Melissa Kwan is the founder of eWebinar, a software platform that marketers and teams use to deliver engaging evergreen webinars to their prospects and customers without spending all their time doing demos.
In this episode, Melissa shares her journey to nomadic entrepreneurship. She also discusses how creating a SaaS company is different from other types of businesses and what’s working right now in the world of automated webinars.
If you’d like to see how automated webinars could benefit your business, check out a demo of eWebinar.
- Most people don’t choose entrepreneurship—entrepreneurship chooses them. The alternatives simply don’t cut it.
- SaaS as a business isn’t for the faint of heart. Successful SaaS founders tend to have a lot of patience, determination, and a strong financial foundation to be successful.
- Re-visit LinkedIn for your social media marketing. Finding and engaging with future partners and customers starts with consistent content.
- Webinars work when they’re convenient to customers’ schedule, not yours. Giving your audience more frequent access to your educational content—on their schedule, not yours—results in better, stickier customers.
- Authenticity is your currency. Avoid using fake “look live” tactics that pretend like there are 1000 people on live now, chatting away at 3:00 in the morning.
- Answer your audience’s questions quickly. Respond to chat questions within 24 hours.
- Think like a teacher, not just a marketer. Provide relevant materials at appropriate times of the webinar to maximize your attendees’ learning.
- The sale is just the first day of the rest of your relationship with your customer. Create webinars that facilitate onboarding, training, and use of your product or service.
- Melissa Kwan on LinkedIn
- Operating System (LinkedIn training from Justin Welsh)
- eWebinar automated webinar software
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Who is Melissa Kwan?
Hey, Melissa. Thanks so much for joining me for this episode of The Lead Generation.
Melissa Kwan: Thanks so much for having me, Bob.
Bob: It’s really exciting to get to connect with you. We’ve been working together for the last few months, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you, getting to know your history a bit, and we’re going to dive into that and some of the expertise that you have around engaging audiences so that they can become buyers and get to know people’s products. Before we dig into that, though, I’d love to know what is the transformation that the people that you work with tend to have as they work with eWebinar and the services you offer.
Melissa: I think the biggest transformation is they get their freedom and time back to do other things that they enjoy and they don’t have to live, I guess, in their work as much as they used to.
Bob: Awesome. I love that. I think a lot of people will resonate with the idea of getting their time and freedom back, because it can be so arduous to try to get a business to a successful level. Some people might not be listening to this with a video, but you’re connecting with us in Vietnam. What’s your connection to Vietnam, and what’s it like to be able to travel from your home office these days in Amsterdam and Vietnam and going globetrotting, basically?
Melissa: So our connection to Vietnam is our development team is actually here. What’s interesting is we are meeting them for the first time, because we actually hired them, we engaged this company in January of 2020, and then we were never able to come into the country until now. This is the trip that we’re taking to meet the team for the first time, so that’s pretty interesting, but I’ve actually always worked remote.
It’s my third company and always been a remote team. I was doing it before it was cool and actually, not many people know this, but I actually nomaded for three years after leaving New York, I guess about four-and-a-half, five years ago now. So traveling is, it’s in the lifestyle and it’s the thing that we enjoy the most.
Bob: That’s really cool. I’d love to go back in time a little bit further. I like to consider where in childhood you may have had a spark or a foreshadowing of entrepreneurship? Did something happen as a kid where you’re like, “I’m going to do that sort of thing?” or even the travel bug that you now have?
Melissa: Well, the interesting thing is I am not from an entrepreneur family. My parents wanted me to be, I’m Asian, so accountant, doctor, investment banker, whatever they could be proud of and tell their friends about, that’s what they wanted me to be. Business owner was not one of those things, but I think people don’t choose to be an entrepreneur, I think it chooses them to a large extent.
I was never an entrepreneur, but I think when I think back I was always entrepreneurial. If I go back to elementary school, I was making origami paper cranes and I would sell them for $0.25 and then I would take the money and go buy a Popsicle. I would always be doing those things on the side, and nobody told me that was being entrepreneurial. It was just things that I did. Then as I was growing up, I would always try to do side projects with friends. A lot of my friends have entrepreneurial parents, so they would do things on the side, it would help them.
