Sales and Marketing Software

A Case for Buying Cycle Webinars (Part 2 of 2)

By Bob Johnson, VP & Principal Analyst

Webinars represent the intent of vendors and agencies to boost their engagement with prospects. Creators strive to drive registration numbers then work aggressively to maximize actual attendance. Despite great effort, actual attendance can often dip to as low as 25% of those who take the first step to register. So what are attendees looking for that we can learn from to boost participation in a cost effective way?

We asked 300+ technology and service buyers for detailed insight about webinars. They provide some guidance on how to maximize the event to drive campaign and pipeline efforts.  Last week, we looked at overall webinar performance and now want to report on what they must deliver.

Webinars carry clout in the decision making process. We asked buyers to compare them against some other key alternatives and weight to each one.

Content Alternative




Webinars/ Webcasts (live or on-demand)


Educational Content (white papers, case studies)


In-Person Events



Purchase Related Tools and Games


Promotional Content (brochures)



Podcasts or Audio Clips




With strong relative importance we want to next understand why they value webinars. Almost half of buyers state their primary motivation is to improve decision making for an existing project. Vendors and agencies would be wise to insure that, for many webinar topics, they consider a project-oriented approach or offer relevant decision making information. The reality is while attendees want to improve their overall understanding of a topic they are faced with a buying stage specific purchase task they wish to improve or affect.

Consider a series of shorter webinars that address questions and issues faced during key decision stages such as building the business case or evaluation/implementation scenarios.  They’d rather see a half-hour webinar focused on each stage than one that forces them to hear about a completed stage or one not yet a focal point. When you present stage focus and purchase decision relevance the time to attend the webinar becomes mandatory not optional. Make the content so relevant that its output of steps, priorities, questions and answers becomes part of the decision fabric. Then, your prospective attendees won’t drop out for the most frequent reasons a change in priorities or a change in schedule.

Buyers next state that learning about the topic and new methods have almost equal importance. But make sure that insight relates to their purchase decision with methods that help their understanding in the context of an investment such as evaluating alternative, best practices or investment steps.

What is very clear is that buyers are not interested in your webinar’s entertainment value as those rates lowest amongst all benefits. Having a named authority present is also less important than you might think. The viability of the investment topic is largely known so they want details rather than justification. A key point is that without the independent, named authority, you should not mix educational content with promotional elements.

Over half of buyers want a real-time perspective and to ask questions.  If you stress that you will discuss the latest insight and aggressively ask for questions from the audience it will help attendance and participation. However, this is not the case for instant polls. This standard bearer of many webinars is the lowest ranked advantage of attending a live event. Whereas it might be interesting to you and is seen as an attempt to increase interaction, it takes time to complete and hinders any momentum you’ve built. Too often we see questions that seem quite general and may be boring to attendees. How often have you attended a webinar, seen the poll, answered it and then started multi-tasking while you waited for the results. That is a recipe to lose attention and interest. You’d be much better off asking the questions head of time and letting attendees know their input will be part of the shared results.

Lastly, take a step back and consider if your webinars tend to wrap around high level, thought leadership content. If so, they are likely to address the general education or business case stage of the process not evaluation, shortlists or final decisions. For prospective attendees who are in later stages that will lead to “no-show” behavior as they sense that an event that gives overall views and validation will not provide answers to the stage-specific questions they face.

This is part of a two-part series.


June 21: Live and On-Demand Webinars have Different Drivers (Part 1 of 2)


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Bob Johnson

VP & Principal Analyst, IDG Connect

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