When you set up your webinar, most software allows you to send automatic participant email invitations. As part of this email, there is usually a link to join the Webinar. This is a great service – it’s really simple and one of the best features of dedicated Webinar software.
However, when I started using automatic invitation emails some years ago, I began to get lots of messages from prospective participants complaining that the page mentioned in the email didn’t exist –
…instead of a live Webinar, all they received was a ‘page not found’ error message.
I had no idea what was going wrong. I looked carefully at the emails they had been sent, I tried the link and it appeared to be fine for me.
As there was no problem with the link, I suddenly realised the problem must be with the email client software. I asked the affected participants how they were reading the email invitation and most said they were using some kind of webmail.
It dawned on me that the link address in the automatic-generated invitation email was so long that it extended over two lines and became broken when clicked in certain webmail services.
So how could I fix the problem?
I decided there were two parts to the solution:
- I stopped using automatically-generated invitation emails. Instead, I just set up the Webinar, sent the automatic email to my own email address and forwarded this manually to participants.
- I started using an email shortening service such as goo.gl or bit.ly, to create a shorter link which was much less likely to break.
Most link shortening services are free and most include simple click tracking which is also very useful for keeping track of the performance of links you have set up.
Some services like bit.ly also allow you to use your own domain name for a small fee and edit the short links to make them semantically meaningful. So you could set up something like www.mygreatwebinar.com/13nov
There are plenty of reasons why you might need to use the automatic emails your Webinar software creates because of your set up or sign-up process but if have problems with broken links you can at least try to solve them by sending a shortened version to a participant who is having difficulties.
As smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices are becoming increasingly common, it’s probably now even more important to have tools like link shorteners in your armoury. There are so many different platforms to cater for.
So, take a look at the links in invitation emails – how long are they? Is it worth replacing them with your own, shorter link?
If you can’t, at least you have a strong strategy for trying to resolve any link issues which you might face as you plan, prepare, promote and host your webinar.
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