But I never really focused on doing it until I guess about 12 years ago when I left my last job at SAP that I really put everything towards my first company. That was the first time I did something of my own. But also as a kid, we never traveled because my dad hated traveling. Maybe once a year, my mom would take me traveling and I think it was the lack of it that always made me want to do it.
So in my mid-20s, I did the thing where I went to backpack on my own for a couple of months, and that was the first time I even had a meal on my own. I was from a very, very conservative and protective family and always lived in the same place. Ever since then, it was just something I always wanted to do and eventually, when I had the means to do it was just something that I did for myself after having spent years paying the bills for someone else, growing different companies and doing things for other people, nomading was one of the things that I thought would make me happy.
Becoming Aware of Unemployability
Bob: I love it. You mentioned that you had worked at SAP before going entrepreneurial full-time. What kind of frustration or opportunity that you’ve come across that made that jump? Something that you just had to do?
Melissa: Before SAP, I always worked for smaller companies where I was always allowed to be more creative, like my own boss within someone else’s company, more like intrapreneurial.
Then one day I was like, “If I ever want to have a big company, I have to work for one.” I was living in Vancouver at the time and I didn’t know what I was going to do, and I was like, well, maybe I’ll just do the software thing because software is going to be something that we’re going to be relying on.”
I had no idea what software was. I had no idea what SAP was, but I remember going to Yahoo or something and looking up “biggest software company in Vancouver.” It was Oracle and SAP and SAP, that’s across the street. Our building was literally across the street from SAP.
I would see the sign and I’m like, “Oh, I should just work for that company, and then I could just walk to work.” Basically, that’s how I got that job, and that was my first big corporation.
I guess what you don’t realize, having never worked for a big corporation, is that people that work for startups don’t fit into that model. It’s just a different personality and people that work for big corporations don’t really work for startups. I realized that probably nine, 10 months into my journey at SAP, that I was actually a really, really terrible employee and I didn’t really know how to operate in that super structured, organized environment where you had to constantly manage your managers. I just found that super inefficient and just ridiculous.
Melissa: So one day, I asked myself, “If I left the company today, if I walked out of this building and I got hit by a car, how would I feel about that? I’m not going to die working for this company because I just really hate being here.” That was really kind of a light bulb moment, then at that point I’m like, “Well, why don’t I just start something on my own?” because I always wanted to, I just never really had the opportunity to do it, so that was really that moment. It was just realizing that I’m a bad employee and I need to do something else.
Bob: That’s a very interesting discovery to have, and I love the self-awareness to know, “Yeah, it’s time now. Let’s go ahead and get it done.”
First Stumbling Steps at Creating Her Own Company
Bob: Tell us a little bit about that first business. I know you’ve had two before that your current one. We’re going to talk a little bit about SaaS as a vehicle towards providing solutions, but I understand the first business that you had had a little bit of a different start, so short versions and lessons you may have learned as you started the first company.
Melissa: The fact that I didn’t come from an entrepreneurial family, I think was a huge disservice to my journey. I had to learn everything. Even when a designer told me that they’re going to give me something on Friday and it doesn’t come on Friday, or it didn’t come on Friday, that was a shock to me. Imagine that.
Melissa: Okay. Now, when a designer says, “Oh, I’m going to give you something on Friday. I’m like, “Oh, you mean this year?”
I remember leaving SAP and I had all these different ideas and I had saved up all this money because previous to SAP, I was selling real estate, so I was always in commission jobs.
I was in my mid-20s, and as a 25-year-old, I had quite a bit of money saved. I was like, “Yeah, I’m going to build something. I’m going to have money for the next year, year-and-a-half and then people are going to pay me for it.” That was a really naive thought, because I had no idea, I had no concept of how hard it was to come up with a brand new product with no credibility and have someone buy it. I had all these different ideas. I probably played with 10 different ideas with my then co-founder who was a contractor that I hired. I basically interviewed five people who told me they could code, because I thought code was one language. I thought there was one path to get to something. That’s how green I was.
