During the Covid-19 pandemic, webinars have become one of the best tools for generating leads, accelerating the pipeline, and the transfer of knowledge to customers. The trend is likely to continue as marketers come to rely on webinars to engage with their key audiences. Today, simply giving a webinar isn’t enough. To stand out, you have to deliver a really great webinar.
What makes a successful webinar?
For webinar audiences, success is defined by the value of the content and the quality of the experience. For webinar producers, success may be defined by the number of attendees and the quality of the leads. Unfortunately, even with clearly defined goals, many webinars fall short of success. So, how to avoid the 10 most common webinar mistakes.
MISTAKE 1: THE 1-WEEK EMAIL PROMOTION
Due to poor planning or a well-meaning but misguided desire to cut down on emails, many companies limit their webinar promotions to around one week. These companies typically drop an initial email invitation seven days in advance, sometimes followed by a second promotion a day or two before the presentation. But leaving promotions to the week before your webinar may mean you miss out on a lot of attendees. Benchmark data shows that up to 42% of people who register for webinars sign up more than eight days in advance.
The art of driving webinar registration is all about catching people at a moment of receptivity with a message that resonates with them. Extending webinar promotions beyond a week and delivering multiple messages and email types will increase your chance of successfully hitting that moment of receptivity.
MISTAKE 2: FAILURE TO OPTIMIZE REGISTRATION AND CONFIRMATION PAGES
Research shows that only 48% of people who click “register now” will complete the registration form. Why are marketers losing more than half their prospective audience members at the point of registration?
Companies often ask for too much information on the registration form. Design a simple form that only captures the basic demographic information you need to determine whether a prospect is right for you.
Attendees need visual confirmation that this registration page is the same event they saw in the promo — yet often there is a visual mismatch from promotion to registration.
Assure your prospects they are in the right place by using consistent colours, imagery, and language in all your materials, including banner ads, social media, emails, and landing pages.
Enable social sharing. Embed Twitter, Facebook, and other social tools directly in the confirmation page so registrants can tweet or post that they just signed up for your webinar.
Provide a quick and easy way to put your webinar on the business calendar, if not the chances are that your prospects will double-book or miss your event. Calendaring tools dramatically improve registration-to-attendee conversion rates.
MISTAKE 3: THE VANILLA WEBINAR CONSOLE
It’s easy to think of your webinar attendees as a captive audience, but they can log out as easily as they logged in. When you ask your customers and prospects to attend a webinar, you are asking them to stare at a fixed location for up to an hour. If that location is not visually engaging, they probably won’t stick around.
A great webinar console helps you retain the focus and attention of your audience throughout your presentation. It also provides an opportunity to reinforce your branding and top-line message. You should highlight the company and event logo and display the presenter’s top-line message at the top of the screen. If attendees remember nothing else, they’ll remember your key message after staring at it for an hour.
MISTAKE 4: LEAVING YOUR AUDIENCE OUT OF THE CONVERSATION
Audience interactivity is one of the most important advantages of webinar technology. It’s no longer acceptable to ask attendees to stare at a static screen for up to an hour without giving them a chance to engage. Stop thinking about webinars as a way to deliver a presentation and start thinking about them as a way to have a conversation.
Take every opportunity to open up the lines of communication with your audience:
Live Q&A consistently ranks as the most widely used interactive tool in the webinar experience. It is a great way to directly engage with your audience and address their questions, comments, and interests in real time.
Webinar polling is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. It lets presenters directly engage with viewers, gives the audience something to do, ensures viewers are paying attention, supplies an important snapshot of your audience’s interests, and enables attendees to benchmark themselves against their peer’s votes.
Most people are used to sharing their thoughts and reactions with their social networks in real time. They are going to do it anyway; rather than forcing them to leave your webinar to access their social platforms, give them the tools to share directly from your console and keep them in your webinar.
Allowing audience members to converse directly with each other during the presentation generates additional discussion about your topic.
Group collaboration and idea generation. These tools let you present ideas for audiences to vote, rank, and comment on, keeping the conversation flowing throughout the presentation.
MISTAKE 5: DEATH BY 1,000 BULLETS
Want to bore your audience to death? Give them PowerPoint slides crammed with line after line of text. Soon they will tune out to check email, talk to a colleague and, eventually, exit the presentation.
