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Guest Expert: ON24’s Sharat Sharan on 10 Webinar Benchmarks and Best Practices

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by: Will Schnabel (@wschnabel)
05 September 2014

Webcasting and virtual events continue to explode in popularity. In addition to their utility for applications like employee training, webinars have become a crucial part of selling for many businesses, helping marketers generate new leads and nurture prospects through the buying cycle. And with the right integrated approach to webinar and marketing automation, you can increase the effectiveness of webcasting even more, using webinar behaviors (e.g. “attended entire webinar,” “registered but didn't attend” or “didn't attend but watched recorded webinar”) to trigger relevant, timely communications that increase engagement.

This month
, we’re happy to have CEO Sharat Sharan of our partner ON24 share some useful data points about webinars from the company’s recent Webinar Benchmarks Report, as well as offer some recommendations around key best practices for getting the most value from your webcasting efforts.

Sharat SharanThe data from ON24’s recent Webinar Benchmarks Report shows that for marketing, training and corporate communications, webcasting is the “place to be.” (Just ask DJ Dave, and he’ll tell you!) Growing audience sizes, increased viewing duration and continuing audience desire for on-demand content highlight why webinars continue to play a critical role for successful companies.

Earlier this year, ON24 pulled statistical data from a random subset of the 26,000-plus webcasts it supported in 2013 to understand more about key webinar benchmarks. Here are 10 key findings and related best practices:

1) For live webinars, registration peaks during the week of the event.

Fifty-eight percent of participants register during the week of the live webinar, while 42 percent register more than a week beforehand.

Best Practices Implication: Be sure that a good portion of your email marketing program, as well as your social media and paid promotions, are focused on the days leading up to the event, with communications such as date and time reminders. And make sure you tease webcast content to drive additional registrations.

2) The success of webinar promotional emails corresponds to the day they are sent.

Overwhelmingly, the middle of the week – Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – are the days that garner the most webinar registrations (69 percent).

Best Practices Implication: Schedule your promotional emails for maximum readership and reach, and forget about Friday or the weekends, unless you’re forced to do an email drop on those days.

3) Webinar attendance also peaks during midweek.

Fully 81 percent of webinar attendance takes place Tuesday through Thursday. The drop-off on Mondays and Fridays is significant enough to reduce effectiveness.

Best Practices Implication: Unless you’re in a crisis, webinars should be scheduled midweek. And make sure that your webcast is available for on-demand viewing anytime.

4) Average conversion rates stay fairly consistent, so webinar producers can reasonably predict attendance.

Webinars average a conversion (attendance) rate of 42.9 percent for most marketing-driven events with more than 100 attendees.

Best Practices Implication: Use this conversion rate data to tell you how many registrations you’ll need to meet a specific attendance number. Then, scale your outbound marketing efforts and customer/prospect touches to get the registrations you need to achieve the results you’re aiming for.

5) Webinar viewing time continues to increase.

In 2013, the average viewing time (in the context of a one-hour webinar) increased from 53 to 56 minutes, up from 38 minutes in 2010.

Best Practices Implication: While it may be counterintuitive in a 140-character world, longer-form content can really drive engagement and viewership. Balance long-form and brief “snackable” content to keep contacts coming back for more.

6) Audience engagement is being driven via interactive webcast features.

Some 85 percent of webcasts now use Q&A features, while social sharing (38 percent) and polling (22 percent) features are also popular.

Best Practices Implication: Include live Q&A in your webinar — it’s by far the most popular feature for connecting an audience to an event. In addition, polling can give you valuable customer/prospect data and is a fun way to ensure the audience is paying attention. And social sharing extends the reach of your event and drives greater interest in your content.

7) Video in webcasts is the “next big thing.”

While most webcasts are built around slides and audio, integration of video into webinars has become easier in the past year or two and is slowly rising.

Best Practices Implication: As video becomes more cost-effective and simpler to use, it can more easily be integrated into webcasts. The use and reuse of a company’s studio video, webcam assets and video clips can help extend the utility of pre-existing content and drive greater ROI.

8) Understanding on-demand viewing of your webcasts is key.

Some 21.7 percent of viewers who register for (but don’t attend) a live event come back to view it on demand, while 13 percent of webcast audiences view BOTH the live and on-demand events. Also, roughly 19 percent of on-demand webcast registrants never registered for the live event.

Best Practices Implication: There is value in archiving your webcasts and making them available on demand. Post-live promotion extends the life of your content and validates the notion that webcasts are more than just “a moment in time.”

9) On-demand viewing time is shorter than live events.

For a one-hour webcast, viewers spend an average of 26 minutes viewing the on-demand version. This is typically because users can fast-forward and seek out only the content they want to see and can visit an archived webinar multiple times.

Best Practices Implication: Effective organization of webcast content is key, enabling your viewers to find what they need quickly. A clear agenda organized by subject matter or speaker can help.

10) Integration of webcasts and virtual environments is happening.

Today, 19 percent of webcasts are being integrated into a larger virtual environment, such as an executive briefing center, virtual marketing portal or a training environment.

Best Practices Implication: The ability to deliver live and on-demand webinars from within a virtual environment increases the value of the virtual environment and the reach and ROI of webcast content.

ON24 is the global leader in webinar-based marketing solutions that drive demand generation and customer engagement. All of ON24’s data is summarized in the downloadable report, and we’re also offering an on-demand webcast that summarizes the report. We hope that you’ll take advantage of these resources; feel free to share them with colleagues.

Popular Silverpop Webinars:

1) “Delivering the Perfect Message by Listening to Your Customers

2) “Re-Energize Existing Customers and Watch Profits Soar

3) “Email Marketing Benchmarks: How Do You Stack Up Against the Best?


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