Are your webinar attendees leaving early? And what to do about it… 

By redback

We are rapidly becoming a market of highly knowledgeable digital event-goers, which means we know what we like — and we don’t hang around if an event doesn’t measure up.

The bar has been raised: attendees expect professional standards when it comes to content, presenters and technology. And for virtual event organisers, there’s no going back.

In the 2021 Redback Report, a whopping 84% of respondents admitted to leaving an online event early; and this figure has been rapidly rising over the years.

It’s clear that standards remain high when it comes to our expectations that virtual events will be relevant, interesting and engaging, and deliver what they promise — and we won’t waste our time if they’re not.

But why are attendees abandoning our digital events and more importantly, what can we do about it?


Why are we leaving webinars early?

“Boring”, “bored” and “boring speaker” appear frequently in the reasons we turn away from virtual events, according to our research. “Content wasn’t engaging” was also high on the list, followed by “Content wasn’t what I expected” and “Technical issues”.

There is more competition than even before when it comes to the attention of your online audience. And with 47% of us attending over 10 or more digital events per month, you can see why.

As webinar organisers, it’s important that we understand the changing landscape of digital events, and cater to the needs of our audiences to ensure we minimise drop-off rates.


How can you keep people online for longer?

One word – engagement! As our expectations increase, our patience seems to decrease – and closing down your browser is a lot easier (and less embarrassing) than walking out of a room mid-presentation.

But engagement goes further than just launching polls and incorporating Q&A sessions into your events. We need to go beyond the interactive technology we have available to us and focus on engaging our audience through content and speakers.


Target your content

Targeting your content to the needs of your online audience is a must. It’s important to deliver what is promised during your registration process and involved your audience in tailoring the content – here’s some tips on how to achieve this:

  • In your registration fields, ask your audience why they are attending your webinar and what they would like the presenter to focus on. Consider using a drop down box for this field so you can easily aggregate responses
  • Once you have this, ensure you work with your speakers to bring their content to life and tailor it to the majority of your audience


Create buy-in

If converting people to register for your event is your goal, then creating investment should be your aspiration.

What do we mean by this? Consider asking your registrants to submit a pre-question during your registration process. This will increase the likelihood of attendance, and in turn, they will be much more inclined to stay online and remain engaged.


Work with your rock star presenters

Ok, so you can’t create amazing speakers, but you can work with them to create engagement.

In this year’s report, we asked respondents to rank what makes a webinar great. As you can see, enthusiastic and engaging presenters came in at #1 – and this has remained the same over the years.

It’s important to ensure your presenters are trained and familiar with speaking online, and they know their content well and can break through the technology.

Consider using a facilitator or moderator to focus on the technical aspects, while your presenters do what they know best – present!


Mix up your formats

While there’s still a place for single webinar presenters and Powerpoint slides, online audiences are craving more. They want engaging conversations and discussions that almost replicate TV Shows.

There are so many different ways to present content in virtual events — but what are our favourite formats? In general, we like the engagement, interactivity and the variety of having more than one person on-screen.

A moderator and one presenter is our preferred presentation format, selected by just over one in four respondents (27%) — slightly higher than last year.  Also popular were interactive audience Q&As (23%) and panel discussions (21%).

Single presenter events — once the standard for most webinars — were nominated by 19%.

Consider using moderators and facilitators or creating engaging panel discussions with multiple presenters for your next event.

For a further look at our recent research, download our 2021 Redback Report!