Presenters have long struggled with the problem of excessive text. More words do not strengthen your message they weaken it. Visuals support the story, not convey it word for word. Build visually interesting slides that put the focus on powerful images, then support those images with a few bullets that highlight key points.
MISTAKE 6: SELLING, NOT HELPING
No one wants to be pitched. Audiences come to your webinars to get answers to pressing problems and to consider new ideas.
Great webinars solve problems. There’s nothing to say you cannot address your products or solutions — you can, just do it from the angle of how it solves a problem.
MISTAKE 7: THE CELL PHONE PRESENTER
Poor quality audio is a webinar killer. There is no quicker way to get audience members to drop off of your webinars than poor audio quality.
Audio quality is simply too important to leave to chance. Follow these important guidelines to ensure great audio:
Never use cell phones or speaker phones.
Use a good-quality handset or headset.
Present in a small room, since big rooms often have an echo.
Turn off air conditioning, heaters, or other noisy devices; you may think they can’t be heard over the phone line, but they can.
If your cell phone is in the room, turn it off so it doesn’t ring during the presentation.
If you are using a room in your office building, place a DO NOT DISTURB sign prominently on the door so coworkers
don’t barge in unexpectedly.
Mute the volume on your computer speakers.
Sound-check every presenter and guest speaker 30 minutes before the webinar, so you have time to address any issues with audio quality.
MISTAKE 8: NOT RESPECTING YOUR AUDIENCE’S TIME
When someone signs up for your webinar, you enter into a pact in which you promise to present the stated content within a specified period of time. If you exceed that time, you break your attendees’ trust, and they may not come back.
1] Do not exceed the advertised webinar length.
2] Schedule your webinar length based on your content.
3] Start on time. Any delay longer than two or three minutes, abuses the time of waiting attendees.
4] Allow ample time for the Q&A.
5] Finish early if necessary. Don’t be afraid to end your webinar early. Your audience won’t think less of you — they will thank you and appreciate getting a few minutes back.
MISTAKE 9: NOT HAVING AN ON-DEMAND STRATEGY
We are undergoing a major change in the way audiences take in content. There are two trends driving the increase in on-demand viewing:
1] Mobility is changing the way people absorb webinar content. Now that most webinar platforms support mobile viewing, registrants are free to view your content when it is most convenient for them. Since most people don’t have a lot of time during the day, they are choosing to watch at off times, such as during long commutes, on mobile devices.
2] The increasingly global nature of business means international audiences, scattered across multiple time zones and continents, are viewing your webinar content. This makes it impossible for everyone to attend live. A borderless audience means your webinars have to be available on-demand for instant viewing, anytime, on any device.
With on-demand viewing providing such a massive opportunity to extend the life of your webinar, marketers must have a strategy to not only archive the event but to promote it beyond the end of the live date.
Here are five best practices for promoting your on-demand webinars:
Ensure your webinars are available within 48 hours of the live event.
Notify all registrants, not just those who missed the webinar, that the archive is available, and include a link to the on-demand event.
Host the link to the archived content on your web site.
Send the link to your sales department so they can promote it to their prospects.
Use the results of the live event to promote your archived event; for example, if you have an interesting poll result, use it to pique prospects’ interest and draw them to the archive.
MISTAKE 10: TREATING ALL LEADS EQUALLY
Many organizations fall into the bad habit of taking all the leads from a webinar and dumping them into the CRM system, essentially handing them over to the sales department without any pre-qualification. All leads are not created equal, and effective lead scoring can increase the value of your leads and the success of your sales follow-up.
One of the marketing benefits of webinars is that they provide a wealth of data on the interests of attendees. Intelligent lead scoring simply requires a process to evaluate and score leads based on two primary criteria:
1] Basic registration data. Registration data is your chance to find out whether a prospect is right for you.
2] Behavioural data. The increased level of interactivity in webinars not only serves to engage the audience, but it also provides a wealth of data on the interests of your attendees. Behavioural data can include viewing duration, content downloaded, questions asked, results of polls and surveys, social media engagement, and more.
Registration data combined with an engagement score can provide you with a set of basic parameters to establish whether a lead requires immediate follow-up or further qualification. By simply prioritizing the stronger leads, you will increase the effectiveness of your sales efforts and the ROI of your webinars.