Where Have All Your Students Gone?

Posted by on Jan 26 2015

Learning StylesDo you wonder why attendance for your webinars has decreased? Here’s the reason and this will help you fix the problem.

What I have seen in the past few years, and what my colleagues tell me they’ve seen as well, is that a large proportion of people won’t attend the live webinar, but will choose instead to pick up the recording and listen to it when they have time.

This “I want what I want, when I want it” culture is becoming the norm, with TIVO, Netflix, Hulu, Kindle, etc. giving people complete control over access to what they want, on their own terms.

How This Affects Free Preview Classes

Say that you offer a special discount or deal during your free preview webinar. Your participants might not take you up on it…not because your special deal isn’t wonderful, but because people don’t watch to the recording for a week or more. They don’t hear about your special deal until after the deadline has passed.

I’ve found that I need to send a second “Reminder to Pickup and Consume Your Recording” email to the registrants about 10 days after the class, to remind them that they need to listen to the recording that they downloaded. If there is a discount or special offer, I remind them about it in the email as well. (And if there is a deadline for them to take advantage of the special offer, I send that in the reminder email, too.)

Recently I held a free webinar on a Thursday afternoon. I sent an email to participants on Thursday evening, letting them know the recording was available. Within the next week, about 35% of the participants went out to the recording page and downloaded/viewed the recording. Ten days later, I sent a reminder email to the registrations (with a reminder about when the special discount would end), and the other 65% of the participants went out and downloaded/viewed the recording.

The Psychology of Missed Discounts

If you give them a deadline for a discount or some special bonuses for registering early, they often won’t hear about it until much later because they haven’t listened to the recording yet. Then, psychologically, they feel they’ve missed out on the lower price or special deal, and why should they now pay the higher price?

I know it’s not logical, but psychological studies show that if people knew there was a discount they missed, they resist buying, even if they want the item.

The deadline does not motivate them if they don’t know about it. You might consider extending the discount to include the time period after you send the second reminder.

Live, No Recording Options, and Evergreen Options

Don’t get me wrong, I think selling-via-free-classes is still a viable and strong marketing technique. We just have to modify our marketing to take into effect the new culture of on-demand education. That’s why I think we’re seeing so many “live, with no recording available” events…if the student doesn’t attend live, they miss out on the event entirely, as there is no recording. In this type of attend live only event, offering a discount with a deadline date makes sense.

Others are going to a evergreen marketing model where their free education videos/audios are always on a marketing website and people can start and go through the marketing process whenever they want (versus doing a free class on a specific date). This is great if you’re selling a self-study program, audio program or ebook.

How This Affects Live Paid Class Attendance

My colleagues report (and I’m seeing this as well) that attendance in paid teleseminars and webinars is changing, too. Students take the classes when they want, not always during the live event times. This means you could have 100 people sign up for a paid webinar series, and only 45 will show up live. The other 55 will take the class by watching or listening to the recording, according to their own needs and schedule.

I’m constantly reminding students to take the next lesson, listen to the next recording. Some students still access the private student website weeks after a live class has ended.

So you have to think how you will serve this subset of your students who can’t (or won’t) attend live, but still want to learn from you. Make sure the recordings are available for each class session, and send reminder emails to tell them to pick up the recordings by a certain deadline.

I hope these ideas and thoughts are helpful to you as you plan your class calendar for the coming year. The culture of the learner is changing and it’s important that you keep up with their demands.

Have you seen these changes happening with your own classes? I’ve love to hear your thoughts and comments about how your students (and YOU!) prefer to learn.



30 comments for now

30 Responses to “Where Have All Your Students Gone?”

  1. This is sooo true and has answered some questions I have been asking about my live seminars, and live classes I teach about social media. The attendance has dropped this past year, but I still get emails asking when the next one is and people still act like they want to take the courses by their enthusiasm. But when the online courses or in person courses happen it’s dropped off dramatically.

