Do 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 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 about 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.