How to Avoid 3 Common Webinar Problems

By Sharat Sharan, John Carucci

Not all webinar problems are related to the actual presentation. In fact, many mistakes are made in the early stages and resonate until the end. In order to put on a successful webinar and draw the most participants, it’s important to understand the common mistakes and avoid them upfront.

How to avoid single promotion webinar problems

If your dental hygienist didn’t send a reminder for your next cleaning as the date drew near, chances are you could forget the appointment. The same holds true for a webinar. Unfortunately, some marketers send out their e-mail list just once and settle for the results. Studies show that attendance can increase when sending multiple e-mails at least seven days before the event.

Although it’s commonplace for some organizations to kick off a webinar in seven days or less, it’s usually not a good idea. This approach involves sending the invitation a week before the webinar and then following up a few days before. But studies show that audience size increases by 36 percent when you start promoting the event more than one week before.

By changing to a two-week promotional strategy, you can bring in more participants as well as work several angles to register them. Your first invitation could be HTML — that’s when it’s formatted like a web page and includes pictures, graphics, and color — and focus on the event at a high level.

The second might be plain text — less razzle-dazzle, but certainly readable on any device — that zeroes in on featured speakers or content. 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 e-mail types increase your chance of successfully hitting that moment of receptivity.

How to avoid a too vanilla webinar console

If your console is too vanilla — you know, with a boring layout and few controls — maybe you’re shortchanging your participant of the full experience. Think about it for a second — actually, think about it longer. After all, you’re asking them to stare at a screen for an hour. If that location is not visually engaging, you will see them drop off quicker than flies around a bug lamp.

So what makes a great console? In the abstract, it’s one that helps retain audience focus and attention throughout your presentation. But more specifically, it provides an opportunity to reinforce your branding and message. Remember, a well-designed console will engage your attendees and establish your brand.

To keep them interested, every console should include the following:

  • Your corporate logo and color scheme: That should be clear to viewers from the start.

  • 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.

  • Appealing graphics: Make the background of your webinar console visually appealing by using bold colors, images, and graphics. The console is your pallet upon which you overlay the audience experience.

How to help your webinar audience and not take advantage

Aside from the occasional giggle, no one wants to sit and watch a snake-oil salesman do his thing, especially when an audience member registers for your webinar expecting to be helped. The looking-to-be-informed masses come to your presentation for answers to their pressing problems, or to consider new ideas.

Now, what do you think happens when they realize they’re just being pitched? That’s right: They leave in droves. And that’s sad because you are missing a valuable opportunity to establish credibility and earn trust.

Instead, you must offer prospective participants new ways to think about their toughest business problems. When you’re direct and helpful, you establish yourself as a trusted advisor — a position that ultimately will enable you to more effectively present your solutions, products, or services.

Although your webinar should help them with topics such as “5 Keys to a Successful (insert name here)” or “How to Optimize (something),” it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t address your product or service. Just do it from a perspective that helps solve their problem, rather than just making a sale.

Many companies conduct webinar product demonstrations, targeting serious buyers. These so-called “deminars” can be highly effective, but the audiences must know what they’ve signed up for. Don’t pull a bait-and-switch.

You know: Attract an audience with the promise of addressing a specific business problem but then give that problem a mere surface-level treatment before jumping right into a detailed product pitch. This tactic will backfire quicker than a 1978 Chevrolet Impala on a tank of bad gas. Plus, they won’t trust you anymore and will delete your future e-mails.