While we may almost be six months into 2020, the outbreak of COVID-19, which has led to drastic social distancing measures and prohibitions on mass gatherings, as well as the requirement for people to work remotely if possible, has forced many aspects of the ‘usual’ workplace to grind to a halt.
However, digital events, such as webinars, are enabling organizations to engage with their communities online – and, as a recent Redback Connect report shows, they are one platform that is experiencing exponential growth in a COVID-19-affected world. I thought I would share a few trends, facts, and hacks to grow your webinar programs in the new COVID-19 risk environment.
1. On-demand Content
We are all time poor and our attention spans are decreasing. However, on-demand content allows you to cater to a broader audience while also saving a heap of time. Consider creating short, snackable content that can be hosted online and accessed wherever and whenever. It also allows you to obtain a wider pool of speakers – they no longer need to be in one place at a specific time.
So, what are the facts? In 2019, Redback Connect gathered data from over 1300 events and surveyed 65 webinar organisers. The one common theme: attendance rates were dropping, hovering around the 34 to 45 per cent mark.
And the hack? While it is essential to look at your attendance rate, ensure you put some focus on those who aren’t attending. The goal should be to engage viewers over a period, as opposed on a certain day, at a certain time. Always ensure you have an on-demand strategy ready to go before you launch into each webinar, including ‘thank you’ emails, hosting sites and follow up blogs or articles that point back to your recorded webinar.
Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular. Before most Australians began to work remotely, think about how many people around you were listening to podcasts on the train or bus, on their way to work. Podcasts are easily accessible, available on-demand and becoming easier to deliver. While video has its place, audio-only or audio and slide events are a great way to capture an entirely new audience.
So, what are the facts? Podcasts are growing fast and are incredibly convenient as a communication channel. In our 2019 Redback Report, we asked people about their podcast usage to gain a better understanding of how people like to digest information. It found podcasts are growing fast and are incredible convenience as a communication channel. Thirty-six (36) per cent of respondents said they listen to podcasts every week, and a further 16 per cent listen to them monthly.
And the hack? When hosting your next webinar, consider exporting the audio file and using that file to upload as a podcast – it will save you recording your content twice. Quality also matters. Therefore, if you are unable to get to a professional studio or want to DIY, ensure you invest in high-quality audio equipment. Podcasts are a series of episodes, not just one-offs. Consider a name for your podcast show, theme music, and regular presenters. Think of each episode as being part of a TV show or series.
3. Post Webinar Engagement
This is more of a ‘you should be doing it,’ rather than a trend. Most webinar organisers are now understanding the value of communicating with their audiences in-between each event. Utilizing your ‘thank you’ emails and creating consistent engagement is something we all should be doing. Think white papers, useful guides, blogs, and infographics.
So, what are the facts? Whether people attend your webinar live or not, they will still more than likely open your ‘thank you’ email. In fact, it will probably reach more people than your live webinar! For instance, these emails have a very high open rate (at Redback Connect, the average is more than 60 per cent), and many open them more than once or forward to colleagues.
And the hacks? To successfully engage people following your webinar, I strongly recommend including the following in your follow-up emails:
- A recording. It might go without saying, but many only provide live attendees or customers or members with the recording of the webinar. By making them accessible to everyone, it gives more people the incentive to join live or sign up in the future.
- A call to action. Think about what might be the next steps you want people to take? Where do you want them to go? Use this email to your advantage.
- Notices about upcoming webinars. Follow-up emails are the perfect opportunity to create hype for your next webinar and convert people to register for them.
There you have it: Three quick yet effective ways to spruce up your next webinar.
Jeff Downs is the CEO and Founder of Redback Connect. A serial entrepreneur and corporate leader, Jeff founded Canada’s 12th fastest start-up, teleconferencing company Enunciate Conferencing, founded a grocery store chain in Canada, and was National Sales Director for Canada’s largest communications company Bell Canada. Jeff established Redback Connect in 2007.