Businesses are increasingly focusing on how the design of the webinars can be improved, how content can be improved to create a more compelling bridge into making an offer, one that conversion into clients. But the problem is that webinars just aren’t working as well as they used to. In this article, we explore why and how you can generate buyer leads instead.
When I look at all the questions that I get in my consultations, the common theme is really about people just getting overwhelmed and frustrated and finding it really hard to know what’s the right thing to do, what’s going to work for them.
It’s how I landed on the theme for the Leveraged Business Podcast and the iSuccess online academy. Finding ways to work smarter, not harder is a fabulous topic because it’s all about giving you clarity, managing your time, reducing stress, and increasing the efficiency, effectiveness and economy of everything you do in your business.
In this piece, we’re exploring the state of play for webinars.
PREFER TO LISTEN?
Are Webinars Dead or Just Evolving?
One thing I emphasise for getting faster momentum with a new offer is the idea of rapid prototyping or piloting. It’s all about making sure people really want it service before you develop it.
So whether it’s a course or a program, or a consulting service, before you actually build out the whole thing – put in all the documentation and the steps and the content, put it up on the platform, all of that onboarding as well – before you do all of that, you got to make sure that people actually want it.
The idea of pre-selling has become really important. Now one of the ways that people pre-sell is through a webinar. Webinars are probably more commonplace for business-to-business (B2B) marketing, but they are also excessively being used for business-to-customer (B2C) marketing as well.
Businesses are increasingly focusing on how the design of the webinars can be improved, how content can be improved to create a more compelling story arc into their presentation, one that really leads to that conversion into clients.
There’s also a focus on how you can create a better marketing strategy. Because the problem is that where webinars were working really well a few years ago, now people have got quite wise to the fact that many webinars are essentially just disguised sales events.
Whether you’re talking about a webinar that’s one hour or some virtual event that is over three hours, the idea is that we provide a demand narrative, as my friend Danny Iny puts it – a storyboard or hero’s journey, if you like, which leads people both emotionally and logically to your offer.
But the problem is with people’s perception – cynically and sceptically when they see a free webinar is to think, oh, they’re going to tell me a load of information and then try to sell me something at the end.
So next, people started changing the word and calling it a workshop, because it gave more of a sense of value, of an experience.
Rather than a webinar where you sit in a lesson, a workshop is perceived as far more interactive. You actually get into doing something and having a tangible output you’re your time. Workshops or workshop courses are now pretty popular.
But even so, it’s becoming increasingly hard to get people to register for these free online events, and then there’s the challenge of having people actually attend.
In your marketing and sales process, there’s now several steps where you’ve got to really hustle and really work hard. And it can feel a little bit pushy sometimes for a lot of people.
I get a lot of questions around how can I do this in an elegant way? How can I do this with more ease and grace? How can I really present the value of what they’re going to get from the webinar or the workshop.
And although part of the answer is how you position it, through your registration page copy and webinar title and all of those things, people are still going to wonder if it’s worth them showing up live.
They question whether or not they actually have an hour to commit to something that they really don’t know where they’re going to get out of it. So clarity on the outcomes of attending is definitely the first step to having more people show up.
But one of the things that I’m seeing in the industry now, in terms of consulting, coaching, expert businesses, practice businesses is that actually people want to get started, they’re not interested in just learning stuff.
People are more than willing to put some skin in the game, put time and some money to it, if there’s an obvious return on investment, rather than something that seems quite open-ended.
And so what we’re seeing is that if you create a paid offer on the front-end rather than a free webinar, it immediately positions the opportunity in a different light.
So that’s what I wanted to talk about today is first, the fact that webinars don’t sell or lead to sales as well as they used to, and increasingly you find this for free workshops too where people are struggling to get people to attend. And the people who do attend simply aren’t buying.
Let’s unpick some of that so that you really understand what’s going on and what’s changed. And then we’ll talk about what to do instead. If that sounds like something you want to dive into, then keep reading.
