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From the Trenches

Why Webinars Fail

Mike Sweeney | November 20, 2008

I sat in on a particularly terrible webinar today, and it left me scratching my head.  The host company usually nails these types of events, but today was a complete mess.  A mess at the beginning, a mess in the middle, and a mess at the end.  Makes you wonder why I stuck around, doesn’t it?  Me too.  Nonetheless, it inspired the following simple list of reasons why webinars fail:

  • Technical problems: Come on folks.  If you’re going to run a webinar, test the technology beforehand.  Use a reputable vendor.  If attendees can’t join your meeting or can’t view your presentation, it’s over before it even started.
  • Too Salesy: We all understand that webinars are designed to start or continue a sales cycle.  But if you advertise the webinar as educational, don’t beat us over the head with 10 “About Us” slides to kick things off.
  • Content Isn’t As Advertised: The simplest one of all.  If your webinar was advertised as “Best Practices in Email Marketing” and the title of your actual presentation is “Social Media for 2009 and Beyond”, that’s like buying a ticket for one movie and being forced to watch another movie instead.
  • No Concrete Examples: Educate me on the basics, then provide me with real examples I can latch on to.  I may not remember the basics, but you can bet I will remember that Aurora Widgets Company used the solution to increase revenue 10x in 2008.
  • Don’t Read the Slides: Presentation 101.  Inject some enthusiasm.  Pretend you’re going off script even if you’re not.  Do anything to make me believe you’re thinking while you’re presenting, and not just reading slides.
  • Don’t Run Over:  If the webinar is advertised as 45 minutes, make it 35.  If it’s advertised as 30 minutes, make it 20.  Many webinar attendees are interested in the typical Q&A session that occurs at the end of the session, but if you run over on the standard part, they may miss the only portion they really cared about in the first place.

If you provide compelling content, market your webinar appropriately, and avoid these mistakes, the webinar can be a very effective lead generation and nurturing tool.  If you aren’t willing to pay enough attention to these areas, then don’t run webinars.  It’s that simple.

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