    Thank you for bringing this up and point out some solutions!

    You are the best!

    06 Jan 2013 at 2:11 pm

  2. Karyn, thank you so much for sharing the trend you and your colleagues are seeing. Because of my travel and deadline schedule, I am rarely able to attend webinars live, and even hesitant to register if they don’t clearly state a replay is available.

    I’ve heard that some hosts won’t say there is a replay until the confirmation email in order to boost their live attendance.

    And, since you report that folks are even less likely to purchase if they missed the discount period, it seems that we have to rethink the way this is done.

    Now that I am offering my own webinars, I’m motivated to find ways to deliver the info and offer so that it meets my client’s needs.

    I’m seriously considering doing more paid teleclasses with replays via my member site that also includes more bonus material and more classes via video if they want to purchase.

    Folks are so jaded on free webinars as pitches that I’m all for restructuring the whole model and trying new things.

    06 Jan 2013 at 10:00 pm

  3. A very timely and insightful post Karyn. We are all planning our next or future events. Karyn, you gave us some useful insights to plan well and most importantly help our students accelerate at the same time. Thank you.

    07 Jan 2013 at 2:22 pm

  4. Karyn,
    Thank you once again for a wonderful article. Oh how things have certainly changed and having someone like you to guide us through the abyiss is so helpful. Thank you again!

    10 Jan 2013 at 11:43 am

  5. Karyn Greenstreet

    You’re so welcome, Debra!

    10 Jan 2013 at 12:55 pm

  6. My issue is keeping their attention during live classroom events. I find that Millennials have a hard time staying in their seats and relating the material to their world. They are equally checked out during group exercises and just want to know what the minimum requirement is for passing the class. I have to work extra hard to capture their interest and get them to participate. Just making eye contact can be a challenge. Any tips?

    11 Jan 2013 at 3:16 pm

  7. Karyn–great article. This is so true and it’s about making a strategy change. You’re absolutely right on target with your observations. Thanks.

    11 Jan 2013 at 3:19 pm

  8. Karyn Greenstreet

    A quick reminder, folks. If your photo is not showing up next to your comments, go to http://www.gravatar.com and add your photo there. Then it will show up on most blog post comments (not just on my blog, but on most blogs). 🙂

    11 Jan 2013 at 3:32 pm

  9. This is a terrific article, Karyn, and I appreciate your insights very much. I correspond on Facebook with a group of coaches who do teleclasses, too, and many of them have noticed this same pattern.

    My class attendance was up 40% last year. I teach an 8-week teleclass and I do give free teleclasses to advertise it. The difference is that I call the people who attend the live calls to ask them about their business and get to know them personally. Some of those people have questions about their business I can help them with and I give them some free strategy pointers. (I don’t offer strategy sessions or ask who is interested, I just call and do them.) Those are the people who enroll.

    I’ve always said, “The money is in the phone!” and how to convert sales on the phone is part of what I teach, but it’s really very simple. You start from caring about the person you’re talking with, ask them a lot of questions and try and help them. If they’re “Your People”, they resonate with you and eventually they will ask to become your client.

    I find women are initially reluctant to make a “sales call” but when it’s done with love and service, it feels totally appropriate and wonderful!

    11 Jan 2013 at 3:19 pm

  10. Pauline Kehm

    I have definitely seen a drop in attendance at my live events, although, like Colleen above, people still want to know when the next class is offered. This article helps explain why live doesn’t work as well as it used to–and it makes sense. It’s time to change my marketing and create more online, on-demand products.

    11 Jan 2013 at 4:24 pm

  11. Debra

    Great article. I’m finding this to be so true, even in my own behavior. I have to prioritize my time and just can’t watch or listen during my work hours which are now focused solely on revenue generating activities. All my “learning” needs to happen while I’m multitasking in those “off” hours.

    I’m also finding this delayed, on my own time attitude is affecting other business activities. I’m currently conducting a survey and the response rate is significantly lower and slower than in the past.

