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20 Webinar Statistics, Benchmarks and Best Practices to Improve Your Virtual Events

A report analyzing more than 100,000 virtual events by ON24 found attendees spent 57 minutes viewing webinars in 2020 – and these are driving pipeline and revenue

Despite growing optimism, it would still take a giant leap of faith for any B2B marketer to sign a contract for a live event, tradeshow or conference right now.

While I believe the event industry will eventually recover from the 10 billion-dollar-hit it took, it’s going to take some time. Most events of a marketing nature will remain virtual for the foreseeable future.

That could well continue to raise the stakes on the quality of webinars and virtual events. At least that’s my take after reading through the ON24 Webinar Benchmarks 2021 report.

ON24 analyzed data from 100,482 webinars with more than 100 attendees conducted through its platform in 2020 for this study. It also augmented the findings with a survey of 100 of its customers. The report contains some interesting statistics, benchmarks and best practices for comparing or improving webinars and virtual events.

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Below are some of the findings that stood out for me.

1. Webinar and virtual event use has grown considerably.

ON24 says the number of webinars conducted on its platform grew 162% last year. Overall, its customers conducted more than 250,000 web-based events.

2. Attendance has improved.

Attendance seems to be matching the growth in the volume of webinars. “Attendees shot up by 251% to reach more than 60 million. The hours of webinar content consumed grew by 290%, with 61 million hours of content being binged in 2020.”

3. Daily webinar consumption and engagement is up too.

“We now see more than 167,000 hours of webinar content being watched every day,” the report says. “An average of 118 people enter an ON24 webinar every minute, and every four seconds someone is asking a question.”

4. About half of webinar registrants sign up a week prior.

The largest cohort of webinar registrants (45%) tend to sign up between one and seven days before the event. However, registration benchmarks do vary:

  • 15% of registrations sign up on the day of the event.
  • 45% sign up 1-7 days prior.
  • 20% sign up 8-14 days prior; and
  • 20% sign up more than 15 days prior.

Though it’s not in the report, I’m sure there’s a correlation between the timing of registrations and the distribution of webinar email solicitations.

5. Email solicitations sent mid-week perform best.

What the report does say about email solicitation is “mid-week promotional emails perform best. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the strongest performers, accounting for around two-thirds (63%) of registrations.”

That reflects findings from some of the email marketing benchmarks published by email software vendors.

6. About half of registrants convert to attendees.

The average webinar converted 58% of its registrants to attendees. That percentage is slightly lower for larger events – those with 100 or more attendees – at 46% conversion. However, the report says, “a conversion rate between 35% and 45% is considered good.”

7. Personalize webinar registration pages.

About one-third (29%) “of ON24 customers integrate their webinars into personalized landing pages for target audiences.”

8. Average webinar viewing time is about an hour.

ON24 says participants spent 57 minutes viewing live webinars in 2020. That number strikes me as phenomenal – but it’s more or less on par with this benchmark for the last five years. The same metric for on-demand viewing is slightly lower, at an average of 29 minutes.

Just like we do on Netflix, I imagine people skip over the show introductions and housekeeping notes to get to the point.

9. Set a cadence and host webinars regularly

ON24 customers hosted an average of 20.5 webinars last year. That’s nearly two per month, but don’t get focused on the volume. The key, just like content marketing, is to approach webinars as a marketing program and produce them on a regular cadence. It will be hard at first, but your team will get better at it over time.

10. Schedule webinars for mid-week.

The report says the middle of the week is “the best time to hold a webinar” with Wednesday and Thursday “emerging as strong performers.”

11. Also, schedule webinars for the middle of the day.

Similarly, in terms of timing, mid-day is best. The report suggests 2:00 p.m. Eastern time “as it avoids most conflicts on both American coasts.”

12. Provide polls and downloads to drive engagement.

ON24 says “70% of all webinars in 2020 offered resources for attendees to download or engage with.” Resource lists (70%) and surveys (43%) were the most popular engagement tools.

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13. Incorporate video as part of the webinar presentation.

Video is a good way to augment any presentation. It provides a visual illustration to help get the point across. ON24 found, “roughly 66% of all live webinars in 2020 featured some type of video – 28-points higher than in 2019.”

14. Designate a host.

“The skills of the host make a significant difference,” the report says. Indeed, about half (47%) of survey respondents have at least one designated webinar host. Designating a host goes together with establishing a cadence – and giving this team member a chance to polish their moderation skills.

15. Invest in equipment to produce quality webinars.

The quality of the audio and video can improve the webinar experience your business delivers.  The report says, “36% of ON24 customers have bought new equipment for their webinar programs.”

16. Present live and offer a recording on-demand later.

The report suggests “doing a live webinar and then making the recording available on-demand can offer you the best of both worlds.” It seems like a no-brainer, and I assumed smart marketers were already doing this – but apparently, that’s not true at all.

For example, “57% of ON24 customers create webinars that go straight to on-demand viewing.” Similarly, “only 5% offer both live and on-demand.”

If you must choose one over the other, the “data shows an increasing preference towards watching on-demand webinars.” The study says, “in 2020, 43% of all attendees only watch on-demand webinars, a five-point increase from 2019 and an eight-point increase since 2017.”

17. Plan webinars for every stage of the funnel.

“Marketers are also using webinars across all funnel stages,” according to the report. “Nearly two-thirds (65%) use them for mid-funnel activities, but webinars are also used for top-of-funnel (62%) and bottom-of-funnel (46%) efforts.”

While the report makes no mention of it, webinars are probably a good idea for driving customer loyalty and retention. Have the product team come up with webinar events that show customers how to get more out of your product – or ask the support team to present the 10 most common questions they field from customers.

18. Webinars produce quality leads.

Respondents to the survey say webinars contributed to lead quality. About half (49%) say “the quality of leads generated through webinars” is “above average.”

19. Webinars outperform other marketing channels.

Respondents overwhelmingly (89%) say “webinars outperform other channels in creating qualified leads” and two-thirds (66%) observe “their sales teams prioritize leads that come from webinars.”

20. Webinars drive pipeline and revenue.

About three-quarters of respondents to the ON24 survey (72%) say “webinars directly impact pipeline and revenue.”

* * *

The full report runs 20 pages long and includes other tips and facts worth your time. It can be freely downloaded with registration here: ON24 Webinar Benchmarks 2021.

Need help with marketing or PR? We’re more than a proactive partner, we’re an extension of your marketing and PR team. Try our services.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
6 Actionable Ways B2B Marketers Can Improve Virtual Events

Image credits: Unsplash and ON24

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