We're regular readers of Ken Molay's The Webinar Blog and find it informative and helpful to the online event industry. However, we respectfully take a different view about Ken's recent post entitled "Following Up With Meeting Attendees." This particular blog entry is about getting telephone sales calls from technology service providers simply because you registered and attended a web seminar or recorded presentation. The gist of the post is that if you're selling online presentation solutions or web conferencing (from Brainshark or Microsoft Live Meeting, as Ken cited in these instances) you, as a sales person, should follow up with registrants and attendees to sell your services very soon after the event, as memories fade about registering or even attending an online event. That's fine if your registrants are inquiring about online presentation technologies, but aren't we getting past webinars about webinars?
Here's our problem with this when it comes to web events: Why do web conferencing providers assume that registrants and attendees want to buy web conferencing services? Indeed, many web event registration forms, no matter what the event content, ask you, "When do you plan on using web conferencing?" This is ludicrous. The registration forms for the early "webinars about webinars" evidently haven't changed, even if the event content has nothing to do with web conferencing technology or producing webinars. The legacy qualification questions remain (or the newbie marketer hasn't told its web conferencing vendor to take the question down for a web event). That's amateur marketing and it's annoying to people. If you insist on asking qualification questions (at the risk of losing registrants), at least make the questions relevant to the content that's being presented.
Another take on getting sales phone calls (particularly misguided ones) from web conferencing vendors soon after a web event is that the online event industry risks hurting itself. People often associate web seminars as being disguised sales pitches and that they're put on telemarketing and email lists validates this view while hurting the medium of web-based events. Today, whenever we register for a web event, we provide a secondary email address and often insert a fake phone number when "required" on the registration form. Some marketers respect their registrants and provide a checkbox to decline receiving at least emails, but many don't.
We think more respect should be given to registrants and attendees of web events, and providing relevant registration questions (the fewer the better) and opt-out features for both email and telephone calls goes a long way to affording it. To continue the current practices by some leading companies will simply to turn web events into list-generation scams. For great leads, the bottom line is that if the content of your web event is good, they'll call you. And if they've chosen to opt-in at the registration process because you provided the option and asked relevant questions, have at 'em.
May 3, 2007