It is one of the most commonly asked questions about webinars, and one that divides marketers – unnecessarily in our opinion. The question “How many attendees should my webinars have?” symbolises the need for marketers to measure performance and justify spend. Unfortunately, it is also about as useful as asking “How long is a piece of string?” The answer varies for every webinar and for every organisation. Nevertheless, it is an answer worth knowing – so read on for some insight on how to find the right attendance number for your webinars.
First of all, let’s start with a piece of advice. Don’t compare your webinar attendance figures to peers or competitors (even if you knew their attendee numbers). It’s the best way to either feel inadequate or smug – neither is healthy. There is so much data around these days that there will always be someone who can demonstrate higher numbers for one metric or another. If anyone tells you they have 20/50/200/1000 attendees, take it for what it is – anecdotal information relevant to them, their business, and their marketing spend and focus.
Instead, you need to analyse your webinar performance within the parameters of what your organisation wants to achieve – generally and with the particular webinar in question. You may find that you can achieve your goals with less attendees, or – on the flip side – easily get more attendees than your peers or competitors.
Evaluate your own situation
What does that mean? It means you have to consider which stage of the sales funnel each of your webinars target and what your goal or intention is for each of these webinars. You also need to consider which market segment you are in and who the target audience is for each webinar. Other aspects, such as your average deal size and average conversion rates along your various lead generation stages equally play a part in assessing how many webinar attendees you should have and what is a good number for you. Let’s break these aspects down into easy bite-size chunks:
Sales funnel stages
Webinars are so versatile, they perform equally well across the majority of sales funnel stages – provided their content and format are designed to target the specific sales funnel stage. By definition, webinar content targeting the awareness stage features popular and widely-appealing thought leadership content and casts the net wide. As a result, this kind of webinar attracts more attendees than subsequent sales funnel stages when content becomes more specific and technical.
Depending on which industry you are in, and the rapport you have built with your audience, attendance and conversion rates will vary. If your company sells window seals for international space stations, it’s likely that you will have a low attendance rate, but a high conversion rate – given the highly specialised nature of your business. It’s likely to be the opposite if your company sells printing supplies.
Equally, if your business has been around for 70 years and has built a very loyal customer base, you should expect a higher conversion rate than a company that has been around for 70 days.
The point here is this: It doesn’t matter whether you have 1 or 100 attendees – as long as they convert into the level of business your company needs. Which brings us to the next point. Average deal sizes.
Average Annual Contract Value (ACV) and Lifetime Value (LTV)
Tied closely to sales cycle lengths are your ACVs and LTVs. In principle, larger ACVs have longer sales cycles because these contracts and solutions are more complex. If your organisation provides these types of solution, you are likely to see lower overall attendance rates, because the overall pool of potential buyers is limited. Conversely, if the products or solutions you sell are simpler, they are likely to be cheaper and have a larger target audience. You are also likely to have more competition – all of which impacts your attendance numbers.
What is the right number for your business?
When you ask the question “How many attendees should my webinars have?” it is important you don’t pluck a number out of the air or are influenced by what you’ve heard in the marketplace. It is also important you don’t draw comparisons to other marketing assets, such as whitepapers. Just as your company is not the same as your competitors - for a whole host of reasons, webinars are also not the same as whitepapers.
Instead, try and work back from your goal. Let’s say the following numbers apply to your business:
- Your target for new sales is GBP 1 million.
- Your average Annual Contract Value (ACV) is GBP 25,000
- Your average conversion rates of sales qualified leads (SQLs) to closed-won opportunities is 50%
- Your average conversion rate from initial lead enquiry to SQL is 10%
How many leads do you need to achieve your new sales goal (assuming you only use webinars)?
Calculation 1: GBP 1 million / GBP 25,000 = 40 closed-won deals
Calculation 2: 40 closed-won deals / 50% SQL conversion rate = 80 SQLs/opportunities
Calculation 3: 80 SQLs/opportunities / 10% initial lead enquiry conversion rate = 800 leads
So, if your target is to generate GBP 1 million of new business and run 10 webinars per year, your webinars should have 80 attendees each.
This calculation is simplified and you’ll need to apply your own numbers against the equation. But the principle shows how you can arrive at your own answer to the question “How many attendees should my webinars have?”
There is no blanket answer to the question “How many attendees should my webinars have?” because every business is unique and has different objectives. Instead, marketers and management should consider their own unique situation and requirements.
Use the calculation above to get an approximation of your required webinar attendance, but also consider other factors. For example, you are unlikely to only use webinars for lead generation and will probably use mix of lead generation assets and tactics, i.e. whitepapers, events etc. Also allow for your webinar programme to become more established and productive over time and adjust your numbers accordingly.
If you are a marketing manager or webinar organiser, when asked, don’t be tempted to give an estimated number without being sure whether it’s correct. The consequences of doing so are that you either set targets to low and can’t deliver results, or you set targets unnecessarily high.
If you are a Marketing Director or CMO, don’t be tempted to get a quick answer or ask for an unverified number. If you do, the likelihood of it feeding incorrect information into your forecasts and expectations is high. Uncertainty only serves to provide others with a competitive advantage.