A classic question I often get asked is: do webinars work?
And the short answer is yes. Studies indicate that 73% of B2B marketers say webinars are their best way to generate leads for that business. And that the leads webinar registrations generate are generally engaged prospects and lead to sales.
One other statistic from a 2017 study is that 66% of marketers said that webinars were one of the most effective tactics for B2B marketing. And they worked for every aspect of B2B marketing, including lead generation sales, conversion, even customer satisfaction.
So if the statistics look so good, at least the B2B, why are people struggling? Why aren’t all webinars not converting into sales these days?
In this article – that’s transcribed and refined from an impromptu podcast episode – I divided this question into three main topics that you’re going to learn about.
#1 One is why are people avoiding webinars nowadays? You know, what’s going on?
#2 Second, for those of you who are running webinars and workshops and other kinds of free marketing events who are struggling, what can you do to increase webinar, attendance and sales conversions?
#3 And third, how you can leverage an alternative strategy, a self-funded lead generation system that needs to sales using a paid mini-offer?
Now although there’s a lot of reasons why webinars don’t work anymore, some of them are in the design of webinars. And we’ll talk about that next, but from a marketing point of view, there’s also a bigger element and that’s just the general lower appetite for webinars today.
I think people are just really careful with where they put their times. Unless you’ve really positioned it well, they’re probably thinking, oh, it’s just another webinar or I’ll catch the replay. Or, you know, I’m just going to have to sit through and listen to somebody, talk for an hour.
And that’s not what people want these days. They want interaction and they want connectivity. They want dialogue. And if you don’t give them, they really dust disengage quite quickly these days and move onto the next person.
Listen, you could argue that a podcast doesn’t give you that dialogue, obviously. It’s just me talking to you for 20, 30, 40 minutes. But podcasts are a very different medium to when someone goes and watches a webinar.
There’s an expectation around a podcast which is that you’re only going to listen to it. There’s not an expectation around a webinar that you’re just going to sit and listen. There’s an expectation that it’s going to be interactive, which is why calling it a workshop helps set that expectation, to signal that there’s actual work going to be done.
For a workshop, it’s expected that when people show up, they’re actually going to be asked to do things. You’re probably going to get feedback. You’re going to get question and answer time.
All of these things give somebody a much clearer idea of the nature of the engagement. So they’re much more likely to sign up in the first place if you position it that way, they’re also more likely to stay if you actually deliver it that way.
For B2B, webinars are still fairly effective for generating leads that attendees become really good leads and convert well to sales or at least sales conversations. But in the B2C world, we’re seeing a really big fall off in terms of the effectiveness of webinars – only 20 to 40% of registrants show up.
Although you could argue that webinars are still effective, there is probably an art to really positioning it. However, there’s no point in inviting people to a webinar if they’re actually not going to be able to interact in some way with you. You might just as well produce a pre-recorded video series.
So if all your webinars involve you talking at people all the way through the event and then tag a sales pitch on the end with no means of dialogue and no means of them for really interact and engage with you for them to participate, that’s one area you can work on to make sure your webinar really does the job that you’re wanting it to do.
And one of the things you can look at if you are running webinars and you’re really not getting sales from them is to look at the points where people are falling off – to look at the engagement through customer journey data analytics.
- If they’re just not registering, that’s probably something to do with how you’re presenting the event, and the messaging for your webinar.
- If they’re registering but not attending, it’s worth looking at the email copy and whether you can add incentives for turning up live.
- If they are attending, but they’re not staying, that’s something to do with whether or not you’re giving them what they thought they were going to get in terms of the focus, whether or not you’re welcoming and personable.
For the webinar itself, there are all sorts of reasons why people actually don’t stay on a webinar. It could be that the material isn’t engaging in that, or that it’s going too fast, too slow.
You can also think about it in terms of storyboarding, and ways to get people to stay looking for the next slides, to say, looking for the next insight that you’re going to share with them.
