Survey Says…What Your Peers Think About Making Events Digital

Last Friday, I hosted a webinar Bridging Physical Events and Digital Experiences” which is certainly a topic that is top of mind for a lot of marketers right now. I had several polling questions throughout the webinar (Pro-tip: make sure you call out the Q&A engagement tool at the beginning of your webinar) but promised to get back to the audience after the event with the results. And here we are now!

How Marketers Are Spending on Virtual Events

The first question was about your physical events and digital experiences spending and if it matched up to the industry benchmarks I had shared during the webinar. The results from the poll were positive in my opinion with 64% of attendees reporting that it was on par with the benchmarks.

How Quickly Have Marketers Shifted From Physical to Digital?

I then polled the audience about how long this topic had been top of mind for them when it comes to unifying physical and digital events. Not surprisingly, 63.6% of the audience said it had just happened.

Now, I’ve been covering physical and digital events for several years and have been looking at unification strategies so I wasn’t surprised that others had been as well. But the need is acute now and I would venture to guess that the majority of people who responded with six months or a year plus- may have been THINKING about it but not necessarily taking drastic and massive actions in this direction.

But the good news is that we have some learnings from researching and doing it for several years across many B2B marketers. I shared many of those strategies during the webinar, using the construct of pre-, at- and post-events. Then, I asked which of those categories would be where you would try to discover synergies between your physical and digital events.

We had a close race between pre- and at-event with the audience reporting 42% and 44% respectively. I would say that these results are in line with what I would expect given the focus on getting these events right in the next few months and the timelines that marketers are working on.

Make sure to check out the on-demand version of the webinar to see the rest of the content!

How COVID-19 Changed Webinars: A Comparison of March 2020 to 2019 Benchmarks

What other changes to webinar trends have we seen? Let’s take a look:

Best Days for Webinar Attendance

Webinerd in a green jacket adjusts data to reduce churn for her company.

According to our 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report, the best time to hold a webinar is mid-week, with a strong preference for Wednesday and Thursday. But trends in March have changed how webinars are attended. The best performing day for webinar attendance — while mid-week still performs strong — is now Tuesday.

This shift, however, isn’t just because Tuesday is the day for the most attendance; it’s also happening because more webinars are taking place across the rest of the week, especially on Monday and Friday.

For example, webinar attendance for Mondays has jumped by three points when compared to our 2020 benchmark report and Fridays, in the same comparison, have leaped by five points. We see a similar pattern when we look at year-over-year traffic: Monday attendance in 2020 jumps by nine points compared to 2019 while Friday attendance jumps by three points.

Here’s a chart highlighting the differences between March 2019 and March 2020:

When looking at the sheer number of webinars produced, a slice of our analysis highlights this change: year-over-year, the number of events on Fridays and Tuesday has increased by 222% and 271% respectively, though Monday has the breakaway increase with an astounding 441% jump.

Takeaway: while mid-week is still a strong performer for attendance, nearly any day of the workweek will net you a solid number of attendees. We’d recommend experimenting with different webinar formats for different days of the week to optimize attendance.

Best Day to Send Promotional Emails

The first step in driving attendance to webinars is setting up and sending promotional emails. And, as most marketers know, there are certain days of the week that perform better than others for open email rates. According to our 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report, the mid-week — Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — are the best days to send promotional emails.

March 2020, however, has changed the typical open rates for promotional emails. Tuesday is now the definitive best day to send promotional emails for webinars by a three-point margin. But, again, this doesn’t mean that Tuesday is the only good day to send promotional emails. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday are also great days to send promotions and, together, account for 60% of registrations.

Here’s a chart showing how the increase in emails and events is acting as an equalizer across the week:

Takeaway: Early to mid-week are the best days to send promotional emails to drive registration. Avoid sending promotional emails during the weekend and on Friday.

The Best Time to Run Webinars

According to our 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report, the best time to run webinars is at 11 a.m. Pacific (2 p.m. Eastern). This remains true in March 2020, though there are a few shifts to consider when it comes down to timing your events.

