I seem to be on a kick lately about registration and attendance. When using "open registration" webinars for general marketing purposes, it's largely a numbers game. Today I thought I'd talk about the use of incentives to drive webinar attendance.
I've probably tried every possible incentive program. White papers, books, toys, travel, electronic gadgets, one-per-registrant, one-per-attendee, one-per-event, and one-per-series. I'll tell you up front that in general I'm not a fan of bribing my audience. But there are some exceptions. Here are my views on the subject, each of which is flexible in the face of case specifics.
Giving away tchotchkies to every registrant is something that should only be done if you are being held accountable by some executive for reporting ever increasing numbers of raw leads, with no regard to quality. Maybe if you are trying to develop a house list that you can use for future marketing blasts. You will see some increase in registrations, but usually a corresponding decrease in the percentage that are of any value to future sales.
Giving something away to every attendee should only be done when you have a technical paper, a marketing document, or some other tangible offering that touches directly upon your company/product/service. It should reinforce the message of your webinar and be of interest and value to the kind of audience already interested in your webinar content. If you start offering dog chew toys, you will once again boost numbers without improving revenue potential. Used properly, an electronic giveaway to each attendee provides you with a powerful tool to use in advancing your sales process through permission-based followup. They are expecting something from you and giving you authorization to contact them again. Not bad.
Another approach is to announce a drawing for a single item (like an iPod, DVD player, or GPS system) awarded to one lucky attendee. I don't feel that this leaves the audience with anything to remember you by. For all but one person, the last impression they have of you is a negative one... They didn't win. If you really want to go this route, please try to figure out a way to announce the winner live on the air instead of saying you will contact them later. People want to get resolution and hear that you have followed through on your promise. If they don't win and never hear from you, they don't know that you ever fulfilled your obligation.
My least favorite is to have a drawing that spans multiple events over some time period. This forces you into no resolution during the event and a long time between the event and any notification and followup. People can easily feel like you have abused their trust.
Remember, if you want help with webinar marketing and finding ways to boost attendance, Webinar Success is here to help.