So I had ideas, an events platform that was like a Craigslist, but it was not Craigslist. Then I had a digital magazine and then just, I had so many different things that didn’t pan out. Then I remembered, “Okay, I had spent all this money. I had nothing to show for it,” then I was like, “Well, why don’t I just build something in real estate?” because previous to SAP, I worked in real estate, “Why don’t I just build something for an industry that I know and try to sell it to my old contacts?”
That actually became my first company. My first company built iPad interactive brochures for real estate developments, so imagine a brand new building that’s about to be sold. You walk into the showroom, the first thing they do is give you a coffee table type brochure, super nicely printed, heavy-duty brochure just to sell that unit. We were the iPad version of that.
Back then, iPad was the new thing. I think it’d been out for two years, so what I did was I just salvaged bits and pieces of software that I built for other ideas and threw a bunch of real estate pictures in there, and it became this iPad app that I sold to a real estate developer that wanted to stand out from other real estate developers.
That company I ran for about four years. I wanted it to be a product, but everybody wanted to customize because in real estate you’re selling a dream. Every dream is different. I don’t want the brochure that my next-door neighbor has, I want a different brochure. So then we became this customized iPad brochure for all these developers. The problem was, every single one of those apps were different. So we became an agency and anyone who’s run an agency before will know that it’s an extremely hard business to run.
You’re always building custom apps. Nobody wants to pay you on time, but they want the product on time. Then if you cut them off, then they’re just not going to contract you for the next product.
I found myself constantly chasing the next sale and then chasing the invoice, and I just didn’t really see that to be my life.
So I decided to shut that company down and convert that into a product that everyone would pay for instead of individual apps that we built for people, and that became the beginning of my second company, Spacio, which was an open house check-in iPad app.
Anyone that’s been to an open house knows that anytime you walk into an open house, an agent or broker will ask you to sign in on a piece of paper, your name, your email, things like that, and we were the iPad check-in version for that. So we replaced pen and paper. We sold it to brokerages and franchises and then ran that for five years before that was acquired in 2019.
Bob: Awesome. That was HomeSpotter, if I remember right was the one that acquired that?
Melissa: Yes, also a Minneapolis company.
Bob: Yeah, exactly. Congratulations to that, and we love to have the in-town folks get the shout out on occasion.
SaaS as a Vehicle for Solving the World’s Problems
Bob: We’ll talk about eWebinar and just a little bit, but for many of the people that are listening to this conversation, they are in the business of providing a service, perhaps providing information or digital products as a way to provide solutions and transformations for their audience. You have evolved over this journey into providing a SaaS, a software as a service, as the vehicle for solving a solution. For those people that might have that little light bulb starting to go off, what kind of thought would you encourage somebody to have to either encourage or discourage going into SaaS as a way to solve the world’s problems?
Melissa: Man, that is such a loaded question. It’s like I want to encourage you, because it’s such a great business model, but I also want to discourage you because it is so difficult and there’s different types of SaaS.
My previous company Spacio was an enterprise SaaS. So what does that mean? Every contract that’s big, so we’re selling to companies. The contract amount could be anywhere from $10,000 a year to $100,000 a year. While that sounds really nice, the bigger the price tag, the more the service that comes with it, the more customizations that come with it. People expect to be able to text you, call you even on the weekends because they’re paying you a lot of money. You are expected to go to conferences and set up trade shows because you have partnerships with these brands and that was my life, and so that’s one type of SaaS.
Then there’s another type of SaaS which we’re doing now like SaaS for SMBs and where Leadpages plays in as well. There’s a free trial. People put in their credit card, they convert on their own. They can continue or they can cancel at their own will. While that’s a better business model and that’s a business model I want, when you’re collecting $50 to $100 from each person, it just takes so many more customers in order to get it off the ground. I think anyone that is thinking about wanting to live a life of, I guess, complete freedom is how I would define it, if you want to live a life where you don’t want to be providing that service yourself, and if you want to live a life where you can have a lot of free time, eventually, SaaS, I believe, is probably one of the best ways to go. If you end up selling that company, it’s one of the few industries where companies sell for five to 10 times revenue, gross revenue, or if you get a strategic buyer, it could be 10 to 20 times revenue on a good day.
