On average, only about three to five percent of people invited to a free webinar register to attend. What's more, only about 50 percent of people who register for a webinar actually attend the live event. This isn't as depressing as it may sound. If you've targeted your invitees correctly, a relatively small audience of people who are genuinely interested in your message is a valuable asset. And as for the other 50 percent of registrants who were interested enough to register but didn't or couldn't show up, they'll be happy to receive a recorded version of the webinar after the live event. Nevertheless, there's no excuse not to try to maximize the number of people who ultimately register for and attend your webinar. Here are three easy tips:
1. Keep It Simple. It's sad but true: Most people don't read anymore. There's just too much competition for attention and too many distractions in this modern world. If a potential webinar registrant needs to read through a long and detailed description of your webinar presentation to understand why they should register (heck, why they should care), don't count on converting them from invitee to registrant.
Give people only the information they need to understand why they should register. This isn't the place to list a detailed agenda or bloviate about every small detail of the presentation content. Instead, try to limit your copy to no more than one or two paragraphs that state the goal of the webinar or the problem that will be solved. And do it as concisely as possible.
Then, extract the key benefits or takeaways that registrants will gain by attending and list those out as three or four bullet points. These points should clearly reflect the most compelling reasons to attend your webinar. Think about the value and benefit that will be gained by attending. This is the place to "sell" your webinar and short, punchy bullet points are an effective way to do this. It makes it easy for a potential registrant to understand why they should register in a single, quick glance (i.e., they don't have to read.)
2. Use Effective Titles. Of course, some attention-deficient people may never even get past the title of your webinar (which you would presumably include in your webinar invitation subject line and at the top of your webinar registration page). As such, your webinar title must stand on its own as a way to convey the value of registering for and attending your webinar. Take a look at the title of this blog post: Three Easy Tips to Maximize Webinar Registration and Attendance. This could very well be an effective title for a webinar too. It clearly states the value that will be gained by reading the post (or attending the webinar): The reader (or the attendee) will receive three easy tips to maximize webinar registration and attendance. It couldn't be more clear. There's an explicit value proposition.
These kinds of titles work well for webinars (and for blog posts, for that matter). Titles that use phrases like "Best Practices...," "Secrets Of...," and "How To..." have been shown to increase registration rates because they clearly communicate what's in it for the registrant. Granted, you can sometimes end up with some tacky-sounding (or even suspicious-sounding) titles when using this formula. (I don't think I'd want to attend a webinar titled "Three Secrets to Doubling Your Income in One Week!" although the 3–2–1 construction is clever). If you're organizing a webinar for a company or organization with a particularly staid reputation or on an otherwise serious-minded topic, you can stay away from such wordplay. But the same basic concept should still apply: Your webinar title should explicitly convey the value in attending.
Your webinar titles should also be specific. Once again, I'll use the title of this blog post as an example. The title specifically states that you'll receive three easy tips to maximize webinar registration and attendance. Not registration and attendance for in-person events. And not some other webinar-related metrics, but specifically registration and attendance. When a webinar title is specific, the potential registrant can easily decide whether the topic is important and relevant enough to them to warrant a registration. Remember what I suggested at the beginning of this post: A relatively small audience of people who are genuinely interested in your message is a valuable asset. When a potential registrant isn't given enough information to self-select themselves as an appropriate attendee for a webinar, you end up with a large audience of frustrated people who aren't interested in your message at all. It's not enough to maximize registration and attendance; you need to make sure that your audience is the right audience for your message too.
With that said, the importance of crafting a webinar title that's specific should be blatantly obvious in retrospect. But, for one reason or another, webinar organizers don't always do this. Sometimes, an organizer is charged with generating as many new leads as possible. So, what do they do? They cast the widest net possible with a vaguely-titled webinar, hoping to haul in as many registrants as they can get. I recently saw a promotion for a webinar titled "Hot Vendors." How could anyone possibly know what this webinar would be about by reading the title alone? What makes these vendors "hot"? For that matter, what vendors are they referring to? IT vendors? Software vendors? Hot dog vendors? If anyone did register for this webinar, it probably resulted in a group of very disappointed and angry folks whose expectations weren't met.
3. Don't Offer Excuses. Once you've overcome the challenge of driving someone from your webinar invitation e-mail to your webinar registration page, don't give them any excuses not to make the final commitment to register for your webinar. First, make sure that the actual webinar registration form is above the fold of the page. A potential registrant should be encouraged to start filling out that form as soon as they land on the page without having to scroll down to find it. Of course, this best practice goes out the window on mobile screens. If your webinar registration page is mobile responsive (it should be!), the screen is just too small to accommodate the two-column layout commonly used to present both the webinar details and the webinar form above the fold. In this case, you have no choice but to place the form below the details on small screens, but the page should still be designed to support a two-column layout on desktops and tablets.
The registration form should also be short. Limit the form fields to just the essential information you need from registrants. Information like name, e-mail, company, title, city, state, and country is usually sufficient for a typical webinar and you shouldn't have any trouble getting it. But once you start asking for more information, especially personal information, you're giving potential registrants an excuse not to register. Even asking for a phone number will probably decrease your registration rates. People don't want to have to work for a registration and they don't want to relinquish too much personal data.
Your webinar registration form also shouldn't include a challenge question or reCAPTCHA puzzle. I've seen webinar software vendors incorporate these features into their built-in registration systems. I can't think of a bigger barrier to registration than forcing someone to select all of the traffic lights or all of the palm trees in an image grid before they can submit a registration. For some reason, certain webinar software vendors think this is a necessary feature. In my experience, I've never once seen a registration submitted by a spammer or a bot with a registration form that doesn't include a challenge. Besides, your webinar registration form has a limited shelf life. The webinar will probably be long over before any bot can find it. Although probably a topic for another blog post, this is one of the reasons I prefer custom-built registration pages over the integrated webinar registration systems built in to most webinar platforms. With a custom page, you have total control over everything.
Finally, the best way to maximize attendance rates for people who have registered for your webinar is to remind them about it and why they should attend. If someone registered for your webinar weeks ago, they may have forgotten why they registered or even that they did register. I like to schedule webinar reminders to go out 24 hours before a webinar and then again two hours before a webinar. The reminder should include all of the information the registrant needs to attend and it should reiterate the value that will be gained by attending. It's also a good idea to offer "add to calendar" links on your webinar registration confirmation page, in the webinar registration confirmation e-mail, and in the reminder e-mails. With all of these opportunities to be reminded, registrants will have no excuse not to attend.
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