Empty Seats

Need your help.  Our new Success 2.0 webcast series is off to a great start.  Technology is fantastic, content is life-changing, and live interactive training where cost and time are not objections is a big hit.

So here is the question and where I need some help – why is it that only about 25% of those who register actually attend?  I have been around the marketing block so I know some “reasons,” but I am looking for some ideas on how to get the “show-up” rate higher.

We surveyed our customer and prospect list so we know we are on target with our content.  My concern is this – most people say they are struggling, that they would like to be more successful, that life would be better if they were better, yet they don’t do anything about it.

Check out Success 2.0 and send me your feedback on why so many register, but only a small percentage show up.

And never forget, “You Gotta Show-Up to Go-Up!”

Explore posts in the same categories: economy, Success

21 Comments on “Empty Seats”

  1. Paul Simon Says:

    Great question. Tough times and people are less willing right now to spend, even for valuable education. Yet offering it for free produces results that you’ve described. There seems to be less of a commitment when no payment is involved. Throw in the proliferation of webcasts, webinars, etc. and perhaps there’s an over-saturation. All this contradicts the lesson for all of us that we must be learning constantly to grow and succeed.

  2. I don’t enjoy saying this, but Mr. Simon is dead wrong. People are actually MORE likely to attend/participate in FREE events/webinars.

    The problem is that the “Whirlwind” gets them and sucks them in. Click on my name and watch one (or both) of these short videos to see what I mean.

  3. Please understand, that while I have experience in marketing, I usually engage at a far deeper level before giving my impressions – the less I know, the more wrong I will likely be.

    I replied on twitter and asked if the 75% that are not attending have subscribed/paid or if they were registered on a guest pass. Your reply was that they were on a guest pass. I think this is helpful to anyone newly reading and to frame my comments below.

    I have read and learned through some experience that if a person has paid even a small amount towards a high-value experience, they will vastly more engaged and affected by it. While those with even the highest value of items provided free, will have little emotional connection and will likely not follow through on commitments. I myself have responded to free online learning opportunities because it seemed a good idea at the time but when the event arrived, it was not a priority when compared to a client or prospect meeting. That would not have so easily been the case if I had paid for the event.

    I’ve read the copy on your site, I feel that you should continue providing the guest pass, it fits with what you stand for and the long-time Ziglar reputation. Therefore, you may have to alter your forecasts and other calculations that rely on the number of guest passes issued, used, and eventually converted.

    There are two other potential issues that could be reviewed for tweaking:

    1. times of the events – staying away from 11-1 for any time zone – based on the two events shown, you are doing this well.

    2. follow up/reminder process:

    Are users able to download an Outlook item that puts the time/date/details information into their calendar of choice immediately?

    What is your reminder, excitement-building process from the point of registration until the event? Are they frequent enough, are they branded well, do they continue to remind of the likely motivations that caused the person to register to begin with? Do you encourage them to share/forward to others?

    I realize these are random thoughts and likely ones you’ve considered, but I also appreciate when someone provides their insight when we seek advice.

    Good luck!

  4. Paul Simon Says:


    Sharp videos, particularly the first one. I’d be pleased to be wrong in my perspective. What I’m seeing is fewer people signing up for paid events and more people indeed signing up for free ones — but usually just 25 – 35 percent of those who registered. Bottom line: Poor participation. Is it about execution? Perhaps.

    • I completely agree with what you said about a smaller percentage of people attending events. I too have seen similar numbers in my organization.

      I just wanted to clarify something: My original post was not meant to imply that execution is the issue – but rather the ‘Whirlwind’ mentioned in the videos, which represents all the things that you have to do in order to keep the doors open and the lights on at your place of business. The Whirlwind IS busy-ness!

  5. Rick White Says:

    Speaking only for myself, I have a difficult time attending “live” events due to being the main bread winner in the company. When I signed up for the Success2.0 trial I planned on downloading the saved mp3 (which I have done…YIPPEE!) and listening when I could. Due to the current size of my business this is really my only option. Please don’t give up on the process but be aware that tracking the downloads of the saved program will probably be a bit more encouraging. Your company offers great material and I am a huge fan!

  6. KltN Says:

    You know how you reffered to, get used to and be thankful for the bullets, because it’s the leaders whom are fired at not those down struggling to get back up?

    Well when your one of the “down & struggling” everything will cross your mind and is a very real factor in whats doable in present circumstances. Everything from “only 17 dollars a month” (some budgets are THAT tight), uninterupted time online, hearing that mentors are needed, so where to find, who to trust, extra demands on time away from family for people who are already working 50 & 60 hr work weeks or a 2nd part time job just to make ends meet, and so so many other things.

    If someone is going to “pay” for something, they will weigh the balances and if they can’t see the time & $ free and clear to fully take part in and be present without financial worry and uninterupted time to actually truly hear and take something away from it, they won’t commit themselves past the intial free look around.

    I think too that a great deal of the time most operate on the notion that the majority online have credit cards, when i’d venture to say the majority don’t. I know my clients have online access and spend a great deal of time surfing the net, but most don’t have credit cards.

