5 Common Webinar Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

There are a lot of opportunities to make webinar mistakes during production. The wrong link gets shared to an audience, a power outage takes place, a speaker has to drop out for some unforeseen reason or — and this does happen — the host locks themselves out of their studio or office.

Whatever the reason, webinar mistakes happen. Knowing how to respond to them when they transpire is important. That’s why, last week, our own Chief Webinerd, Mark Bornstein, took to the studio to lay out 2019’s top 10 webinar mistakes and how to avoid them.

We’ve collected five of those common mistakes — in no particular order — for you to review. Let’s take a look now:

1. Repeating Yourself, Repeating Yourself, Repeating Yourself

Webinars need promoting and that means emails — a lot of emails. Unfortunately, a lot of organizations believe email copy is an exercise in repetition and will send you the same email several times while expecting a different result. Einstein had something to say about that.

Instead of sending the same email over and over again, vary its message and vary where the reader is in the sign-up cycle. For example, you can give a high-level overview of an upcoming webinar during your first email send and a personal message from your presenter for the second send. Your third and fourth emails should address audiences who are “on the fence” — those who’ve clicked through an email but haven’t registered yet — shortly before a webinar takes place.

2. Plain Consoles

It’s not the 1990s anymore, so basic grey backgrounds and dated-looking webinar consoles aren’t going to cut it. Plain webinar consoles are just that: dull looking, basic and about as interesting to interact with as a damp cloth. Change it up and make your consoles something your audience looks forward to.

Designing a good console isn’t as hard as it sounds. If your organization has brand guidelines (and it should) a simple solution would be to grab your brand logo, grab your brand colors and create a console based on those two elements. Another simple technique would be to grab any company imagery — so long as it’s not distracting — and use that as your webinar console. Whatever you do, just don’t make it boring.

3. Toxic Slides

Speaking of design. If you’re using slides during your webinar — and the vast majority of you are — make sure they, like your console, aren’t boring or toxic. What do we mean? Well, we mean slides that have too much text, slides that have fonts that are far too small and slides that more design elements in it than a reasonable person can process.

What’s the secret to detoxifying your webinar slides? Simple. Use fewer. In fact, the main element of any webinar should be the presenter and what they have to say — not the slides. If you use slides, they should be easy to read or contain a single image for the presenter to talk to. Remember: attendees want to hear what you have to say — not interpret your slides.

4. No Strategy for On-Demand Webinars

Okay, so you’ve run your webinar and you’re sharing your results with sales. It’s over now right? Wrong. Webinars don’t end after a live production. If anything, on-demand webinars are just as important element in your program as the live event.

With on-demand webinars you can broaden your audience (up to a third, according to the ON24 Webinar Benchmarks Report 2019) and cement your company as a proactive thought leader. How? Well, you can build out a webinar series, organize on-demand events by topic and even use them to provide a continuing education course. Really, it’s up to you.

5. Panic

Tripping over a few words in front a crowd isn’t great. But not being able to recenter yourself and move on is worse.  You get a shot of adrenaline and things spiral out of control from there. Panic is a common mistake when it comes to presenting a webinar and, really, any type of public speaking. It’s so common it even has a name: cognitive tunneling.

Cognitive tunneling is a common phenomenon where our attention, as a speaker or presenter, is funneled away from where it should be and towards whatever our brain fixates on. As Charles Duhigg describes it in his 2016 book, “Better Faster Smarter: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity,” cognitive tunneling is “a mental glitch that sometimes occurs when our brains are forced to transition abruptly from relaxed automation to panicked attention.”

The key to avoiding a panic-induced breakdown is simple: recognizing it when it happens, taking a breath and moving on. But that’s not always easy to do. Don’t try to hide it if you find yourself in a moment of panic or get locked up during a presentation. Instead, address the issue and move on. Your audience will understand. After all, they’re human too.

We all make mistakes. Even experts. But being aware of the most common mistakes and how to combat them is crucial to running a program of any kind. If you’d like to learn more about the most common webinar mistakes in  2019, check out our Webinar Best Practices Series episode, “The 10 Common Webinar Mistakes in 2019…And How To Avoid Them.” And remember: relax and practice, practice, practice.

