One of the big trends in internet marketing over the past 12-18 months has been the use of webinars.
If you haven’t (yet) participated in a webinar or aren’t quite sure of what they are then basically they are like online seminars.
Sort of traditional conference calls but with video attached so people can attend from anywhere in the World and view live footage of the presenter’s computer screen.
All done, of course, courtesy of the internet.
Marketers are using these because webinars generally produce much higher sales conversion rates than other promotion techniques such as pre-recorded sales videos or written sales copy.
This is probably because webinars provide a way of creating live, interactive events conducted over the internet.
So, if you’ve got a product to sell it definitely makes sense to invite your subscribers (or another marketer’s subscribers) to spend an hour with you on a webinar. You can provide some free training to help people out and then move on to outlining the benefits of your product and let people know how they can buy it.
Plus, if people can’t make the exact time of the webinar then just record it and send them a link to the replay.
I personally really like this idea and think it’s a great thing to do as everyone seems to benefit (including the customers).
However, there are some problems with webinars…
Two big ones are that doing multiple webinars can take up a lot of time for the marketer and secondly sales conversion rates can inexplicably vary from webinar to webinar.
To help solve these issues a new form of marketing has sprung up: The Automated Webinar!
This has become increasingly popular in the last few months and you might yourself have received an invitation to one of them.
Typically, you’ll get e-mailed a link which, when you click through to it, looks something like the image to the right.
So even though this webinar is recorded you still have to select a specific time to watch a replay.
I should point out that this (in my book at least) is not disingenuous as they are rarely billed as “live events”: Instead they are just “webinars”.
Basically, they are a hybrid form of pre-recorded sales video and live webinar.
So, what’s the point of this post you might ask?
1) Simply to highlight the recent trend in automated webinars and open it for discussion (would love to hear your views below! :-))
2) To give you my “gripe” about automated webinars.
Call me overly-irritable (“Rob you are so overly-irritable” – I hear you cry!) but I just find this really quite annoying. I know full well these webinars are recorded but yet still I have to book a specific time to watch them!
The technology exists to replay on demand (simple, right?) but the marketing is dictating that this should not happen.
And I wonder how long they will remain effective.
Perhaps people are only watching them right now because they think they are live. If so, will this marketing tactic become less effective when people figure it out? Or are they just like exit pop-ups on webpages – nobody really likes them but basically they just work.
Personally, I think their effectiveness as a sales tactic will decline but they’ll probably still continue to work better than regular sales videos.
Like I said I am not criticising automated webinars or the marketers who put them on, in anyway whatsoever.
And I really think webinars are a great thing for the marketers and the customers.
I’m purely, stating my personal view as a (slightly) impartial consumer.
Think I’ve said enough.
What do you think about automated webinars? Please leave a comment below and let me know…
I MUCH prefer being able to watch the webinar at my convenience AND being able to rewind also. I hate when I get a video and I can’t rewind to something I might have missed or want to relisten to.
Sue – totally agree!
Thanks for stopping by, great to see you here at GHG 🙂
I haven’t heard about recorded webinars (not that I’m aware of) but definitely I would be annoyed if I got that kind of invitation.
I think they’re here to stay for a while so you might start seeing some going forward.
Thanks for stopping by!
Hi Rob, Not a problem with a recorded webinar,providing the the content/reason for webinar is good. If it can be paused,rewound even better.
I agree David – content is crucial. Nothing worse than a webinar which basically just turns out to be a big sales pitch!
I am not always available at specific times of webinars. I would only watch them if I could do so when it was convenient for me, and in agreement with others, I would like the convenience of being able to replay bits I missed or didn’t fully understand.
Thanks for your views Dawn!
I have participated in live webinars and also viewed recorded ones but always at a time that suited me.
I suppose they are specifying a time to watch the webinar in order to focus the potential customer’s mind on it and force them to actually take some action.
If the customer was just sent a link to a recorded webinar that they could watch at any time they might not actually get around to it (something that I have certainly been guilty of )
So if they are just another way of getting the message across – I can’t really see a problem with them.
Good points well made Kevin.
I’ve been guilty of not watching webinars that can be watched at anytime too. Trouble is, I tend to not even register for the ones that are scheduled…
Maybe I need to find the time!
