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If you plan it, will they come? Lessons learned about participant recruitment and retention for Cochrane webinars

Date and Location




Saturday 21 September 2013 - 13:30 - 15:00
Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author

Erin Ueffing

Contact person

Erin Ueffing
Abstract text
Background: Cochrane Canada released The Cochrane Collaboration’s first webinar series in 2009. Since then, we have covered a wide range of topics that are relevant to people with beginner or advanced knowledge of The Cochrane Collaboration, Cochrane Reviews and The Cochrane Library. Though participants consistently gave positive evaluations and said that webinars were their medium of choice for Cochrane training, attendance levels had not increased substantially since 2009, and a significant proportion of registrants did not actually attend. Objectives: To improve recruitment (i.e. number of registrants) and retention (i.e. number of registrants who actually attend) for our webinars. Methods: To increase our registrations, we have made a concerted effort to expand our audience beyond current Cochrane contributors. We have significantly scaled up our advertising campaigns: we post on Cochrane and external websites; we send advertisements to Canadian medical schools; we post on social media sites; we send to Cochrane and external listservs; and we send targeted emails to key stakeholders asking them to invite their constituents. To improve retention, we’ve made numerous changes to our registration process. For example, participants can add events directly to their Google or Outlook calendars, we send reminders to all registrants before the webinar, and we’ve emphasized time zone converters in our materials to prevent people from registering at unrealistic times (e.g. showing those in Melbourne that our webinars are at 4:00AM local time). We have automated many of these changes using Drupal web forms. Results: We have significantly increased the numbers of both registrants and attendees, and have seen substantial uptake for those webinars for which we have set up Facebook events; data will be presented. Conclusions: Our advertising/marketing strategies have improved our recruitment and retention. These strategies can be – and have been – adopted by other groups organizing online Cochrane training.