    And it’s the people who are “down and struggling”, searching for change, needing change, who are going to be attracted to these sorts of things, and it’s these same folk who have the least to work with.

  7. Paul Simon Says:

    Good post,Rebecca. What’s the thinking in avoiding 11-1 in any time zone? (lunchtime?)

  8. Thanks Paul, yours as well. They weren’t yet posted when I was writing.

    Yes, simply lunchtime. Considering the target audience and likely responders to an offer like this, which I’m imagining are business developers, sales, senior management, and business owners to name a few, I expect a few things could happen.

    They are easily pulled into lunch engagements that are beyond their control or like my previous example – simply make financial sense.

    A number of internal meetings are scheduled bumping into the lunchtime space, often, they run over.

    It is important time to be able to walk away, gain perspective, etc. and may become the only time available to them to do so.

  9. It may seem a bit off-base, but what about incentives. Frankly, to attend a seminar where I am personally growing is incentive enough. Although for some folks the idea of an immediate gift or incentive may be the influence required to increase attendance. A great example of an incentive can be 15 minutes of personal time with a guest speaker. Raffle the incentive to a random guest in attendance. Just my thoughts.

  10. Skip Howard Says:

    The answer is that ‘real-life’ gets in the way. You sold the idea – that’s why your registration is so high, but because there is a time gap in ‘registration’ and the event – things chance. 1. people become less motivated to show up because what got them excited in the first place – isn’t there to inspire them to actually show. 2. The job that ‘pays the bills’ requires them to do something new at that time. 3. They have to much time to ‘sleep on it’ and convince them selves that they like what they are doing after all. It’s far to ‘scary’ to ‘give up’ the ‘steady income’ or change thier life. I’m sure you know about a 1000 other reasons.

    What I would do about it is to 1. have the webcast every night for a month- so that people that sign up will still be inspired to make it – that night. (technically, if you do it once, you can record it and play it back nightly, then just be there to answer questions at the end). It is a different model than what you are doing. You can even call this model ‘Zigglar Express’. 2. Require a charge to register. Even if it’s $5 or something super small, people won’t want to ‘lose’ the investment. (even though it’s sunk cost, people don’t behave rationally). If you are worried about it, you can refund the $5 to people that attend so it’s still free. 3. I really believe that a lot of peoople listen to you in order to find the motivation to quit their jobs and start something new. If that is true, you could get in with the employers and ask them to promote the web cast. – I think it would help defuse some of the false guilt that ‘I don’t want to get caught doing it behind my company’s back’.
    Anyway, just my ideas. Good luck!

  11. naosan_i Says:

    I’m not in sales or marketing anymore but tend to observe human behaviors a lot. I’m wondering the actual number of the people who registered. Obviously, something was attractive enough for them to register, but something(s) was blocking them to actually attend.

    The block could be:
    1. fear of uncertainty: I once attended a “webinar” and I felt like whatever I say or type would be broadcasted online and would get an extreme focus on my embarrassment. That’s one type of fear.

    Could be fear of “wasting time.” I’m one of those individuals who are very “time hungry.” I can’t stand “feeling” that I wasted my time. Other people may call it “type A personality.” I’d rather throw out money if I have to waste my time.

    Could be fear of “not having another excuse” if attended. Let’s say people want to do something and want to make a change in the course of their lives. But, the thing is that people won’t do so for many many reasons. People are “comfortable” the way they’re no matter what they say or feel. If life is somewhat comfortably serving for them, they won’t make a change.

    2. Credibility of the course
    Please don’t take it as an “offense” as some people think I’m an offensive person. I’m not certain if I’d be attracted to take my time to actually attend the course from the ads. The reasons are below:

    a) When I clicked the “try free test drive,” nothing happened. I did for a couple of times, but the same results. As I used to do software testing, when something isn’t working, I clearly have a “doubt” in mind that “this company might not know what they’re doing” which includes the projects I’ve done before.

    b) The web link page isn’t attractive enough for me. I don’t like the “sales” or “advertisement” web page for sure, but it was really really “passive” approach. If I were in your organization, I would probably put multiple “testimonial” comments from credible people, general population, etc. Some “raw” comments would always draw my attention as I do write reviews in “raw” perspectives.

    c) The description isn’t enough for me to be interested. I’m really good at researching things on my own and find what would be helpful. If the web link doesn’t give me any right then without going through too much hustle, I move to something else.

    3. Marketing strategy
    I’m a “door-to-door” salesman type. I don’t accept anyone’s “invitation” via email or phone (I don’t even answer a call if I don’t know the number) if I don’t know how they got hold of my contacts. If they’re coming from “my network,” I’ll take time to respond and help them out in any cost. But, I won’t help invaders.
    So, I’m always about “linking” with one individual at a time and treat him/her as “I’m talking to you, not sending the mass emails/phone calls.” It takes time and tedious, but I just don’t believe in other method as I know humans.