First, and this is always true, the best time for a webinar is one that fits in with the schedule of your audience. Depending on the event or your audience, holding a webinar could work well early in the morning or later in the day. But, as a general rule, an hour before or after your region’s lunch hour works best.

So, how has timing changed in March 2020? Running events at 11 a.m. is still the best practice, but the overall trend to keep in mind is that webinars are starting earlier in the day. For example, in our 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report, 8 and 9 a.m. accounted for 8% and 9% of the day’s events, respectively. Those two hours have jumped by two percentage points to 10% and 11%.

Here’s a breakdown of how the best time to attend a webinar has changed when comparing March 2020 to March 2019:

 Takeaway: 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET) is still the best time to host a webinar, but don’t be afraid to host an event earlier in the day.

Keeping Track of Changing Trends

Webinerd funnel

Altogether, March 2020 has shown a significant change in the day-to-day use of virtual events. We fully expect to see further changes in webinar behavior as long as social distancing is the norm. Over the coming months, we’ll keep a close eye on these metrics and inform you of how companies are continuing to get business done with ON24.

How ON24 Supports Your Privacy and Security

ON24 remains the trusted partner to host and execute webinars of all sizes, with an unwavering commitment to user privacy and security. Your event’s success should not only be measured by registration/attendance and your audience’s engagement, but also by the overall execution of the event. Here are a few ways we help you manage and secure your events:

Data Encryption and Privacy Law Compliance

ON24 encrypts all sensitive information: data in transit (moving through a browser, and back and forth), data at rest (sitting in the database) and backups. Data at rest is safeguarded with self-encrypting drives and all data in transit is secured using SSL certificates issued by a trusted provider.

ON24 is dedicated to helping you comply with applicable privacy laws, including the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), in connection with your collection of data on the ON24 Platform. You can read more here.

Tools Built to Support Audience Access Requirements

ON24 does not dictate what information you need to collect and how it can and should be used — you do. When building your digital experience registration pages, you decide what you want to capture. ON24 does not require any particular field in the registration page, and all forms and pages are protected by the browser.

Event protection isn’t limited to registration. Maybe you want to limit attendees to a defined group? For added layers of audience security, leverage additional webinar security options:

  • Domain Filtering: Block or allow registrants from a defined set of domains or email addresses. For example, block users from the acme.com domain and add specific emails as exceptions. You can also just as easily only allow visitors from specific domains.
  • HTTP Referrer: Require that all registrants access the webinar from a link on a webpage on an assigned HTTP referrer location.
  • Password: Require audiences to enter a password to register and log into the webinar.
  • SAML/Single Sign-On: Integrating with Active Directory or your company’s sign-on system for maximum security.
  • Registration Capacity: Limit the number of registrants on a per-webinar basis.

Securing Presenter, Producer and Audience Access

To ensure only desired content is presented, only designated presenters or producers can have the ability to present to the audience. Each webinar produced with ON24 Webcast Elite has specific presenter links that are not public and can be password protected to ensure only select presenters can access. Only users with these designated and private links can start, host and present on a webinar, and only they can share their screen, show videos or any other content.

By default, distributed audience links only give audience members access to view and interact with the content.

With all these unique features to manage your audience and event production, rest assured that ON24 is there to support the security of each and every webinar.

If you’d like to learn more about the ON24 Platform and how it secures your information and events, please contact us. If you’re already using ON24, please contact your CSM.

Announcing the Center for Marketing Transformation

Today marks an exciting day for ON24: we’re announcing the industry’s first Center for Marketing Transformation!

The Center for Marketing Transformation will empower marketers to make smarter decisions and develop marketing strategies that ensure resilient revenue operations by deploying a future-proofed mix of sales and marketing. I’m proud to be a member of the ON24 team and leading the Center for Marketing Transformation initiative.

The center will provide strategy, develop expert content and offer certifications in digital marketing. These elements are all designed to help marketers create integrated digital experiences, optimize the buyer’s journey and generate predictable, sustainable pipeline — even during uncertain times.

