Boost Attendance and Retention at Your Next Online Seminar

Web conferencing is one of the hottest presentation technologies available today. Whether you’re using WebEx, PlaceWare, MShow or one of the many companies that provide this service, you’re guaranteed almost all the benefits of a face-to-face meeting without the time and expense of travel. And in today’s tough economy, more and more companies are coming to appreciate those benefits. San Francisco-based Collaborative Strategies predicts the total number of paying users will rocket to 74 million in 2003 from 18.6 million last year, and the number of organizations using Web conferencing technology will more than double to 52,100 companies in 2003 from 20,500 last year.

Though the technology is still fairly young and growing fast, some interesting trends are starting to emerge in online marketing seminars, says Marc Church, president of e-Conference in Boulder, CO. Whether you’re a veteran or a novice Web conferencing user, you’ll boost your success rate if you keep these points in mind the next time you plan an online seminar:

– Roughly 33 percent of people who register for an online event will actually attend.
– A participant is 20 percent more likely to attend if he or she gets a reminder call a day or a few hours before the event. Hearing from a real human creates a sense of obligation that just isn’t there when everything is done in cyberspace, says Church.
– If given the option, about 60 percent of your participants will join the conference via Internet audio, rather than a dial-in line.
– Keep your seminars educational and avoid too many product plugs or your audience will start dropping off the seminar.
– Having more than one presenter aids in information retention. The best combination, says Church, is someone technical and someone from marketing. Not only will the change in voice and pace keep attendees interested, but also you’ll be reaching a broader spectrum of people.
– If you plan to poll your audience, your chances of getting responses are pretty good – about 70 percent of audience members will respond to polling questions, says Church. Those who don’t, he adds, generally either can’t be bothered or they’re in a group setting gathered around one computer screen.