Whether you are creating and marketing a good or a service, having a clear target audience in mind is a key component in order to succeed in your product’s market space. Webinars are no different. Most subsets of the population (“demographics” in technical lingo) tend to have vastly different needs and demands from a similar product, so you will probably already have targeted a specific audience upon starting research for your webinar, even if you haven’t realized it yet. So how do you attract the right Webinar target audience?
Finding a good fit between your content and your viewers is paramount in gaining and obtaining an engaged audience which has more reason to recommend your webinar and come back for future talks.
For this reason, having a good idea about what your attendees will expect from you and enjoy most is always a good starting place for your team. While there are many ways to subdivide the population to identify unique preferences (you might split by gender, geographical location, country of origin, etc.) one of the most substantial and universal drivers behind foreseeable tastes is the viewers’ age.
By splitting your potential audience into age groups, you can more easily figure out which individuals are more likely to be interested in your topic, sign up for your presentation, and actually attend on the big day. Here is a brief rundown of (one possible) categorization of people into age groups, with some tips on their potential tastes in webinar content and structure.
Keep in mind that this guide is very rough, and there are arguably different ways to split your audience- but it should still prove useful if you are just getting started:
Teenagers (Ages 13-19)
While teens aren’t the most common option for webinar audiences, this does not mean that they aren’t viable at all. Some may criticize the generally short attention span and dislike of learning institutions to explain the low initiative teenagers might display towards webinars.
On the other hand, we should also consider a unique upside to this age group that others may lack: teachers. Considering the significant success of eLearning in traditional educational settings such as high schools, it is not surprising that many teachers are currently implementing online discussions and lessons with experts as part of their curricula. This is starting to sound a lot like webinars, isn’t it?
In order to properly market to teens, webinar hosts should absolutely keep in mind that the viewers will probably come into the presentation with a fairly low energy and attention span. In order to work around this, lessons should make frequent use of imagery and diagrams as opposed to text, with many examples and real-life scenarios to explain difficult points. Some videos within the webinar may help give the viewers some time for information to settle in, but an excessive use of them will translate into a very distracted audience.
Young Adults (Ages 20-26)
These are, on average, bright, fast learners which have signed up voluntarily for highly involved presentations to broaden or deepen their knowledge base in technical fields. It is likely that they will be currently enrolled in higher education (or will have graduated recently), meaning that they will have an impressive pool of knowledge at their disposal, but will still probably overestimate their competence.
The two most important practices to keep in mind when constructing a webinar for young adults are to never talk down to them and to come to the webinar well prepared. Keep in minds that your viewers were students just a few years ago, and will likely not want a host talking to them as if he was another teacher. Rather, they will expect an expert discussing with them on almost equal footing, in an almost professional relationship.
The way you build up your slideshow should reflect this: avoid overly elaborate designs and focus on concise, rich content with relevant images. Alternate insightful statistics and slides giving a point by point rundown of procedures and cause-effect relationships. Use brief technical videos often, mainly when you wish to drive a particularly important point home, or to show professional outcomes of the theory you are outlining (this is an implicit reward your audience will tend to internalize- they will see themselves as successful thanks to your presentation).
If you can, make frequent use of multiple content types to vary the experience: upload printable slides with important points, create questionnaires about the content and the user experience, send the users audio/video recordings of your presentation after it’s over, as well as the slide deck.
Adult Professionals (Ages 27-45)
The main reason adults will attend a webinar is to fill in some gap in the knowledge they will need in their professional life. As such, they will tend to be eager to learn, and less cocky than their younger counterparts.
Since the age range is so large, it is difficult to find strategies that work for everyone, but some common points should apply. First of all, realize that your content will have to be fairly specific in most cases, since adult attendees will have a fairly specific issue in mind before signing up. Giving an overview before entering into technical details is also important though, as the last time your viewers will have heard the theory might have been over a decade earlier.
Structurally, you can get away with less visually appealing presentations (your audience will have a personal interest in your talk regardless of the design), as long as the main concepts are outlined clearly. Make use of summary slides as “checkpoints” to show what topics have already been covered and what is next. Some multimedia content (brief videos and printables) should help make the experience more appealing without requiring a huge amount of IT expertise for the viewers to access them.
Middle Aged (Ages Above 45)
For older viewers, the main driver behind signing up for a webinar is pure curiosity. These people will have been attracted by your social media or search engine ad campaigns and will be on board to learn more about a topic they are passionate about. The audience will tend to feature experts in your field as well as individuals seeking to become experts.
As a general rule, do not attempt to be overly complex in your presentation’s design or delivery method. Imagine the virtual space as a brick and mortar conference hall, and structure your slides accordingly. Use text-based slides with images to avoid clutter, and frequently stop for a second to discuss hard concepts. Don’t be afraid of slowing down- a few clear explanations will be more appreciated than many vague ones.
Use of multimedia and techniques requiring direct audience input should be kept to a minimum in order to avoid frustrating your viewers. An exception to this is the chat: if you want an engaged group of attendees you will need a way for them to ask questions and clarifications; but many among your audience may have never used an instant group chat online before. Make sure you take a minute at the beginning to outline the ways your audience can reach out to you during and after the webinar.