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Personalization matters: new webinar benchmarks and metrics for 2024

An analysis of the behavior of more than 30 million professionals across webinars, virtual events, content hubs and landing pages shows personalization improves performance

Webinars were all the rage during the pandemic. With live events out of consideration, virtual presentations were the only way to reach and engage customers and prospects then.

We are well past the pandemic now, and live events have returned to the marketing mix. The question that remains is – how are webinars performing now?

ON24 has published a new study that provides some insight. They are perhaps best known for their webinar and virtual event platform – but they also provide landing pages and host content hubs for customers. This is relevant to the study because ON24 analyzed the behavioral patterns that occurred in their platform last year, to develop a report.

The “sample” size for this study is considerable. Some 30 million professionals interacted with their platform in 2023 (i.e. the 2024 edition report is based on 2023 data). If you watched a webinar that was hosted on their platform, your interactions are probably included in this tally.

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This is an annual report that I’ve covered occasionally over the years. The last time I reviewed it was in 2021, which was based on 2020 data – the year of the pandemic. I spent some time reviewing their most recent report this week and below is what stood out for me.

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Webinar attendance and conversion metrics

  • Most registrants sign up one week out from an event;
  • 53% of webinar registrants attend the session;
  • On average webinars have 202 attendees;
  • Attendees watched webinars for an average of 53 minutes; and
  • Attendees collectively asked an average of 14 questions during webinars.

Webinar metrics and marketing results:

  • Engagement during webinars was up 8% year-over-year;
  • The average number of interactions has increased 20% since 2022; and
  • Webinar hosts saw a 56% increase in demo requests stemming from webinars.

I’ve asked the company by email how it defines “engagement” and “interaction” – but it hasn’t responded. However, the report also breaks out some metrics by engagement type which offers a clue as to what it considers engagement – participation in group chats and polling responses for example.

In 2023, webinars earned on average the following:

  • “14% increase in group chat engagement per attendee”;
  • “7% increase in poll responses per attendee”; and
  • “41% increase in the number of breakout room attendees.”

Idea. The metrics on breakout rooms probably stem from longer events like virtual conferences. Yet this could also be an interesting experiment for webinars. For example, host a single webinar for a new product launch but offer break-out rooms by customer segments such as executive sponsors, daily users, admins or technical users.

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Roundtables and panel events are growing

ON24 sees interaction growth in webinars as indicative of an overall trend: people crave engagement (potentially a result of remote work).  More specifically the report says:

“Another sign of enhanced engagement levels is the 304% annual growth in virtual roundtable discussion participants, which demonstrates that audiences are seeking more social and collaborative experiences online.”

Overall ON24 has observed a “4x increase in virtual roundtable discussion participants.”

It’s not just live webinars, but on-demand too

“In 2023, 44% of the total watched on-demand or after the live date,” according to the report.

It continued:

“This continues a trend observed in previous years as on-demand now commands a sizable portion of a webinar’s audience, one that cannot be ignored from an overall experience design standpoint and for sales follow-up.”

On-demand webinars saw a “13% increase in engagement” throughout 2023. And because ON24 hosts content hubs for its customers, it also found that on-demand webinars were the “top performing gated asset” in 2023.

There’s intent data that mirrors funnel progression buried in there too:

“Furthermore, 3% of attendees view the same webinar both at the time of broadcast and then rewatch the session later on-demand.”

I was today-years-old when I learned there are people on this planet who will watch a webinar twice. I’m joking but it does seem to be a strong buying signal, as they say.

Personalization improves performance

If there was a big finding in the study, it was the effect personalization has on performance.

First, personalization means many things to many people. So, here’s what ON24 said about it in the report:

“Adoption of personalization tactics on the ON24 platform grew exponentially through Q4 2023 as marketers used audience segmentation to scale personalized experiences and improve performance. Marketers created more than four times the number of segments as they sought to serve relevant offers based on both buyer characteristics (e.g. firmographics, region, job title or function) and buyer behavior. From these segments, there was then a 10-fold increase in the number of personalized landing pages that were built.”

In other words, personalization in this context means audience segmentation:

Personalization = audience segmentation.

You can segment your customers by size, industry or need for example, which allows you to tailor the outreach to better match the intended receiver’s preferences.

The metrics for personalization in this context are impressive:

  • “68% increase in CTA engagement within personalized experiences”;
  • “2x higher conversion rate to the ‘contact us’ call-to-action”; and
  • “4x increase in demo requests.”

It all makes sense when you think about it. Personalization inherently conveys to a customer that you understand them and their problem. There’s just no better way to get someone’s attention.

ON24 CMO Callan Young aptly summarized the key finding this way:

“We analyzed the behavior of more than 30 million professionals engaging with ON24-powered experiences in 2023, including webinars, virtual events, content hubs and landing pages, and found that the biggest differentiator in performance came from personalization.”

She wrote that in the introduction, but it also seems to be a fitting conclusion.

I first learned of the data from Marketing Charts. The full report contains many more metrics and benchmarks beyond webinars. You can download a copy here: 2024 Digital Engagement Benchmarks.

>>> Need an extra pair of hands? Sword and the Script Media can help with B2B marketing, PR and social media.

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Image credit: respective report and Pexels

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