I’ve recently had a couple of conversations with clients about benchmarking.

Some webinar platforms offer this as part of their sales proposition, and it got me thinking about what kind of information is included, and how useful it really is when planning or evaluating webinar success.

Usually, webinar benchmarks give you information about: 

  • The average percentage of registrants who attended events
  • The best day to run events
  • When most people register for an event
  • The average viewing time of attendees
  • The use of interactive tools during a webinar (polls, chat, Q&A etc.)
  • The percentage of registrants who view the on-demand version 

Using this information to help plan the organisation of your event is good practice, and these statistics are available widely on the internet.

In fact, we’ve compiled a few quick statistics from our own research to help you out when you’re planning your online event:

  • The most effective days to run webinars are Tuesday and Wednesday, around 11 am
  • 54% of attendees will participate in optional polls during the webinar
  • 92% of attendees find the Q&A session useful
  • The average attendee will watch 53 minutes of a 60-minute webinar
  • On average, 50% of attendees will download the presentation slides (if made available)

Looking at these statistics, and using them to make informed choices about when you deliver an event, and the types of engagement tools you use is a great way to make sure you’re giving your event the best chance of success.

However, using webinar benchmarks to evaluate the success of your event can be risky.

Looking at benchmarks to evaluate the number of people attending your webinar is unhelpful because there are so many variables that can affect the accuracy of the webinar benchmarks you are comparing yourself against.

The data collected to create benchmarking reports traditionally includes organisations varying from small businesses to large multinational companies. It goes without saying that a large, well-established brand will usually attract more attendees than a small start-up business.

Also, when looking at marketing webinars, for example, the subject or product being talked about can range from something that is widely used and of interest to thousands of people, to a niche product that only a handful of people will find useful.

Benchmarking also does not make a distinction between free and paid webinars, which can skew results. Registrants are much more likely to attend an event that they have paid for than one they haven’t having already invested in it.

So, how can we evaluate the success of online events?

Marketers are often pressured to base their evaluation on direct ROI for each event, and this is not always a useful evaluation of success either.

For companies that have a particularly long sales cycle, an immediate ROI won’t be achieved.

There are a number of more accurate ways to measure the success of your event, and it comes down to what each individual organisation would like to gain from delivering online events.

Here are some ideas:

  • Looking at how many questions were asked during your event can be a great way to measure engagement. People who ask questions are more engaged in your content, and genuinely want to find out more.
  • The number of leads generated from your event increases your database and can be marketed to, even if they are not immediately interested in your product.
  • Looking at the number of social media mentions and shares will tell you where your leads could be coming from and will enable you to evaluate whether brand awareness has increased.
  • Opportunities created directly from your event can give you an idea of how qualified the leads created from your event were. Evaluating an event on this basis can give you an idea of your potential ROI.

 I guess what I’m trying to say here, is that the success or failure of an online event shouldn’t be based on a comparison with an industry benchmark or another company. It shouldn’t even be based on one single event.

From our experience here at WorkCast, we know that your first, single event doesn’t give an accurate representation of how successful your events will be in the future.

A series of events works best - not only because you’re creating a channel of useful content that your attendees can return to time and time again, but because you can then evaluate success on an event-by-event basis.

These can then be measured against your own previous events. A series of events will also allow you to look at viewing time and registration trends so you can make minor adjustments if necessary.

Next time you deliver an online event, try and measure success using some of the points that we’ve talked about as webinar benchmarks. You might just be surprised at how successful they really are!

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