    My suggestion to you then is this: if you’re receiving the registrations pretty good, why don’t you “connect with them” first before the actual web time? It’s easier for me to be cut and dry when I don’t know someone. I haven’t made any “personal” contact/connection; it’s all dry, one way street web page and registration. Then, it’s easy for me to say, “well, I have my favorite workout waiting, so I’m interested but will skip it this time. next time next time.”

    I think that’s it. Sorry for the long comments. I just can’t write short.

  12. Tom,

    As you know, at Conference Call University, we have produced hundreds of Teleseminars, Webinars and Webcasts.

    I can tell you that the problem of “empty seats” is something everyone has to deal with. Here are a few things I’ve learned to help avoid the problem:

    #1 The more reminders, the better. Even if someone has signed up, they may not have COMMITTED to attend. The selling process must continue to be reinforced even after the sale is made by getting them to sign up.

    #2 Don’t rely on just email reminders. Email tends to get caught in spam filters or just plain ignored. You should also try reminders on Twitter, Facebook, phone calls, post cards and even fax reminders (amazingly effective since getting a fax is almost a novelty)

    #3 Fewer and fewer people will attend “live”. Face it, we live in a TIVO society, where nearly everything can be time-shifted to meet our schedule. Your Webcasts will be no different. Make it easy for people to consume your events on their schedule, and don’t expect them there at the same time you are.

    #4 Offer (and publicize) Door prizes and giveaways. When we have events where we REALLY want people to be on the live event, we offer lots of door prizes and giveaways only for those who listen live. It doesn’t have to be expensive stuff, it could be a book, an audio download, or something else of high perceived value but low cost of goods.

    I have lots more ideas, but this should get you started. You know how to reach me if you want more.

    Marty M. Fahncke
    Conference Call University

    Twitter: http://twitter.com/FawnKey

  13. tshombe Says:

    There are a lot of great comments and insights here, including suggestions for improvement.

    (One caveat: I’ve just really learned about Success 2.0 and haven’t attended the free event, so my comments may reveal a lack of understanding of the lead generation and follow-up process already in place.)

    I agree that I think “life” gets in the way for people, so building in auto-reminders is important. You may even use the reminder emails as a way to continue to give value, to illustrate what people can expect when/if they sign up for Web 2.0 in anticipation of the free web cast.

    There is also a service that phones registrants to leave a reminder either live or on their answering machine, which may increase attendance.

    As Rebecca offered by way of suggestion, I find very helpful the iCal options that permit me to instantly enter the event into my calendar.

    This may be something you’ve already considered, but as described by Rick White above, some people may be opting to listen to the recording. In such cases, their absence really has nothing to do with motivation or desire for success or keeping their word or any of those things.

    As you point out, Tom, one of the advantages of Success 2.0 (which Margaret just explained briefly to me on the phone today. Thanks, Margaret!) is “where cost and time are not objections”. So it could be that some people are choosing a different “time” to listen in.

    It might be interesting to compare total registrations (including those who do not show up to the live event) with who actually sign up for the continuity program. In other words, is the conversion high regardless of who attends the live event?

    Hope these ideas are helpful!

  14. velocitydesign Says:

    I am with Rick White on this, I sign up for webinars with the full intent of downloading the mp3 and watching later. Most webinars are hard to attend at the date and time schedule because they are only on your pc. It is easy to put off and get distracted because you know you can get the same material when it is more convenient and the end result will be the same.

    I love these webcasts and hope they continue. You are doing a great work and it is much needed!
    Danielle Cuddie

  15. anita Says:

    Tom, offering the replay download is wonderful because it allows people to attend at their convenience. I agree with others that download rates and conversion rates might be more meaningful than actual attendance rates.

  16. I registered to attend a webinar on Worpress blogs. At registration I was able to download a “workbook” that I am supposed to have with me during the call. The “workbook” was actually a 5 page (or so) PDF, but the content was great. I learned a few things just from reading it. Of course, there are blanks to fill in during the webinar. I don’t attend every webinar I sign up for because I forget, or something comes up. This one made it on my calendar because it is what I need right now & because they hooked me with the “workbook.” Hope this helps.

  17. Anna Velkey-Solvberg Says:

    That question has ever been puzzling me, too! My observation is that people’s desire is soon dampened when it comes to taking personal responsibility and getting into action. Especially, when they sense that the opportunity offered to them COULD work even for them – because they subconsciously realize that their success actually depends only on them: their decisions, their dedication, focus and hard work – it means they can no longer have an excuse. That being said – it SEEMS easier not to show up at all, and therefore avoid the paid to actually having to do it. 🙂

  18. May be as simple as a bunch of people in other time zones? When I see something saying 8pm CST, that means one or two in the morning in Dublin, Ireland.

  19. Jacob Says:

    “Live” is not exciting or a main draw for events on the web. We like our anonimity. Not to mention, on the web, you can’t get people to sit still and pay attention, there’s too much to do and think about on your computer desktop and on the web. Also, if someone doesn’t know exactly how to get there or what path to follow, or they think they might have to read and “figure” out how to log in – or if they wonder for even a second if the thing will actually work – they are more likely to skip it.

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