Can you please tell me how you get your picture to appear on your blog posts here? I see that some of your subscribers also know how to do that.
Great to hear from you.
The pictures are call “avatars” and you can get set up by visiting http://gravatar.com/
It’s free and you just need to enter your email address and upload a picture. Then your picture will appear on any blog that you comment on around the web.
It’s pretty cool actually!
Thanks for that, I ‘ll keep hold of that url.
I think I’ll have to delay setting it up until I get a decent photo done !
My current one (on all my social networks) is so grainy it makes me look like an impressionist painting…:0)
to be fair, guess I should actually watch one but the whole principle I find annoying. Am convinced that it will just be a big sales pitch rather than being an informative/learning experience. I rather feel they are missing a trick by trying to “pressurise” by limiting the number of seats and the time of watching and also by preventing the helpful ability to pause/rewind. It simply doesn’t give one the feeling that they are trying to inform but rather that they want it all on their terms.
Exactly Jill – you’ve just summed up my thoughts in a nutshell!
Thanks for stopping by – great to hear your views 🙂
Hi Rob – we’ve done a recent split test between an automated webinar and a 4 part video product launch which delivered the same information, and the stats were quite interesting.
The opt in rate for the free videos on the product launch was slightly higher – 61% vs 54% (NOTE: the sales copy contained the same headlines and bullet points – obviously a different style opt-in box as you’ve alluded to in your post)
Overall, the “on demand” videos were watched the whole way through by 14% of people. (ie without skimming) With the skimmers, a further 17% went to the end and saw the offer – so 31% saw the offer in video 4. (NOTE – we had a controlbar on the embedded video player even though the videos started playing automatically.)
So the breakdown was that about 19% of those interested enough to land on the opt-in page for the on-demand videos saw the offer.
The webinar was watched all the way though by 88% of attendees, BUT – only 41% of those who registered actually turned up.
So funnily enough, again – about 19% of those interested enough to land on the opt-in page for the webinar saw the offer.
The difference was in the conversion – 20% bought from the webinar and 4% bought from the videos.
There are two things which could really skew these results …
1. There were only about 300 opt-ins in total
2. The offer was for webinar sales training, so information about webinars that is being delivered by webinar may be more attractive than when it is delivered by video?
Your prediction that the effectiveness of automated webinars will decline is possibly very true, particularly in the “make-money-online” niche. However, a client of our just set up an automated webinar series for a private school, and I think the technology has a long way to run in other niches.
The reason I think the webinar format is so effective – even though the forced registration annoys you – is that as soon as you register to attend a presentation at a particular time, you make a commitment. It puts you in a different headspace. When a video is playing, you always know that you can go back to it if something more important comes along – like a phone call, or an email etc. But because we’re all busy (and even though we have the best intentions) we don’t go back.
With a webinar, we know that we can’t go back, so we set aside some space to concentrate on the content – and so it’s easier (from a marketer’s point of view) to exert influence when the audience is paying more attention.
Hi Jonathon – Thank you for sharing this fascinating information.
I think you make an excellent point about the difference between the make money online niche and other niches. As marketers we tend to form views on things that are completely different to people in other online market places. Whether it’s me with my personal annoyance (and that’s ALL it really is) of automated webinars or others getting (arguably) too enthusiastic about the latest product releases. So, I’d agree with your suggestion about the possible decline in effectiveness being mainly limited to the internet marketing niche.
Another thing that I think your comment shows is that although we all have our views and express them on our blogs, it’s the numbers that will ultimately lead us to higher conversions, whether we personally like the methods involved or not!
It’s rare that anyone takes the trouble to breakdown the different stages of conversion publicly like you have here so thank you again for sharing this value.
Replay options completely kill the effectiveness of a webinar. Automated webinars work because they’re billed as an assumed live “event”. Otherwise, if I send you an option to play a sales pitch at your leisure, you’ll never get around to it.
That’s been my experience with it.
Hi Austin, thanks for your input on this. Appreciate your thoughts, Rob.
Unfortunately I find webinars irritating. I get so many of them offered to me within the property, financial and spreadtrading markets. They are just SO time consuming.
Ive said it elsewhere but humans only have a 20 minute attention span, yet many webinars DRAG on for an hour. They really are not good for time management.
Ability to replay is essential, but for me written content is MUCH better.