14 creative ways to boost webinar registration and attendance rates

It is a rare webinar promoter who doesn’t wish that they could get more butts in seats.

Unfortunately, too often the advice given about how to promote them sounds a like get-rich-quick scheme or over-simplistically tells you, “Make sure you post your event on Twitter.” And you’re not the first person to wretch in the back of your mouth at the former and groan, “Really?” to the latter.

What follows are 14 ideas that will challenge you to think creatively about registration and attendance rates for your webinars and webcasts. Hopefully with a minimum of groaning and wretching.

1. Move your webinar out of prime time

In television, shows compete heavily for eyeballs during primetime, and many have found success precisely because it’s expensive to compete for a finite slot of attention.

The vast majority of business webinars in North America are at 10 or 11am Pacific (1 or 2pm Eastern). Which means you’re competing with zillions of others. Whatever your timezone, you’ve got a primetime where competition for eyeballs is heaviest.

2. Ask your audience what they want

What’s right for you? The only thing you can do is ask and test. Surveys, additional questions on webinar registration pages, polls used during webinars, and surveys after the webinar are all good places to ask.

You can look at somebody else’s data (like this survey where you can see the results at the end), but while this will help a bit, nothing beats you surveying your market.

3. Drill into the data for better targeting

Not everybody in your audience has the same preference. I researched this for one client and found 19% of respondents said they like Fridays. Cross-tabulating the data found that most of those respondents were in sales roles (which means that other personas had other preferences).

There may be a “best” time for your market overall, but as a marketer you’re used to segmenting other elements of your marketing outreach…you should consider it with your webinar times, too.

4. Plan to gather additional data from attendees…over time

If you stop gathering data at registration, you’re missing out. Polls answered, questions submitted, post-event feedback gathered are GOLD. If you use that info, that is.

Next, track this stuff over time, and you’ll see trends emerge. Hot versus cold topics, some that drew registrants but didn’t put butts in seats, insights about how holidays affect response, etc. (On that last point, I’ve seen some rockin’ events a couple days before Christmas…maybe because it was another version of ‘not in primetime’).

5. Recondition expectations about recordings, part one

If your messaging is, “Register and you’ll get a link to the recording,” you may, in fact, be depressing attendance rates.

Why? I don’t have to attend to get the goodies. You told me I don’t have to.

NOTE: Hear me correctly here…I am not saying, “Don’t make and use recordings.” I’m suggesting you think about it relative to your goal.

6. Recondition expectations about recordings, part two

Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you: You receive an email newsletter that had an article you really wanted to get to, so you filed it away planning to get to it when you have time.

And three months later it’s still sitting there.

Your webinar recording may suffer the same fate. What if the follow up email noted that the recording would be only be available for two days or a week?

Deadlines are an old, old, OLD motivator.

7. Advertise Q&A as an explicit benefit

Will the audience have a bona-fide opportunity to ask questions of the customer who’s sharing their case study, the analyst, the product manager or subject matter expert?

Don’t advertise the same, lame “interactive” event and then go blah blah blah for 45 minutes (only to take a couple questions). They’ve heard that before.

Ideas: Host a panel of experts, do a 20 minute presentation and have a serious Q&A session, stop for questions in the middle, take questions in advance and work them into the presentation, or something/anything that’s a little different.

8. Customize your reminder emails

Conferencing systems kick out automatic reminders, but those system-generated emails rarely have much detail beyond date, time, and title.

If I registered for the webinar nine days ago, and now I have competing interests for my time tomorrow morning, I may not even remember what I thought was interesting enough to register for.

Nine times out of ten, the reminder email confers data, but has no reminder of benefits. Why, again, is this worth going out of my way for?

9. Use follow up emails to promote the next events

Like reminder emails, follow up emails are similarly underutilized. You’ve got something dropping into their inbox…get next month’s webinar in front of them.

Hint: Give attendees a reason to open the follow-up email so they don’t think, “I attended the event, I can just delete this email to the recording.

10. Use chat-to-all during the webinar to promote the next event

This is where it helps to be purposeful about preparing the moderator and/or speaker to be part of customer-experience delivery. You don’t have to be an infomercial, but if you’ve got something of value to share, you can mention and share a link to register.

11. Post a link to the next webinar in the “waiting room”

Some platforms bring early arrivers into a holding area, and some of those platforms can use that spot to share additional information. Use it!

12. Try a shorter webinar

Do webinars need to be an hour long? Nope. What happens if you tell folks they’ll be in and out in 20 minutes? you don’t know if you don’t try.

13. Try an odd starting time

Almost every meeting anywhere starts at the top of the hour. Try starting at the bottom of the hour. Hint: This obviously works well in conjunction with a shorter webinar.

14. Do the same webinar at more than one time slot

If you count up the hours, most of the work that goes into an event is pre-event. Doing the same webinar twice only costs you another hour (or so).

I’ve had clients use this to successfully deal with broadly disparate time zones. On the west coast (Pacific Time), they did one event at 7am (early in the U.S., and reasonable for Europe), and then the same one at 4pm (livable in the U.S., and accessible in Southeast Asia and Australia).


The bottom line

Believe it or not, this is not an exhaustive list. The simple message is this: The only real rule to follow is to try things, measure them, and refine what works for you over time. Cheers to your growing smarts!


4 thoughts on “14 creative ways to boost webinar registration and attendance rates

  1. Lea McLeod

    Hi Roger,
    Nice article and spot on! I will peruse what other great ideas you have here. Hope you’re doing well!

    1. TheVP

      Thanks Lea. Trust you’re well, too.

  2. Jennifer Kennedy

    For the last month or so, we’ve had poor attendance at our webinars! We really needed to take a hard look at what was going on.

    Sending out surveys was definitely an eye opener! We have since gained information about better days and times — even topics that our users find most interesting.

    An additional idea was to email a monthly flyer listing all of our upcoming webinars for the month! That way, we promoted the webinars in multiple locations rather than just on our homepage where users oftentimes don’t look.

    Thanks for the ideas!

    1. TheVP

      Hey J, Thanks for sharing!

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