Market Trend Webinars and Accelerating Thought Leadership — WBPS Quick Bites

Everyone wants to be a thought leader in their respective space. But what sets the real leaders apart from the want-to-be-leaders isn’t a volume of content, but the quality of the insights they provide. Market trend webinars give companies the opportunity to establish expertise, build trust and craft an influential program that captures attention.

But why use webinars and not, say, a blog update? Well, according to Demand Generation Report, 48 percent of buyers say they prefer webinars to other content formats and are willing to spend more time and provide more information for webinar content. If you’re going to start a market trend program, webinars can help.

Starting a webinar program around marketing trends can seem intimidating, but they’re not that difficult. To show you how it’s done, we’re sending our very own Chief Webinerd, Mark Bornstein, to the studio to give you a quick bite on market trend webinar basics.

It’s the very first episode in our new series, WBPS Quick Bites, and it takes place on June 20 at 11 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. EDT). What can you expect to learn? Well, the fundamentals of market trend webinars — from presentation to engagement tools you should use — in fewer than 20 minutes. Here are a few tips you can use right now:

Market Trend Types: Annual, Quarterly, Monthly or Quick Response

Market trends webinars come about in a variety of ways, but marketers and their peers should establish the criteria for a webinar early. For example, should an organization publish a market trend event once a year, quarterly, monthly or as breaking news develops?

Consider the audience you’re trying to target with your webinars to determine cadence. Big ticket updates can take place every quarter. But fast-paced industries should look towards monthly — or weekly — updates to keep audiences informed.

Establish Market Trend Experts

Right. So you have a cadence down. Now what? Now you need to get your subject matter experts front and center to discuss the trends and, if appropriate, provide an opinion. SMEs are your way to put a face to your organization’s expertise.

Talk with your SMEs to figure out what format is most appropriate for them as they start their webinar journey. Practice with them they’re willing but nervous, about getting in front of a camera. Finally, walk your experts through how the webinar platform works and set up a dry run a day or two before the event — and take some time to review any slides.

Provide a Multimedia Experience

In the B2B world, a PowerPoint deck hardly registers as an engaging experience. As you design your market trend webinar series, set up some time to think through a variety of webinar types that’ll boost engagement and provide your audience with the information they need.

For example, you could intertwine polls and surveys throughout a slide presentation to measure attentiveness and audience opinion on the subject. You could also bring together a panel of experts and have them respond to audience questions. Really, it’s up to you.

Professionals use market trends for a variety of reasons. They influence business decisions, improve professional knowledge and prove thought leadership. After all, industry professionals are hungry for a variety of opinions — and your company’s perspective can prove to be invaluable for everyone involved.

If you’re unsure about how to get started with your market trend webinars, attend “Trending Up: How to Use Webinars to Share Market Trends” on June 20 at 11 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. EDT).

What are the Barriers to Human-to-Human Marketing at Scale?

Our upcoming Insight50 session will be exploring how marketers can humanize the digital marketing experience. Sign up for the session to get your questions answered, with expert speakers including Leanne Chescoe of Demandbase, Joel Harrison of B2B Marketing, and Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing.

We’ve all received those emails and LinkedIn messages that request “10 minutes of our time”. Even though they use our first name and appear to come from someone’s personal email address, they are clearly automated – and annoying.

But against tough targets – and equipped with technology that makes it easier than ever before to reach buyers at scale – it can be easy to fall into a trap where attempts at building a human connection simply fall flat.

So why is the case and what can be done about it? Ahead of the webinar, we have put together a few thoughts.

Poor quality data leads to poor quality connections

If the data is wrong, chances are that any attempt to market to individuals will also be wrong.

When creating campaigns, it’s all too easy to quickly build or use a list that hasn’t had enough thought or checking behind it. Obvious examples would be:

  • Failing to exclude existing customers or competitors from new business lists.
  • Bought data that is old and hasn’t been cleansed, appended or processed.
  • Leads that are missing information on other communications received – for example, where sales activity hasn’t fed through to a marketing automation system, meaning active prospects get new outreach.

Beyond the above, there is also the chance that engagement data – or perhaps disengagement data – hasn’t been applied effectively.