But if you’re not prepared to invest at least five years into getting a SaaS company off the ground, it’s probably not for you, or if you’re not in a position to do that, I’m only in a position to do that because I don’t have dependents. I don’t have kids, and I sold my previous company so I have a bit of financial freedom. I didn’t sell it for life-changing retirement-level money, but I did sell it for a good sum that allows me to have some freedom for a few years. It’s been almost four years and I have not paid myself, and that’s the reality of SaaS. So it’s like a double-edged sword. It’s like, if you make it is the most amazing business you can ever have, but you have to be willing to put in the time and the work because it is really not easy.
Bob: I think that highlight of having the financial ability to bootstrap and the time to be patient, both of those are important for any business. But I think especially with SaaS, if you’re not a coder yourself and you’re trying to find a team, whether they’re in Vietnam or other countries or in the U.S. or the Netherlands or wherever they happen to be, that takes a lot. It takes a lot of capital and patience and risk, so thanks for that answer. I think that’s really good.
Leveraging LinkedIn for Social Visibility
Bob: One of the things I wanted to point out too, maybe my last question in this part of the interview is, I love seeing you on LinkedIn because of how transparent you are, but also how engaging you are, how thought-provoking you are with your commentary, the questions you ask, the things that you’re curious about. We’re going to dig into the webinar strategies and so forth and engaging in audience, but from a social media perspective, any tips that you have around LinkedIn in particular? So I think people often forget how powerful LinkedIn can be for business owners. What is your thought process as you utilize LinkedIn, other than a natural tendency towards being curious and being a connector?
Melissa: Yeah. LinkedIn is an interesting platform, because when people signed up earlier, it was like a digital resume type thing, like a social network, no one really posted on it. I forgot about the platform, completely. Maybe I would log in once a month until earlier this year when I started logging in more and I’m like, “Oh, there’s people posting all this content on there. It’s actually interesting.” Then that was around the time where I completely moved off Facebook. I’m like, “Okay, nobody’s really sharing anything interesting on this platform. It’s become all ads and funny videos or whatnot.”
I don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter, but I remember just scrolling through LinkedIn and realizing this platform has completely transformed into something else.
So in the past six months, I’m also hearing over and over that people are not just learning on LinkedIn, they’re also posting regularly on LinkedIn to build an audience. Then I’m like, “Well, why would anyone want to build an audience? I’ve never built an audience before,” because in my previous company, I just sold software one-on-one, or I went to conferences. I met people one-on-one.
Then I now realize that I guess when you’re building a SaaS company or maybe even a services company where it requires you to have a constant stream of people coming in top of the funnel, coming in learning about your products or service, there really is no other way to find new business—especially nowadays—than to have your own community.
I also tried to do a bunch of partnerships with different communities and it’s been really difficult to get other people to do something for you. So then when I realized that, I’m like, “Oh, it’s actually because it’s so hard to build your own community, people are creating a moat around the audience that they do have, so they don’t really want to do something with you.” So then I realized, “Oh, if I want to be at least relevant, then I have to have my own audience.”
That’s actually, when I started discovering how LinkedIn actually works. I actually took a course by a guy named Justin Welsh. Do you know about him?
Bob: I don’t know Justin.
Melissa: Yeah. He is a big corporate guy who reinvented himself a couple years ago into a solo printer, and he is the advocate of doing something on your own and monetizing your knowledge. He’s cracked this kind of a LinkedIn code, he calls it the LinkedIn operating system, but he’s a marketing, he’s a content guy.
Basically he’s like, “Hey, I spent a year figuring out LinkedIn, this is my one-hour course. I’m giving this to you.” So I took that. It was 150 bucks. It’s got a bunch of different exercises, it’s bite-size videos. What I’m doing right now posting once a day is actually just following his template of how you build an audience, how you engage.
