Data from RNL reinforces what we already know … students dig video content. By 2020, 80% of internet traffic will be video streaming and 7 out of 10 students (and growing) watch videos from colleges. As a result, hosting online events like webinars will continue to grow in importance as part of a holistic, omnichannel recruitment and marketing campaign.
Unfortunately, because webinars are still a relatively new tool in the toolbox for enrollment managers, far too often we find ourselves falling into avoidable traps with respect to finding success. Here are 5 of those traps and, more importantly, how to avoid them:
1) Making Students Jump Through Too Many Hoops
It is generally understood that the more fields that are required on an RFI (Request For Information) form, the lower conversion will be. This is because students are inclined to feel frustrated having to jump through so many hoops to get at information that should be readily available to them. Additionally, with so many ways to track and leverage anonymous website visitor traffic (like Capture CBE) to drive engagement, students should not have to fill out forms to get what they want or for you to be able to identify them.
A big challenge posed by standard webinar platforms like zoom or webex is that these forms are a necessary component to make the platform work; oftentimes displayed as a poorly branded environment resulting in poor registration results. This added layer of complexity is one hoop too many for many students to jump through.
What can you do to remove the barriers between students and your gated content?
Identify methods to allow students to access your webinar content without filling out any forms. One solution is Q-Tokens, a default feature of the Conduit online engagement platform. Q-Tokens allow you to leverage a unique log-in/personal URL to invite your prospective students to join you for your webinar (via email and global SMS texting) without making them fill out forms or register before accessing the platform while still retaining the ability to track all of their activity throughout their experience.
2) Treating it like an in-person event
A lot of planning goes in to campus and regional events. We need to order catering, set up chairs, reserve space … the list goes on and on. Additionally, prospective students and their families need to plan logistics. Travel plans, hotels, babysitters … all of these things impact the availability of prospective students to come to a campus or regional event. This, of course, is why we promote open houses and other similar events early and often.
Another consideration when planning an in-person event is the content. While a campus event may be pretty standardized for larger audiences, the nature of an online event allows you to be more nimble with your content; ensuring you are giving attendees the experience they want and not simply the one you think you should prepare.
Online events are different than in-person events … both from the perspective of the cadence of promotions to finalizing the content we present. The challenge, of course, is the right tools to be able to tailor content while driving the highest possible attendance without the limitations of the A/V team and the budget for bagels at check-in.
How do we make promoting online events easy while also personalizing the content?
While campus and regional events require a combination of print and email communications well in advance, online events require a more succinct but well-timed cadence of promotions aligned with the start time of your webcast. Additionally, while all of the content at a campus or regional event is limited to the timeframe of that event, online content has the ability to be available on-demand … driving opportunities for students and their families to engage past the point of when you’re done with your presentation.
PlatformQ Education has been building and hosting online events for students for over 10 years; leveraging their proprietary data on student engagement to build an effective pre and post-event marketing cadence to drive both live event attendance and post-event engagement opportunities. Additionally, by leveraging Conduit’s unique Q-Board feature, attendees can help shape the content by sharing what they’d like to see and “up-voting” other ideas they like.
3) Too many Calls-To-Action (CTAs)
It can be tempting to try to sneak promoting a webinar in to a webinar about other things … academic overviews, a plethora of upcoming events … you take your pick. The problem with this approach is the same as when we try to encourage starting an application at the same time as learning more, while at the same time inviting students to visit our virtual tour. While we think we are providing meaningful options, what we are really doing is confusing our audience with too many CTAs!
How do I keep my online event marketing simple?
One of the things that the PlatformQ Education team has learned over the years is that less is more. Our marketing is focused on driving conversion for a singular purpose (driving students to your live or on-demand content!). When done correctly this content can be aligned with your legacy communication plans to ensure that event promotions are not overlapping with broader demand generation emails, phone calls and travel.
4) Going App Happy
As mentioned before, one of the challenges with legacy webinar platforms like gotowebinar and zoom is the fact that your audience needs to download an app to effectively engage with the content. When the default device for most of our audience is mobile, that means we are asking students to download an app for a very selfish purpose … something most simply will not do.
While we may want to believe students will download an app because we ask them to consider the student perspective of downloading a third party, non-institutional branded app to engage with webcasting content. It doesn’t happen.
How do I get students to my webinar without asking them to download an app?
Webcasting platforms like Conduit are completely browser based, meaning that no matter if a student clicks a link in an email or taps a link in a text message they are immediately dropped directly in to the live webinar without being prompted to first download an app. This is a very important step in ensuring students access your content without any barriers while enabling your team to have full visibility into who is attending and what they are doing while they are watching.
5) Forgetting Students Use Netflix
Far too often, the success of a webinar is determined by the number of students who attended the presentation live. This is mostly because, as we mentioned earlier, we treat online events like offline events when it comes to marketing and measuring outcomes.
The reality, however, is our audience (be it Gen Z or Millennials) is accustomed to being able to access content both live (TV) if they really want to or on-demand when they really want to. Keeping your webinar content constrained to the time of the live broadcast significantly reduces your reach (by up to 50%!) and limits the opportunity for your audience to engage.
How do I make my content available both live and on demand, easily?
It’s important to remember that students we are recruiting today are accustomed to content being immediately available and accessible to them on every device and platform. Unfortunately, standard webinar platforms are not built for this.
With most webinar platforms, the process of making a webinar recording available after the live presentation looks like this:
- Remember to click record in your webcasting platform. If you forget … tough luck!
- Download the recording and don’t forget about it in your downloads folder
- Upload the recording to YouTube, Vimeo, or some other video platform
- E-mail the recording link around to those who didn’t attend
- If you do all of this, accept the fact that you will never have great insights into who is engaging with your on-demand content after this point.
With Conduit, the process looks like this:
- Host your live event
- Your webinar content is immediately available on-demand and promoted to your student audience who couldn’t make it
- All data and analytics for live attendees and continuous on-demand traffic is available in your Conduit dashboard or delivered to your CRM via SFTP.
90% of an effective webinar strategy is everything that happens before and after you “start broadcast”. To see success with a webcasting strategy it is important to be set up to capture the right data to demonstrate impact while also leveraging the right marketing tactics to drive attendance and results.
Contact us to learn how Conduit + PlatformQ Eduction’s expertise in online engagement planning and strategy can support better conversion throughout the entire cycle.