'People Want Information in All Formats and Lengths' - Vary Your Webinars, Riddle Advises

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"When a sponsor does a webinar, we'll repurpose that information in multiple ways. There's live, then we'll post the video, then take out excerpts, breaking it down into 7-minute chunks. We can do repurposing in multiple platforms. There are also nice tools out now to get a transcript off voice recognition... We do analytics on who attends. What topics did they go to? How long did they sit in? Do they leave early? Some might bail when it's not of interest."


That quote is from Clive Riddle, president of MCOL—a health care business publisher—where they have two models of webinars, one that's free with sponsors underwriting it—and one where they charge a registration fee. He presented a session at SIPA Annual 2019 last week titled Deploying Webinar Attendee Analytics to Drive Marketing and Strategic Decision Making.

In the past, Riddle has explained that by doing both types of webinars, MCOL can attract different audiences. "Some people won't attend any complimentary webinars thinking that it will only be a sales pitch. And some who are more budget-conscious might do the opposite. Some overlap, but not all that much. People want information in all different formats and lengths."

Last week, Riddle spoke more about MCOL's webinar division, which averages 35 webinars a year, about half of which are sponsored and account for 62% of their attendees. Just over 80% of their webinars run 60 minutes in length. They charge by the time length—$195 for the 60-minute webinars, $295 for 90 minutes and just $95 for the 30-minute episodes. Premium members get 50% off. Riddle said that they are going to look into holding more 45-minute webinars, especially for the sponsored events.

Overall he sees fewer paid events being offered, with a little bit of burnout and more sales-oriented sponsored events. The industry is moving beyond the run-of-the-mill PowerPoint presentations, trying to come up with the cure for the common webinar—and the problem of people not attending. MCOL encourages interactivity—for audience questions, "Our own person is moderating and asking questions," Riddle said.

As for attendee analytics, Riddle said that for their non–sponsored webinars, 85% of those registered attend. "One issue we have is with sponsors communication and lead time; we can't always craft last-minute messages to re-engage people."

Riddle believes that the topics and speakers are the main drivers for MCOL webinars. Being based on the west coast, they start their webinars at 1 pm Eastern, sometimes 2 pm. Mostly avoid Mondays and Fridays, he advised, though he has seen better percentages of registrants attending on Fridays which intrigues him. He found that Wednesdays are bad for sponsored events, with only 36.9% of the registrants attending, but the paid attendance events on Wednesdays have been better.

About 85% of sponsored attendees only attend those, and 75% of non-sponsored event attendees only those. As Riddle said, "People want information in all different formats and lengths." The majority of their sign-ups comes from email with others coming from referrals to a friend or colleague.

A couple other notes: MCOL has had success occasionally pre-recording webinars and then running them with a live host. "You can edit them down that way." They have uploaded some segments onto LinkedIn where the clips receive good engagement, but they have to be under 10 minutes. And Riddle has tried keeping people on the sponsored webinars longer by offering a prize if they stay until the end.

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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…