All I do is I post once a day about something that has worked for me or something that I’ve learned in the past and put it out there and see who engages with it. Then I spend about 30 minutes trying to communicate and connect with other people and commenting on their stuff.
Actually, through that, I’ve not just learned a lot, and I feel like I’ve met friends that I may never meet in real life that I regularly exchange ideas with, just even through not just commenting but messaging. It’s been hugely impactful to our business, not just in terms of revenue, but just in terms of me learning from other people.
Bob: Yeah. I love it. I think it is very underrated from a lot of the folks that I talked to at events. I was just at an event not too long ago in Houston where everything’s still about Instagram and TikTok, and I think there’s something to be said about those atmospheres, but the discovery factor on LinkedIn for people that can be of service to each other, I think is really good.
I would encourage you listeners to make sure to check it out and make sure you’re connecting with Melissa on there.
What People Get Wrong About Webinars
Bob: Let’s change gears now over towards your current business. I want to first dive into the misconceptions that people may have around webinars in general and automated webinars more specifically. Obviously, you’re the founder of eWebinar. We’ll talk more about what it does in a bit, but I know that you didn’t come naturally towards webinars.
I would love to know a little bit about that and what you think people are struggling with as they get the concept down of what a webinar can do for them or for their business.
Melissa: Yeah. I think it’s funny when people say, or they think that I started a webinar company because I love webinars. The truth is, I started a webinar company because there’s nothing I hate more than running a webinar, because that was my entire life, running repetitive demos, sales pitches, onboarding training for my previous business.
I was also nomading, so not only was I doing these repetitive demos and onboarding back-to-back for new customers that would come in and then the attendance rate would be really low, I was doing them on completely opposite time zones of my customers.
What didn’t make sense to me was how long it took for me to earn that lifestyle, and then I was immediately tied down by my customer’s training schedule. So there was something that didn’t work, but also, just the idea that a person had to be there to run these things over and over again, let alone the founder of the company. The thing is, once you do a lot of these, you don’t really have mindshare or energy to do anything else, but it’s still important for your business.
You can’t say it’s not important because if people don’t get educated on your product or service, they’re not going to stay, and then whose fault is it? It’s not their fault. It’s your fault.
All of our revenue was tied to customer education and also, these demos and things like that. But at the same time, there was no amount of webinars that I could have done for it to be enough, because we were serving people in six different time zones.
Now for eWebinar, we’re serving people in international time zones. I think after 2020, most people have integrated some, whether it’s webinars or live stream into their business, because it’s really the only way to get in front of your customer without hopping on a plane.
I think the misconception nowadays is webinars don’t work because people are busy or they don’t join. I think that’s true. People are busy and everyone’s living on their own timeline. I don’t want you to dictate my schedule, but the attendance rate is low not because it doesn’t work.
The attendance rate is low because you’re only doing it once a week or once a month. In fact, people love video content. What is a webinar? It’s just video. We’re at the tip of what video content is. Everything we do, we’re just consuming video, like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, everyone’s going into video. I think the misconception is webinars don’t work because people don’t attend, but I would push back on that and say, “Well, they do work. You just have to make them more readily available and more engaging.”
How Automated Webinars Differ from On-Demand Videos
Bob: One of the big differences between webinars and on-demand video is the idea that it’s an event, that there’s a specific time and place to be and that it happens, and perhaps there’s an engaged community around it. For you, as you look at using an automated webinar, we’ll talk about some of the nuances and differences, but why is that a really good channel as opposed to just putting an online video up that’s ready any time of day without having to schedule it?
Melissa: Yeah. We also have the on-demand option, but I think it’s the mentality of joining a webinar.
A video is a one-way consumption. It’s a YouTube, it’s a Wistia. I go there. I can press play. I can bounce anytime I want. It’s convenient. It’s usually short form, it’s like two, three minutes.