It is like one of those TV series where you, you kind of give one episode, almost one scene and then leave it on a bit of a cliff. To entice people to stay for the next step.
There’s an art in terms of how you present your content. That’s quite important there as well. That’s also some clues and whether they stay for 25%, 75%, 100% in terms of how many make it all the way through your offer or are they dropping off just as you get to the sales pitch.
And in that case, maybe you just need to think about the transition a little bit more carefully:
- Have you created a strong enough arc towards the point where you talk about your offer?
- How well are the topic and your offer connected in your audience’s mind?
- Is it a match to what they want or need?
- Does what you provide actually align with what you’ve been teaching them and make sense that it’s part of their learning.
- Are you giving a clear call to action?
These are some of the things that I work on with my clients, where we review their whole process from the initial sales page, the landing page for the webinar, through to the email nurture sequence and then the actual webinar structure itself. And then also the follow-up post-webinar.
How to Build, Market and Deliver Effective Webinars
If you’re really wedded to running webinars, there are many ways that you can make webinars more productive and fruitful. First of all, make sure the title is really engaging and provides a hook for your most relevant, ideal clientele. And second, keep the content engaging and super relevant.
It’s likely your audience is aware of the topic and maybe have done their homework and the related market that maybe they even know a lot more facts than you give them credit for. You need to make sure you’re well prepared for any questions that are going to come your way so that customers are going to be impressed by your know-how and your insight.
A big no-no is don’t lie. That’s probably a given in all your marketing. But what I mean here is that you really have to build your relationship based on complete honesty, openness, transparency, and really be authentic.
Use your story, even if there’s some vulnerable parts of it. Share some of the things that haven’t worked to present lessons learned rather than try to just only give the positive things.
Obviously, there’s an element of professionalism in how you deliver your webinar too. So make sure that you do a dry run to tackle any technical hiccups, and make sure that when you transition into the sales, that it’s elegant, that it’s seamless, that it makes sense so that your sales offer is on message and in service.
It’s okay to tell people you’re going to be making an offer. They’ll respect you for it. There’s nothing wrong with saying: Right now, I really want to tell you about my offer. You knew this was coming so that everyone leaves the webinar feeling good about what you’ve shared and good about the opportunity that you’ve presented to them.
I know a lot of people get nervous and shy away from actually making that offer. But I was told a long time ago that if you feel that your offer is right for the particular group of people who have a need, then you’d be doing them a disservice by not telling them about how you can help them.
And really that’s helped a lot to make me feel confident about making offers. It’s leaning into my belief and confidence that I can help people. What I can’t do is help people who aren’t prepared to put in the work themselves. So it’s also an opportunity for you to really position who you want as a client and for people to have to almost apply to work with you.
I mean, that’s what I actually do myself. You have to apply to join my programme. And again, that positions you very much more as an in-demand expert who they’d be privileged to work with, as opposed to a sales person who’s just pitching and pedalling a product.
To conclude this part then: webinars are still seen as an effective tool and they can work really well for your business if you do certain things right and you make the whole process effective, make sure there’s real opportunity for your potential customers to interact with you.
And you know, there’s a lot of advanced technologies now you can use to get participants interacting with you and with each other – from reaction buttons and hand raising to breakout rooms.
Whatever you do, the technical aspects have to be smooth as well. There are certain expectations these days because people are attending a lot of webinars. They’ve seen a lot of very good practice and they’ve seen a lot of bad practice. You want to make sure you’re at the good end of the spectrum!
You can build loyal and regular customers through webinars and workshops. So make the most of it, if you can, especially if you’re in the B2B space. But if you’re struggling to get people to register, if your webinars are suffering from low attendance, then you’re putting a lot of effort into organizing them, and marketing and delivering them, with little or no return on investment.
So let’s first look at how you could start doing things differently so that you can get this webinar or workshop strategy working for you.
