When done right, webinars can be an effective and engaging marketing strategy that can achieve a range of goals: everything from establishing topic authority to lead generation and customer acquisition. Here at VerticalResponse, we highly recommend them and conduct a variety of free webinars every month on topics from content marketing, email design, search engine optimization to leadership and more.

Shelby Britton, senior product marketing manager at Adobe Systems is also a webinar guru and has been running them since 2007. She’s responsible for Adobe’s webinar solution and runs the company’s Webinar Best Practices blog. She’s completed hundreds of webinars and seen some consistent mistakes. Thinking of conducting your own webinar? Avoid the following five foibles and you’ll be well on your way to webinar marketing success.

Mistake #1: Promoting a webinar the wrong way.

Promoting your webinar isn’t just like any other lead generation program. Banner ads or search marketing is typically not as effective with live events.

“The best way to promote a webinar is a very targeted specific email invitation. Really, traditional email works the best,” she says.

Partnering up with another company or expert is also another great way to expand your audience. Have your partner send emails to their own audience and double up your promotion.

Mistake #2: Doing too little preparation before the webinar.

Take the time to learn the technology you’ll be using in advance. You wouldn’t show up to a physical venue to present without first making sure you’ve properly set up your microphones, video and so forth. Make sure to log into your webinar platform, set up your audio ahead of time and rehearse using the technology in advance of the time you’re presenting.

Mistake #3: Presenting the wrong content for the buying cycle.

Although webinars can be used effectively both as acquisition tools and for sales, the proper timing is crucial. Everyone should deliver the right content to the right people at the right time, no matter what the medium is.

“For instance, you wouldn’t do a demo webinar at the top of your sales funnel, because that’s just not the right messaging you need to give people as a first touch. When you don’t know them and are introducing yourself to prospects, you don’t want to demo because that’s just too hard of a sales pitch,” says Britton. That’s the time for thought leadership or best practice topics that educate the audience. A demo belongs at the bottom of the funnel, after a relationship with contacts is established and a purchase is being considered.

Mistake #4: Making little use of interactive tools.

The reason to host a webinar is to boost engagement and conversation. If a dynamic, interactive experience isn’t a necessary element you’re looking for, creating a video or writing a blog post or guide may be a better solution than delivering live content.

Otherwise, make your webinar interactive and engaging. “It’s not the same thing as presenting at a live event where everyone can see the presenter. It has to be visually stimulating, and you have to plan interactivity into the webinar,” Britton says, so make sure to embed polls, interactive exercises in the chat room and activities every five minutes or so.

This begins the moment your webinar begins—or even before, when participants are gathering. “Let them know you see them and acknowledge their presence, so they know they’re not the only person in the room,” says Britton. This can be as simple as asking them to share their name and location when they ask a question, or having the presenter acknowledge and read out some names.

Mistake #5: Not using the information collected during the webinar.

“I think a lot of people miss the boat when they don’t use all the information they collect during a webinar to qualify leads,” says Britton. “You can use all of that rich data, beyond whether someone attended or didn’t attend and how long they attended. There’s so much more information you can collect.” This includes using polls as a way to qualify leads or collect more information on attendees beyond what was collected in the registration process.

Do you conduct webinars of your own? Let us know your thoughts about these mistakes.

Speaking of webinars, be sure to check out our calendar and join us for a free webinar. We have them every week.

Want more marketing tips and tactics? Sign up for the free VR Buzz.

This post contributed by guest author, Yael Grauer. Grauer is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor. Find her online at Yaelwrites.com.

© 2014 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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