Do people go to YouTube to learn? I don’t know, maybe. Do they go to a webinar to learn and engage? Absolutely.
So it’s a mindset of committing yourself to 30 minutes that is blocked off on your calendar, because once you register for a webinar, you’ve got a calendar invite. You’ve blocked that time off. You’re committed to it, but you’re also expected to go there and be able to engage with a host.
You want to ask questions, maybe there’s a poll, maybe there’s more resources. You want to build a relationship with a person on the other side, and that’s not the mentality of someone that’s going to go watch a video. But that differentiation is huge.
Because one of those channels, a customer actually wants to go and build a relationship with you and that allows you to do that. It allows you to convert them on the spot.
The other one is just like, here’s something that you can consume whenever you want, and that’s what people expect.
So I think that’s the biggest difference, but whether it’s on-demand or not, we offer on-demand, we offer, you can register for a replay. You can schedule something for tomorrow. I’m a big believer that you can’t dictate when or how someone wants to consume your content. You can only be there when they go there to look for you.
So that’s why when people ask me, “Well, should I set my schedule to on-demand or what should I set my schedule to tomorrow?” Why not both? Give people all the options and then let them choose, because what you’re offering should be consumer-driven. You should just be there as a service provider to offer them everything that they want. It’s like a buffet.
How Many Choices to Offer Your Viewers
Bob: I’m thinking logistically around a registration form for such an event where you have all the options available and sometimes that can get quite overwhelming. How many options would you say are ideal that you see within your customer base? I see a registration form sometimes with two options, look at it at the top of the hour or get an instant replay, or sometimes there’ll be five options with times and replay on-demand, et cetera, or tomorrow. Are you seeing a sweet spot of that number of options that are available on the actual registration form itself?
Melissa: Yeah. I think the sweet spot is not to have something that’s too far out.
So to give you an example, if they do a live webinar event, they start marketing it two weeks before. When I register for it, maybe I’m going to be free at that time. I’m going to block it off on my calendar, but you’re at the bottom of the totem pole, if something else comes up on that day, because I know that I’m going to get this replay.
I always tell people, “Have a replay option, have an on-demand option and maybe have options for the next two days, and that’s it.” If they miss it, there’s a replay or if they want to register again, they can come back.
But what I was personally surprised by because for our demo at eWebinar, of course, delivered through eWebinar, we have replay on-demand and a schedule for the next two days, 75% of people choose to watch it right now.
And when I was building this tool, I’m like, I was a little bit dubious about that, because I’m like, well, who’s going to watch something that at the moment they find it, they have better things to do. But I put it on my demo anyway. And 75% is a lot. It’s almost everybody.
So now what I do as a trick is I put the time, the length of the webinar directly on my registration page. Cause I want people to go to the registration page and see, oh, do I have 15 minutes? Do I have 25 minutes? So I want them to be able to make a conscious decision on whether they want to watch it now or schedule it for later.
Getting More People to Watch Your Webinar
Bob: Cool. That leads to another question and the similar idea of strategic planning for these, and I’m being totally selfish around this too, because we’re a customer of eWebinar. We’re trying to make the most out of the platform. Do you see a consumption rate difference between people that do it immediately versus they plan ahead or even just watch the replay? Any of those factors come in or is it pretty even across the board?
Melissa: Yeah. The people that watch it now watch it the longest, and then the people that schedule it watch it the shortest. I don’t have any real data on this, but I’m wondering if they schedule it maybe pops up, we send them a join link 15 minutes before, they’ll click on it and then they might be like, “Oh, I’m actually busy.”
You just never know what’s going to come up. We’re just super impatient people nowadays. Maybe I’m playing on Instagram or maybe I got to take my kids to school, whatever it might be, but I feel like the people that choose to watch it right now are actually the people that always watch it the longest, which I find interesting as well.
Engaging Your Audience Asynchronously (Without Deception)
Bob: Cool. Now one of the things I loved around our first conversation that you and I ever had was a similar philosophy around “look live” webinars and trying to fake people out with the idea that this was a real live webinar. Talk to us a little bit about what sets the eWebinar apart in that regard and what are some other ways that you are engaging people, even if you’re not actually by the screen at the time that a person is watching the webinar?
