Debunking the-top-webinar-myths


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Debunking the-top-webinar-myths

  1. 1. Powered byPanel DiscussionTuesday, July 15thDebunking the Top Webinar MythsExecutive SummaryExpert PanelistsKathy Benton, Society for College and University PlanningChris Grossgart, International Association of Business CommunicatorsDiane James, Womens Transportation SeminarJamie Sadler, ASAE & The Center for Association LeadershipUrsula Sharp, Soundview Executive Book Summaries Executive Summary produced for KRM by
  2. 2. KRM Virtual Seminar Powered by: Debunking the Top Webinar Myths July 15, 2008Debunking the Top Webinar Myths Moderator: Jack Beaver, KRM Moderator Panelists: Kathy Benton, Associate Director of Education and Product Development, Society for College and University Planning Chris Grossgart, Senior Vice President of Education, International Association of Business Communicators Diane James, Executive Director, Women’s Transportation Seminar Jamie Sadler, Senior Manger of Online Learning, ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership Ursula Sharp, Strategic Account Manager, Soundview Executive Book Summaries Diane James indicated that the members of her association areOverview often busiest on Tuesday through Thursday, making Monday and Friday work well as members have more time on those days.Many myths exist regarding webinars. Among them are that webi-nars are expensive and hard to conduct, that association members “We haven’t seen much of a difference [inwon’t pay for webinars, and that creating recordings hurts webinar attendance] based on the day of the week.”participation. This group of expert panelists, supported with real- ⎯ Jamie Sadlertime polling data from participants and online survey results,discussed these myths and more. The panelists concurred that the statement “AssociationIn fact, webinars are inexpensive and easy to conduct. Many members expect webinars at no cost” is a myth.association members will gladly pay for webinars if the content is While 53% of online survey participants believe that associationperceived to be valuable, and recordings have no impact on members expect webinars at no cost, among virtual seminarwebinar attendance. participants, only 38% have this expectation. The general view of the panelists is that while association members would likeThe view of the panelists is that webinars are a credible way of everything for free, most are prepared to pay for webinars thatconveying information and educating people. The costs are low, the provide them with important and valuable information.quality is high, and the potential uses are many. Important to keepin mind is the need to partner with a reliable, knowledgeable, pro- “Members are prepared to pay [for a webinar] iffessional vendor who can deliver as intended and who can share the quality of the session is high.”knowledge that makes the entire event more valuable. ⎯ Diane James Other comments on this subject included:Context ⎯ Even paid webinars are a low-cost training option. In compar-After KRM’s CEO Rick Olson welcomed attendees and introduced ison to other options, webinars are extremely low cost. Mul-the panelists, Jack Beaver led a discussion in which the panelists tiple individuals can attend a webinar, the cost per person isexamined many of the most common perceptions (and some mis- low (much lower than other training options), and no travelconceptions) about webinars. The discussion included a review of costs are incurred.real-time survey data among those who participated in this virtual ⎯ It is common to offer both free and paid webinars. Multipleseminar as well as data generated by KRM via an online survey. panelists indicated that their organizations offered some free webinars, with other webinars coming at a charge.Key Takeaways ⎯ A common practice is to provide members with discounted pricing. One way that associations convey value to their mem- Survey respondents believe that Mondays and Fridays are bers is by giving them a discounted webinar price. (One bad for webinars, but panelists have had some success. participant’s association gives members a break of roughly Among online survey respondents, 73% see Mondays and 33% per webinar from the “list price.”) Fridays as the worst days to hold webinars, and among virtual seminar participants responding to the question, 74% agreed. ⎯ While free webinars have high registration rates, participation Jack Beaver confirmed that in KRM’s experience, Thursday is the is often low. One participant shared data indicating that only day when the most events are scheduled and Tuesday is when 20% to 40% of those who register for free webinars actually attendance is the greatest. Monday and Friday see the fewest come, while attendance is nearly 100% among those who pay events scheduled and have the fewest registrations/attendees. to attend a webinar. (Virtual seminar attendees and survey participants felt very strongly that charging a fee is an excel- However, Jamie Sadler and Diane James both described suc- lent way to reduce no-shows.) cessful webinar programs that took place on Monday or Friday. As Jamie Sadler shared, “We haven’t seen much of a difference Among those organizations that do charge, fees ranged from $35 [in attendance] based on the day of the week. In fact, a Friday per site at the low end to around $500 on the high end, with the afternoon event was one of the best-attended events we’ve ever average in the $200 range. had. It depends on your audience and their typical work week.” Executive Summary Created by: Page 1
