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Secrets for Runaway Webinar Success (Based on Data from 350,000 Webinars): Daniel Waas on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

Hosted By:
Kerry O'Shea Gorgone
Wednesday, April 04, 2018
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Just as people will hasten to say "email is dead," they often malign webinars as an outdated tactic—particularly those who enjoy making sweeping statements like "this will be the year of livestreaming" or "this is the year of the podcast."

The fact is, this is the year to do whatever your audience responds to, and many audiences still respond well to webinars.

Fully 73% of marketing and sales leaders surveyed by indicated that hosting webinars is one of the best ways to generate quality leads. Of course, some webinars are more effective than others. Luckily, getting the maximum return on your webinar investment can be as simple as following a few simple tips drawn from an analysis of other successful webinars (in this case, 350,000 successful webinars, to be precise).

GoToWebinar recently released the Big Book of Webinar Stats, loaded with insights into webinar trends and best-practices. For the TL;DR set among us, I've invited Daniel Waas, director of marketing for GoToWebinar at LogMeIn, to discuss the data from that study and ways you can use the findings to create the optimal webinar for your business.

It turns out, there really is a best day and time to conduct your webinar, and specific guidelines for the timing of your promotional efforts. Daniel gives up the goods on this week's episode of Marketing Smarts!

Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:

Don't focus on improving your attendance rate, focus instead on promoting your webinar to attract more registrants (03:22): "A lot of people get hung up on attendance rate, but what the data showed was that, in a lot of cases, attendance rate wasn't really that important. What mattered more was how successful people were at promoting. So if you were really successful at promoting, when we looked at the top 100 webinars, 42 of the top 100 had a really poor attendance rate, yet they were among the most-attended webinars overall because they did a stellar job at promoting.... They had so many people that had registered that [attendance rate] didn't matter. 

The best time to host a webinar sometimes depends on your topic (04:25): "[A] question we get all the time is, 'What's a good time to host [a webinar]?' And the answer is 10 AM Pacific/11:00 AM Pacific; those are good times to host. But the surprising answer is, sometimes if you do something specific, another time might work well for you. One of our best-attended webinars is about knitting, and the knitting webinar happens around 8:00 PM in the evening, and that's when it pulls in its audience, so it might depend on your topic."

One-fourth off the people who registered for your webinar were never planning to attend live (05:19): "About 26% of people say they sign up only because they want to watch the recording. They don't actually want to attend it's important to record everything and make it available on demand. Overall, how we assess impact and what are the things to look for are how many people consume and are engaged with that content. Again, attendance rate is just a relational metric. It doesn't really tell you the whole story. You want to make sure that you have the maximum amount of people engaged with that content, and that can be live or it can be on-demand."

Seriously, trying to improve your attendance rate isn't going to work (even with mobile reminders) (06:19): "The road that leads you [to webinar success] is doing promotions really well, because attendance rate, you don't have that many ways to impact that, even if you do send reminders. We did a test on text message reminders. You'd think that text reminders would have a big impact. Had almost no impact. Because the reality is, one of the prime reasons why people can't attend is that they're busy. They're doing something else. So even if you send a reminder, that's just not going to help.

"So focus on the people that make it there, and it doesn't matter if they make it there live or watch the recording. Then make sure that you connect all your data to your marketing automation system and CRM system, and that you're creating context from it. [Make sure] that you're getting that engagement and porting it into your marketing automation system and, hopefully, getting your sales team to do a good followup and turn it into business. When we look at it, we look at how much pipeline was touched, how much pipeline was specifically generated, and how much was closed."

Ask people to take the desired action during the webinar—don't wait for the follow-up email (07:23): "In terms of followup, we ask people right then and there on the webinar, 'Are you interested in a demo?' [or] 'Are you interested in a meeting?' We include that as a poll, and we get twice the hand-raisers if we include it in the webinar itself—if we do it live, when people are thinking about it, when it's urgent for them, and collect their hands right there, then contact them later."

If you want people to attend live, timing is everything (08:33): You want to optimize for when the most people are able to make it. What works really well for the United States, assuming that you have an audience that is distributed and sits across the different time zones—10:00 a.m. Pacific, 11:00 a.m. Pacific are usually the best times to host, and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday are the good days to host, and they work equally well. Make sure you time your webinar to one of these hot slots... On average, we see people pick up the most attendees at these times."

