8 reasons I left a free webinar this week

I am a self-confessed e-learning junkie. I belong to closed groups geared toward creatives on Facebook, follow and engage with industry professionals on Twitter and Instagram, maintain a healthy business reading list, consistently get certified on marketing topics and have been known to shell out cash for the odd email or online-based course that I need to have.

This week, I attended a free webinar. It had an engaging title that I won’t repeat here, but it had to do with writing copy for websites that helps your conversion rates and it was geared toward creative entrepreneurs.

We recommend webinars to our clients for myriad of reasons. The most important ones: they help build your brand and position your company as a thought leader in your field, generate leads and can be repurposed into other content that also helps generate leads. They are a great way to interact with your audience, validate your personas, test out messaging, gauge interest on a new topic or angle and so much more.

It is understood that a percentage of attendees will convert to active leads — Neil Patel has an amazing blog post about using webinars to generate leads — and most professionals who sign up for a webinar these days know and expect a sales pitch at the end.

But, back to my story, I attended this webinar and I actually left before it was over. Here are the 8 reasons I left so you don’t make the same mistakes.

The webinar was at an inconvenient time. The organizer was targeting a worldwide audience. Which means 3pm Pacific / 6pm Eastern / 11pm in London / 6am in Sydney. I live in Mountain time and 4pm is the time when I am wrapping up my workday, starting dinner for my family and making sure my 7 year old is actually doing her homework. If this was our client, I’d suggest breaking the webinar down into 3 or 4 different sessions to cater to the different time zones and catch people more toward the middle of their workday when they are less likely to be distracted.

The presenter spent 25% of the time introducing herself. In a one hour webinar, we were at minute 15 and not yet into the subject matter of the call. While it is important to establish the reasons you’re a thought leader in the field, we are already IN the webinar and ready to absorb the information you want to offer. Resist the urge to walk viewers through your entire LinkedIn profile, and keep the opening introductions shorter than 7 minutes.

The chat feature on the webinar was distracting. The attendee count hovered around 125, and the chat widget was extremely distracting with constant interruptions and questions that went mostly unanswered. If you are planning on having a Q&A session, maybe leave the chat feature off until you get closer to that portion of the session.

There was only one takeaway from the free presented content. There were multiple samples of the same technique presented, but overall the takeaway was “make the content about the client you want to get and not about yourself.” The content you present should fit the subject matter of the product you will sell at the end, but you should try to deliver at least 3 different useful takeaways to make your webinar worthy of the audience’s time investment.

There was not enough time for the Q&A. I don’t know if this was by design or not, but the presenter completely skipped the Q&A and delved into the sales pitch portion of the presentation without addressing the multiple questions posted on the chat board. Combined with the brief content, it felt like she was rushing to get to the sales portion and there wasn’t a lot of regard for whether the questions were clarified.

The sales pitch lasted 35% of the run time. We all know you’re leading up to a sales pitch. But don’t ignore the teaching part of the talk.

The webinar went over the allotted time. Be respectful of your audience’s time. Going more than 5 minutes over means you will lose a portion of attendees before you’re done pitching the product, and you won’t make a great impression.

There was no leave-behind content aside from the sales pitch. This is one I hadn’t thought about, but I am going to start suggesting to our clients. Aside from my notes, and a recording of the webinar, I have nothing summarizing the subject matter and it would be nice to have some sort of checklist, or informational one-sheet that encompassed the content discussed.

Okay, so I didn't actually leave the webinar. But I only stayed to document what NOT to do, which is worse. In actuality, this webinar ended up teaching me quite a bit—but it's about how to run a webinar and has absolutely nothing to do with the subject matter.

*If you want to host a webinar and need a marketing team to do it, let us know! Or if you have ideas for webinar (or other digital marketing) best-practices, I’d love to learn from you. Give me a shout at astrid@growthguild.co.

Design, GrowthAstrid Storey