Melissa: Yeah. I would say the thing that sets us apart is we actively go against the concept of enabling the host to pretend they’re live.
So anyone that’s looked at evergreen webinar solutions or automated webinar solutions in the past may be familiar with features like you can upload a fake chat conversation, have a fake attendee counter to make it seem like a lot of people are watching it, and then the counter bounces up and down to make it seem like people are leaving and coming and going.
There’s fake sales notifications to create this fake sense of urgency, please don’t do that. Maybe sometime in the past, someone came up with this tactic and started teaching people, particularly marketers and maybe 10 years ago it worked. But nowadays people are so savvy and authenticity is your currency. It could take you years to build your credibility and seconds to do something like that to destroy it.
People know that it’s 3:00 AM and there’s not 1,000 people in your webinar or there’s like a conversation going on right now. They know that, they’re not stupid. Don’t try to pretend it’s live when it’s not. People don’t care if it’s live or not, they only care about the quality of the content.
So I would say what sets us apart is we actively and consciously do not build features that enable that kind of behavior. But in turn, what we do is we deliver the most amazing, the most engaging, the most authentic experience that a viewer or an attendee can have. We actually went out of our way to build the asynchronous chat system that other webinar companies just don’t have. So our chat system allows people to ask you a question, no matter when the webinar is running. If you happen to be there and you want to respond, you can hop into respond live in real-time through chat.
But if you happen to be sleeping and when you wake up and you want to respond and the attendee is offline, you can still respond and they will get your response on email. That way of communication is very similar to when you go on any website right now, you’ve got a chat bubble that pops up and that says, “Hey Bob, can I help you today?”
You know that if you type in there, you don’t get a response right away. You’ll get an email in the next 24 hours, so we didn’t invent anything. We just took a method of communication, a technology that already works that we’re familiar with and we attached it to our software. That’s the one feature that I felt like was missing in my previous company when I was trying different solutions. There was just an email box or there was nothing. So while my video would play on time, there was no way for me to build a relationship with a customer at that moment in time, but we went one step further.
When I was conceptualizing the idea of an automated webinar, I thought with a lot of webinars, “If the host is engaging, if the content is amazing, then the webinar is amazing,” but a lot of times it’s not. So how can we make the webinar more interesting if the content may not be as interesting?” If it is, then it would just be a bonus.
So what we do is we allow people to program what we call interactivity into the eWebinar itself. So as people are watching, you can have polls, resources, feedback forms, contact forms, agendas that pop up at specific moments in time so an eWebinar experience feels more like a two-way participatory interactive TV show and less like a typical Zoom that you log into where an instructor might just be talking for the next 30 minutes and there’s not much to do. And the next thing you know you’re playing on your phone.
Bob: Yeah. I think that engagement experience that I’m really excited about, because as you mentioned, when people attend an on-demand video, they might have some links underneath. They might have some buttons underneath and sometimes it’s super overwhelming. They get to a video landing page and they see all this stuff.
One of the things I love about the way you’ve designed this from a curriculum, because as you know, I used to be a teacher, so curriculum embedded features are really cool for me is that some of those resources don’t show up until that time in the video when you want them to be there, so it’s more at the right time. That, I think, is a very effective training methodology, so kudos to you for that.
Effective Calls to Action Within Your Webinar
Bob: Another question around how your best users are utilizing webinar is, is there any type of call to action that’s been super effective? Is it book a consultation now that you have it? Is it a direct sale? Is it some other thing? What are these webinars that you’re seeing best at doing from a call-to-action perspective?
Melissa: I think the thing that we’re best at doing better than anyone is because we have this level of interactivity and because we’ve designed this experience to be so much more engaging and interactive, we are, I think, uniquely qualified to get the attendee to watch till the end so you can actually deliver your CTA.