Today’s new normal makes digital marketing mission-critical for business success. In fact, 91% of top-performing marketers agree that creating and delivering digital experiences is the most important factor for driving future revenue growth. The Center is here for just that- to help marketers create and sustain resilient revenue operations.

These are exciting days at ON24 and I look forward to connecting with more clients in the coming weeks!

Announcing the W(ebinar)FH Social Post Winners

From improvised backdrops to makeshift studios, we’re all making webinars work even as we work remotely. As so many of us are trying to navigate these unprecedented times, we wanted to hear directly from folks in the webinerd community who’ve figured out the WebinarFH secrets.

That’s why, in the form of a friendly competition, we asked our webinerds to share their WebinarFH successes, tips and best practices with our community.

In return, every participant received a set of webinerd Wraphsody noise-canceling headphones while the top five big winners walked away with a WebinarFH survival kit, including a Blue Yeti mic, a headset, lighting rigs and more.

We received a lot of great submissions and innovative ideas — some of which we even stole for ourselves here at ON24! Without further ado here are the runner ups and winners of our W(ebinar)FH social post-competition. Drum roll, please…

Runners-Up

Junior Library Guild

Rhonda Mihalic, Director of Marketing at Junior Library Guild, shares how she invited children’s author, Rex Ogle, to collaborate and create an original story, “Quaran-TEEN” with students studying from home. To date, it had the biggest turnout for a webcast. Even better, the Q&A functionality allowed students to interact so genuinely and authentically with Rex that it felt like more than a virtual visit.

TOPdesk

Check out how Sanne van Opstal-Brakel, Marketing Communications Coordinator, sets up her home office! With basic items like shoe boxes that can be found around any home, she set up the ultimate home office while delivering the ultimate webinar experience for her audience. With her current at-home set-up at her dining room table, Sanne delivered a successful webinar about remote working with TOPdesk. She set everything up within a week and had over 300 registrants for the first edition, all from home.

SAS

After a year of planning, Dean Shaw, Global Advocacy Manager at SAS, had to pull the plug on his biggest in-person conference of the year. While nothing will ever replace the human connection of a live conference, Dean and the team quickly pivoted to the idea of a virtual conference. With two weeks to prep, SAS recorded 50 webinars with its presenters.

Winners

eNurture

This tactical guide that Robyn Hatfield, Marketing Automation, Email Marketing and CRM at Accruent, shared is a great resource that all webinerds can use.  If you’re struggling to ensure you have enough bandwidth while running webinars from home, this is the resource for you! You will definitely want to make sure you check all these boxes before going live for your event.

Edelman Financial Engines

The unicorn headphones may be the star of this photo photo…but let’s get down to business. Jocelyn Roberts, Webinar/Webcast Producer at Edelman Financial Engines shares how she is able to move all of her in-person events to digital with ON24, allowing her to host webinars from anywhere, even while quarantined at home.

D&H Distributing

David Labaugh, Creative Strategist & D&H Distributing didn’t let COVID-19 ruin his tech conference. Instead of canceling or postponing the event, he converted it into a virtual experience. The main stage became a fully live broadcast with their keynote speakers presenting remotely. The booths that they were planning to have at the physical event were re-imagined into on-demand digital “channels.”

Laserfiche

 

Talk about using your noggin! This was a favorite here at ON24. Check out how Danielle Gilstrap, Content Manager at Laserfiche hacked the ultimate background for her webinar. Not only is she ramping up her online offerings, but she did it in style. Remember when we said we stole some of the creative ideas from the submissions? This was one of them!

American Federation of Teachers

Lastly, but certainly not least, Kelly Booz, Director of Share My Lesson and AFT eLearning at American Federation of Teachers, doubled her virtual conference attendance in a matter of days. Together, she and her organization held 42 webinars over the course of three days. Presenters even adjusted their presentations to cater to more pressing issues, like the COVID-19 outbreak.

Congratulations to all of our runner ups and winners! A huge thank you to everyone who posted their W(ebinar)FH story. It’s great to see how we all are hanging in there and doing the best we can during these circumstances.

