The Past, Present and Future of Webinar Registration

David Edwards
Senior Manager, Virtual Events
May 19, 2023
David Edwards
Senior Manager, Virtual Events
May 19, 2023

Since the dot com boom of the early 2000s webinars have ever-increasingly become part of our day-to-day lives. While some industries adopted webinars as a core medium earlier than others – notably finance, information security and network technology – many of us did not experience webinars until the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 securely cemented them in the zeitgeist.

However, what has always been synonymous with webinars is lengthy registration forms – and with the rise of digital marketing and advanced CRM and marketing automation over the last 10+ years – it is hard to experience a webinar without manually filling in a large amount of data in the process.

Today, let’s look at the current state of webinar registration, and some new technology that is paving the way for webinars to be much easier to engage with.

The state of B2B webinar registration today

For the past five to ten years, webinar registration has not moved very far. Almost every webinar provider, virtual event platform or marketing software relies on audience members filling out a detailed form each time they want to register for something.

This form needs to not only capture all the essential details about who that audience member is – so they can be either entered into a CRM, or attributed to an existing entry in a CRM – but forms also need to capture user consent to be sent marketing communications after the fact.

For most marketers there are two ways to do this effectively:

Option 1: Embedded MAP Forms

Organizations may choose to use a MAP form (such as Hubspot or Marketo – the market leaders in this space) to capture registrations and serve as a gate to the webinar that audiences want to watch.

The benefits of this approach are:

  • It can be embedded on your website directly to maximize site traffic.
  • Some MAP software allows for simple auto-fill technology, making forms easier to fill out.
  • Forms can be customized to some limited extent.
  • The form directly connects to your MAP – saving time and process.

There are also some drawbacks:

  • They don’t capture direct engagement with the webinar – i.e. how many minutes an individual viewed the content, or any additional activities they took.
  • Auto-fill technology only works for self-generated promotions – not partners or third-party promoters.
  • While forms can be customized, they only capture what is being asked of users.
  • All form optimization is passed onto the marketer – adding an additional layer of testing and work to already strapped teams and requiring expertise that few have.

Option 2: Third-Party Webinar Provider Registration

Organizations can choose to use a webinar provider's built-in-form (such as ON24, GoToWebinar or Zoom) to capture audience details and watch the webinar too.

The benefits of this approach are:

  • It captures direct engagement with content (minutes viewed, interactions taken, etc.).
  • Form is handled by webinar provider.

But again, there are some downsides:

  • Most can't be embedded directly on to an organization’s website and users must be directed to another page or ecosystem.
  • Limited form options make optimization ineffective.
  • No opportunity to auto-fill fields.

Both of the best available options today offer marketers some flexibility, but they both come with another major drawback. Most marketers send emails primarily to people they already know – but known audiences (for the most part) are still being asked to fill out a full form to watch webinars.

How BrightTALK approaches registration differently

BrightTALK has always had a different approach to webinar registration. Since the launch of in 2008, three things have always separated BrightTALK from the competition in webinar registration.

  1. Every registrant for a webinar joins the BrightTALK network of (now) 30 million audience members. This has a single login experience, so every BrightTALK user has always had to only fill in a form once and then can log in any other time they want to watch. The average buyer watches five webinars before they engage with Sales, so a simple and easy experience enables buyers to come back for more content.
  2. Every registrant for a webinar becomes a subscriber to your channel, where they automatically receive updates and the opportunity to re-engage with content. Nurture and re-engagement emails are expensive and difficult to do, so automatic re-engagement allows BrightTALK to do the work for marketers.
  3. The entire BrightTALK registration experience is embeddable directly on a company’s website using the BrightTALK Embed. This is simple JavaScript code – just like embedding a YouTube video – that lets audiences register and watch content using BrightTALK, directly on your website. It’s so important for site traffic to stay within a site, and the sales tools/campaigns/pixels that you can only use on your own website.

10 years later, in 2018, BrightTALK launched the smart form. The first webinar registration experience to dynamically change fields based on information gathered about the user and produced much higher conversion rates than ever before.

By reading their IP address and referencing their email the form could change the number of fields it showed to users depending on how much information it could find out about them. This allowed the smart form to increase the number of successful registrations by asking audiences to fill out fewer fields, while still capturing the same data.

Now, five years later in 2023, BrightTALK is investing again in new technology to pave the way for the next phase of B2B webinar registration.

FastReg and the future of B2B webinar registration

FastReg is a brand-new registration experience from BrightTALK that represents the next phase in webinar registration technology. Read this blog to learn more about how and why we developed FastReg.

FastReg is both a brand-new standard registration form across all content hosted on BrightTALK or embedded through BrightTALK on corporate websites, and a smart email tactic for existing contacts. The new form allows users to input minimal information and users’ real-time data lookups to cross reference that information, fill-in-the-blanks and update any outdated data. This lets new users register for a webinar by, oftentimes, just entering their email. The new email tactic, known as the FastPass URL, goes a step further by using the user information marketers have in their email database to auto-complete the form for email recipients. These users simply have to confirm their identity in a single click to register.

This technology has already enabled marketers to see significant increases on their promotions. By taking the best features of the registration tools marketers use today and combining them with BrightTALK’s 10+ years legacy of smart registration technology, FastReg delivers an experience that is flexible, convenient and targeted to solve the day-to-day challenges of demand marketers by helping them register both new users and contacts they’ve been speaking to for a long time, quickly and seamlessly.

Click here for more information on BrightTALK’s FastReg.

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