Why Webinars Fail

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.

About the Author

As managing partner and chief strategy officer for Right Source, Mike Sweeney is responsible for all content marketing initiatives, including growing the company’s content marketing practice, guiding all client content marketing strategy, and recruiting and growing a team of modern marketers. Mike received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in marketing from the University of Notre Dame. You can find Mike on Twitter and Google+, connect with him on LinkedIn, or read his other posts.

  • The #1 reason why webinars fail for me is that they’re not at at time that I can attend them… I’m simply too busy in the middle of the day. So my #1 tip for webinar producers is to RECORD them, then make them accessible through their resource library section on their website.

  • This, of course, begs the question that most B2B marketers end up having to ask themselves – do I make someone leave me contact information in order to watch the recorded webinar, or do I let anyone view it? A part of me wonders if we’re headed in the direction – it may take 3-5 years to get there – where the majority of business-oriented content will be offered for free and without any “registration” walls preventing access to this content.

We’re always looking for exceptional, new Right Source talent. See Career Options