How To Use the COVID-19 Response Engagement Tool In Your Next Webinar

In case you missed it, earlier this week we announced an exciting new way every webinerd can make an impact through their day-to-day work in the fight against COVID-19: the ON24 COVID-19 Response Webinar Engagement Tool.

With the ON24 COVID-19 Response Webinar Engagement Tool, you can now mobilize your audience to make a direct contribution to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization (or charity of choice!).

With this feature, our goal is to empower YOU — a network of over 2,500 enterprises with a collective webinar audience of more than a half-million professionals per day — to join the fight against COVID-19. Additionally, for every interaction with the engagement tool across the entire ON24 network, ON24 will make a donation to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

Get started now by learning how to enable the engagement tool below and best practices for telling your audience about it.

How to Enable the COVID-19 Response Engagement Tool:

Step 1)

Open the Console Builder for your favorite upcoming or on-demand webinar(s).

Step 2)

Click the Engagement Tool Manager, then select COVID-19 Response engagement tool. The COVID-19 Response engagement tool will be the first engagement tool you see!

Step 3)

Decide where in the Console it will live. We recommend placing the engagement tool to the right of the slide window, but it’s up to you on what works best with your audience experience. The COVID-19 Response engagement tool will appear as a displayed CTA and will be included in the bottom console toolbar.

Step 4)

Click on the Engagement Tool Setting Gear and Customize it if you’d like!

Like any of the ON24 Engagement Tools, you can customize how this engagement tool works and displays. Out-of-the-box, the engagement tool points to the WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, but you’re more than welcome to swap out for your own charity of choice and even update the look and feel.

Best Practices for Using the COVID-19 Response Engagement tool:

Once added to your upcoming webinar, there are a couple of things you can do to ensure your audience understands what it is and why they’re seeing it.

  1. Add to your housekeeping talk track or housekeeping slide. When doing this you’ll want to be sure you provide the engagement tool info to your moderator to introduce briefly.
  2. Add a dedicated slide to the beginning of the presentation.

This is just one way that the Webinerd community can come together to help keep our communities stay safe and healthy during this time.

How Your Virtual Events Can Help Support the Fight Against COVID-19

Digital-first events are the new normal. And, for us at ON24, this shift from physical to digital events have given our vision of creating experiences, everywhere a whole new meaning.

In March alone, the number of live webinars across the ON24 network increased by 330% YoY, and we’re on pace to deliver a total of 250,000 webinars and billions of minutes of audience engagement this year. These record-breaking numbers demonstrate just how important digital experiences are to keeping business running as usual, and we want to help you take that impact even further.

Today, we’re launching a first-of-its-kind COVID-19 Response webinar engagement tool. A new feature within ON24 Webcast Elite, every ON24 Platform user can simply add the widget to your webinars directly from Engagement Tools Manager inside the Console Builder. Once added to your live or on-demand webinars, your audience can seamlessly donate to the COVID-19 Response Fund in just a click. And, since ON24 captures all of your audience’s behavior, you can easily measure and track how your virtual events are contributing to the effort.

With this feature, our goal is to empower YOU — a network of over 2,500 enterprises with a collective webinar audience of more than a half-million professionals per day — to join the fight against COVID-19. And, for every interaction with the engagement tool across the entire ON24 network, ON24 will make a donation to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

At ON24, we know that technology is just one part of keeping us all connected during these challenging times. Let’s join together to mobilize our audiences and unify our support to fight this pandemic through virtual events across the globe.

 

How to Guide Clients with Thought Leadership from Afar

As with most time of upheaval and uncertainty, you’re probably already communicating more with key audience. Rules and regulations change daily (if not hourly), and it can be difficult for your clients to keep up while running businesses. Rapidly changing developments have a profound impact on your clients, who need guidance on how to respond.

Webinars let you be helpful at a time when the safety of social distance is tantamount.

This post originally appeared on jdsupra.com. Shared with the author’s permission.

You can transmit valuable thought leadership to your audience in a way that keeps the interaction human and responsive. They’re easy to produce and easy to access. What’s more, they let participants – most of whom are probably working from home too – actively participate in the session, see your face, and gauge your confidence and authority.

