It is easy to have subjective perceptions about marketing tools, or to repeat someone else’s opinions or statements, when you don’t have all the facts yourself. Often, we do this without checking the facts. Paradoxically, this trend has increased significantly during the “information age”. So much information and opinion is published and shared on the internet, that verifying it becomes difficult. We now even have “alternative facts” thanks to the Trump Administration. Well, not with us. We are here to provide you with three truths about webinars. Truths that may be somewhat unexpected, but all the more important because of it.
In a moment, we will look at three truths about webinars that are unshakable. But before we do, we need to understand that we rarely get unshakable facts in marketing. We have so much data at our finger tips that getting true facts is rare. Most of our marketing insight is based on the angle, and our interpretation, of the data.
We live (and work) in a time of Big Data and analytics. A time when we have access to more data, metrics and insight than ever before. As a result, we have begun to rely on this data and the insight it provides. But it is not always right and it’s rarely perfect. As marketers, are we truly equipped to interpret our own data sufficiently? Are we equipped to define the hypotheses and assumptions that form the foundations of the data we generate and interpret?
In other words, can we – as marketers – reliably decide that we need to know “X” in order to make a decision on “Y”? Do we have enough understanding of all commercial aspects to know that there are no other ways of looking at the data, in order to gain better and more valuable insight?
Until the earth was proven to be round, the civilised world made decisions based on the assumption the world was flat. Until the car was invented, we thought horses were the best mode of transport. And until you read this post, you may have had preconceptions about webinars that were incorrect.
Here are three unexpected truths about webinars:
Truth #1 – The number of webinar registrants is not as important as you think
Many marketers report on the number of webinar registrants. It is probably something that has spilled over from how we report on whitepapers and other “instant-download” assets. But it’s not a great metric. In fact, it’s misleading and mostly a vanity metric. While it provides some insight around how your calls-to-action perform, it says very little about your webinar performance.
Imagine you have 100 registrants, and only 1 of them attends. Would you be happy with that? No, of course not. If you had 100 people call your company’s sales hotline, but only one of them was a prospect, would you be happy with that? No.
So, it’s more important how many attendees you generate from the total number of registrations. In other words, the most relevant metric is the conversion rate of “Registrants to attendees”. Recent research shows that for marketing webinars this conversion rate averages at 29%. What’s yours? Do you know?
You might be thinking that you’d rather have a low conversion rate of a large number of registrants (e.g. 10% of 1000 registrants), than a high conversion rate of a low number of registrants (e.g. 50% of 2 registrants). And in some extreme cases this may be correct. However, you need to also consider this: What stage of the sales funnel is your webinar targeting?
If you’re running a Top Of The Funnel thought leadership webinar to generate a large number of leads, then yes, you’d expect a large number of registrants with a good conversion rate. But what if you’re running a Middle or Bottom Of The Funnel webinar? By default you have to expect less registrants. Your marketing efforts and the topic itself should (and will) have ensured that you have reduced the overall pool of prospects, while increasing the overall likelihood of a conversion to purchase.
So, the volume of registrants is not always the best indicator for webinar performance. Don’t be misled or seduced by big numbers when it comes to webinar registrants. It’s the conversion to attendees (relative to the sales funnel stage) that counts.
Truth #2 – Webinar platform quality directly impacts sales success
Marketers have a wide choice of webinar platforms to choose from: Easy, complex, expensive, cheap – you name it, the market offers it. The market leaders combine high-quality performance across all key aspects to make them extraordinarily competent and put them in the position of leadership. Platform quality is at the centre of their success, while a lack of quality in one or more areas of the platform puts other competitors on the back foot.
Why are high-quality webinar platforms more successful? Because, as a result of higher quality, webinar platform customers are able to convert more webinar attendees into closed sales opportunities. More quality leads to increased insight, which results in better lead qualification, nurturing and ultimately sales conversations. It’s a statistical fact that more deals are won when sales get more qualified leads. That is, after all, the ultimate goal of running marketing webinars.
So what should you look out for?
- APIs / 3rd party platform integration
- Platform stability/reliability
- Platform scalability.
Detailed analytics provide the insight needed for improved lead qualification and nurturing, while APIs allow for the integration with CRM and Marketing automation tools for better closed-loop processes. Together, these two factors alone provide a tremendous advantage. Nuances such as the detail and granularity of analytics, the speed (i.e. realtime) at which this is provided, as well as the ease of access, all play a part in setting a market leader aside from the competition. For APIs, it is important how well they are supported and documented, as well as the number of 3rd party platforms they enable integration for - and to what extent. For these and the following aspects, the devil is in the detail. When it comes to creating a competitve advantage, every little detail counts. Even if it only becomes relevant to your organisation in months or years to come.
Platform customisation and stability/reliability equally impact your prospects’ perception of your organisation, which in turn impacts sales success. A badly designed webinar is similar to a badly designed website, while a negative webinar experience is often associated with the quality of your product offering (“If they pay the same attention to their product, as they do to their webinars…”).
By improving the quality of your toolset, you get access to functionality and insight that directly impacts your bottom line. Yes, you may spend a little more on the solution, but the payback period is likely to be shorter and the ROI to be higher.
Truth #3 – Lack of on-demand strategy loses 28% of attendees
Recent research has shown that an average of 28% of webinar attendees are generated during the on-demand period of the webinar, i.e. the post-live hosting period of the webinar.
This has a number of implications on the way you choose your webinar platform, as well as the way you run and promote your webinars:
- If you choose a webinar platform that does not provide on-demand capabilities, you are set to instantly lose 28% of your webinar attendees
- If your webinar platform has on-demand capabilities, but you don’t activate it for your webinars, you are set to instantly lose 28% of your webinar attendees
- If you don’t promote your webinars during their on-demand period, you are set to lose up to 28% of your webinar attendees
- If you choose a webinar platform that has limited or no capability to report on on-demand attendance, you lose significant insight for 28% of your webinar attendees
Not having an on-demand capability for your webinars, or the lack of webinar promotion during the on-demand period, can significantly impact your marketing-generated lead count, as well as ultimately the sales and revenue generation of your organisation.
Aim for a webinar platform, whose on-demand capabilities are just as well developed as their live capabilities. Look for aspects such as:
- Use of the same URL for live and on-demand
- Automatic on-demand after live webinar (i.e. no manual processes)
- Same webinar functionality for live and on-demand webinar periods
- Detailed on-demand reporting (ideally same level of reporting as live period)
If, before you had purchased a webinar platform, someone had asked you whether you wanted the feature that provides you with 28% more webinar attendees, woul dyou have said yes? Of course. So, ask yourself them same question now. Do you want 28% more webinar attendees?
Marketers make better decisions when they’re given better information. Here at 24/7 Webcasting we know a lot about what makes a difference to your webinar and marketing performance. We’d love to hear from you and answer your questions. To get in touch, call 207 1939 748.
Get in touch today for a free demo of the webinar platform hailed as “The best webinar platform for marketers” by Forrester Research. Call us on UK 0207 1939 748 / US 302-261-5178 or sign up here for a 14-day free webinar trial.