With all the news and analysis about acquisitions lately, it has been a while since I've written one of my pieces looking at specific product functionality. Since I pointed out a disappointment in Microsoft Live Meeting last time, it's only fair that I fire a shot at WebEx this time.
I have been working on developing a series of webinars for a client using WebEx Event Center. One of the nice features that WebEx built into the product is the ability to group a set of events under a "Program Name." You can invite people to look at all the events in a Program on a single page and register to attend one, some, or all of them with a single enrollment form. Very convenient.
WebEx supplies you with a hyperlink that goes directly to a given Program page so that you can publicize it with a link taking people straight to the items of interest. They don't have to ferret through other events and Programs you might have running at the same time. Again, nicely thought out.
Unfortunately, there is a strange implementation of the direct access Program page. You lose all the framing information that WebEx usually associates with an Event Center listings page. That means if you have customized your site to include your logo and branding, it's gone. If you had hyperlinks that would let visitors go to other sections of your website, they're gone. If visitors want to use the standard WebEx links to get online help, pre-load the software on their machine, or contact support... tough. Thosehave disappeared as well. Not very friendly to WebEx's enterprise customers or their audiences.
The second quirk is also associated with Event Center Programs. WebEx normally includes a nifty little feature to help you judge the effectiveness of different promotional channels in getting people to register for an event. You can include an arbitrary SourceID keyword at the end of a URL taking people to an event's enrollment page. The keyword is tracked along with their enrollment information. So while everybody comes to the same page to enroll, you can use a slightly different URL in your email invitations,banner ad click-throughs, search sponsorship ads, and so on. This immediately tells you which link is bringing you the most registrants. Very handy.
The problem comes when you want to promote a series of events under a Program. The link for the Program page doesn't track the SourceID keyword. So you have to make a choice... let people quickly and easily sign up for multiple events or track the effectiveness of your promotions by forcing your audience to follow a separate link for each event they wish to register for. I sure do wish WebEx would have realized that tracking a direct link entry into a Program page is just as important as tracking a single eventregistration link.
If any of my readers have a work-around for these features, I'd love to hear them!