I have been tracking the early days of Webinara, a new online service for posting and discovering public webinars. They are now in full production mode, with registered audience members and a slate of listed webinars from a variety of providers. I even posted a listing for my own webinar next week!
To get a better insight into the site, I spoke with the CEO of Webinara, Kristian Haanes. Mr. Haanes and his company are based in Norway, but the website is currently written in English and early participation has a predominance of users from North America. This makes sense, as webinars are farther along the adoption and maturity curve in the US and Canada than in many other regions. Mr. Haanes looks forward to eventually expanding functionality to include other languages, with heavier global promotion.
Mr. Haanes tells me that posted webinars are coming from a wide variety of industries, with hosting companies ranging in size from the SMB market up to Global Fortune enterprises.
Posting webinars is a fee-based privilege. Subscription plans are available on a monthly or annual basis, starting at $39/month for Non-Profit and Educational use. For your money, you get your webinars included on the search pages, indexed by topic area and date. Webinars are promoted to the community of registered users in emails and tweets. Hosts can also activate social collaboration features such as following and private messaging.
I found it easy to enter the basic information about my upcoming webinar. One feature I appreciated was a way to list three short bullet points that appear under the heading "Why attend this webinar." That's a best practice for promotion and helps prospects quickly determine whether the information is right for them. You can add a banner graphic or let the Webinara team select one for you. I was satisfied with the one they picked for my topic.
If you happen to use Citrix GoToWebinar or Onstream Webinars as your web conferencing platform, you can set up automatic connection to your account. Then when you create a webinar it gets linked to Webinara for promotion and one-click registration from within the search engine. Instead of driving users to your registration page, their basic name and email information is transferred directly into your webinar registration. This may reduce abandonment rates in the registration process. You can also check registrations from inside Webinara without having to log in to your webinar account. Mr. Haanes plans to add connectors for other technologies over time. Webinar platforms without a built-in connector just use your webinar's standard registration page as a destination click-through from the listing.
Unlike some webinar search platforms, Webinara asks end users (potential attendees) to register in the system. When you register, you select topic areas of interest. These can be general ("Accounting and Finance") or specific ("Energy Cybersecurity"). Choosing categories lets Webinara send you periodic emails and tweets of newly-added webinars in your topic areas. This means that promotion does not rely on users proactively coming to the site and initiating searches. Notifications are pushed to them.
Registered users can follow their favorite hosts, send messages to webinar organizers, and take advantage of one-click registration for webinars with connected platforms.
At the moment, Webinara is going through the difficult startup hurdle that all search facilities must traverse. Attendees are hesitant to use it until there is lots of content available. Hosts don't want to use it until it reaches lots of users. So the first months of operation are a struggle to get early adopters on board.
Mr. Haanes has additional plans for adding functionality for webinar hosts. The website lists upcoming features such as allowing users to supply feedback and ratings, giving organizers more statistics and data on the performance of their listings, and providing optional value-add services for webinar hosts.
I always appreciate expanding the convenience and utility of webinars for businesses and the public. I hope Webinara succeeds and I will be watching it closely.