In this time of lockdowns and work-from-home measures, the webinar has come into favour as a safe, simple and low-cost way to collect target audience data and generate leads.
But many are finding that the format’s popularity may be its undoing. Consumers are simply becoming annoyed by the clutter of invitations flooding their inboxes every day, and turned off by the numbing sameness of the webinars themselves.
The effects of webinar fatigue are precisely the results marketers don’t want: a growing drop-off rate, eroding customer satisfaction and poorer brand perception. But there are ways to fight it off.
Here are a few tips for creating webinars that actually deliver the goods.
1. Time for effect
In April to June 2020, I personally observed that the turnout rate for webinars held during office hours was commonly 70 per cent or more. Since July, with lockdown rules being relaxed and working from home becoming the new normal, the turnout rate has dropped to 30-40 per cent.
The lesson here is that timing is critical. Rather than slotting your webinar in during the audience’s office hours, consider whether they may be more receptive to an evening or weekend session.
2. Talk with, not to
Nobody likes being preached to, and an online audience is especially prone to just switch off the moment they feel you’ve droned on for too long. Treating your webinar as a dialogue, inviting interaction through Q&A sessions, live chat, polls, etc, will help keep your audience awake and interested.
3. Make data decisions
Webinars offer a fantastic scope for data collection. Every data point from every part of the journey can be tracked, helping you to follow up leads, reach more potential clients, accurately analyse customers, and generate useful remarketing data. It’s all yours – if you collect the right data.
So what should you collect? Start by developing a clear idea of what insights you wish to gain. For example, if your webinar’s ultimate objective is to attract potential clients and generate business, a simple question on the registration form about respondents’ key concerns might yield what you’re looking for. There’s no reason to limit yourself to the usual ‘name, company, email address’ questions.
4. Exploit the medium
A major cause of boring webinars is a failure of their creators to think of them as anything more than a sales pitch that happens to be online. In fact, the medium offers limitless scope to get imaginative and give the audience a compelling experience that will create real marketing value.
Think of it as a movie. Have you ever watched one so absorbing that you couldn’t tear yourself away from the screen? Why shouldn’t a webinar audience feel the same way? So let’s extend the cinematic theme into a framework for webinar success:
All of the above show how building a personal experience can pay off for marketers.
5. Make it interesting from the start
Now picture yourself receiving a drop-shop webinar invitation pack. Once you’ve registered, a photo-realistic avatar is custom-created for you and transported into the ‘movie scene’ that you can share on social media.
Then as you enter the webinar, you find yourself exploring a whole virtual world – it could be anything from a playground in the clouds to an indoor beach or haunted house – while you learn more about the content along the way.
6. Leverage technology to interact with your audience
In some webinars, you might be invited to take out your phone and co-create the launch mechanism through augmented reality. The one-hour session might end with a lucky draw to ensure you leave smiling.
For webinars and live events alike, planning and vision are the keys to success. Throw away the cookie-cutter and those stale sales pitches and get thinking about creating something that stands out, that uses the medium, and that’s honed in every respect to deliver the outcome you need.