This sponsored post is produced in association with Citrix GoToWebinar.

How do you know if the webinars you painstakingly plan, schedule, and promote are doing the job they need to? No question, webinars can be a terrific lead-gen and retention tool, but if you’re not using the right metrics to determine their effectiveness — and optimizing as you go — they’re likely not living up to their potential.

While most companies will look closely at that front-end data — registration versus actual attendees — they aren’t always utilizing the back-end data, the in-depth analytics that reveal greater details about potential customers.

What they’re missing is a wealth of other data that can give a much more detailed analysis of the effectiveness of their webinars against specific goals.

For example, if you want to look at something like demand generation, it’s important to understand how much the webinar actually costs relative to getting new leads. If you want to nurture the leads you already have — or engage and retain existing customers — taking a close look at the actual questions being asked during the session is as vital as the registration/attendee ratio.

The top 10

There are always dozens of ways to slice and dice data, and with a robust reporting tool, you can customize the data to meet your needs.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the top 10 kinds of data available to get you started, both quantitative and qualitative.

  1. Attendance ratio
  2. Time spent in webinar
  3. Key drop-off points
  4. Day of week and time of day performance
  5. Questions and comments during the webinar
  6. Answers to polls offered during the survey
  7. Engagement ratio (% of attendees who asked questions or offered comments)
  8. Devices used to access the webinar
  9. Conversion rate (% of attendees who took the next qualified step)
  10. ROI: Total cost of webinar to # of qualified leads 

What back-end data will tell you

Back-end data will tell you a lot you’re likely missing. You might discover your content isn’t relevant, your webinars are too long, or you’re assuming too little knowledge from your attendees. Here are the kinds of things you can answer:

  • Do you have the right audience for your message? If you’ve gone after a certain audience and they didn’t connect with the webinar’s message, you can learn if it was the wrong audience or if the message itself was off. A range of metrics will inform this, so you want to take a broad approach. (Key metrics: Attendance ratio, questions asked, engagement ratio, time spent)
  • Are attendees sticking around? Analyzing back-end data can help you learn whether or not attendees are staying until the end — or if they’re checking out early. If you notice that attendees are logging off early but the reviews of the webinar are positive, it may mean that the webinar is too long. Or the time slot for the webinar is inconvenient for registrants, so you might want to change times or offer repeats of the webinar on different days or times. (Key metrics: time spent, drop-off points)
  • How educated on the topic is your audience? Through surveys, feedback, and even the questions asked, you can find out if you are providing the right level of information for your audience. If the audience is educated about the topic, are you building on what they already know or are you rehashing information? Conversely, sometimes you may think your audience knows a lot about a certain feature or product, but through the webinar feedback, you discover that they aren’t using the feature or product at all. Again, by knowing these details, you can create webinars that are more specifically targeted to the type of audience you hope to gain. (Key metrics: questions and comments)
  • Are you offering the right topics? The question-and-answer period and post-webinar polls can tell you a lot about what your attendees want to learn. You can draw out trends or figure out areas where they want to see personal and professional growth. Once you learn this information, you can build a portfolio of webinar topics better tailored to the attendees’ needs. (Key metrics: questions and comments)
  • Are you optimizing for the right platforms? An increasingly mobile workforce may be listening rather than watching, or attending the webinar on a smartphone or tablet. How well is your webinar material adaptable to the mobile user? The presentation should be mobile-ready, and also recognize that some users aren’t in a position to look at slides, which means the discussion should be conducted with greater details. If it turns out that most of your attendance is mobile, you may want to consider your webinar in terms of a radio show or podcast rather than a visual presentation.

Who reaps the benefit

Using the analytics derived from back-end data will help improve the webinar experience itself, but it will also benefit a lot of people within your company. Who does it help the most?

  • Sales. If you can feed your salespeople specific information about potential customers based on their participation in a webinar, that’s a great introduction for a sales call. You’ll also, of course, improve your qualified leads — which makes for a very happy sales team.
  • Marketing. By knowing what attendees are discussing and want to learn during a webinar, the marketing team can gain a clearer picture on how customers are using the product, who those customers are, and develop a more targeted marketing strategy.
  • Customer care. If you’re doing a product-demo webinar, for example, you can learn where customers have concerns and questions. This can lead to more detailed FAQs on your website and help customer care develop better responses.

The right tools to gather back-end data

So, you know you have all this great data. Now you have to mine it to make it useful. That requires learning the tools within your webinar application that can help you dig out the right data for your specific needs. Built-in reporting features on tools like Citrix GoToWebinar can run and export reports enabling you to manipulate the data any way you like. And for quick insights, you can create charts with analytics that provide a more visual view of how attendees use webinars.

In turn, this information can create lead scoring for the sales team, assigning values for the types of attendees, the types of webinars they are attending, and how they rank as potential leads for sales.

Webinars provide real-time data on the people who are interested in your company and the services you offer. They are a way to draw in potential customers through an active experience, rather than through a passive channel like visiting a website or reading a white paper.

But while you may think that your webinar was a success and is opening doors for future sales, it’s the back-end data that provides the whole story to fill your funnel and generate truly qualified leads.

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