    I’m wondering how much is due to information overload?

    12 Jan 2013 at 10:42 am

  12. Karyn Greenstreet

    I think a lot of it is due to information overload, Debra. But I also think it’s due to “offer overload”…so many free offers to choose from, so little time to take advantage of them all. So most people ask, “What’s MOST important to learn about right now?” and focus there.

    12 Jan 2013 at 3:11 pm

  13. Thank you Karyn. As usual you are right on. I often don’t download the free telecasts because I am waiting until I have sufficient time to pay attention to them – however, very often, this doesn’t happen.When I give free telecasts I get good attendance but no follow-up which is exactly what you are talking about. You certainly have some excellent suggestions.
    I do have a complaint also. My emails are filled by a dz offers for telecasts attendance on a daily basis – takes so much time to read, then have to discard them. Many times I put them in junk-mail just to get a break. No one has addressed that, so I am wondering how others address it.

    I’ll have Michael try to put my picture on.
    Thank you, Karyn

    12 Jan 2013 at 1:48 pm

  14. Karyn Greenstreet

    Helga, I set up an email address JUST for subscriptions to newsletters from others. That way, it segregates those from my Inbox, and keeps me focused.

    12 Jan 2013 at 3:12 pm

  15. Karyn, what a fantastic idea. Thanks, I’ll have my new web person set this up for me.
    That will make such a difference for me – every little bit helps since I am so digitally phobic.
    Have a wonderful day.

    12 Jan 2013 at 4:34 pm

  16. Karyn, I’m just getting back to offering free teleconferences (a thematic bi-monthly program) to connect with a modified niche audience and have seen the same shift. Your points (as well as those of others) are greatly appreciated, especially as a start to think about special offers with deadlines attached for future programs.

    At this time I’m asking people to sign up only if they *intend* to be there live and going so far as to say that if there is no one to talk to there will be no call. This approach may keep my enrollments down but there’s a greater chance I’ll know how many folks I’m likely to see, and gives me insight into which topics are of interest and which are not. We’ll see; I may change my mind.

    Most “free programs” that promise valuable content are laden with marketing pitches for a paid future program. For this reason I register for very few of them, and I endeavor to offer the value promised in my own, just as I would for a public speaking engagement. Give the value and extend an invitation at the end of the program for expanded opportunities.

    13 Jan 2013 at 9:55 am

  17. Karyn Greenstreet

    That’s a great idea, Joan. If you’re doing a free program that’s based on discussion, people have to be there for the free program to be valuable and engage in the discussion! It would be like people signing up for a mastermind group and not showing up…the value is in the people talking with each other.

    I’ve come to a place when offering free programs that 57 minutes is pure, massive content, and 3 minutes is telling them about my paid class. I watch carefully, and no one hangs up during those last 3 minutes, so that’s a good thing. 🙂

    But I don’t do aggressive selling at all. I just tell them calmly and confidently about my paid program, and allow them to make their own choices about whether they want to register or not. We have to treat people like adults who can make their own decisions, not like children who have to be manipulated into making a decision. No one likes that kind of “used car salesman” selling technique.

    14 Jan 2013 at 11:20 am

  18. Karyn, thanks so much for starting this conversation. I appreciate everything everyone has shared. Yes – information overload is a culprit, as well as how hard we are all working now to keep up with all the latest marketing, SEO, articles, news, etc. Who can do it all??

    But here’s where I see part of the problem – all of us coaches are on each other’s email lists and have been affiliates for each other that all of our lists have become tired. Too many free teleclasses, too many telesummits, etc. And how many ways can you say “I’ll help you build your business” or “I’ll help you make more money”?

    I was thinking back to my seminar business pre-internet – I had chiropractors, attorneys, salespeople, corporate execs, travel agents, etc. – people in many different businesses, but not coaches. I want to reach more of them outside the coaching community. Any ideas on how to do that?

