A couple of years ago, we took a very long look at the business of webinars for B2B lead generation. Here’s what we knew when we started:

  • There are a lot of B2B tech webinars out there. Far too many, in fact, for prospects to watch while still working the job they are paid to do.
  • Younger audience members like Millennials show little interest in webinars. Gen Z has no idea what they are.

Armed with these ideas, we put on our data-driven marketing hats and launched a survey of webinar attendees and we continued to analyze data from events. We’ve reviewed many of the survey findings and webinar data before, including:

  • Some people will try a webinar, and if they can get to the six-minute mark, they might stay for 20 or 30 minutes. Some people will not attend a webinar no matter what you do.
  • Nearly one-third of the attendees won’t make it to minute six. And when we broke down engagement data into three groups: those who watched 25 percent or less, those who watched 25 to 50 percent; and those who watched 50 percent or more, we almost always found the most people viewed 25 percent or less of the event.
Engagement as percent

What was the key to improving engagement rates?

It wasn’t incentives. It’s become common practice to offer gift cards and gadgets to webinar attendees, but we found that more than 90 percent of the webinar attendees who told us they were motivated by incentives also told us they had no purchase plans in the next 12 months. That doesn’t sound like a prospect to us.

Increasing meaningful, authentic engagement wasn’t tied to incentives. But nor was it related to the speaker(s), topics, sponsors, the quality of the audio, or the quality of the slide deck being presented. It didn’t seem to matter if the event included video or a demo.

The data told us the only thing that could reliably predict webinar engagement was the length of the event, and the events were simply too darn long.

In the spring of 2019, we unveiled 10-Minute Takes.

The idea is simple: Take an on-demand webinar and reduce it down to what the audience signed up for. They don’t sign up to hear a moderator, or introductions, or background stories about kids and pets. They want useful information that will help them do their jobs and research products and services they might need. That’s it. That’s all they need and want. Really.

In the summer of 2019, we rolled out our first 10-Minute Take, and through the fall more events followed.

This is what happened.

Note that we measure engagement rate as the percentage of registrants who attend the event for 1 minute or longer. For an apples-to-apples comparison, all of the events here are in the security/data protection space.

Engagement chart

Even when a 10-Minute Take didn’t light up the world in terms of engagement rate, the audience that did engage watched much more of the event – and therefore heard more of the event’s message – than with a traditional, long-form webinar.

Engagement chart 2
Dive deeper into the data behind our 10-Minute Take events.

But another interesting thing happened as we went around the B2B tech industry preaching the gospel of shorter, on-demand events. Even though the conventional wisdom told us marketers still wanted webinars — despite the demographic headwinds, despite the availability of on-demand video, and despite the proliferation of online events of all types — marketers would admit to us webinars were too long and often thanked us for taking a different approach.

It seemed less like marketers wanted the traditional webinar and more like there was a shortage of alternatives being offered to them. And we filled that void.

There are two important lessons to draw from this exercise:

  1. In a world that’s crazy about customer centricity and the customer experience, you need to adjust your message for the time your audience is willing or capable of giving you.
  2. Your webinars are just too darn long.

Learn more about 10-Minute Takes by watching this short (of course it’s short…) video.