Yesterday I gave a web seminar with iLinc and we had fantastic attendance and participation from the audience. In fact there were so many questions that we didn't have time to answer every one of them during the presentation. So I'm going to use this blog entry as a public forum for answering some of the general interest questions that we missed in the live event.
Matt: A lot of press release distribution sites reject obvious advertisements. How do we get around that?
Answer: You get around that by not writing your press release as an advertisement! That may sound glib, but the underlying concept is the same as I emphasize for planning your event title and description, your marketing, your content, and your delivery. Frame everything in terms of your audience's self interest, not your own. The fact that you are putting on a webinar is newsworthy because it offers the public a chance to... [Fill in the blank here]. The news is that there is a unique venue available for finding out important information that meets a public need. It's easy to learn how to write a webinar announcement that gets accepted. Just go to BusinessWire or MarketWire and do a search on "webinar" to read published releases from other companies.
Jose: Don't links in email get caught as spam for spam filters?
Answer: There is no single answer to what will trigger a spam ID. Different spam checkers use different algorithms, and the vendors change them constantly. However, a link to a registration page or website is hardly ever an automatic spam trigger. Especially if the site is deemed reliable and has not had complaints lodged against it. If you load up your email with dozens of different links, you will probably get trapped, but one or two links are okay. They are commonly used in real business content and that would be too restrictive a filter for general use.
Micene: Should images (slides) move faster as you get closer to the end of your presentation?
Answer: I don't believe so. Your rule of thumb should be to average approximately one minute per slide, with variations permitted and encouraged. This lets each slide get transmitted even to attendees with network congestion or slow computers, but doesn't bore the audience visually so they start doing other things. If you suddenly start speeding through your last few slides, the audience can feel that you didn't plan well, are running short on time, and that they aren't getting the quality of information they should be. Even if it's not true, you don't want to leave the impression.
Nikolee: How do you determine pricing for webinars?
Answer: There is no generic answer for this question. Product marketers face the thorny issue of appropriate pricing with every service and product their company offers. A webinar is no different. Try to find comparable offerings if you can or make a determination of the relative value to the audience. But as with most marketing tactics, the true answer always turns out to be "Test, Measure, and Refine." You'll probably have to lose some potential profits or lose some potential attendees before you find your optimal price point.
Jose: Is there one promotion method that is more effective than others for getting people to register?
Answer: This can be a loaded question. Marketers these days rely heavily on email blasts because of their low cost, so they tend to see largest numeric results from that. But I have had excellent results for targeted topics when press releases get picked up and run in industry trade sites and journals. And direct mail campaigns or personal phone calls can be very effective when you have a limited number of specific individuals you really want to target. But these can be expensive, so you have to check the cost-benefit equation.
Chris: Is it okay to place a copyright in the footer for every page of the presentation?
Answer: Sure, it's okay, but I prefer not to do it. Go pick up a book at the library. The copyright is on the title page, not every page of the book. A copyright notation covers the entire work and is not necessary on each individual piece of content. Some companies compromise by placing the copyright on each slide if they distribute the PowerPoint deck for later reference. I suppose this is to protect their interests if someone attempts to pull a slide and present it as their own. But honestly, someone that unscrupulous can easily cover up your copyright symbol. My advice is to get rid of the distracting clutter and let the content visuals stand by themselves. [Note: I am NOT an intellectual property attorney!]
Kimberly: How do you measure the success of a free webinar?
Answer: Only you know the answer to this. You should have a clear goal in mind when you decide to offer a webinar. You might want to build sales leads, in which case you can count the leads you get from the event. But if you are trying to simply generate awareness or improve your reputation, you may need to measure effectiveness by conducting surveys to check audience impressions and opinions before and after the event. Or for people who have and have not attended. Other goals need other measurement approaches. Get creative and find a way to tell whether you are achieving your objectives.
Monica: How do you choose whether to let audience members see typed in questions and chat?
Answer: In most large public events, I prefer to keep incoming questions private so that the presentation team can see them, but the rest of the audience can't. For instance, in this webinar I had two competitors advertise their services to the audience during my event. I do the promotion, generate the audience, and give the information... They benefit. We also had people answering each other's questions, which pulls focus and attention away from the material you are trying to deliver. But alternatively, public chat does tend to stimulate more active and frequent participation. There have been a few webinars that have advertised the ability for the audience to expand the conversation in parallel through social media such as Twitter. These offer the advantage of building a sense of community and support among your audience. It also lets you see in real time the mood of the audience. You can decide the tradeoffs for yourself.
Carina: When would an audio podcast be preferred over a webinar?
Answer: A presentation that references visual materials can be frustrating to listen to in an audio recording. Visuals help to refocus the audience's attention and lend emphasis to your talking points. But audio podcasts have the advantage of great portability. Interested listeners can hear your message during their commute, while exercising, or preparing dinner. I prefer to keep the two media separate, and I'll create a different script for the podcast. It is usually shorter and makes sure to explain topics verbally that would otherwise be conveyed through visuals. You also have to work doubly hard to make your vocal presentation interesting and engaging.
And there you have the recap. Thanks for the great questions, everyone. I look forward to seeing you on future webinars!