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3 Simple (Yet Powerful) Features Every Webinar Platform Should Consider Adding

June 1, 2013

My advice for webinar platform providers

Photo credit: User laughlin on flickr via photopin cc

Introduction

I’ve planned many webinars and attended a whole lot more. Webinars are a tried and true vehicle for communication, lead generation, training and more. That being said, the user experience could be even better. Let’s cover three features every webinar platform should consider adding.

1) Scrolling tickers.

Scrolling tickers would be useful in webinars

If you’ve ever presented a webinar, you know that without fail, these two questions are asked every time:

“Will this webinar be available on-demand?”
“Will the slides be made available for download?”

This information should be provided to viewers at the beginning of the program (or, throughout it) – NOT during the Q&A portion at the end. But how can this be accomplished? With a scrolling ticker placed within the webinar console (a la CNN, as shown above).

Pre-programmed ticker messages.

The ticker could be programmed with a set of messages to be run in rotation. With regard to the slides, the messages could be:

“The presenter’s slides are available in the ‘files’ folder [above]”
“Slides will be posted to our blog immediately after today’s webinar”
“Slides will be emailed to you right after today’s program”

You’d program a similar message with regard to the on-demand archive.

On-the-fly ticker messages.

Webinar planners (or moderators) could then submit ticker messages on the fly, providing comments in context to the presentation.

Examples:

Re-share a great quote the presenter just said
Remind viewers to submit questions
Invite viewers to visit the presenter’s web site
Invite viewers to visit your web site

2) Enhance the “Q&A Slide”

How most webinars end

[Do I really need to stare at this for 25 minutes?]

Let’s say a webinar is 45 minutes long. The presenters complete their slides in 20 minutes and spend the next 25 minutes on Q&A. This means that the ending “Q&A slide” remains on the screen, unchanged, for 25 consecutive minutes!

This is a pet peeve of mine.

So here’s how to address this: dynamic slides. When presenters select a question to answer, they click an element in the presenters’ console. A new slide is rendered containing the question text. The webinar planner can choose a setting which determines whether the submitter’s name is shown next to the question.

Now, as viewers join the webinar in the middle of a presenter’s answer, they’re able to see the precise question being answered. Use this with the “on the fly” ticker messages and your Q&A session just got 200% more effective.

3) Copy SportsCenter’s rundown graphic.

Add a rundown to your webinars

In 2007, according to Wikipedia, ESPN’s SportsCenter introduced a “rundown” on the right side of the screen (later moved to the left). The rundown listed, from bottom to top, the upcoming highlights (or stories). If you see your team’s highlights listed in the rundown, you’ll stick around and wait to see it, thus keeping you viewing SportsCenter longer.

I’m NOT suggesting that a webinar rundown simply list the heading of each slide, a la the slide outline in PowerPoint. Instead, presenters should be asked to map out the primary segments of the webinar. And it’s these segments that should be listed in a rundown.

In a live webinar, the idea is to interest viewers in subsequent segments (to keep them around). In the on-demand archive, the rundown segments are clickable, allowing viewers to navigate directly to that segment.

Conclusion

OK, so perhaps these features aren’t as simple to implement as I might think. But they are powerful. Add these three features to your platform and I guarantee that your customers will produce more effective webinars.

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The Biggest Virtual Events Opportunity No One Is Focusing On

January 23, 2012

Introduction

Let’s talk opportunity, by way of an analogy. Amazon.com. Consider that at this moment in time, Amazon’s users have thousands (if not millions) of items in their shopping carts. Combined, I have to believe that the aggregate (but untapped) value of Amazon users’ shopping carts is in the millions of dollars.

Now, let’s consider virtual events. For public-facing virtual events, the average attendance rate is 35-50%. If a virtual event generates 10,000 registrations, let’s be generous and say that half of those registrants (5,000) attend the live event.

E-tailers like Amazon would love for you to take the contents of your shopping cart and “check out.” Virtual event planners need to focus on the 5,000 users who didn’t attend the live event and get them to “check out” (the on-demand archive of the event).

These “no shows” are an enormous opportunity for every virtual event planner, but I don’t see enough effort around this opportunity. So here are tips to get your registrants to “check out” (your event).

The basics: a follow-up email.

Imagine that users registered for your virtual events two months prior to the live date. You’ve scheduled reminder emails, but the users missed them. When your live event comes around, users have forgotten about it. This means that they’re also not aware that an “on-demand archive” exists. Sending a “Sorry we missed you” email is easy to do and gets you immediate results. Invite your “no shows” to experience your event “any day, any time.”

Scheduled webcasts.

Plan an editorial calendar in advance, which includes a few presentations after the live date of your event. Did you covet particular speakers, but they weren’t available on your event’s date? If so, plug them in to the post-event schedule. And, make sure you invite not just the “no shows,” but folks who attended your live event as well.

Scheduled chats (Experts).

Re-feature some of your presenters and invite them back for a 2-hour, text-based chat in your environment. Invite attendees to return and promote this opportunity to “no shows” (e.g. “A great opportunity to interact directly with our featured industry expert.”)

Scheduled chats (Sponsors).

Schedule a few dates to allow sponsors to host chats in the on-demand environment. This could be a nice up-sell feature in your sponsor packages. Note that sponsors tend to generate less response (attendance) as your experts, so plan accordingly.

Email Alerts for New Content.

Did sponsors upload fresh content? Or, perhaps a featured presenter provided an updated slide deck from her webinar. Send an email out, alerting users that new content is available in the environment. Don’t do this too often, of course – and, be sure to include an opt-out link, so recipients can be removed from subsequent mailings.

Activate Social Games.

Find some prizes, then activate a few social games. The games require that users login to the environment, engage with content and engage with one another. It creates fun for the users and active engagement for you (and your sponsors).

Conclusion

Just because users took the time to complete your registration page, doesn’t mean they’re “sold” when your event comes around. Utilize your event and its content, however, to “re-sell” the event to non-attendees. If you sell it well, your users will empty their shopping carts … and buy in.

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


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