    13 Jan 2013 at 2:22 pm

  19. Karyn Greenstreet

    Well, Chellie, my “go to” marketing techniques for entering any new market are always speaking/teaching/writing. If you want to reach other profession industries outside of the coaching industry, that’s what I would recommend. I know it takes time to build a reputation in a new industry, but it’s worth it! I’ve worked hard at it for years and now have served as a coach/consultant in 40+ industries: http://www.passionforbusiness.com/industries.htm

    14 Jan 2013 at 11:16 am

  20. Hi Karen, I found this article and all the comments really interesting and great food for thought. A great reminder that not only is it important to keep an eye on trends but also how important it is to stay close to what the people we serve really want and how they want it.

    14 Jan 2013 at 3:32 am

  21. Please accept my apologies for spelling you name wrong. I blame being up half the night with flu. Note to Self: Always double proof read before hitting submit!!

    14 Jan 2013 at 3:36 am

  22. Karyn Greenstreet

    No, worries, Ali…flu will do that to you! I hope you feel better soon!

    14 Jan 2013 at 11:13 am

  23. Hi Karyn,

    Great points in this article. I stopped listening to free webinars, teleclasses and live streams because of the lock on my time and also due to being on mailing lists of many coaches and they all have pretty much the same content. Furthermore, I get way too many emails with free teleclasses from the some and it begins to look like desperation talking, not service. Once I see an email offering something live I delete it right away.
    I like Chellie’s comment on list exhaustion; it seems to me there’s about 2 or 3 networks of affiliates and all they do is market each other to the same people over and over!

    14 Jan 2013 at 4:24 pm

  24. Karyn Greenstreet

    Gitte, I was in the same position, getting multiple emails from the same group of affiliates for the same class. So I unsubscribed from all but ONE of those affiliates, just to keep email down. That way, I only get the offer once, not multiple times. 🙂

    14 Jan 2013 at 5:29 pm

  25. So true, Karyn. Open rates confirm the lagged attention too. Where 40 – 60% used to open a blog or solo email the same day, now it’s more like 20% and then a steadily declining open rate percentage over the next two weeks. Email is processed much more slowly.

    18 Jan 2013 at 2:28 pm

  26. Karyn Greenstreet

    Yes, I’m seeing similar numbers in the marketing research study reports I’m reading, Rhonda, as well as my own experience and what my clients are seeing. Capturing attention is getting tougher and tougher.

    18 Jan 2013 at 4:38 pm

  27. Great article Karyn

    I always appreciate your overview and I have been surprised that people are still opening an email a week or more later! I think some ( organized) people take these seminar emails and save them all in a folder and then go back and read them all at once in a blocked out time.

    It seems like this is changing the whole launch strategy. But part of being an entrepreneur is to keep being creative and meeting the needs to our audience. Right?

    27 Jan 2015 at 12:36 pm

  28. Karyn Greenstreet

    You got it, Kaya…we entrepreneurs need to remain FLEXIBLE! 🙂

    27 Jan 2015 at 3:33 pm

  29. Thank you for raising this issue and some work-arounds. Excellent noticing and ideas mentioned in discussion too. I believe that offering rich content and authenticity still rule. Reminds us to look at assumptions and lists and to keep adapting. Unsurprisingly, the trends of clients often reflect our own.

    27 Jan 2015 at 4:18 pm

  30. Very good observations Karyn!
    I do see the same and in fact, On December 2 I delivered a teleseminar titled “My Personal Code of Honor and 2015”, which talks about preparing for the new year.
    You’d think that people would respond to the (perceived) deadline of the year end, right? Wrong! Not only was the download count in December THREE TIMES the number of people who attended live, but also, at the time I am writing this post (January 27) there has been no decline and people still download a teleseminar they could assume is stale at this point.
    Go figure 🙂

    27 Jan 2015 at 6:04 pm

Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes
Tags: ,