Webinars can be real time savers when it comes to the often protracted task of converting leads into customers. Instead of dripping out content in an email series over a period of months to introduce yourself to prospects you can run an accelerated follow up series to registrants for your webinar.

The trick is to be able to do this with cold traffic, which is made up of people who have no idea who you are before they see your webinar announcement somewhere on the internet.

Recently a client announced she was going to launch a weekly webinar series. To build her audience she would be sending cold traffic from paid advertising to a webinar registration page.

Up until now I have not been involved in any process like this, so I have not thought too much about what it takes to get someone to (a) register for the webinar, and (b) attend it.

But after being forced to think about this I realized it can be a rather inefficient process if you are not aware of just what you COULD be doing to optimize the approach.

Let’s review for a moment what the goal is and how you might go about it the wrong way (in my opinion) and then I will suggest what I think is a fairly decent alternative.

Clearly the number one priority is to get the person registered for the webinar, which we are going to assume will be hosted on Zoom (I am going to be discussing Zoom-specific implementations throughout this article).

To Get Registered… Means What?

Webinar registration sounds simple enough. But in practice one needs to think about what exactly it entails. For example, there are at least two ways it could happen, and these are the two ways I am going to discuss here.

In both cases your first task is to drive your traffic to a landing page which explains the benefits of your upcoming webinar. Then you encourage them to “register” for the webinar.

But what exactly does this mean?

Registration Approach #1

It could mean what it sounds like – which is signing up at the webinar hosting platform to gain access to the event.

If this is your approach to registration, then one thing you could do is enable forced registration for your webinar. You would do this in your Zoom account for a specific webinar. Now the only way people can attend is if they register at Zoom by providing their name and an email address. This allows Zoom to send them event reminders and a login link.

But what if, after registering, they fail to show up for the webinar on the day?

Well, Zoom lets you have access to the contact data for the webinar registrants.

So you could download that contact information and import it into your autoresponder. And if you can sort out the attendees from the non-attendees (doable but not straightforward) you could encourage them to attend your next webinar.

But clearly, this is all something of a pain to have to do.

Registration Approach #2

Another approach to registration is to have the prospect opt directly into your webinar announcement newsletter, after which you send them the webinar link.

The big advantage to this approach is that now you have them on your list, which means that you can communicate with them whenever you like.

However, if you do not require registration for your webinar at Zoom then Zoom cannot send any reminders about the event (because it does not have the email address of your subscriber). It would be up to you to handle the reminders yourself. This is also something of a pain.

How to get around this problem?

Step one is to enforce webinar registration at Zoom. Step two is to encourage your new subscriber to go register at Zoom, after which time they will get event reminders from Zoom.

So overall, that’s TWO sign up processes your webinar prospect has to go through. One on your site for the newsletter opt-in, and the other on Zoom’s event registration page.

Two sign up processes for one event. That’s not ideal.

How can we fix this?

How can we reduce this to ONE sign up process that both gets the prospect onto our newsletter AND gets them registered at Zoom for the webinar so they can receive the event reminder notifications?

Making Use Of The Zoom API

The solution is to use Zoom’s API – the application programming interface.

You will need to know how to write code to be able to use it, or have access to a web developer.

The API allows you to do things like add a webinar registrant remotely by passing Zoom their name and email address. You will have access to those two pieces of information the moment the prospect subscribes to your list, so the Zoom registration can be done by the script that processes your opt-in thank you page.

In fact, when I set this up I did what I customarily do with subscriber opt-ins. I used the API of my autoresponder provider ActiveCampaign to remotely provide ActiveCampaign with the contact information of my new subscriber.

APIs are my preferred way of interacting with service providers because I can submit information to them and get back a response without having to send my prospect anywhere.

I can also perform multiple requests at the same time, which is what we do here. The first request is to the autoresponder service, to get the prospect subscribed to our list, the second request is to Zoom to get the prospect registered for the webinar.

