There was a story in the news recently about a kid who hosted a Stranger Things-themed party (clearly a youth with excellent taste in entertainment) but was disappointed when not a single one of his friends turned up. Hopefully the problem was caused by all of his buddies being sucked into the Upside Down, but it’s more likely that they were just being douchey.
I’m not sure something like this really qualifies as news, but props to the kid for facing a fear that, if we’re honest, haunts all of our dreams.
The fear that our endeavors won’t just fail, they’ll generate a big, fat zero.
Whether it be the website with zero visitors, the product launch with zero sales, or the webinar with zero registrants, the idea that we could give maximum effort and reap nothing in return is enough to give anyone night terrors.
They say failure isn’t something to be feared and that we learn most from our disasters, but deep down I think we’d all rather just nail it the first time around.
The fear of no one showing up is perhaps most keenly felt by webinar hosts. When you’re all primped and primed to deliver a presentation, live and in person, it’s a nerve-wracking thought that few if anyone might actually show up to hear you speak.
In practice, receiving only a fraction of the expected attendees is less of a problem in the world of webinars. Aside from a quiet “chat window” (which you can always disable), no one but you is going to know that the attendance is low. And since WebinarJam automatically records your webinar, you can use and reuse the recording for months or even years.
Time spent delivering a webinar to a small webinar is never wasted time.
Nonetheless, it’s good sense to try and maximize the number of attendees. Especially if you’re running a sales webinar and you’re hoping to present an offer that will sell out quickly.
We’ve often talked on this blog about how to generate more interest in your webinars, but today we’re going to focus on how to get your registrants to show up on the day. Anyone that registers for your webinar, by definition, is interested in what you have to say. It’s worth taking a little extra effort to maximize the chances that they’ll be in their seat and not presume that they can just watch the replay after the fact.
Get a commitment from your registrants
A standard pre-webinar push is to encourage people to register, and then send registrants emails leading up to the event. Their purpose should be to encourage them to attend and give them reasons why it’s in their best interests to do so.
But there’s more that you can do, before you send out any emails, that can increase the likelihood of a registrant turning up. The key is to squeeze a commitment out of every single prospect.
This begins with the registration process. Asking people to register for your webinar, even if it’s just handing over a name and email address, represents a commitment. A small commitment, sure, but a commitment nonetheless.
Once you’ve convinced someone to take this small step, however, it becomes easier to get them to take more steps. And the more actions you can convince them to take, the more likely it is that the person will follow through and become part of your audience.
In this strategy, once a person has registered for your webinar, you’re going to direct them to a “thank you” page on which they’ll find a checklist of steps to carry out.
And I mean, literally, a checklist. A bulleted-list of actions (labelled “Step 1,” “Step 2,” etc.) that you ask the registrant to take, each a little more involved than the last. Use a header along the lines of…
Thank you for registering for the Stranger Things Panel Debate webinar. To access the webinar and ensure that you don’t miss a moment of this exciting event, please take a moment to complete the following steps.
There are lots of steps you can ask the registrant to take, and you don’t want to overdo it, but here are five that sit just on the right side of being easy for the prospect to carry out, but involved enough that it will help them make a conscious effort to attend your webinar.
1. Whitelist Your Email
Tell the prospect that you’ll be sending out important pre-webinar information, including the location of the webinar page, by email. In practice, not everyone will literally whitelist your email address, but just raising the prospect of them missing an important email will prime them to look out for your communication.
2. Add Your Event to Their Calendar
This is a critical step because, depending on how their calendar app is customized, their own software will send them reminders. You can simply ask the registrant to manually add your webinar to their calendar, but you can make it easier by using “Add to Calendar” buttons.
3. Share the Event on Social Media
Facebook and Twitter should be listed as a minimum, but also consider Pinterest, Instagram, and any others that are part of your social media marketing. Give your prospects sample text to post. For example…
I just registered for the Stranger Things Panel Debate webinar on <DATE>. Go to <LINK> to sign up as well or I’ll send Dustin round to purr at you.
This is more than just extra webinar promotion. Getting your registrants to tell their friends that they’re going to attend reinforces their commitment. When we tell people, publicly, that we’re going to do something, it becomes much harder to change course.
4. Offer a Prize for Attending
I recommend coming up with a prize related to your subject matter (offering cash could result in people attending who are not interested in your webinar and just looking for a freebie) and asking for a simple action to enter the contest.
For instance, ask them to tweet about your webinar using a specific hashtag, and explain that one will be picked at random to win the prize.
Here’s the crucial part…
You’re going to select the winner and announce it on the webinar. Make it clear that if their name is drawn but they’re not present, you’ll draw another winner.
5. Reveal an exclusive preview video
Reward the registrant for carrying out the above steps by giving them access to an exclusive video in which you share one of the awesome things you’re going to share on the webinar.
To be clear, this isn’t a teaser. You need to offer an abbreviated version of one of the best bits from your forthcoming event.
The trick is to deliver an abridged version of something genuinely useful or entertaining, and then say something along the lines of…
“This is just one of the amazing, never-before-seen Easter eggs from Season Two of Stranger Things, that we have lined up for you. On <DATE>, on the live webinar, I’m going to share with you another 10 secrets I discovered about the show that are even more shocking than this one. Make sure you’ve carried out the above steps and that you’ve arranged your affairs to be available to watch the entire webinar.”
There was something of a happy ending for the party host with the jackass “friends.” Some of the cast members of Stranger Things, when they heard about the story, promised to show up to his next party.
That’s cute, and I hope they follow-through, but you just know that if it happens, this kid is suddenly going to find that all of his “friends” have become overnight fans of the show.
And the rest of us can’t rely on Millie to get us through the tough times.
But that’s okay. We have marketing smarts and the power of WebinarJam to save us from the ignominy of an empty webinar room. Follow the above steps and you’ll do just fine.