Let's just call it what it is: fake.
Lies are bad marketing, even if it takes a while to catch up to you. This is extra true for small business whose brand growth depends on trust.
That's not to say recorded webinars are inherently bad or dishonest.
There's a way to use them honestly and effectively. A recorded webinar can be awesome for lead generation and sales. It just depends on how and why you record it, and what you do with it after.
Recorded webinars come in a few different types:
The first two are great! We encourage our Webinar Ninjas to use them. It's that last one that'll cause you trouble. Let's take a closer look at each:
Live Webinar Replays
Say you deliver a live webinar — a real-time presentation to an online audience. You teach them something, and maybe showcase a product or service. You offer a "Call to Action," a next step to move attendees down your sales funnel.
So far, so good.
Now let's say you record that live webinar. You make the recording available to people who signed up but didn't attend, or attendees who want to watch again. Cool.
Maybe you even tell new contacts about a great live webinar you did, and make the recording available as a content offer. Also cool.
The key is: everyone watching your replay knows it's a recording.
Replays are an excellent way to repurpose live webinars and get more out of them. You're not fibbing about what they are. You're simply letting people enjoy a rerun. They get some value, you get some leads.
Alternatively, you shoot your whole presentation without an audience. Then, you put it online for people to watch. It's not live, but it still includes valuable content and a way for the audience to learn more (or buy). That's automation!
...and there's nothing wrong with it.
As long as you're up-front about the fact that you recorded in advance, no harm, no foul. We actually encourage our Ninjas to use automation as a way to reach more people. Since time zones and schedules aren't an issue, it's a great way to expand your reach.
The sales conversions for automated webinars aren't as great as the live kind. But automated webinars are still powerful marketing assets. That's true whether you create scheduled automated webinars that broadcast at certain times, or offer a "Watch Now" option.
For example, you can use automated webinars to generate signups for live webinars. The automation is a great soft intro to your brand, with no sales offer. Instead, your Call-to-Action is simply to register for the next live event.
From there, you can haul in the sales by connecting live in real time. Hello revenue!
Some platforms (like ours) offer Hybrid webinars.
That's where you take a recorded presentation and play it for a live audience. You're on the webinar with your attendees, off camera. You're still chatting, answering questions, and making offers. It's not quite as cool for the audience, but it's easier for you.
In other words, you get (most of) the intimacy of live webinars, and (some of) the convenience of automation. Not too shabby.
Then, there are "simulated live" webinars. You create a presentation designed to look like it’s live, or you repackage a previous live webinar. But unlike with a replay, you register people who think it’s live. They think so because you told them so. Or you let them assume it.
You hope the audience buys it, along with whatever else you’re selling. Some platforms even offer "simulated" chat to make the whole charade more convincing.
Here's where I get a little emotional.
I'm no one's judge, but does anyone want to start their relationship with customers on a lie? There are platforms now whose USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is basically "We'll deceive your audience for you." Call me old-fashioned, but that's bad business.
Every lie has a clock attached to it. You can fool people early on, but not forever. Once that clock runs out, you will have permanently ruined the relationship. For anyone thinking long-term, it's a terrible strategy.
Why (and How) We Use Automated Webinars
For value to the audience and conversions for you, nothing beats a live webinar. They're the best way to create a real relationship with an audience. They build the living heck out of that sales-driving trust. In a word, live webinars are irreplaceable.
Of course, you can’t be online all the time.
As I discussed in a recent post, there’s nothing wrong with extending your reach by automating. You can webinar market 24/7 with automation. You just have to be ok with sacrificing a little of that intimacy, and accepting a lower conversion rate.
That’s ok! Automation is just closer to the top of the funnel.
Automation is best for getting more people interested. Live webinars are best for getting people more interested. You’ll convert a certain percentage of attendees to your automated webinar. The rest will need a little more love. But if it weren’t for automation, you might never have had their attention in the first place!
How Simulation Can Backfire
A hammer is great at hammering because it's not a screwdriver.
Screwdrivers are fine and precise. Hammers offer blunt force. Now, can you get a screw into wood with a hammer? Sure. It fails to take advantage of the fact that screwdrivers exist, won’t be as secure, and may split or weaken the wood. But you can do it.
The question is: should you?
Using live webinars for mass lead generation is like using a screwdriver to bang in nails. It's possible, but you're gonna wear yourself out. Using fake live webinars is like using a hammer to install screws. You can do it, but the foundation you build will be unstable.
So here's my advice: While your competitors are out there manipulating people that'll find out eventually, don't. Be the one who doesn't just make the sale, but builds long-term loyalty.
Later, your customers will be spreading the good word about your brand. And the victims of your competitors' scam will be telling their own story.
If you present recorded content as live, you might get some short-term benefits. But real success for entrepreneurs is a long game. Your audience’s trust is the single most valuable asset you have.
It’s also the hardest asset to build.
So if you're looking to get more out of your webinars, it's simple. Automate, don't simulate. You'll be glad you did.
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