Webinars aren’t dead, but marketers need to recalibrate their approach.
More brands are pushing webinars than ever before and many people have less inclination than ever to attend. That becomes a problem when attendance is our primary metric of success.
With terms like ‘screen exhaust’ entering the lexicon, burnout permeates all corners of our current world—and webinars are no exception.
In these heavily virtual times, the craftiest marketers consider other signals of engagement.
The state of the webinar
Video meetings stress people out.
According to brainwave research from Microsoft, the markers associated with hard work and mental fatigue are significantly higher during video calls than other activities like writing an email.
Anyone who’s powered through back-to-back video calls knows this pain firsthand. As work from home weeks became work from home months, we’ve all wondered at some point whether these video meetings are necessary or productive.
We’ve also become wary of anything that requires us to engage at length with a screen. The apprehension hasn’t stopped people from signing up for webinars, but it has reduced the odds of them showing up.
Prompted by our own experience of A+ registrations followed by C- attendance rates, we reached out to our networks to run a few impromptu conversations around the topic.
It revealed that our audiences aren’t the only ones overwhelmed with webinars (they're running 50% more webinars than early 2020, but 65% are noticing a drop in attendance). Marketers are too.
- When asked how many webinars they “happily” attend each week, 70 percent said 0.
- When asked whether they’d rather lose internet access for an entire weekend or watch another webinar, 60 percent chose the former.
They also echoed our theories about why attendance rates are so low: There are too many webinars right now. People are overwhelmed with content and events in virtual settings, and, perhaps most importantly, they know you’ll record and send it later.
And the majority of folks sign up to view your content when it’s convenient.
Why site visits and registrations require a new lens
Despite the growing aversion to attending webinars in real-time, many marketers still see attendance as the gold standard of success.
This may have made sense in the past, but in these overwhelmingly virtual times, treating attendance as your primary success metric is the wrong approach.
As marketers, we need to ask ourselves what carries the greater value—someone attending a webinar that isn’t in our TAM, or a decision-maker from a high-priority account registering for a webinar that they don’t attend?
When we stop prioritizing low-value attendees over high-value registrants, we expand our notions about what success looks like.
In our experience, no-shows and on-demand viewers actually converted to opportunities at twice the rate of attendees. This wouldn’t be the case if we relied on “Sorry we missed you” emails.
But it is possible to coax no-show registrants into the funnel when we wow them with relevant follow-up content that propels them to consume more content and other offers. It’s also possible to turn page visits into prospects when we leverage the right tactics.
A new normal for old channels
The old game says attendance is queen and no-shows don’t care.
The new game is all about finding more ways to get your topic in front of the audience—to engage them in ways that don’t always demand an hour of their time during the middle of a workday.
The truth is, people still want to learn and engage. They just don’t want to feel chained to their laptops to do so.
To extract the most value from page visits and no-show registrants, we need to treat webinar topics like questions that gauge interest or express a challenge. Then we need to serve that audience with follow-up content that helps them unlock the knowledge they need—ideally in a variety of easy-to-consume formats.
If we consider registration an indicator of interest rather than an intent to attend, we can make better decisions that drive new definitions of success.
And we can apply this framework to other marketing activities, creating new playbooks that help us market and sell more effectively in our new environment. Want to learn more about how to reset the webinar mindset and unlock a handful of follow-up tips (screenshots included)? Download our latest guide, N.A.W. (Not Another Webinar): How to Revive a Fatigued Channel and Fight Burnout.