Do you follow up? Your competition does.

A year ago, in Webinars 101, I listed 7 things companies could do to improve the effectiveness of their webinar-based marketing campaigns. Unfortunately, many companies using webinars to reach out to customers and prospects still fail to take full advantage of webinars as a marketing tool. Yes, you can show off new technology to lots of people more cheaply than you could in person, but the effort shouldn’t end when the hour is up.

Webinar organizers know exactly who registered for the event and have at least the email addresses of the attendees. Most often, the only follow-up is an email thanking people for attending the web event. These are often canned emails that seem like defaults sent out by the webinar technology — much like the automatic registration notice — rather than a true “push” by the event organizer to engage further. It’s nice to be thanked, but it hardly moves the conversation forward.

And it leaves so much on the table. Attendees just spent an hour of their time listening to a product or concept pitch; not taking advantage of their receptiveness to further information diminishes the effectiveness of the entire effort. You created the webinar to drive awareness and sales, so ask the prospect how they want to move forward.

The best follow-up I’ve received so far was after a PTC webinar I attended last year. After an ECAD/MCAD co-design webinar, a named person (not a address) emailed an invitation to set up a private demonstration, attached product data sheets and a white paper, and provided links to demonstration videos and a trial product download. The email concluded with a short recap of the benefits of PTC’s combined ECAD/MCAD solution.

It probably took an hour or two to write the text, assemble the attachments and verify the links. Sending that out to tens or perhaps hundreds of webinar attendees — who have self-identified as prospects — makes so much sense that I’m astonished that it’s not more common.

It’s all about finishing, as the New England Patriot’s coach is fond of saying. The webinar isn’t over when the Powerpoint ends. Spend a little extra effort to get in touch with the attendees. They are probably more likely to become customers than that account you’re cold-calling.