Webinar hosting is a powerful and proven marketing resource. Executives in virtually every field can integrate webinar services into their business development strategy to broaden brand recognition, strengthen existing partnerships, and establish (or reinforce) their organization as an industry authority. Most importantly, webinar attendees can associate a human face and name with your company, instantly making it more relatable to consumers and affiliates alike.
Despite the extensive advantages offered by webinar software, many speakers still struggle to optimize results with their overall participation totals. This goes far beyond simply boosting registration numbers. Increasing your webinar attendees isn’t just about getting participants to signup…it’s also about ensuring they actually show up.
It can be a common occurrence for people to register for an event, only to pull a no-show on actual broadcast day for a wide range of reasons. Scheduling conflicts, forgetting about the discussion, or just losing interest can all deter prospective listeners from logging in when you launch. This “absentee audience” trend can negatively impact any presentation.
While demonstration drop-off can be frustrating, it is preventable. You can develop a strategy to boost webinar attendance and game day participation. Follow these tips to scale your next webinar’s turn-out:
Know The Numbers/Set Some Goals
It’s not enough to say you want to increase attendance. Get specific about your objectives and create actual goals for yourself. A good place to start? Create both a registration goal and an actual attendance goal. You should begin to notice trends in the number of registrants who eventually attend your session. Use this information to gauge how many registrants you will need for future webinars to ensure you hit the number of webinar attendees you’re striving for.
Choose Your Topic Wisely
Perhaps the best way to get people plugged into your webinar is to deliver a topic your prospective webinar attendees are interested in hearing and learning about. This isn’t always easy. Many business owners have a diverse range of consumers within their demographic. What intrigues one sect can repel another. Zeroing in on a subject that engages, informs, and proves useful to participants can trigger a positive response in attendance.
Poll Previous Webinar Attendees
Don’t automatically assume you know what your targeted audience wants to hear. Ask them. Before putting together your presentation, send surveys with specific questions regarding topic to past audience members. You can also send post-webinar polls to ask about ideas not originally discussed to gain insight on future focus areas.
Create An Attention-Grabbing Incentive
As a webinar host, you have to give registrants every reason possible not to miss out on what you have to offer…and it can start with an enticing participation incentive. Think about what motivates your targeted webinar attendees and develop a giveaway they will not only appreciate, but will actually use. Viable suggestions can include a free gift, eBook, product promotions, and even discounts on future services. You could also offer access to various “members only” pages and reports on your website to generate interest in attending your webinar.
Also, don’t underestimate the power of a social media contest. Create a special hashtag and encourage participants to post on their pages leading up to your webinar for a prize drawn at the conclusion of your presentation; this both markets your webinar as well as offers an incentive to attendees for a win/win. It doesn’t have to be an expensive giveaway to command attention; you only have to offer something that will have perceived value with your webinar attendees.
Think about the time you generally schedule your webinars. Are you competing for attendance during “prime time” business hours? Oftentimes, speakers attempt to host their webinars during early morning or late afternoon hours to grant as many participants as possible the opportunity to attend. However, this often means your webinar isn’t the only one vying for their presence on any given day. While you definitely want to select a time that accommodates all necessary time zones, shifting your schedule, even by an hour or two, can instantly free up enough bandwidth for listeners to actively tune in.
Scheduling Tip: Schedule business or “work-related” webinars between 11am and 3pm CST during the workweek. Or, if you’re hosting “lifestyle” (non work-related) webinars, schedule them after 6pm CST on weekdays or on the weekend.
Day Of The Week Matters
Of course, it’s not just the time of the day that can make an impact on the number of webinar attendees you get; the actual day itself matters. Mondays can prove a busy day for prospective participants to catch up on outstanding action items. Additionally, no one wants to be committed to a work-related presentation of any length during weekend. Once you’ve pinpointed the right time, schedule your webinar on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays to improve the chance of participation.
