New Webinar Report Gives Best Times and Urges Attention to On-Demand

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Do you have a solid post-live strategy for your webinars? According to ON24's 2017 Webinar Benchmarks Report, a third of all webinar attendees are only watching your webinars on-demand. So just because the webinar has taken place, you still need to be clear to your audience how they can view it. Interestingly, only 6% watch live and on-demand.

"The majority of post-live registrations happen the week after the live event, suggesting that they were interested in the live event, but missed it due to scheduling conflicts," the report says. "However, the long tail for on-demand registration highlights their power to pull in registrants for months." In addition, the average time that on-demand viewers watch a webinar has risen to 42 minutes, from just 29 two years ago.

In a talk last year, Adam Goldstein, publisher of Business Management Daily, said that they still do a healthy business with CDs. He speculated that just buying a CD might give people certification credits in some fields. BMD also transcribes every webinar for around $200 and then puts it into a $49 executive summary that includes the Powerpoint—taking out the "urs" and "ums."

Let's look at the report's main takeaways:

1. You can't be too early in marketing your webinars and you can't be too late. ON24 found that almost one in four registrants sign up for a webinar more than 15 days before the event. And about 25% of webinar registrants sign up that day! (31% register 1-7 days before, and 21% sign up 8-14 days out.)

2. Promote in the middle of the week. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday continue to be the most effective time to send a promotional email for a webinar, all at 22%. Monday is next (17%), followed by Friday (11%) and Saturday/Sunday (5%). But an occasional weekend email can bring in some new audience.

3. Wednesday and Thursday are the best days of the week to hold a webinar, bringing in a combined 55% of all attendees. Tuesday is next at 23% but then it drops off considerably for the other days.

4. 2 pm Eastern time is the best time slot. Almost a fourth of those surveyed gave 2 pm as their most effective time. Next came 1 pm and 3 pm followed by noon and 11 am. If you're including Europe in your audience, 11 am or noon might be optimum.

5. The average webinar attendee stayed in for 55 minutes. This is down ever-so-slightly from previous years. I like the idea of spreading time for questions throughout the webinar to keep engagement high.

6. Your conversion rate of registrant to attendee should be higher than 35%. The average for 2016 in this survey was 46%. For this category, they break webinars into four categories: Marketing (36%), Training (45%), Continuing Education (40%) and Internal Communications (54%). Test the number of reminders you send. They are especially needed for those people who sign up early.

7. Almost a third of all webinars now integrate a social experience, such as Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. The most popular engagement tool remains the Q&A at 82% of all webinars, followed by providing additional resources to download (66%), offering surveys (28%), polling (24%) and group chat (7%). That feels a little low for surveys—seems like a win-win to find out your customer's experience. Polling can also be an effective way to keep viewer engagement high.

8. Encourage presenters to use video when possible. For the fourth year in a row, the proportion of webinars that include a video component.has risen—this year to 18%. That still seems a little low given the performance of video these days, but it has doubled since 2014.

SIPA has three webinars scheduled for the next three Wednesdays, including today's Habits of Superstar Media Sales Executives. May 24 will feature Protecting Copyright Online and Policing Infringement, and May 31 brings Harvard Business Publishing: How they Leveraged their Content Archives to Boost Subscriptions, Engagement and Retention. They are all Wednesdays at 2 pm Eastern. (Number 9 - Practice what you preach.)

Download the ON24 report here.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…