Have you ever heard the phrase “option paralysis?” I see from Wikipedia that it is the title of the fourth full-length studio album by American mathcore band The Dillinger Escape Plan. That’s not what I was thinking of when I wrote this. (“Mathcore” ???)
No, I was thinking of a common psychological response when humans are presented with an overwhelming number of choices… they often select none of them. Instead of appreciating all the options available, they find it impossible to analyze all the choices and to feel certain they are selecting the absolute best of the set. So rather than pick a sub-optimal choice, they elect to just avoid the decision and take no action at all. The moral? It is easy to sabotage your webinar effectiveness by overwhelming your audiences with too many choices.
The first place you may be giving too many options is when promoting upcoming web events. Yes, you can have a page of upcoming events on your website. Yes, you can put out something akin to a curriculum, listing an array of offered web courses. But driving people to take the action of registering for a webinar requires a more focused message. One marketing call to action for one webinar. Pick a webinar. Pick its value proposition. Pick its target audience. Then create a promotional message driving that audience to that webinar for that reason.
Do you advertise upcoming webinars on the home page of your website? Stop listing three or four. Pick one. Drive visitors to the dedicated landing page or registration page for that webinar. Sure, you can use a cycling mechanism so different visitors see different promotions. But a visitor should see one clear and unambiguous call to action – REGISTER NOW FOR THIS WEBINAR. Don’t give them the hard choice of figuring out which of the displayed webinars might be the perfect one for them. The choice needs to be between getting a particular offered value or missing out on it to their detriment.
The next place for too many options to appear is in scrolling “lobby slides.” If that doesn’t mean anything to you, the concept is to put up some visuals that early attendees can watch prior to the scheduled start of your webinar. It’s like the trivia questions that some movie theaters show before a film. I often see slide after slide of promotional cues and action items during this pre-show display. “Visit this web page” , “Download this white paper” , “Register for another webinar” , “Enroll in a course” , “Attend the upcoming user meeting.” All those exhortations fly by, one after another. Attendees who showed up to get promised value from your presentation instead find themselves inundated by advertising and requests for them to take action. Do you really expect them to follow through on all those items? Unlikely. If you feel you simply must do advertising in that space, pick one item.
The same thing applies in introductory comments. I sometimes hear companies reciting a litany of upcoming events before introducing the advertised presenter. Give the audience what they came for, not a list of options they are not prepared to act on at that moment.
Inside the webinar, reduce options when asking for feedback and interaction. If you ask your audience for a response, tell them specifically how you expect them to answer you. “Unmute your line and answer on the phone” or “Type in the chat box” or “Use the hand raise icon to signal in the affirmative.” Don’t make them guess which response channel would be best.
At the end of your presentation, give your attendees a clear call to action with a minimum of options. Don’t present three different contacts, each with email, telephone, Twitter, Skype, and fax numbers. Pick a single point of contact for this webinar. Tell people whether they should call or email. You want to make it clear and unambiguous on what action they should take next.
Be brave. Make the hard choice. Don’t just throw everything on your marketing agenda at your audience and hope that something happens to stick. Give them a single choice between a particular action or no action at all. Then make it clear why taking the action is the right thing for them to do. Your response rates will improve.