The Zoom API offers a large number of ways to interact with its database. But you will only need to perform a few operations, which in the API documentation are covered by the following sections:

  • List webinars
  • Get a webinar
  • Add a webinar registrant
  • List webinar registrants (if you need to check whether someone is already registered)

So now that I have outlined my preferred approach to handling the registration process – which involves a single landing page with an opt-in form that both subscribes the prospect to our list AND registers them for the webinar – what are the caveats?

There are a couple.

The first one is that you cannot remotely register a person for a Zoom webinar using the API unless you have enabled registration for that webinar. So all prospective attendees either have to go through your opt-in form, or they will need to visit the Zoom registration page for the webinar (for example, you might elect to send existing subscribers directly to Zoom rather than your opt-in page).

Next up, the particulars of performing the remote webinar registration.

In addition to the prospect’s contact info (their name and email address) you will need to know the webinar ID number and, if you are dealing with a recurring webinar series, the occurrence ID of the webinar in question.

As these values will be changing from one event to the next you will need to use the API to grab that information right before you present the webinar options to your prospect. You can retrieve a list of the currently active (upcoming) webinars with a suitable API call.

Once you have the information you can then format it. This will allow you to present a list of available webinars to the prospect – presuming, of course, that you want to offer them the ability to choose the webinar they will attend, and not force them to sign up for the earliest available webinar.

You will perform these operations with the API during the time between when the prospect clicks on a webinar advertisement to ferry them to your web site, and when the landing page loads in their browser. In practice this only takes a second or two.

Webinars With Multiple Start Times

If it turns out that any of the webinars you have retrieved on the fly using the API are recurring webinars (this information will be present in the API response) then you will also need to remotely fetch the information for each of those recurring webinars to retrieve their associated list of occurrence IDs.

Each webinar event is uniquely specified by the combination of the webinar ID and the (optional) occurrence ID. This means that if you pull back one non-recurring webinar and additionally one recurring webinar with two occurrence IDs, then you have a total of three separate webinars the prospect could elect to attend.

When you have multiple webinars to present to the prospect you can place radio buttons next to each element of a webinar “calendar” and have the prospect select one of the webinar dates and times. This is how you determine the webinar ID (and possibly the occurrence ID) to send to Zoom along with the webinar attendee’s name and email address so they can be registered for the event.

Another possibility is to allow your user to sign up for any number of webinars – not just a single webinar. In this case you could turn the calendar into a series of checkboxes (of which one or more could be selected). Most likely though, you are going to want to go with the radio option. Make them choose a specific webinar.

The “choose a specific webinar” approach offers us another benefit.

Because we know the specific date and time associated with the webinar we can arrange to send our subscriber a series of email messages which we synchronize in time with the arrival of the webinar date.

However, this can be a little tricky to do.

For example, in ActiveCampaign there is no way to add a date and time field to the subscriber’s profile (as a custom field, for example) and then use that date and time to determine when to send out messages. But there is something else that can be done to achieve essentially the same result, and I will return to this topic shortly.

Handling The Local Timezone Issue

When you use the Zoom API to pull back information about the available webinars you will find there is a start time pegged to the timezone of the webinar host. This is unlikely to also be the timezone of your user. So to help them decide whether the start time is going to be reasonable for them you will need to offer a way for them to convert the date and time of the webinar into their timezone.

A relatively simple way to do this is to offer a dropdown menu of timezones and have them select theirs. Then use their local timezone to convert the date and time of each available webinar. The Zoom API does not appear to have a method for performing this conversion, but it is not overly difficult to write a script that will convert a date and time in one timezone to the corresponding date and time in another timezone.

None of these coding challenges are particularly difficult. But they will keep you busy for a few days as you build out your software and probe the response of the API to ensure you understand the nature of the data coming back to you.

Once you have got the Zoom API side of it sorted out you will want to think about what to do with your subscriber once they are on your list…

Synchronizing Autoresponder Emails With The Webinar Start Time

According to the Zoom documentation you can arrange for their webinar reminder emails to go out one week, one day, and one hour before the start of the webinar.

