Effective measurement of ROI for webinars is often elusive for content marketers. What do you do about ROI for thought-leadership or customer-education webinars? What about product-demo webinars that occur near the bottom of the funnel but are not always the last touch in the buyer’s journey? Or how about training webinar series that are promoted and produced to ensure that new customers use the product and buy more (or renew) later? While the number of closed deals represents the ultimate goal for ROI measurement, there is more than one way to tackle webinar ROI.
The bottom line (pun intended) is that content marketers need to change the narrative regarding their webinar program to tell a bigger story by tracking and reporting on KPIs that support:
- Increasing webinar participation
- Enhancing customer engagement
- Accelerating buyers through the journey
- Identifying shoppers early
- Furthering brand awareness
- Adding to the bottom line
1. Webinar participation
Without participation in your program, you cannot begin to hope for ROI. Healthy outcomes here set you up for success by identifying areas for improvement to help you course correct and improve your program from start to finish.
KPI: Conversion from page views to registrations
Why: It is important to understand how many people viewed your webinar microsite (you need to devote separate page[s] for your webinar program on your site to properly track), how many of those people clicked through to the registration form, and how many completed registrations. If you analyze this information you can improve your registration experience.
How to leverage: If conversion from landing page view to registration form is low, your promotional efforts and event description on the landing page may be misaligned. Make sure that your event description is relevant to your advertisements of the event.
If your conversion rate from registration form to completed registration is low, seriously think about reducing the number of registration questions (use polling during the live event to collect more information) or rethink the type of information you require.
Why: The total number of registrations is the obvious KPI to include in any webinar program report. You need enough registrations to generate those highly prized sales.
How to leverage: Registration numbers start with the promotional effort so if your numbers are low here, I recommend analyzing and revisiting your topics, target audience, and promotional effort. Usually, poor results here stem from one of those three areas.
Why: Live attendance is just as important as the number of registrations. These folks actually schedule and consume the content you offer in real time.
How to leverage: Tracking the average duration of a participant’s attendance may help you better your content delivery because you know at what point in the presentation the average participant logs out. You also can adjust the length of your webinar if the tracking indicates time is a drop-off factor.
Average live attendance rate also will reveal if your post-registration process needs some fine tuning. If attendance rates are low (industry average is 30 to 40%), rethink your confirmation landing page, confirmation email, reminder emails, and their timing, as well as how easy it is to access the webinar.
2. Enhancing customer engagement
KPI: Engagement scoring
Why: Engagement scores (provided by some webinar platforms) will give you an idea of how engaging your topics and speakers are as well as which audience segments tend to be more actively engaged during webinar content delivery.
How to leverage: Track engagement scores across your program. You might consider averaging engagement scores across similar webinars (perhaps a repeating series), similar audiences or the same speaker.
You may also want to consider including engagement scoring in your lead-scoring algorithm if you’re running lead-generation webinars.
KPI: Recording views
Why: Recording your webinar and providing the recording link to all your registrants immediately following the live event is extremely important. It’s also important to track the views of the recording.
How to leverage: If a webinar registrant consumes the content via the webinar recording, this is important information to pass to sales and important to include in any lead scoring you may do.
It’s a good idea to track recording viewership overall to understand how many webinar registrants are truly interested in your content, but unable to attend live. As an example, in a recent study of an Adobe webinar program (over 20 webinars a quarter), we found that 50-60% of webinar registrants watched the recording. When added to the 30-40% live-attendance rate that’s nearly 100% content consumption. In reporting on webinar ROI, I strongly suggest showing a combined content consumption total for each webinar as well as for the program overall, in addition to the attendance and recording views numbers, to provide a more complete picture.
3. Accelerating buyers through the buyer’s journey
KPI: Post-webinar next step (path takers)
Why: Meticulously track which of your webinar attendees take the next step that you offer so that you can present this data as part of the webinar ROI story as a percent of registrants who accelerate through the buying cycle.
How to leverage: Every webinar you produce should have a clear call-to-action at the end guiding viewers to the next step in the customer buying journey. You can present a slide at the end of the webinar or during the Q&A session with information on the next step (perhaps it’s to sign up for a trial with a link to the sign-up form).
Ensure that you reiterate the call-to-action in a post-webinar follow-up email (the one that includes the link to the webinar recording).
4. Identifying shoppers early
KPI: Content consumed live
Why: Strategically providing further content for webinar attendees to self-consume during a live event will give you information on the audience’s level of interest in particular areas.
How to leverage: For instance, if you make a product-solution brief available for download during the live event via file share, the results may tell you which attendees are shopping and considering your product.
If an attendee downloads an eBook on best practices related to your product, that might indicate that she is the right person in her organization to talk to, but she may not be shopping yet. Offering product briefs, even in a thought-leadership webinar, allows prospects to accelerate themselves through the buying cycle.
If you provide similar files across your webinar program, you can start to track which files are of more interest and which audiences are gravitating to certain content. Use this information to share how many prospects entering your program demonstrate shopping behavior. This approach will also help you identify sales-ready leads and therefore send the best quality leads to sales.
5. Furthering brand awareness
KPI: Social shares
Why: Social promotion should be included in your webinar promotion plan.
How to leverage: You will want to track the number of retweets and shares your promotion generates on each social site used to promote your webinar. Use links to your event in your social shares that include campaign information to track which social site is driving the most registrations.
Ensure that your event landing page/registration microsite has social sharing functionality to generate more registrants and track tweets, “likes,” and shares.
KPI: Thought-leadership advancement
Why: A successful thought-leadership webinar series is well known and respected – thus strengthening your brand.
How to leverage: If thought-leadership webinars are part of the marketing mix at your organization, in addition to webinars at other stages of the marketing funnel, you will want to develop a webinar ROI narrative specifically for this series – calling out the KPIs separately (i.e., total registration, attendance and recording views).
For a broader story, you may want to track overall impressions from your promotional efforts for this particular series, thus measuring the exposure of your thought-leadership efforts. Partnering with other organizations or key industry associations and thought leaders on the series will help to maximize the exposure of your brand.
After you have done the work to generate registrants and engage with them during the live event, find ways to nurture the relationships you’ve begun to establish with prospects during the webinar to grow and thrive long after the event. Consider driving registrants to a thought-leadership blog series or your Twitter account. Not only will this help you measure your traction through views and followers, but it will allow your company to solidify its reputation as a thought leader by keeping the conversation around best practices going continually, rather than periodically during one-time events.
A final tip on thought-leadership ROI measurement: Consider setting up a subscription to your thought-leadership series and concentrate on tracking subscription and interest.
6. Adding to the bottom line
KPI: Closed deals
Why: Last, but most certainly not least, is the golden child of ROI – the closed deal. Not only will you want to report on sales resulting directly from your webinars, but also on the contribution of your webinar program to the bottom line. By contribution, I mean how many closed deals were touched by your webinar program, even if the webinar program was not the last touch before the purchase.
How to leverage: For contribution you need to track webinar registrants (or attendees and recording viewers) from customers who purchased recently (you need to define what recent is for your company and product) and the total revenue of those purchases. I like both methods of reporting. I get an idea of whether any of my webinars are the last touch before purchase (perhaps a demo webinar). I also find out how much impact the entire webinar program has on the bottom line (including the thought-leadership webinars at the top of the marketing funnel).