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7 webinar mistakes (and how to avoid them)

If you’re getting ready to launch a webinar, you’ll want to learn from these top 7 webinar mistakes and discover how to avoid them.

May 28, 2019 by Cyn Meyer

You’ve spent weeks perfecting your webinar presentation and you’re getting ready to promote it.

You picture the moment you go live with your webinar and suddenly, you wonder, “What am I missing?”

And, “Am I even ready?”

After all, this is your first time presenting a webinar, so you want to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.

You abruptly feel a bout of nervousness arise.

There’s no need to panic. Just because you don’t have the first-hand experience yet, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn from the mistakes of others.

Today, we share with you seven of the biggest webinar mistakes and how you can avoid them, so you can rest assured your webinar goes as smoothly as possible.

Ready? Let’s get straight to the mistakes.

What are the biggest webinar mistakes and how do you avoid them?

#1. Your webinar isn’t interactive

A big mistake presenters make is not making their webinar experience interactive enough, running the risk of deserted webinars and sales.

Sure, the format of a webinar itself is interactive, but it’s important to go beyond that and capitalize on making your attendees’ experience as engaging as possible.

After all, you want to stand out from the rest, and interacting with your audience is an impactful way to accomplish that. In fact, 88% of marketers claim interactive content differentiates them from their competitors.

A great way you can do this is to use your platform’s group chat feature. Not only can you ask your audience questions, but they can also see each other’s responses and engage in an active dialogue.

These days, live chat is the preferred digital contact method, with 42% of customers preferring the channel.

Another way to interact with your attendees is to include a Q&A, which is typically scheduled for the end of your webinar presentation.

Just be sure to inform your attendees there’s a chance to ask questions if they stay until the end. Not only will this entice them to watch your entire webinar, but 92% of your attendees actually want a live Q&A session at the end.

A final tip for creating an interactive webinar is to be entertaining and clear in your communication. 32% of attendees feel the most engaged when the webinar host is passionate and energetic.

However, here comes the caveat to that: It’s vital to heed to what you’re passionate and energetic about.

If it’s delivering helpful content, great. If it’s to sell your product, think again -- that’s our next mistake to avoid.

#2. Your webinar is too salesy

Do you want to listen to a sales pitch in your free time? I’d guess the answer is a resounding “no”.

Your audience feels the same way. Being too salesy during your webinar presentation can, and most likely will, lead to the opposite of what you’re going for and diminish your sales.  

As a general rule, if you think you’re being too pushy with your sales pitch, it’s likely your attendees will think so as well and at a greater extreme. After all, while only 17% of salespeople think of themselves as pushy, 50% of prospective customers say otherwise.

You can avoid this mistake by focusing on providing educational, valuable information. And if you can make your tips actionable, even better.

After all, good business is about solving your audience’s problems, so make it a priority instead of spending too much time pitching your product or service.

That’s not to say you can’t sell in your webinar, however. It just means you should focus on providing valuable solutions to your audience first. Your content will resonate better among your attendees, and the sales will follow.  

Coincidentally, our next mistake also speaks to how your audience absorbs your presentation.  

#3. You don’t have a well-designed presentation

Webinar hosts often make the mistake of not having a well-designed presentation that engages the audience. This can result in people abandoning the webinar early, forgetting the presentation, and ultimately, not purchasing the offer.

Not a happy outcome, but not an unavoidable one, either.

In fact, the solution is easy:

Keep copy brief on your slides and use a lot of images, and above all, avoid using your slidedeck as a teleprompter.

Otherwise, the presentation won’t be half as memorable as you want. Your attendees will remember 65% of your webinar info in you use both oral and visual content, whereas they’ll retain only 10% if they only hear a piece of information.

To make an even greater impact, lean on storytelling throughout your webinar. Messages told as stories are up to 22 times more memorable than facts.

Four things that happen in your brain during a good storytelling session are:

  • Neural coupling - It allows listeners to turn the story into their own ideas and experiences
  • Mirroring - Listeners experience similar brain activity to each other and the presenter
  • Dopamine release - Emotionally-charged experiences increase dopamine levels, making them easier to remember
  • Cortex activity - Increased processing in the cortex leads to greater memory

Pretty cool stuff, right?

The main takeaway is to engage your audience with a compelling presentation that includes audio, visual, and storytelling elements.

OK, that covers the content of your webinar. Now, let’s learn from some logistical mistakes.

#4. Your webinar is scheduled at the wrong time

Another mistake presenters make is they schedule their webinar at the wrong time, and hence, don’t attract sufficient registrations and attendees.

How can you avoid this? Start by following these guidelines from veteran webinar hosts.

The first of which is this: If you're hosting a series of webinars, schedule them at the same time each week, preferably on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

According to a GoToWebinar survey, 24% of people register on Tuesday, which is more than any other day. However, Livestorm’s poll claims the best days to host are on Wednesday and Thursday.

Regardless, all three days appear to be the most-attended days of the week.

As for the best time to present, WebinarNinja recommends hosting your webinar between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in your audience’s primary time zone to capture the most attendees.

Regardless of the day or time you choose for your webinar, take the time to test various calendar slots and adjust to your specific audience’s preference.

After all, every audience is different. Golden rules are a great place to start, but they are just that -- a start, and not a conclusion.

The only hard line for when to launch or present is to respect your audience’s time. As long as you’re doing that, you’re on the right path.

If you’re not, on the other hand, then you may be making our next misstep.

#5. You didn’t respect your audience’s time

Not respecting your audience’s time is another mistake webinar hosts make, which can lead to annoying your attendees and diminishing your credibility.  