But how would you arrange to do this in your own autoresponder if there is no way to add a webinar start time which could be used to decide when to send out messages of your own?

I can think of just one way to do it.

When your prospect registers for the webinar on your site you can use the webinar start time to determine the number of days, or hours, that remain before the webinar starts. Then, based on the remaining time, you could place your new subscriber into one of an existing set of automations designed to educate them about yourself at the same time that you are reminding them about the amount of time remaining before the webinar begins.

This helps to keep you and your webinar foremost in their minds.

Here is how we might elect to handle this according to the amount of time remaining.

Assume we have 4 messages we can send out:

  • message 00 (the welcome message)
  • message 01
  • message 02
  • message 03

Also assume that with every sequence the welcome message is sent shortly after registration. When to send additional emails (message 01, etc) is described below.

  • Less than 48 hours (2 days): In your welcome email convey everything you want your subscriber to know about you before the webinar begins. Then leave the one day and one hour reminders to Zoom.
  • Between 48 and 72 hours (2-3 days): In addition to the Zoom reminders, send additional messages from your autoresponder after 1 day (wait 1 day, send message 01), and after 2 days (wait 1 day, send message 03).
  • Between 72 hours and 120 hours (3-5 days): In addition to the Zoom reminders, send additional messages from your autoresponder after 1 day (wait 1 day, send message 01), and after 3 days (wait 2 days, send message 03).
  • Between 120 hours and 168 hours (5-7 days): In addition to the Zoom reminders, send additional messages from your autoresponder after 1 day (wait 1 day, send message 01), after 3 days (wait 2 days, send message 02), and after 5 days (wait 2 days, send message 03).
  • Between 168 hours and 216 hours (7-9 days): In addition to the Zoom reminders, send additional messages from your autoresponder after 3 days (wait 3 days, send message 01), after 5 days (wait 2 days, send message 02), and after 7 days (wait 2 days, send message 03).
  • Between 216 hours and 264 hours (9-11 days): In addition to the Zoom reminders, send additional messages from your autoresponder after 3 days (wait 3 days, send message 01), after 6 days (wait 3 days, send message 02), and after 9 days (wait 3 days, message send 03).
  • Between 264 hours and 312 hours (11-13 days): In addition to the Zoom reminders, send additional messages from your autoresponder after 4 days (wait 4 days, send message 01), after 8 days (wait 4 days, send message 02), and after 11 days (wait 3 days, send message 03).
  • Between 312 hours and 360 hours (13-15 days): In addition to the Zoom reminders, send additional messages from your autoresponder after 5 days (wait 5 days, send message 01), after 9 days (wait 4 days, send message 02), and after 13 days (wait 4 days, send message 03).
  • Greater than 360 hours (15 days): In addition to the Zoom reminders, send additional messages from your autoresponder after 5 days (wait 5 days, send message 01), after 10 days (wait 5 days, send message 02), and the last after 15 days (wait 5 days, send message 03).

This amounts to nine separate automations which cover webinars with start times that might be as much as two weeks away. In each instance you are sending a message on the first day and on the day before the webinar (and leaving zoom to do the “close up” work, meaning the “starts in an hour” message). For webinars scheduled at least one week into the future you send an addition message around the midway mark for a total of three messages.

Although there are nine automations designed to keep your webinar registrant focused on your shared objective (which is that they attend your webinar), you can build these automations on just three distinct messages. So this is not overly difficult to set up.

In fact, you can cram all of these “nine automations” into a single automation by just being careful in how you conditionally process the tags. This is the approach I took when setting up this automation of pre-webinar messages.

If you are committed to using cold traffic to build your email list at the same time that you are signing people up for your next webinar, the approach outlined in this article seems like a reasonable approach to getting the job done.

Of course, depending on how much information about your webinar you add to your landing page, and the nature of the advertisement you run to attract your leads, you may or may not want to use an intermediate page, an advertorial, to presell your audience on the nature of your webinar before they arrive at your registration page.