Three considerations as you step up your thought leadership:

1. Find more opportunities to help

Consider organizing a weekly “Pandemic update” for clients in a particular region or industry. It doesn’t have to be long, but it should explain recent developments and advise on potential responses. You could even target individual clients with webinars and content tailored specifically to their situations.

Setup personalized experiences to house the archive of webinars and other materials your clients will need, like this one we created to help our customers cross the physical/digital divide.

Use your platform to host an open Q&A session where you can get a read on business concerns, answer the questions suited for you, and again: be helpful. Hosting a weekly internal meeting with your client whose employees are now working from home is a great way to get to know the concerns of your clients while offering real-time support and solutions.

Sometimes just giving clients a forum to ask questions and share ideas is enough to help them understand their options for dealing with uncertainties. Schedule a webinar for Friday afternoons, when the workweek is nearly over, a kind of social distancing reception where the guided conversation is centered around working together to get through this unprecedented situation.

2. Use short-term innovation to launch long-term digital solutions

Rapidly shifting to online-only events can seem drastic and sudden, but supplementing the webinar content you produce doesn’t have to be temporary.

We’re always encouraging customers to give digital a bigger role in their marketing and business development strategies, both to complement physical, face-to-face events and also to give their audience more opportunities to see them “in action.”

That’s easier to do when continuing programs you develop in response to the current environment.

3. Mind the data (and the lessons)

In your rush to put together new programs for your audience, it’s important to remember that a webinar produces the same amount of data and lessons whether it has been planned for six months or six hours.

Either way, you refine your lists of topics that matter to your audience, of clients that follow your thought leadership, and of prospects with whom you can follow up. Make sure you’re capturing attendance and engagement data, and passing it on to the appropriate people and systems for analysis and follow up.

Feature Friday: Leveraging ON24 Engagement Hub for your Virtual Event

ON24 Engagement Hub is not only a great resource to host all of your content, but it can easily and efficiently create a rich digital event experience that is just as engaging as a physical event. Let’s dig into all the tools and features you can leverage to make Engagement Hub your next virtual event venue.

Host Upcoming and On-Demand Webinars with Full Interactivity

Along with various multimedia types such as PDFs and videos, ON24 Engagement Hub is directly integrated into ON24 Webcast Elite and can host both upcoming and on-demand webinars. By hosting these webinars in an Engagement Hub, attendees only need to go to one place, similar to one conference hall, to engage with your content and speakers. They can easily join all of your virtual event’s sessions and interact—all without the lengthy commute time or running from one ballroom to the next.

Simplify Registration with One-Click Registration

Digital attendees don’t want to fill out any more forms than they need to. With One-Click Registration, attendees need to only register once to view all content in the Hub and sign up for any upcoming or on-demand webinar. By removing extra forms, attendees are given one coherent experience, rather than sitting in a bunch of individual, disparate webinars.

Pro Tip: You can simplify registration even more by using the CTA engagement tool in ON24 Webcast Elite to auto-register your audience members to a webinar, seamlessly sending attendees to the next scheduled session. We highlighted this recently in Feature Friday: Humanizing Your Digital Experiences.

Customize Your Hub for an Immersive Brand Experience

Getting all the signage and decorations for a physical event is costly, time-consuming and stressful. By hosting your event in an Engagement Hub, easily customize layouts and branding to allow your digital experience to not only beautifully display your brand, but also create an immersive brand experience just like an in-person event. Use your brand’s colors, banners and custom thumbnails. Additionally, by organizing and categorizing your webinars and content to align with conference tracks or event dates, attendees can easily find relevant content.

Enable Breakout Sessions and Networking

Link your online meeting rooms, such as Slack or Join.me, to Engagement Hub so participants can easily network, discuss and ask questions. Attendees can even turn on mics and webcams to have a more visual experience. And, by creating a category or area focused on these meeting tools and conversation channels, you have your new smaller “conference room” location where individuals can have a deeper discussion.

Ready to go digital? Check out our Taking Your In-Person Events Digital guide to leverage the ON24 Platform to scale, reach broad audiences and deliver event ROI.