How psychology can drastically improve live events

Growing your audience is essential for growing your brand, and content marketing is essential for growing your audience. At the same time, it can be hard to know where to start, with blog posts, whitepapers, slideshows, infographs, and a buffet of other options to incorporate into your content strategy.

Live video is a popular choice, and for good reason — it sits at a potentially very profitable intersection. In a way, it combines content marketing with event marketing (two of the top three most used lead generation methods, according to a survey by SalesFusion). And of course, there’s the video component — video is on the rise as a marketing method. Over half of senior executives would rather watch a video than read the same information in text, and 52% of marketers worldwide say video is the type of content with the best ROI.

Any kind of content you produce is competing with a massive amount of data online, and people are struggling to keep up — 60% of listeners surveyed by tech podcast Note to Self said the amount of effort that goes into staying up to date is taxing.

In other words, you need a better way to get (and keep) your viewer’s attention throughout your presentations, to make sure they actually generate the leads and results you want.

When it comes to video, the refrain is “shorter is better” — but you can’t very well have a presentation less than five minutes long. This is where interactive components come in, becoming your secret weapon. In this case, asking your viewers to take a small action (like asking you a question, answering a poll, or talking in the chat) takes advantage of an old sales tactic called the “foot in the door” technique.

If you ask someone to take one big action (“stick around for another 30-45 minutes”), they’re less likely to follow through than if you ask them to take a series of smaller actions (“stick around for five minutes,” or “ask a question”). These smaller actions are called micro-commitments, and they take advantage of the fact that once a person says they’ll do something, they want to do it. In fact, want isn’t even a strong enough word — it actually causes a little bit of cognitive dissonance for them to not do something they said they would (or started doing).

In other words, it’s easier for us to continue down a path (watch the whole presentation, then become a customer afterwards) once we take the first step (watch the next five minutes, answer this question, ask a question, etc.).

“Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment.” — Robert Cialdini

When Wistia analyzed videos to see what the ideal length, their overall conclusion was (again) that shorter is better. But if you look at their graph, you’ll notice there’s a few tipping points where people tend to jump off:

Live Video Metrics

With this data, specific times can be used to incorporate elements of interactivity into your presentations, and keep visitors engaged:

  • 1-2 minutes: People are arriving and getting oriented. Aside from making sure the first few minutes of content are interesting and having a solid hook to get your viewers’ attention, you should ask your audience to introduce themselves and say where they’re from in the chat room. Once committed to being in the chat room and talking with other viewers, they won’t want to leave.

  • 10-20 minutes: Poll your audience — adjust the rest of the presentation accordingly, depending on the results.

  • 20-30 minutes: Ask your viewers to start submitting questions (and voting on the ones they want answered), so that you can answer their most pressing questions.

  • 45-60 minutes: A great time for another poll, or — if you want to go a step further — inviting participants to share the screen and do face-to-face Q&A.

(Also, notice that once someone has stuck around for 30 minutes, there’s a decent chance they’ll stay for another 30 minutes or more. Again, this speaks to the willingness of people to stay committed to something they’ve already committed to.)

In short:

  • Combining event marketing, content marketing, and video, live presentations are potentially incredibly effective at creating leads — if structured correctly.
  • You can combine micro-commitments with information about when people tend to drop off during videos to create more engaging presentations, where people stick around to the end (and become leads, then customers).
  • Your next step: Looking at the above timeline, create a list of micro-commitments you’ll be using in your next presentation (at the appropriate times).

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