To steer clear of this one, start and end your webinar on time.

Seriously, that’s the biggest thing.

Other than that, it’s worth keeping conventions in mind for choosing the run length of your webinar.

BrightTALK, a webinar platform which services some of the biggest names in marketing, records an average webinar length of 39 minutes, so try to hit the sweet spot somewhere between 45 and 60 minutes.

This is a statistic corroborated by other major webinar platforms, as well. GoToWebinar found similar results with their service, noting that 58% of webinars fall between 45 and 60 minutes.

The gist of it is this:

People don’t mind longer webinars, so you definitely can (and should) include specific and detail-oriented guidance and instruction for your attendees.

Just be sure to practice your webinar so you know exactly how long your presentation lasts and how much time you have for a closing Q&A section (which you’ve learned is a must-have). This will help you avoid starting and ending late so your attendees can go about their day.

But what if you’ve done that and your webinar registration and attendance are still abysmally low? In that case, you’re probably sidestepping too close to the sixth mistake: not marketing your event enough.

#6. You didn’t promote your webinar enough

Another mistake presenters make is they don’t get the word out about their webinar enough, which leads to less than desirable registration and attendee results.

It’s recommended you promote your webinar as early as four weeks leading up to your presentation; note, however, 69% of your registrations are likely to happen one week prior and a whopping 33% occur the day of your webinar.

In other words, it’s essential to promote your webinar all the way up to the day of your webinar.

Some proven ways to promote your webinar are:

#1. Include an “add to calendar” tool and send reminders

By sending calendar reminders and including a feature that allows registrants to add the webinar to their calendars, you can increase your attendance rate. People are busy and may forget to attend otherwise.

#2. Highlight your webinar on your homepage

Another effective way to attract registrants to your webinar is to feature it on your homepage, such as in a sticky bar or highlighted in a chat box.

Chances are visitors to your homepage are somewhat familiar with your brand and are looking to learn more about your topic area already. The training in your webinar is an excellent place for them to learn more about solving their problem.

#3. Blog about your webinar

You can also write and publish an article about your upcoming webinar to encourage registrations. If it’s a recurring evergreen webinar, you can even include registration links at the bottom of your posts, like in this Constant Contact blog article.

If your article content is related to your webinar topic, it’s a natural fit for a reader to register.

#4. Create an informative landing page

Another way to promote your webinar is to ensure your registration landing page is informative, similar to this one from HubSpot about their Future of Content Strategy webinar.

Clearly explain and confirm what your webinar is about to decrease the number of abandonments on your registration page.

#5. Announce it on social media

To increase your exposure to new prospective registrants, use social media posts to announce your webinar, like in this example from General Assembly.

If you have an ad budget allocated to promoting your webinar, Facebook is an effective way to reach more prospective clients. Just be sure to test out various ways of reaching the right audience.

#6. Email your subscriber list

Last, but not least, email marketing is a vital -- and likely the most effective -- tactic to use pre- and post-webinar. Email drives 57% of webinar registrations, which is more than any other channel.

It’s also key to not forget about promoting your webinar even after your presentation is over. A staggering 26% of registrants don’t plan on attending your live webinar and only sign up to watch the recorded version.

All in all:

There are several ways to promote your upcoming webinar, including sending calendar reminders, publishing on your homepage and blog, directing visitors to a helpful landing page, and announcing it on social media.

OK, we’ve covered the pre-webinar details. Our last mistake for you today impacts your post-webinar results.

#7. You didn’t give your audience a gift

A final big mistake webinar hosts make is they don’t reward their attendees with a valuable freebie.

Similar to a lead magnet, offering your attendees a free gift is especially useful for those who are new to your brand. It gives newbies a chance to get acquainted with your business and test out the quality of your product or service.

Whether a free educational ebook, cheat sheet, template, or another digital download, many webinar hosts have caught on to this benefit of offering a gift to their attendees.

An impressive 69% of webinars offer resources for attendees to download or engage with.

(If you’re looking for a seamless way to host and offer your digital products, take advantage of our 14-day free trial and give it a test-drive).

Just like free samples in a restaurant can boost conversions by 25-30%, so can your online sales, and in some cases, as much as 2,000%.

Another added benefit to giving away free content is it creates a sense of reciprocity, which is basically the sense of obligation to return a favor when someone does something nice for you.

In other words, in exchange for your free gift, your audience is likely to feel compelled to say “thank you” by purchasing a product.  

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In sum:

Gift your attendees with something valuable so they walk away with an actionable piece of advice and better impression of your brand. In return, they’ll be more attracted to your offer and likely to make a purchase.

Let your webinar countdown begin

Even if it’s your first time hosting, launching your webinar doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking experience.

There are plenty of presenters who have gone before you, and with their experiences come mistakes you can learn from.

Let’s recap it for you:

  • A big mistake presenters make is not interacting enough with their audience, either through their content or presentation.
  • To reduce your risk of not making any sales, don’t be too pushy during your presentation.
  • Scheduling your webinar at the wrong time and not respecting your audience’s time are another two mistakes that can lead to low attendance and a poor attendee experience.
  • Another misstep hosts make is not promoting their webinar enough, which also leads to low registration and attendance rates.
  • Finally, leaving your registrants empty-handed and without a free gift is another major pitfall to avoid.

While mistakes are bound to happen, as long as you’re steering clear of these seven pitfalls, your webinar is bound to get off on the right foot.

So get out there, promote your webinar, and have some fun with it. Here’s to a successful webinar with standing-room-only attendance and a virtual standing ovation.