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10 ways webinars get interrupted and how to increase your webinar participation rates

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After an explosion of interest in webinars and online conferences, many organizations have seen their average webinar participation rates drop. It’s frustrating because webinars still take a long time to organize, although you don’t have to bother ordering coffee and setting up chairs like you would for an in-person meeting. And, of course, low webinar attendance is hard to bear knowing that the potential audience should be almost limitless.

Why are webinar participation rates low?

There’s probably not a single reason you’re seeing declining webinar participation rates. (And, admittedly, some organizations have seen their webinar participation rates increase; more on how to do that, below.) Instead, there are probably a number of factors that prevent all of the virtual seats in your webinars.

In addition, there is a difference between webinar registration numbers and the number of people. actually present– as well as the number that remains to look at everything. Finally, there is a related question of how many people watch the webinar later if it was recorded.

  1. There are now tons of competing webinars. Just as you can market worldwide, there are countless other events that can include your potential attendees as well. Webinar attendance rates inevitably decrease when they all slice the pie in a thousand ways.
  2. People are busy. Attending a webinar is often more enjoyable than a must in your schedule. It comes after doing its usual job, but also takes a back seat to cooking meals, looking after the kids and all the other daily minutiae.
  3. No need to commit. First, instead of going to a conference or even a presentation downtown, people don’t necessarily reserve space in their calendars for webinars. It’s easier to avoid getting blown away by a work project when you’ve booked a flight to a distant city than it is to just sit in front of your laptop at home. Plus, no one seems to know if you’re showing up to an event where you are invisible, so there is little remorse in not logging in. And, finally, there’s no need to register or attend when we don’t feel any sense of a shortage and know there are potentially unlimited places online.
  4. Screen fatigue. Whether it’s daily staff meetings, watching a movie, or attending webinars, people spend a lot of time looking at digital screens. The prospect of spending more time passively parked in front of a computer is tiring. This is doubly true if what you are watching is not top notch entertainment but rather a mediocre webinar.
  5. Burnt by bad webinars. To be clear, a lot of webinars are bad and boring. After having endured enough, potential webinar attendees are reluctant to register and attend another. Once bitten, twice shy. Even good webinars are culpable by association as they are all put together by potential attendees.
  6. Monetization webinars. There is no reason for webinars to be free; after all, they involve a real cost, take a long time, and should deliver real value. However, it’s harder to get people to sign up if there are costs – and entering your payment details means more time and friction. A smaller, more serious paying audience (with fewer absent attendees) may be preferable to a larger unpaid group, but adding that price tag will likely have an effect.
  7. Attending live is not important. So many webinars are being recorded that people rightly assume there is no reason to show up on the first live broadcast. In fact, they get the same content and experience later on on their terms. This is because a viewer can move forward, pause the session or even play it at a faster speed. If there isn’t a good reason to be there live and still be able to see it later, it will reduce webinar attendance.
  8. No online engagement. Whether it’s attending a brown bag presentation in the office, going to a conference in town, or flying to a conference, a heavy driver isn’t necessarily the presentation itself, but the ability to interact with the people there. This is something that tends to be sorely lacking in online submissions. If attendees are unable to network, get their questions answered, or meet the speaker, this may well be the reason why webinar attendance is declining. Indeed, many webinars promise online engagement, but they just don’t deliver.
  9. Too much seller. When signing up for webinars, most people aren’t naive enough to believe that there isn’t a sales component. But there’s a difference between watching someone do the equivalent of a dry 45-minute sales pitch in a showroom and going out and enjoying a test drive. Too often webinars are full of sales, but lack real, useful information. It’s a big blow to attendees and a quick way to make sure they don’t come back.
  10. Too promising. Lots of webinars over-promise what they’ll or can realistically deliver in what’s usually 60 minutes. This could be offering to reveal a secret that is, in fact, never revealed, or covering up information so superficially that it is of no value.

How to increase participation in webinars

You may not be able to make up for all of these reasons for the low participation rate in your webinars. However, you may be able to choose at least a few to maintain or increase your audience. Can you control the number of other webinars offered by competitors elsewhere in the world? No, but you can pick more specific niche topics and come up with them at times that speak to the attendees you want to attract.

Perhaps the best way to combat the pitfalls of declining footfall is to eat your own dog food. Ask yourself, “Would I like to attend my own webinar?” If he’s a low-energy speaker who just tells dozens of slides with lots of text, probably not. And if there’s no compelling reason to show up live when you can, at least with the best of intentions, watch it all later, right?

To that end, consider increasing engagement and attendance for your webinars while reducing the amount of time audiences are passive. If, for example, you are offering a webinar on economic trends in your industry (as a way to establish thought leadership and potentially gain new clients), can you take more than five minutes of questions at the very end? Can you make guests appear among the audience? Can you give participants a chance to meet and your staff in small groups and share and debate the topic?

Of course, it’s hard for a webinar to gain an immovable place in the busy schedules of people these days. However, the bar for most webinars is very low. So, if you promise attendees a good, useful and engaging experience and deliver it, you’ll likely see them come back again and again.


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