To learn more about the research, check out the GoToWebinar blog, and follow Daniel on Twitter @DanielWaas.

Daniel and I talked about much more, including what the data revealed about the timing of your promotions, tips for naming your webinar, and what attendance rate you should be hitting, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode! 

This episode brought to you by GoToWebinar:

GoToWebinar makes it easy to produce engaging online events. Whether you want to connect with your prospects, customers or employees, GoToWebinar has the tools and analytics you need. Start creating interactive and educational webinars your audience will love.

Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

This marketing podcast was created and published by MarketingProfs.

This episode features:

B2B marketer and self-proclaimed geek Daniel Waas, director of marketing for GoToWebinar at LogMeIn. Learn more at the GoToWebinar blog, and follow Daniel on Twitter: @DanielWaas.

Kerry O'Shea Gorgone is a lawyer, podcaster, speaker, and writer. As Director of Product Strategy, Training, she oversees sale and distribution of MarketingProfs' premium training products. Kerry also hosts the weekly interview show, Marketing Smarts.

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  • by Peter Altschuler Wed Apr 4, 2018 via web

    Notes about podcasts are a far better use of time than actually listening to them. And, judging by this collection of highlights about a half-hour recording, nothing noteworthy occurs after 07:23.

    Personally, I'm eager to find out why anyone would separate registration and attendance numbers. From a marketing standpoint, registrations may be like qualified leads and attendance may equate to closed sales. Yet if someone listens to the recording of the event, they can be considered to have attended it. This was what Nielsen had to account for in its ratings when viewers "time-shifted" by recording a show to view later, rather than watching it when it was originally broadcast.

    Without a correlation between total participants -- those who viewed the live webcast and those who watched the recording -- and the impact of the reminders on that total, the conclusion that reminders are ineffective is fallacious.

  • by Kerry O'Shea Gorgone Wed Apr 4, 2018 via web

    Quite a lot happens after 07:23! It's just that Daniel shared so many valuable insights right out of the gate that I didn't need to dig deeper to find noteworthy observations. Also, I believe Daniel was drawing a distinction between attendance rate (as in the percentage of registrants that attend live) and the total number of actual participants (live and on demand) that engage with the content. More promotion, more registrations, greater total number of actual participants / qualified leads.

    If you check out the Big Book of Stats, they might go deeper into their methodology for collecting data on the 350,000 webinars they analyzed.

  • by Mack Collier Wed Apr 4, 2018 via web

    I prefer listening to a podcast rather than reading it (I'm crazy like that), and enjoyed this episode with Daniel. Love hearing real-world takeaways from what works, and this had some great tips for how to promote, structure and time your webinar. I thought Daniel's thoughts on how registrations happen at the start and the very end was interesting as that seems to mirror registrations for conferences. Many of us wait till the last minute when it comes to webinars, because as Kerry said, our schedules are often up in the air. So it makes sense to promote till the last minute. Also thought it was interesting how B2C audiences wanted 'entertaining' content while B2B audiences wanted 'help me do my job better' content. And yes Kerry, the Zombie Apocalypse campaign from the CDC was great content that was also entertaining!

    Good stuff, I have some clients that use webinars and I will be forwarding this podcast to them.

  • by Daniel Waas Wed Apr 4, 2018 via web

    Hey Peter,

    Thanks for your comments. I'm with you on the registrations and also call that out in the podcast. Maximizing the number of registrants is the best indicator of success. You'd be surprised how many of our customers care almost exclusively about attendees and take attendance rate as their number one success metric.

    As you point out that ignores a large part of the population that watches the webinar on-demand. The stat I give for that on the podcast is 26%. That's the % of the registrants that say they only sign up to watch the recording.

    Since you prefer reading, here are some ways you can get the podcast information in a different fromat:
    1. The Big Book of Stats called out above

    2. The slides from my talk at INBOUND last year on the research

    On reminders: We ran a specific a/b test on text message reminders and that's what I talk about on the podcast. We found no meaningful difference in attendance between the cell that got the text message reminder and the control. Both cells did receive the typical email reminders btw. and of course, I do not recommend to stop sending any sort of reminder. The point I'm making is that your time is better spent on driving more registrations rather than trying to optimize for attendance rate.

    Hope that helps clarify. Appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts!


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