  3. 3. KRM Virtual Seminar Powered by: Debunking the Top Webinar Myths July 15, 2008There is no optimum length for a webinar. advance, but having additional promotional activities twoWhen asked whether 90 minutes is the optimum length for a weeks in advance is also important.webinar, about half of those surveyed online and half of thoseparticipating in the virtual seminar thought it was. Email marketing is seen as the best way to promote webinars.The view of the panelists is that the optimal length depends on 77% of those surveyed online and 82% of virtual seminarthe audience, the subject, and the type of virtual seminar. For participants agree that email marketing is the best way toexample, one participant cited research indicating that 60 min- promote webinars. But, as good as email marketing can be,utes was the right length among her audience for audio seminars panelists are still continuing to use other marketing avenues such(45 minutes of content and 15 of Q&A), but for more engaging, as direct mail, fax marketing, and partnerships.interactive web seminars, 90 minutes is the right length. Creating recordings of webinars doesn’t hurt the numberKRM believes that 90 minutes is a good length for interactive of registrations for a webinar.webinars, as it provides ample time for Q&A. But KRM’s clients The panelists were in agreement that recordings of webinarsconduct webinars that range from 45 minutes to two hours. have not negatively impacted webinar attendance. Jamie Sadler doesn’t believe that recordings have lessened her organization’sWebinars are not expensive to produce; nor is the attendance whatsoever, a thought shared by other difficult to use.All parties (panelists, virtual seminar participants, and respon- “It [recordings] hasn’t affected us at alll.”dents to KRM’s online survey) were in agreement that webinars ⎯ Chris Grossgartneedn’t be expensive to produce. One way that vendors aremaking webinars inexpensive is by offering customers a menu Recordings provide access to a webinar to those in other timeof options, allowing customers to pick and choose the exact zones who may have missed that they want/need. “You can produce good-quality webinars at low cost Other Important Points and low risk.” A credible alternative. Perhaps a decade ago webinars were ⎯ Kathy Benton not viewed as a credible alternative to face-to-face interaction. While face-to-face is still preferred by most, webinars are nowEveryone also agrees overwhelmingly that webinar technology is seen as a highly efficient, credible, and low-cost alternative tonot difficult to use. (This includes 90% of those responding online interacting in person.and 85% of virtual seminar participants.) Diane James advisedthat even when the technology is simple and reliable, it is still Webinars vs. audio seminars. Audio seminars are seen byimportant to have a “plan B” in case anything goes wrong, as any the panelists as being easier and quicker to implement. Theyevent planner would for a live event. (KRM works with each client can be pulled together on shorter timing and at lower cost.on a plan B in the event of a problem.) The panelists believe that Interactive webinars are seen as having greater value, but theysome basic level of training on the technology can be extremely can take longer to prepare and cost more. For quick, tacticaluseful, but this training must be quick and efficient. subjects an audio seminar may be adequate; for important strategic subjects for higher-level people, webinars are “The technology is not difficult.” probably the preferred option. ⎯ Ursula Sharp Size doesn’t matter. Panelists were in agreement that webi- nars have value for most organizations, be they large or small.Four weeks before a webinar is a good time to begin pro- Even small organizations can derive significant value frommoting it, but it is not the only time to do so. webinarsWhen asked whether four weeks was the best time to begin pro- Getting started. For those interested in getting started in con-moting a webinar, just under 50% of survey respondents and ducting webinars, the panelists advised: speaking with othersvirtual seminar participants said yes. who have conducted webinars to learn from them; tapping into resources that are available from ASAE; and leveraging theFour weeks is seen as a sweet spot and a good time to initiate knowledge and expertise of vendors, such as KRM.promotional activities. But:⎯ Many organizations publish an event calendar months in ad- “We’ve relied on KRM; they’ve walked us through vance. Their hope is that when individuals see this calendar everything.” with a great deal of lead time they will be more likely to ⎯ Chris Grossgart register. Picking the right vendor. Panelists noted that it is important⎯ Despite all advance efforts, most registrants sign up in the last for users of webinars to conduct thorough due diligence on two weeks prior to an event. So, it may make sense to have their potential vendors, conduct a “test drive,” and choose a intensive promotional activities that begin four weeks in vendor whom they trust. They also recommend having back- Executive Summary Created by: Page 2
  4. 4. KRM Virtual Seminar Powered by: Debunking the Top Webinar Myths July 15, 2008up plans, such as a paper copy of the PowerPoint slides to stand the subjects of the greatest interest to them. Onework from. panelist noted that her organization tries to find topics that they are in a unique position to offer. Planning webinars is differentIssuing certificates. Different organizations have different from planning face-to-face events and it is important to findphilosophies regarding whether webinars are conducted solely speakers who are comfortable with the webinar medium.for learning purposes, or if webinars help participants earncontinuing education credits and certification. Paying speakers. Different organizations have different philosophies regarding paying webinar speakers. SomeRepeat attendees. The rate of repeat webinar attendees organizations don’t pay at all. For these organizations,varies. One panelist shared data indicating that her organiza- speakers participate as a way to contribute to the professiontion’s repeat attendee rate is 8% to 10%; another panelist said and to get exposure. In situations where speakers are paid,that about 15% of their attendees participate in three or more they might receive a flat fee (such as a $350 honorarium) or awebinars per year. In general, attendance is driven by the portion of the revenues generated (such as $35 per registrant).subject matter, the speaker, and the marketing effort. Content ownership. In most instances the panelists’ organi-Providing a package. One panelist commented that they don’t zations see the speaker as the owner of the content and thejust conduct webinars; they provide participants a “package” organization as the owner of the program. Most organizationswhich includes tools that capture the key takeaways and pro- have a contract with the speakers; the speaker provides thevide guidance in applying these takeaways in their jobs. organization with the rights to sell and distribute the contentPicking topics. The panelists are focused on conducting from the webinar.extensive research among their target audiences to under- Executive Summary Created by: Page 3