One of the biggest concerns for any webinar host is attendance. It is, for better or worse, the most common barometer for gauging event success. Of course, we all know quality prevails over quantity, right?
But as I’m sure many would have to admit, it’s nice to tout an overwhelming number of attendees. So how do you encourage both quantity and quality at your next online event? Here are some tried-and-true tips:
When scheduling your event, make sure you’re considering what’s best for the audience. Would they be most likely to attend in the morning or in the afternoon? Midweek or on Monday or Friday? Are there any conflicts, like a big industry tradeshow or conference, which might interfere with attendance at your virtual event?
Make It Matter
Be sure you’re providing content and speakers that your audience is interested in. Has the speaker you hired delivered the same content multiple times for other companies who might share your audience? Are you continually offering identical webinars with just a different title? Mix it up, stay relevant and ask your audience who and what they want to see and hear.
Try, Try Again
Send multiple invites to get your audience to register: one a couple of weeks before, one a week before and maybe one a day or two before. Remove people who have already registered for the event before sending subsequent invites and try different email content and subject lines with each invite. You never know what’s going to grab someone’s attention. Increased registration should hopefully lead to increased attendance. But with industry average attendance rates at anywhere from 30-50%, you should do everything you can to convert those registrants into attendees!
Keep It Simple
Make registration easy. You’ll have an opportunity to gather information throughout the process, thanks to surveys and polls, so limit registration fields to the essential contact information–name, email and maybe a phone number. That gives you an opportunity to ask a couple more questions that can help you qualify leads and even improve your presentation. For instance, you could ask for registrants to submit questions ahead of time, which can help shape content and delivery to the expectations and needs of the audience. Be sure to incorporate this information as a way of letting your audience know that you’re listening to their needs. And don’t forget to send an immediate email confirmation.
That Reminds Me…
Speaking of emails, you have to remind your audience. Then remind them again. Make sure you send multiple email reminders with clear, easy to understand instructions on how to attend, a link to the event, phone numbers to dial in and support contact information–just in case they need it. And be sure to include a ‘save to Outlook calendar’ option.
Some other tips:
Cross promote – Post it on your web site, partner web sites, your blog, Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools that you participate in, or use free event listing services like EventSpan.
Use the force – Your sales force, that is. Have them add a link to their emails, make calls and ensure it’s top of mind for their clients and prospects.
Buddy up – Find a co-sponsor and have them promote the event to their database.
Reward the behavior you want to promote – Incentives can work. If your goal is to increase attendance, make sure the giveaway goes to an attendee–and perhaps announce it end of the event so the audience stays to listen to the entire presentation.
Finally, sometimes people just can’t make it. Be sure to record your event! You’ll increase the value of your event investment and continue to capture leads over the lifetime of the recording.
Cambria Vaccaro is the Senior Director, Marketing Communications and our “Industry News” blogger. Cambria has been in the conferencing industry for nearly fifteen years, and has seen it evolve from a traditional video bridging service to include cool web features and remote communication services. She is an avid runner, cook, wife and mother of two gorgeous girls.