The problem with webinars is if people don’t even stay till the end, they’re not getting to your CTA, right? We’ve got people that say they’ve taken the exact same video that they put on YouTube and have even tried on other webinar platforms, and they put in an eWebinar and their watch time increased 30%, which means they’re getting people all the way to the end to even make that purchase.
I think that’s the one thing we keep hearing a lot, but whether the CTA is book a call or buy this now, I think it just depends on what the product or service is.
If you’re an enterprise product, you might need a lot more customization and maybe the right CTA is to book a call. For us, our product is pretty low cost. Everyone puts in their own credit card, they can trial it on their own, so our CTA is just sign up. So I don’t think the CTA itself matters as much as being able to use the software to deliver an experience such that you can get the person to watch till the end so that you can make that sale.
Create Webinars for Customers, Not Just Prospects
Bob: Cool. I think this will be my last question around automated webinars and eWebinars specifically. Most of the time when I’ve been thinking about and doing automated webinars in the past, and I’ve been doing this for 15 years, it’s all about the sales. It’s all about getting people to know you top of funnel or middle of funnel, get them to the bottom of the funnel, get them to take action, buy your product, and then you’re done.
One of the things that you’ve opened my eyes to more fervently, I think, is the post-sale automated webinar. Can you talk a little bit about how your customer base is using this to affect the use of their service or their product from a customer perspective?
Melissa: The post-sale webinars being so tedious, like the live webinars being so tedious is why eWebinar exists. I would say we didn’t design the product for sales first. We actually designed the product for post-sales customer success first, because making the sale is your first day of the rest of your life with your customer, right?
Melissa: After they get through the door, you still have to continuously impress them. Whether you’re a tech company or not, it doesn’t matter. You have to constantly make sure that you’re staying top of mind, that they understand your product or service, that if you have any new features that come out, that they’re understanding those things.
So how are you doing that?
Previous to us, it might be a newsletter, but how many emails do we delete and how many of them do we actually open? I basically go into my inbox every morning and I just highlight all the ones that aren’t from my friends or my family or my customers and I just delete all of them. I don’t even read them. I think leveraging webinars to deliver ongoing training and education for your customers is more important than getting them to buy, because getting them to buy is just step one. Getting them to stay is how your business becomes more sustainable, so I think the biggest use case for eWebinar is actually post-sales, training and onboarding.
A Safety Net for Risk Takers
Bob: Quick last question is around your personal mantra, philosophy, anything that you use as a way to right the ship if you run into a frustration, or some form of mindset shift to get you on track when, as an entrepreneur, I’m sure you run into obstacles all the time.
Melissa: Yeah. You mean just in general?
Melissa: Like as in building the business?
Melissa: Yeah. That’s a really good one.
I always tell myself that there are very few things that you can’t recover from.
I actually wrote about this recently. I’m very open-minded to advice. I always ask people for advice, but I always have conviction in my own decision, because I also understand that no matter how smart this person is, they can only tell you from their own perspective and from their own experience. You can ask 10 people about the same question and get 10 different perspectives. The only person that has to live with your decision is you, the consequences of your own decision.
While I want to remain open-minded and cautiously optimistic, I always have conviction in the decision that I choose because I know that there are very few things that I can’t recover from.
So what if I have to do it again? So what if I don’t get it right the second time or the third time? I’m doing that every single day, so I think that’s what I always tell myself, and every decision that I make I think is the right one.
Bob: Awesome. Mine is, take action revised later. I think the same applies, you do what you are best deciding to do and if something needs to change, you change it.
Melissa: Yeah, absolutely.
Bob: That’s really important.
Well, Melissa, thanks so much for a great conversation and I’m enjoying working with you. I know a lot of people can learn a lot just from watching you on LinkedIn, but more importantly, by getting involved as a participant themselves in automated webinars using your system. So thanks so much for joining us today.
Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me. If anyone’s curious about what eWebinar can do for them, just visit ewebinar.com.
Bob: Yep. We’ll have notes in the leadpages.com/podcast for all that information. We can’t wait to see the success that you have. Thanks again, Melissa. Have a good day.
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