR email signatures, as a lower-commitment option for people earlier in the sales cycle.
Customer success product webinars
The final big bucket of webinars is aimed at current customers and generally focus on helping customers optimize their use of the product. We always want our customers to maximize their use of the product and leverage all its features – the more they use, the more committed to the product they are, and the lower our churn is.
There's plenty of overlap between these categories, but they have specific and definite audiences, different marketing requirements, and different goals.
As companies grow and begin webinar programs, it's important to have clarity around the goals and audience to ensure its success. Hopefully this helps.