It happens all the time. You hear about a new marketing “hack,” some trick that’ll explode your conversion rate and have you swimming in qualified leads like Scrooge McDuck in his gold doubloon silo.
Then you try it, and...nothing.
You throw this latest trick onto the pile of forgotten “solutions” that never lived up to the hype. It can make you cynical. It can tempt you to shrug off valid, effective strategies — like automating your webinars.
Sometimes, the problem isn’t the strategy, but the execution. The only thing worse than an over-hyped business “hack” is a legitimate strategy that fails because we lack the knowledge and skills to take full advantage of it.
That’s what I think the danger is with automated webinars. Automated webinars can be wildly effective — but only if you know how to use them effectively.
Too many people hear about automated webinars and suddenly have the ghost of the rotisserie chicken guy in their ear: “Set it and forget it!” (Apologies if that guy is still alive. I’m too busy to Google these things). They think you just record a video, slap it onto the Internet, and sit back as the leads and sales roll in.
No. Heavens, no.
In developing a new automated webinar feature for WebinarNinja, I had two challenges:
To identify why automated webinars work (when they do) and make it easy for users to exploit their unique advantages.
To identify why automated webinars don’t work (when they don’t) and help users avoid common pitfalls.
You can judge for yourself how I did with challenge #1, when you use our automated webinar feature. But before you do so, I think it’s crucial that you learn more about challenge #2: why some automated webinars fail to produce results.
Read on for the 4 biggest problems I see when automated webinars fail to convert. And for a complete education in crafting your best automated webinar, consider joining our upcoming 30 Day Automated Webinar Challenge.
Problem 1: You’re Faking It
One huge mistake I see is when people pre-record a webinar video, but act as if it’s live. They’ll either blatantly claim that it’s live, or just neglect to mention that it’s pre-recorded. I’ve even had people request a fake “chat” sidebar to include on their pre-recorded webinars, to give the impression that it’s happening in real time.
Are you kidding me?
Great marketing is not about lying or manipulating your audience. That might snag a few suckers in the short term, but it’s not a stable foundation for a sustainable business or solid CLTV (customer lifetime value). Tricking audiences is not a serious marketing strategy.
I’m not saying this from the saddle of my moral high horse, btw (though I do think lying to customers is...y’know, wrong). It’s just a cold, hard fact of business: brands are built on trust. So don’t BS people.
Problem 2: You Didn’t Film for Automation
This is probably the most common mistake: not realizing that automated webinars are very, very different from live webinars. You simply can’t record an automated webinar video the same way you record a live one.
They’re different animals, and require a different approach.
First, you definitely don’t want to try and “automate” a live webinar. Too many people (ok, including me) have used footage from a live lesson and repackaged it for later use. This is a mistake. Even if you’re not being purposely deceptive, it comes off as lazy and disingenuous.
Own the fact that it’s pre-recorded, present it accordingly, and your audience will appreciate the lesson for exactly what it is.
Next, you have to make the tonal shift of speaking to an “automated” audience instead of a live one. You can’t be as conversational, because it’s not a conversation (yet). There needs to be a conscious effort to avoid “live language,” like asking where people are from — as if you’re there to hear the answers.
Instead of shying away from the pre-recordedness of an automated webinar, lean into it. Because it’s not live, you can seriously up the production values! You can edit out mistakes and awkward stumbles. You can tighten up the timing. You can do multiple takes. In the end, a pre-recorded webinar can be much more polished than a live one.
Why not take advantage?
Problem 3: No Engagement
Just because an automated webinar isn’t live doesn’t mean you can’t interact with your audience!
You shouldn’t ask questions like “Hey, what’s the weather like where you are?” as if you’re working a live room. But you should pose genuine questions that will help your audience get the most out of the lesson. “Is your current fitness regimen working?” “How many new users do you need in the next 6 months?” “How much are you spending on _____?”
Whatever the topic, you can use questions to engage.
You can also have a two-way conversation, albeit a modified one. During an automated webinar, you can still solicit responses (and questions) from your audience. Yes, there will be a delay between their submission and your response, but that’s still valuable interaction. For example, WebinarNinja allows you to embed polls into your lesson, and makes it easy for attendees to submit questions right to your inbox without leaving the webinar.
Of course, the best kind of interactivity is to give your attendees a win. That’s just part of any good content, including automated webinars. Don’t just give attendees information. Give them steps, tasks, and the means to produce a result. Just because you’re not really “there” with them doesn’t mean that you can’t have an impact beyond the video.
Problem 4: A Video Without A System
Finally, nothing is more tragic than creating a fantastic automated webinar that engages your audience, and then...that’s it.
As in any kind of content marketing, there has to be a next step to move attendees down the funnel. Otherwise, you’re not converting attendees into customers. Automated webinars are best used as the beginning of a conversation — and the follow-up is what makes it all worthwhile for you.
Naturally, the best way to convert attendees is to include a sales offer in the webinar (Pro tip: be up front about the fact that there will be a sales offer. Nobody likes an ambush). Our automated webinars include a feature to embed offers into your lesson, at any point during the video.
But of course, not all your attendees will take advantage of your offer immediately.
That’s where a solid follow-up email sequence comes in. WebinarNinja lets you break down your invitee list and create a segmented email sequence that nets even more conversions, right from inside the platform. You can create emails for people who watched your webinar but didn’t take your offer. You can email people who signed up but never actually watched, letting them know about the offer they missed. The key is not to let the automated webinar itself be the end of the story.
If you’re considering or using automated webinars, simply eliminating these 4 issues will go a long way toward getting the most sales out of your effort.
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