Does a webinar have to cost money to have value?

In my emails at any one time is at least 5 invitations to attend a webinar.  Some of them are free, some cost money, some offer a replay, and others don’t specify.

When I sign up for a webinar, I try to check to make sure that I have the time available.  In some instances, the host encourages you to sign up even if you can’t make the webinar because they will be forwarding a recorded copy of the webinar to those who are unable to attend.

When the webinar is free, do you feel that there will be a salespitch at the end, or in the middle?

What cost do you consider an appropriate or affordable fee for a webinar to feel that you will gain value from it?

Recently, I was a guest speaker on two webinars in a series on social media.  It was sponsored by Southern Illinois University – Carbondale.  The webinars were free because of this sponsorship.  Initially there were 278 people registered for the webinar. The webinar was recorded and posted on a state sponsored website. But there were only 88 participants who logged in or a 31% attendance rate.  What caused the other 190 to not log-in – change in schedule, lack of reminders, knowing that it was being recorded, OR the word FREE leaving a poor perception of value?

Your thoughts?

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Author: DeeReinhardt

Social media, marketing and community relations specialist aiming to help people build their on-line presence with as many social media tools with which they feel comfortable.

4 thoughts on “Does a webinar have to cost money to have value?”

  1. I have attended “Free” webinars” and I am opposed to:
    1. Sales pitch to sell products.
    2. Content was taken directly from the internet.
    3. Presenters were not prepared.
    4. My questions could not be answered so I was left in limbo.
    5. Presenters don’t ask for feedback.
    6. Poor Power Point Presentations.

    “Free” webinars are beneficial as well.
    1. Introduction to new topics.
    2, Helpful hints to improve upon the topic being discussed.
    3. Provide up to date information.
    4. Some webinars provide new contacts.
    5. And the word “free” draws me in everytime.

    I know that it takes a lot of time and resources to put the webinars together but if the webinars are going to be “free” the same quality and professionalism should go into them as if they were charging.

  2. I agree with Eva’s list that sums up sufficiently most of the issues. I would add, vendor bias as another concern, and lack of being able to see how others are reacting. It is amazing how much we subconsciously look to others and peers to help out with sniff tests as to whether ideas are are valuable.I did not realize that this was missing from the webinars until your post this morning. Perhaps what is needed is some sort of social media verification. Helps out in understanding are the speakers worth taking a look at or they just pitching their own services and products.

    Another challenge with webinars is how fast they are going. Because they tend to be mostly audio with poor PowerPoint it becomes harder to determine when the good content is coming up with an inability to go look over someone’s shoulder or partner up with someone as to which looking for. Most the time the webinars are going way too slow in every now and then pouring any topic that is way beyond myself or others and are going too fast.

    Certainly, best practices in creating and hosting webinars, indicate that you need to do all of the above features of:
    – inviting
    – creating unique sales proposition for attending
    – reminders
    – and building great interest.

    Skipping any of these steps and your attendance can drop significantly. Therefore, there are variety of tools to help anyone creating a webinar these days accomplish these items with greater ease.

  3. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any magic formula for webinars being good or bad whether they are free or come with a charge. As pointed out, many people sign up for webinars and don’t attend. Personally, I will do that if I know I can’t make the scheduled event, but still want the recorded version.

    While we all still agree that there is no such thing as a ‘free lunch’, in today’s Internet world, we expect both free and high content/quality in webinars. I have paid for some really bad, purely promotional “webinars” and sat through some excellent ones offered at no charge. As one who has done the research and developed a number of continuing education programs on a variety of business topics, I try to always provide excellent quality content that meets small business owners’ needs. Thus far, I have avoided the webinar arena, simply because, as stated, it has become so horribly flooded that marketing them has become a crap shoot… so many offers show up in Inboxes every day that the tendency to just delete the messages. The same goes for webinar marketing on social media sites.

    When webinars are offered ‘free’, participants expecting that there will be no ‘commercial’ involved is wishful thinking. One the other hand, those who offer webinars at no charge are somewhat foolish to think that people who have nothing at all to lose will necessarily show up at the appointed time to participate. Offering the same recorded information to be reviewed at one’s leisure takes the propspect even a step farther away from developing a relationship that moves them forward in the presenter’s sales cycle.

    1. I love your point about “Offering the same recorded information to be reviewed at one’s leisure takes the propspect even a step farther away from developing a relationship that moves them forward in the presenter’s sales cycle.” Most people offering informational webinars are hoping for sales. This may defeat their purpose entirely OR it could be a brilliant tactic to show people they are willing to go the extra step. One particular company offers a number of free “white papers” and webinars. The more of them that I read or watch, the more likely I would be to use or recommend their services or should the need arise.

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