Webinar No-Shows

I’ve noticed a trend in Webinar attendance lately:  just as many people seem to be registering for live online events, but far fewer are actually showing up at the appointed time.

This highly unscientific observation is based on nothing more than my personal experience, but in my career I have had pretty good exposure to many different types of Webinars over the last 10 years or so.  I have seen events where the email invitation was sent to 16,000 people and ones where the invitees were in the dozens.  I have seen clickthroughs in the 50% + range and less than one percent.  I have seen conversions (the number of people who click though that actually fill out the registration) from 100% to less than 25%.  I have seen multi-touch methods like following up the email with voice mail or actual telemarketer event boosting dramatically increase the number of registrations.

Of course there are dozens of variables that drive these wild variations in success: the level of permission you have with your intended audience; the relevance of your topic to them; the quality of your presenters; how well organized you are; the history you have (or don’t have) of delivering informative content; timing; the frequency of reminder emails you send; etc.  But one thing had seemed to be fairly constant in my experience:  about 50% of people who register for a live online event actually show up at the appointed time.

But not any more.  I have seen attendee rates slowly drift down to where 25% – 30% is considered a good showing, and 10% is not unheard of.  I can think of several possibilies for this decline:

1. Webinars are no longer a novelty.

2. The presentation skills of most people are abysmal, and the general population is starting to figure that out.

3. In this On-Demand, Information-Pull world, even people who want to view the content know that it will be available as a recording, and they can watch it later.

4. People are busier and schedules are more fluid, and when daily calendars are getting shuffled, items that don’t involve interacting one-on-one are the first to be sacrificed.

The good news is, that despite people’s failure to show up at the Webinar, post-event follow-up is just as effective as before.  I have even seen a couple of recent campaigns where registration numbers were decent, event attendance was poor, but the leads coming from following up with the no-show registrants have been stellar.  I guess the message is, that volunteering to be given more information about something is the key indicator of interest (or granting of permission) — whether you actually show up to collect that information is secondary.

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One Response to “Webinar No-Shows”

  1. Susan de la Vergne Says:

    People are bombarded by too many messages, and webinars have just added to the noise. But perhaps the good news here will be that the best webinars will survive (good presenters, hot topics) because the trends you describe here will discourage poor presenters (who probably don’t like doing them anyway) from staying in the game.


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