When talking to sales professionals about following up with webinar attendees, the most common complaint I hear is: “The webinar attendees aren’t the decision makers.” This is unfortunate, because many companies are missing out on a large opportunity when it comes to webinar effectiveness and, by using the tactics outlined below, you can significantly improve the opportunity for sales creation.

The rise of webinars

Webinars have become a key strategy for B2B marketers in the content marketing mix. According to a recent study from the Content Marketing Institute, webinars were rated as the third most effective tactic by B2B respondents, after in-person events and case studies.

It’s easy to see why: a good webinar mimics the best elements of events and case studies, combining a live experience with narrative stories that express more than a simple document can alone. For marketers, they are a lower cost option than in-person events, but signal strong interest from prospects who attend.

What Marketers are Missing

As a marketer, I see the volume of webinars firsthand: in the last two weeks alone, I’ve received over 80 emails offering an invite, a reminder, or a follow up to someone’s webinar, and often I’m not even in their target market.

Webinar promoters try numerous approaches, such as inviting guest speakers, gimmicky subject lines, and auto-reminders that beat you into submission. Their goal, it seems, is to increase attendees no matter the cost.

What most of these marketers miss is the real value of the webinar: the digital body language demonstrated by those registering and/or attending the webinar. Your audience’s behaviour can help you segment and create better content resources for the resulting nurture process; ultimately allowing you to reach the decision makers you’re after.

The typical webinar nurture process

To understand this, lets take a step back and look at the typical webinar marketing process:

Typical webinar nurture process

In the beginning, there is a flurry of activity to drive attendees to the webinar, and then immediate follow up with attendees and non-attendees alike.

Typical webinar follow up process What happens after the webinar? Most companies segment by attendees and non-attendees, and then follow up with calls and/or emails. This however results in dissatisfaction from sales: I’ve heard many complaints from sales reps and marketers about this, including:

“The webinar attendees aren’t ready to buy yet.”

“These leads are just looking to gather information.”

“Webinar attendees aren’t the decision makers.”

Each of these complaints comes from the same core problem, the simplistic webinar approach that misses the opportunity to deeply segment webinar registrants and follow up with appropriate, targeted content.

Attendee Behavior and Psychographics

Imagine you are the decision maker for a potential purchase, and you come across a webinar that may help guide this purchase. You might imagine there is a 10% chance of finding unique, useful information in the webinar, and a 90% chance of wasting an hour of your time.

So what do you do? Most likely you send a subordinate to attend the webinar, or you “attend” with partial attention hoping to catch the useful information without wasting your time.

Knowing this mindset you can imagine two primary attendees of webinars: half-engaged decision makers and more fully-engaged influencers and you can therefore better segment attendees. If you understand your company’s buyer personas, most attendees can easily be divided between decision makers and influencers based on known job title and company size criteria.

Better segmentation for Webinar ROI

A better webinar segmentation You can see here how you might easily expand your distinction between attendees and non-attendees into a 2×2 grid of influencers, decision makers, attendees and non-attendees. Lets look at each in turn and explore the content you’ll want to craft for each segment:

Influencer non-attendees

Who they are: they matched your influencer job titles and registered for the webinar, but didn’t attend.
What they want: content that makes them look good to the decision maker. They wanted to attend the webinar but have something else more urgent come up or they forgot why the webinar was relevant to them.
How to follow up: send them an email with a few key quotes from attendees, and then follow up with a recording of the webinar. You’ll also want to invite them to the next webinar. If you send these non-attendees a recorded webinar hosted by Vidyard, you can look to your attention span heat maps; if they view the recorded webinar until the very end, you can treat them as attendees.

Influencer attendees

Who they are: they matched your influencer job titles and attended your webinar. They likely enjoyed the webinar but didn’t take notes.
What they want: help sharing this content with the decision maker.
How to follow up: Send them an executive summary of the webinar; this will empower them to talk about it with their colleagues and boss, making them look smart and more likely to recommend your product. Then, follow up with a phone call to solicit feedback on the content and probe for a buying cycle. If you track opens and downloads carefully, you’ll be able to easily prioritize them by level of engagement.

Decision maker non-attendees

Who they are: they match your decision maker job titles and registered, but did not attend the webinar.
What they want: an executive level summary of your webinar, but they don’t want to read it: according to Forbes, 59% of executives will watch a video instead of read text on the same topic.
How to follow up: Send them a video highlight of the key points. Build trust in your future content by giving them a dense 3-5 minute summary of the high-level talking points. If you’re using a video marketing platform, track engagement via attention span heat maps and follow up with the most engaged with a phone call.

Decision maker attendees

Who they are: they matched your decision maker job titles and attended your webinar.
What they want: this segment is likely in the middle of a buying cycle, and wants help with the purchase. They may lack help from an internal influencer.
How to follow up: with a phone call! Your sales reps should be immediately alerted about this attendee.

As you can see in the updated process, with each of these four segments you have a specific goal and you can now prioritize your follow up based on this goal.

Revised webinar follow up process


Most content marketers adopt a simple model for their webinar marketing funnel and miss the subtle segmentation and targeting opportunities. By combining known demographic information with real time behaviour information, you can glean far more knowledge about your prospects than with just demographic or behavioural data alone. Ultimately, with some planning, you can automate follow up in your marketing automation platform for each segment to maximize your chances of generating new sales opportunities.

Steven Moody