Then if you decide that actually there’s a more systemic problem with webinars for your particular audience, then you may want to be looking at an alternative and we’ll talk about that in a moment later.
I wanted to draw your attention to an article in Forbes, which I found really, really helpful for giving webinars a final hurrah. Here’s the link:
It’s useful to you if you like running webinars, and if you want to try and improve the conversions through the whole process. It talks a little bit about the explosion of interest in webinars first of all, and online conferences, virtual summits.
And it sets the plot twist that a lot of organizations, a lot of businesses are finding that their webinar attendance, from registrations to attendance, to actually staying through the whole hour or however long yours is, that the rates are really falling off.
And it’s really frustrating because you put a lot of work and effort into setting these events up, from a marketing point of view, as well as creating the content.
It’s kind of like if you booked up an event hall and you paid your fee and you’ve got all the catering delivered, and nobody turned up. It would be really, really disappointing right? I’ve certainly had a lower turnout than I’d aimed at for some of my in-person workshops, but at least there were enough to have a good group.
Online, of course, the potential audience should be almost limit unlimited. So it’s doubly disappointing when people don’t show up.
Well, this article talks a lot about why webinar attendance rates are low. And there’s probably not a single reason, and we’ve touched on a few things earlier. So it’s not always clear what you can actually do differently. You need to look at the whole thing, the whole strategy, end to end.
Here’s a nice little offer for you…
I’m more than happy to help someone will walk through that process with me. If you want to have a consult about that.
You see, there’s a difference between webinar registration numbers and how many people actually show up as we’ve talked about before, and as well as the number who stayed to watch all of it.
There is a process here. And you really need to dive into the engagement data at each touch point.
So make sure that you do have that data and you are analysing it.
And if you’re not sure what to look for, then as I say, I’m happy for you to contact me and we can go through it.
Back to this Forbes article, the 10 things that was listed, and this is an article, actually, let me give credit to the author Lee Gimpel, founder of Better Meetings. And I thought he really captured the main shifts in why webinars are proving challenging these days. In brief, it’s because:
- There’s now a ton of competing webinars
- People are busy
- There’s, no need for them to commit. You know, if they just book it one day and don’t show up, there’s no issue with that.
- Screen fatigue. People are tired, they’ve been on zoom for their work possibly all day. They want to get on zoom again and attend to webinar.
- They’re also burned out by bad webinars. As I said earlier, some of them are just not very good.
- Monetizing webinars – paid webinars you get a much more serious audience when they’re having to pay a little bit. They also turn up when they’ve actually paid.
- Attending live isn’t important if people think they’re going to get the replay. So positioning the front that there won’t be a replay might actually increase your attendance.
- There’s no online engagement. I touched on that earlier. People get a sense within the first 5 or 10 minutes whether or not something’s going to be interactive. In your first intro, where you say what you’re going to cover, it’s really important to tell them when there’ll be time for questions, when there’ll be something that they’re going to be asked to do, when there’s going to be some kind of dialogue. N
- Too salesy. Let me dig into that one a bit …
Sometimes it’s about the transition into the actual offer at the end of the webinar. Sometimes people are now doing it in the middle of the webinar, so that there’s still more great content.
And then there’s a kind of a refresh repeat and the end about your offer. But people now really know that there’s going to be a pitch at the end. So they drop off at about 75% of the way in because they think they’ve got what they came in.
- Over promising. Some webinars are really pitching well on the front-end, getting lots of opt-ins because the landing page is really telling them it’s going to be so fantastic, that they’re going to get so much out of it. And then they don’t deliver.
Again, this is something that people get quite wise to within the first 10 to 15 minutes; they can sense it from the format, the style, the authenticity of the presenter.
So those are the 10 things in Lee’s article. Have a read of some of the detail in there, but I thought it was so excellent I wasn’t going to attempt to cover what Lee did so brilliantly.
