#1 Reason Your Webinar Attendance Rate Misses Your Expectations

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June 8, 2017
The industry average for webinar attendance is 40% (+/- 5%). That means for every 10 people who register, only 4 will attend.  And my personal opinion for that low number is this:
YOUR webinar is not on THEIR calendar.

Seems fairly simple to me, the primarily to get people to register (along with up to three reminders) is based upon email. A one way communication – from you to your customer.

Here’s a pretty typical email marketing campaign for webinars:

Step 1 – Initial Email

No rocket science here. Your email list is gold to your business. It is how you communicate with your customers and prospects. It is a tried and true marketing tactic, and no marketing professional in the world will tell you NOT to focus on email marketing (and I won’t either, it is the perfect communications to announce your webinar).

Step 2 – Call To Action

I have looked a hundreds (probably in the thousands) of webinar announcement emails. Every single one will have one and possibly up to three Calls to Action within them. They could be anything from standard text links, to buttons, to graphics – but they all have a CTA.  And in 99% of those cases, the CTA takes you to a registration landing page.

Step 3 – Landing Page and/or Registration Landing Page

Once someone clicks on your CTA, they are taken to your landing page.  These have become standard and provide additional details about the webinar, who will be presenting, date/time, how to attend, and in more cases than I’d like to see, a very detailed registration form (some habits die hard).

Step 4 – Registration

Here’s what I’ve noticed, the bigger the company, the more information they want during the registration process. The savviest marketers have realized (a) I already have your name and email address (b) that is how I track you in my CRM/Sales Automation and (c) email and webinars are cheap – the incremental cost for sending one more email or adding one more “seat” to my webinar is almost zero. Which means, most of smaller companies just ask for your basic information – first name, last name and email address – as a way to track against information they already know about you. 

Step 5 – Confirmation 

This is where things can start diverging. Some companies will just say “Thank You” after registration and send an email; others will forward you to a success page, with “how to attend” instructions; others just take your info and do nothing (yes it happens more often than you think). 

Step 5.a – Add or Save to Calendar

Within that conformation (either email or redirect page), there is usually some way to “Save” the webinar to the calendar. Marketers have never really questioned this activity – believing that if someone has gone through this process, they will actually spend time to “save” their event to their calendar.

Step 6 – Reminder Email(s)

It is an industry best practice to inundate anyone who registered for your event with several emails, at timed intervals – 7 days before, 3 days before, day of, within an hour of – it varies in frequency depending on the marketing process. These email reminders will either be sent to the whole list (all the people who received the initial email) or will be sent to only those who have registered.  If it is the former, there is usually another request (or instructions) on how to save this even to their calendar.

Those six steps are are how most webinars are marketed. There may be variations or other tactics used, but if you take notice of the process, you will see this repeated over and over. And you will also notice, most webinar service companies will outline this process as a “best practice” for marketing your webinar. This process, will help you get approximately 10 people to attend for every 1,000 on your mailing list.

The problem is – after all that activity, you still don’t know if it’s on their calendar.  And if it is on their calendar, what is their intent. Is your event just there, do they have it marked as accepted, declined or tentative. Did the status of that invite change between initial registration and the webinar time itself? You are operating completely blind to their “intent” – you have absolutely no idea. Which is why, you continue to send reminder email after reminder email – because you are under the false belief, that it reminding people helps drive attendance up.

And the Solution is very simple …

Send a calendar invitation on the first Click on your CTA.  Follow your tried-and-true process. Keep it alive and well and churning out emails after emails. Just make one of those emails a real, valid, properly formatted, Calendar Invitation.
I’m not going to tell you about the benefits of using the calendar as a marketing tool. Because you either already know there is something broken in the process when you’re marketing through time-based events, or you don’t. What I will tell you, is that SAVE or ADD to calendar doesn’t work, it adds multiple steps for your customers and prospects – and we already know, there is a drop-off each time we ask them to do “one more thing” – sometimes it’s just a few people, sometimes it almost all of them. Stop asking them to do that, and just send a calendar invitation.

Here’s the process …

Step 1 – create the same initial email
Step 2 – CTA is exactly the same – the link is different
Step 3 – Landing Page is exactly the same
Step 4 – Registration is exactly the same
Step 5 – Confirmation is exactly the same
Step 6 – Go ahead and send reminder emails (it’s up to you)

There are few additional activities for you, but instead of “not knowing” if it’s on the calendar, you’ll know. Because you send a calendar invitation to them. And you’ll also know …
1. Who is physically taken action with that calendar invitation, and what action they have taken
2. Who has updated their “intent” for the calendar invitation
3. What action they took, and evaluate attendance

You can do that today, along with being a bit creative with how to interact with those people most likely to attend your webinar.  You will either decide to try something new, or continue down the path of tried and true.  Hell, if you’ve done more than 10 webinars, you already know your own numbers. Maybe you don’t need more people attending your webinars, or don’t care if anyone puts it on their calendars.  For those that believe testing something new is worth a little bit of effort, then just head over to 31Events.com, get your account, add your next webinar, add your landing page link, get the “Link Code” for your email service provider, and see what happens.

Then let me know, I’m pretty easy to reach, would love to hear what happened.  Because my assumption is, it will increase your attendance percentage (it’s help other marketers, including myself).  But I could be completely wrong.

Get your account today, and test it. It will either work or not – but you’ll never know until you try it.

Also published on Medium.