Yesterday I was talking about problems in getting attendance at web events and it brought up the issue of registration. I figure that’s worth an entry all on its own. I see far too many companies using webinar registration pages as a form of pre-sales qualification. In the hopes of saving some time and effort by combining tasks in their sales/marketing cycle, these companies are undermining their own success.
Getting people to proactively sign up for an event and provide personal information is a formidable challenge. Any barriers you erect to the successful completion of the registration process will be reflected in lower numbers. And surprisingly small barriers can have surprisingly large effects. On the internet, the psychological importance of time and effort are measured in much smaller increments than we are otherwise used to.
Consider what a prospective webinar attendee goes through before deciding to register. S/he slogs through your event description and tries to figure out if it is applicable and has potential benefit, looks up the time and date to check for conflicts, weighs the probability of being targeted for sales pressure, balances the time commitment required against the stack of other tasks piled up, and overcomes a lot of internal negative arguments to finally go ahead and sign up. Then you present that person with a laundry list of required entries designed to give you easy access for marketing and demographic research. A discernable percent are going to shrug and say, “Oh, forget it. It’s not worth the hassle.” Some additional percent are going to fill in the famous “Name: A A. Company: A Phone: 111-1111”
Your attendees know what you need in order to send them login instructions: Their email address. That’s it. Anything else you ask is for your own selfish corporate benefit and not theirs. And they are not particularly incented to help you out.
I recommend keeping registration requirements to the bare minimum. In most cases, a name, email address, and company name. Add a telephone number if you will be making reminder or followup calls. Anything else should be left to an inside sales or marketing department to track down later as part of normal sales and marketing efforts. Get your prospects signed up. Get them to the event. Leave the targeting for later. Do NOT ask for their timeframe on making a purchase decision or the amount of their budget before they have heard what you have to say.
If your company puts on a large number of webinars where you are looking for repeat attendance from the same people, adding a database of registered guests is a very nice way to go. In this particular case, I think it is all right to ask for more information up front, as long as you clearly indicate that it is a one-time-only request and will make future signups fast and painless.
A few webinar vendors allow you to set up a data entry form to be displayed when a registrant is logging in to the event, before it connects them. This is a sneaky way to collect that additional information you want for your marketing efforts without having it slow down the registration process. Once people are hooked and in the process of logging into the event, they are much more likely to complete an extra form. I’m still against the practice on principle, but if you must... this is likely to be more effective.
Apparently I have no principles forbidding me from shameless self-promotion, because here it is... If you want some help designing effective invitations and registration pages, Webinar Success is there for you as a resource. Remember that unlike some webinar consulting companies, you can take a pick and choose approach to the specific services you want. I will never force you into an end-to-end package where I take over all aspects of your webinar.