Promote On Your Website
Help get the word out about your upcoming session by creating a specialized landing page on your website. Here is where you can outline all specifics including the who, what, where, when and, most importantly, why. Give details on the specific problem you will solve and the advantages offered simply by attending your webinar. You can also provide information about any giveaways or contests held during the presentation on this landing page.
Promote Via Social Media
You can promote your webinars directly on your social media pages as well. Your social media accounts are an excellent method to consistently market to both existing and prospective webinar attendees, without fear of them feeling “spammed.” While social media pages provide a direct channel to consumers, it’s still important to carefully consider how you will promote your event using these resources. Beyond relevant hashtags, include imagery whenever possible. Graphics can quickly grab attention as followers scroll through their feeds, making a bigger impact than just content posts alone. Also, whenever relevant, tag presenters and participating brands in your posts to optimize the reach of updates.
Use Your Manners
Don’t only send a registration confirmation – send a thank-you note with it. This adds a personal touch to your session, as well as serves as a periodic reminder of the upcoming webinar in their inbox. Some of your registrants will automatically copy and paste the details of your confirmation email directly into their schedules; be sure to focus on the highlights to encourage participation so they aren’t only reminded when it’s time to go…it also reinforces why they want to go.
Short Really is Sweet
For so many of us, long meetings are the equivalent of corporate kryptonite. Don’t buy into the belief that your webinar needs to be a specific length or it won’t add value. If you can create an impactful presentation that only runs 20 minutes, do it…and then tell everyone you know about it. You may find your shorter sessions actually get a better response rate than your longer demonstrations.
Leverage The Blogosphere (And Other SEO Channels)
Use SEO content to promote an upcoming webinar. Online articles, blogs, and even press releases can all use optimized copy to get your message out to people actually looking for what you do. No matter what online forum you use to market an event, always provide links to your website and registration page to drive attendance numbers.
Know What Not To Advertise
While you will want to advertise relevant details to the masses to scale participation, there is some information you may not want to offer in order to keep as many guests as possible in their seats during your live presentation. For example, if your goal is an exponential attendance surge, you may want to hold off letting guests know that their registration allows them access to the slide deck and recording after the event. Letting your audience know their registration means they can listen and read your material whenever they want instantly allows them to view your live session as “optional.” Only post links and details about materials covered after your webinar to encourage peak participation.
Showcase Panel Experts
Nothing mandates webinars must be run as “one-person-shows.” However, many presenters do exactly that; they manage the entire process alone, relying on their own marketing efforts and internal networking capabilities to generate webinar attendees. Broaden the scope of your presentation by allowing a panel of industry experts to offer their insight during the demonstration. Ask your panel to post information about your conference on their websites as well for an added promotional push. Each speaker will deepen the discussion dynamic and also increase the reach of your message within their specific networks to grow your attendee numbers.
Advertise Q&A Opportunities
Your question and answer sessions should absolutely be marketed as the distinctive opportunity it is. Don’t merely plug your presentation as “interactive.” Instead, get specific about the access the audience will have with all of the speakers, as well as planned Q&A sessions spread throughout the conference. Knowing that there’s an opportunity for genuine dialogue and exchange of information can prove enough to not only get listeners to log in, but also keep them engaged until the very end.
Send Customized Reminders
Email/text reminders offer an effective tactic to keep your conference on registrants’ radars. It’s not enough to merely blast out the date and times. Chances are, your registrants marked their calendars the day the signed up. However, they may have forgotten why they registered in the first place. Customize your reminder to include information on the value your event lends and why they won’t want to miss out on your message.
Follow Up With Future Sessions
Pre-webinar promotions can help you develop an attendance upswing for future events. Once again, customization is key; create emails with relevant details that will resonate with your intended audience to ensure they don’t end up unread and, worse yet, deleted. Follow up emails can build marketing momentum within your existing network of listeners and scale webinar attendees exponentially for noticeable results at your next webinar.
At BigMarker, we offer robust, modern webinar software that can scale to accommodate webinar audiences of all sizes. Sign up for a 14-day free trial today or send us a message if you’re interested in learning more.