What I do want to move on to now, though, is if you’re not going to run a webinar, if you say, you know, I can make it the best webinar ever, I can do all of those 10 ways I can really make it the best version of a webinar you could possibly have, but if my audience just isn’t turning up for webinars….
Let’s talk about what can you do instead?
The Golden Age of Mini-Offers
That was a little bit of a clue in number six in that list. And that was about monetizing. So one of the things that’s working really well is to actually have a mini-offer. So a mini-course or paid webinar or video series, even a book, something that someone has to pay for. When you do this, automatically the value proposition goes up enormously.
Mini-offers are a great way to leverage this and create a self-funded lead generation system.
So first, what do I mean by a mini offer?
This is where you start promoting a single piece of content. That’s going to build you a list of buyers, not just a list. Not just a list of people who have attended a webinar, not just unless turf downloaded a freebie that you’ve given away, but a self-funded lead magnet.
This is where for people who have bought this mini-offer, you also have the opportunity to upsell to your high-end signature program – either at the point of sale or afterwards.
In order to make this work and just like lead magnets, just like your webinar title, you’re going to need an absolute core concept, blockbuster idea.
You need to sell it before you build it. And if they buy it. You will build it.
So it’s not like Field of Dreams, the movie, where it was: if you build it, they will come. I don’t know if you’ve seen that film. The idea was that he had to build this baseball pitch, so that the ghosts of the famous baseball players of the past would all turn up and play a game and they could watch it and be in awe of all of these great historic players of the past.
Kevin Costner, who was the star of it, kept hearing this whispered voice saying: if you build it, they will come.
But here, we’re not talking about it being that way round, because if you build it, it’s going to take you a lot of time. And then what if they don’t come, then you’ve built it for nothing.
It’s all about alignment. So if you pre-sell it, you’re making sure the offer is resonating with the people that you want to help the people, the target clientele that it’s designed for. So sell it before you build it, that’s the mantra here.
What you want is a unique, simple, and very results focused offer. You want a mini-course or a workshop course, even a set of resources or templates can work well as a mini-offer. It can also be a book, an ebook or a fully published printed book where the offer is free plus shipping.
The core idea though is that it’s a paid offer, that is going to be a paid course, but it’s going to be a low cost, right? A low barrier for people to say yes to when they think that’s what they want. And they’re prepared to put a little bit of skin in the game to get it.
They’re much more likely to turn up if it’s a live event or a live workshop, and they’re much more likely to consume it if it’s a downloadable piece of content that’s easy to consume and work through.
And you want to pick something that’s based on your existing strengths that really plays to what you’re good out in terms of the medium, in terms of the modality, in terms of the structure of the content, whether it’s written, audio, video, or whether it’s a combination of everything.
Really pay attention to the structure too. Back to that story arc for exactly the same reason that even though it’s a paid mini offer, it’s also a means of helping people get to know you, like you and trust you enough to then commit further and opt-in to get your full signature.
Pre-selling your mini-offer avoids a lot of the traditional situations people find themselves in with marketing and sales:
- You spend a lot of time on development of products or a full signature program that you then find no-one wants to buy.
- The circle of procrastination and perfectionism and the failure. The sense that the fear of failure that, you know, what if my product doesn’t work is sometimes why we, we just spent months building something.
- Using a mini-offer at the front-end avoids the feelings of overwhelm I talked about at the start, the exhaustion and paralysis by analysis that means you never pull the trigger on your core offer.
It avoids the need to produce multiple pieces of content to put out on social media or lead magnets that don’t convert into sales.
You just focus on one unique and simple mini-offer. Just a single piece of content with a price tag that people can easily say yes to.
The price is likely to be something that’s about 5-10% of your main offer. So if you have a programme or service that’s $2000, your mini-offer should be around $100-200. But you can also test a lower price point, say $10.
Looking around, it seems $27 is a popular price for mini-offers. But bear in mind the differential between your mini-offer and your core upsell offer. If they’re too far apart, you may not create enough of a bridge to aid the buyer’s decision.
