#1 Reason Your Webinar Attendance Rate Misses Your Expectations

June 8, 2017 / Arnie McKinnis  / 
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, 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.

Time Based Marketing – 7 Ideas to Sky Rocket your marketing results using our Calendar Sever

Introduction to Time Based Marketing using a real Calendar Server as a Marketing Tool
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Hello. As we wrap us this year, I would like to introduce you to our Video Log Idea Book  that we just completed. A big thanks to Arnie for putting all this content together. We both learned a lot from our customers.   At the bottom of this blog is the Video I did.  Enjoy! Greg & Arnie. 

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So we have a minimum of 8 touches throughout the sales funnel to establish a customer transaction with a  current customer, or even more for a new customer.  In addition – we only have 8 seconds to grab a customers attention. We should be using a Calendar Invitation with the CTA to get to the Mobile phone when possible.  The CTA will not get lost in email and the Calendar invite will use the reminder engine that is built in.

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Are you using the Calendar to talk to your customers? Likely not.  We all use Google Calendar and Microsoft Exchange for day to day dialogs for business.   But no one is using a Calendar Server to send Calendar Invitations as a marketing department to communicate to customers.  Most are using the Calendar to develop and download and .ICS and put them in the Registration email, or asking them to “Click to Download” the ICS.  This does not work well and never will .  Did you know that when you send a correctly crafted Calendar invitation that it actually “Splits” and goes directly to your customers calendar?  It does.  This is the greatest thing for a marketer.  Your offer, with the correct address and call to action with a possible URL for a coupon or an map –  can go directly to your customers mobile phone. 

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The Landing page shown here is with our magic Box.  The email box is actually the Calendar Invite!  Think of it as a replacement for “Add to Calendar”, which never worked well and you could not track. Give it a try. Simple, easy, and effective.  Direct to your customers calendar. Customer puts email address in it and they get the Calendar invite on their Mobile Phone.  We track track it with our reporting engine. 

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Simple Idea.  Insert the PNG, JPG or Gif as a URL into the Calendar invitation as the CTA.  Get the correct physical address into the Calendar invite. Let the customer put in their email address. They receive a Calendar invite directly to their phone. We track it. You could do this on Your Web site , or integrate into your email campaign with out CTA script.  It does not get lost, and they can retire the coupon at the correct CTA time, since it popped up on their phone with the reminder. 

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So – we think you might think we are crazy.  But tell us what you think in our Disqus thread. The calendar server has a built in specification that is 30 years old.  Its called the IETF, or the Internet Engineering Task Force.  The specification for Calendaring was just updated a few months ago.  Its got lots of cool built in features that as a marketer allow you to talk to a customers mobile calendar application. Drip is an extension of a “temporal” pattern in email. We are advocating you take a look on how it could be used with us, on sending out Calendar invitations.  We bring all of this alive for you with our Calendaring API.  Which you don’t need to understand at all… 

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So multi-event listings or pseudo schedules seem easy but they are hard to make simple.  In this picture Arnie, my marketing friend here @31events put together this diagram to show how we can assemble 3 different calendar invitations with our easy to use “magic box”.  Think of this as a “Add to Calendar Replacement”.  Or Add to Calendar on some Big Mega Steroids. Customer see’s 3 different time slots. They pick one or more. They receive a calendar invite directly to the mobile phone with a BOOTH MAP as a PNG stuffed into a URL.  Your customer get a chance to come by your booth because they have a Booth # , Map  and a CTA to come buy and get a Free tShirt or a Personal One on One demo.  Think about how many times you have asked your sales team – hey send out come emails and tell your customers to come by the BOOTH.  Well now you can develop that offer and get the Calendar invitation right to the customer’s phone! You can send the code out to your sales team and they can put the invite right into their Vcard, to help you help your customers get to your booth. 

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We all use the Count Down Clocks.   Think about combining them with us.  We actually have one running in combination as an integrated Modal with the Countdown Clock at the top and the Calendar invite embedded in a Popup Modal for a website with a built in coupon.  This diagram shows how it could be used on a WebSite.  But there are many more. Give us some feedback on how you would use them.  The first one that does give us feedback gets a $25 Amazon Card!  Just contact us on the Disqus thread or Tweet us directly @31events.

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So in this diagram we are advocating you try using our embed script for CTA in your Email Marketing program.  We can send a calendar invite when the customer clicks the Call to action button in the Email Template.  Its simple and we track it. The great part is that we don’t require you do anything different.  Just give us a test run in your email campaign testing.  We believe you are going to see better results. 

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Well believe it or not was our original invention.  We built a calendaring web service to send direct invitations to our customer base. Since they knew us, they responded better and they just accepted it onto the calendar for the event.  If they they were not sure, the event was still on their calendar in a grayed out position. When the event came closer – sometimes they accepted , or sometimes they denied it.  But we were communicating with them – all through the calendar.  Early on – PRIOR to the mobile phone it was working well.  Over the past 10 years it is working well since all people have their phones and have a calendar on them – and the events do not get lost in email.  Uses cases include OPT in lists of customers that prefer direct calendar invites.  Another big idea is  SUBSCRIPTION customers that order on a regular basis, where by sending calendar invites with information and offers would be welcomed for extra discounts in CTA or coupons in the calendar. The ideas are endless! Thanks for listening to the first 7 Ideas from Arnie and Greg @ 31events. Here to the next 100! Again if you have ideas on how to use them or want to do some GUEST BLOGGING with us. Please reach out @31events on Twitter or within the DisQus Thread.

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See our Video Blog on the Seven Krazy Ideas on using our Calendar Service for your Marketing promotions

Get the Ideabook, just click the button the button below for the PDF version.