If a prospect hasn’t engaged with any marketing for several months, is your offer compelling enough for them to do so now? And likewise, if someone has been actively researching solutions, what if that engagement hasn’t been connected to a lead score and targeted outreach?

All of the above can lead to both poorly-targeted marketing and missed opportunities to build connections.

Linear buying stages don’t reflect the complexity of the customer journey

Even though the funnel is used as the foundation for much of B2B marketing, in reality, it doesn’t reflect the way that people buy.

Countless scenarios mean that it is very challenging to build automated campaigns to fit every eventuality. As such, the law of diminishing returns will come into play, meaning that there will be a point at which adding further granularity to a marketing program will not make commercial sense.

At this point, growth can only come from approaching people as individuals – which places a greater emphasis on identifying who those individuals are.

Automated marketing is yet to pass the Turing Test

The reality is that despite advances in artificial intelligence, instances where machines genuinely convince people that they are human are very rare.

And while there are some simple examples where computers have helped (such as Google Assistant being able to book appointments by phone), applying this to complex sales is still a long way off.

In the meantime, marketers might be better off if instead of using technology that pretends to be human, they use technology to prove they are human.

Obviously, webinars are one way of doing that, but there are many others. Email can be used to send messages that carefully address known (rather than assumed) needs. Dynamic creative can be used to drive prospects to account-specific landing pages that have been crafted individually. Social engagement through personal accounts can open up individual conversations.

When you compare this to marketing in the pre-digital era, it’s clear that marketing at scale can be human – as long as there is actually a human behind it.

To find out more and ask your questions, make sure to sign up to our Insight50 webinar on Humanising the Digital Experience.

What Is Topical Marketing and How can It Drive Engagement?

Our upcoming Insight50 session will be exploring the issue of topical marketing – and in particular, using Brexit as a case study for how to tie your message to key events. Sign up for the session to get your questions answered, with expert speakers including Leanne Chescoe of Demandbase, Joel Harrison of B2B Marketing, and Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing.

Great marketing is delivered to the right person, at the right place, at the right time. That’s something all marketers learn early in their career. But capturing attention never easy.

However, when a theme is on your buyer’s mind, you can get them to listen by aligning your message with their thought process. And while customer journey maps help map out the questions they will likely be asking, that’s not everything that they will be thinking of on a given day.

Topical marketing is one way of getting that alignment between what’s on their mind and what you can offer.

So what is topical marketing?

We’ll discuss more of this on the session, but essentially it’s talking about a particular theme happening at a particular point in time.

While news cycles provide a steady feed of hooks on which to hang your message, topical marketing doesn’t have to be limited to that. Some examples include:

  • Particular events, such as trade conferences and summits
  • Holidays
  • Deadlines for regulatory change or compliance
  • Major market events, such as M&A, IPOs or updates from central banks and finance bodies
  • For sectors with a fixed season (such as higher-education or even sports and fashion), key calendar dates
  • Even editorial calendars for major publications within your industry

How can topical marketing drive engagement?

If a particular theme will be on the minds of your target audience, creating content and campaigns based on this theme can help satisfy their need for information when it’s top of mind.

Another benefit of topical marketing is how it can potentially fit into a variety of time scales. Some events will be planned or known about for years in advance, allowing you to establish a share of voice in that space.

For topics that emerge rapidly, a fast approach to getting a message out can help you cut above the slower-moving competition when it’s otherwise hard to stand out.

How can webinars help with topical marketing?

A key benefit of webinars versus other content is that they allow you to have two-way communication with your audience. As such, they can be used at any stage of your topical marketing campaigns.

For early-stage topical campaigns, webinars can help you test the water and understand what questions matter to your prospects. Panels and Q&A sessions can elicit this feedback. Determining what assets get the most engagement can also help you figure out what’s working.

Later on, webinars centered around taking direct action can bring your prospects closer to conversion. For example, if one of your topics involved an upcoming regulatory change, an engaging session that answers questions from specific customers can be converted into sales conversations and follow-ups. Demo sessions can lead on strong calls-to-action to take out a trial, while those aimed at existing customers can look to increase retention or upsell activity.

To find out more, make sure to sign up to our topical marketing webinar.