It’s also a really good way of avoiding the freebie seekers or chasing prospects down, because with a low-priced mini-offer, you know if someone is in or out very quickly. If the mini-offer price is too big, it’s that’s a barrier for someone, then they’re probably not an ideal client. For me. It’s the antidote to non-converting webinars. You can scale it with ads because if it’s actually a paid offer, it means you’ve got a budget.
You know, how much money it takes, how many adverts you need to run. And how much the cost per click is if you like to generate a sales. So you know what you can afford to spend, and if you do it slowly and carefully, it could be low budget, low risk ad strategy that can really fuel your lead generation.
7 Steps to Creating Your Mini-Offer
Finally, to help you think about how to create your mini-offer, I’ve got seven steps for you.
I’m a big fan of the number seven. It seems to come up an awful lot in everything that I do.
And I want to give you seven steps to creating your mini offer, just to finish up with, and then to give you a mini-offer at the end.
Step ONE is to identify your unique before and after promise. You know, what is it that you’re going to deliver through this?
Step TWO is to turn your expert process or a slice of it – the first step, the first milestone – into a simplified tool or resource or a mini course.
Step THREE, craft your results, focused messaging, really focus on your audience. It’s not about you or your business. It’s about them, where they are at, where they want to be and how they can bridge the gap.
Step FOUR is to pre-sell your mini offer. Get it out into the world and then run a keep warm campaign where you can even upsell to your signature program. For some people who may want to take an early, um, incentive and early opportunity to commit to a little bit more.
Step FIVE is pretty straightforward – it’s to deliver your course or program. So the idea of keeping it simple means that you can actually get going straight away. You don’t need to have fancy websites and learning management system platforms. You can actually deliver something quite straightforwardly by email or via a Facebook group, or just putting everything in a folder and organizing it in a Google drive that you share with your partners.
Step SIX is to scale with paid advertising. As I mentioned earlier, this is a really good way. Once you know that your offer is converting when you get it in front of the right audience, then you can actually accelerate the process by running paid ads. And it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg; it’s really about being very targeted and building it up slowly so that you can test test, test before you actually ramp up.
Last, is step SEVEN, to gather testimonials because that’s going to fuel the system more. When you can add testimonials to your sales page for the offer, then you’re going to get more conversions.
And that’s the essence of it, because I don’t want to go into loads and loads of details. I just want to seed the idea.
I really want to hear from you how this is landing and whether or not, and many offer a mini-course of some kind, whatever the format of that is, whether webinars, whether it’s videos, audio, an email course, whether it’s something that you put up on a platform.
What are your ideas? What’s this sparked for you?
I’d really love to hear back from you. So what you can do to contact me is a few things. You can set up an appointment to speak with me or on that page you can submit an inquiry if you want to do it that way. And I do reply personally to all enquiries and emails.
The other way you can do it, if you’re so inclined, is to go to our Submit a Question page for the podcast – you can share your comment or ask a question in text or audio!
And I really can’t wait to hear all of your ideas and perhaps be able to help you with it.
I’m also going to be putting out my own little mini-offer in due course, and so if you want to get news of that, make sure that you join the iNSIGHTS newsletter, which you can do via the runner at the bottom of the website here.
Lastly, let me mention, there are also a load of free lead magnets you can opt in to get, so that’s another way to get on the list.
Under the Academy menu is where you’ll find a tonne of Free Stuff.
There’s a whole host of things, depending on what you need and what you’re interested in.
So by clicking on any one of those, you’ll be able to opt in, and as well as getting your freebie, you will be joining the isuccess mailing list where you’ll get all of our updates for new podcast episodes, new articles and where I’ll be sharing a special offers that I send to my subscribers.
Any questions at all, just get in touch via the different ways that I’ve just shared and we’ll get connected. That’s all for me till the next time.