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How COVID-19 Changed Webinars: A Comparison of March 2020 to 2019 Benchmarks

April 21st, 2020 Michael Mayday

What other changes to webinar trends have we seen? Let’s take a look:

Best Days for Webinar Attendance

Webinerd in a green jacket adjusts data to reduce churn for her company.

According to our 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report, the best time to hold a webinar is mid-week, with a strong preference for Wednesday and Thursday. But trends in March have changed how webinars are attended. The best performing day for webinar attendance — while mid-week still performs strong — is now Tuesday.

This shift, however, isn’t just because Tuesday is the day for the most attendance; it’s also happening because more webinars are taking place across the rest of the week, especially on Monday and Friday.

For example, webinar attendance for Mondays has jumped by three points when compared to our 2020 benchmark report and Fridays, in the same comparison, have leaped by five points. We see a similar pattern when we look at year-over-year traffic: Monday attendance in 2020 jumps by nine points compared to 2019 while Friday attendance jumps by three points.

Here’s a chart highlighting the differences between March 2019 and March 2020:

When looking at the sheer number of webinars produced, a slice of our analysis highlights this change: year-over-year, the number of events on Fridays and Tuesday has increased by 222% and 271% respectively, though Monday has the breakaway increase with an astounding 441% jump.

Takeaway: while mid-week is still a strong performer for attendance, nearly any day of the workweek will net you a solid number of attendees. We’d recommend experimenting with different webinar formats for different days of the week to optimize attendance.

Best Day to Send Promotional Emails

The first step in driving attendance to webinars is setting up and sending promotional emails. And, as most marketers know, there are certain days of the week that perform better than others for open email rates. According to our 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report, the mid-week — Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — are the best days to send promotional emails.

March 2020, however, has changed the typical open rates for promotional emails. Tuesday is now the definitive best day to send promotional emails for webinars by a three-point margin. But, again, this doesn’t mean that Tuesday is the only good day to send promotional emails. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday are also great days to send promotions and, together, account for 60% of registrations.

Here’s a chart showing how the increase in emails and events is acting as an equalizer across the week:

Takeaway: Early to mid-week are the best days to send promotional emails to drive registration. Avoid sending promotional emails during the weekend and on Friday.

The Best Time to Run Webinars

According to our 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report, the best time to run webinars is at 11 a.m. Pacific (2 p.m. Eastern). This remains true in March 2020, though there are a few shifts to consider when it comes down to timing your events.

First, and this is always true, the best time for a webinar is one that fits in with the schedule of your audience. Depending on the event or your audience, holding a webinar could work well early in the morning or later in the day. But, as a general rule, an hour before or after your region’s lunch hour works best.

So, how has timing changed in March 2020? Running events at 11 a.m. is still the best practice, but the overall trend to keep in mind is that webinars are starting earlier in the day. For example, in our 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report, 8 and 9 a.m. accounted for 8% and 9% of the day’s events, respectively. Those two hours have jumped by two percentage points to 10% and 11%.

Here’s a breakdown of how the best time to attend a webinar has changed when comparing March 2020 to March 2019:

 Takeaway: 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET) is still the best time to host a webinar, but don’t be afraid to host an event earlier in the day.

Keeping Track of Changing Trends

Webinerd funnel

Altogether, March 2020 has shown a significant change in the day-to-day use of virtual events. We fully expect to see further changes in webinar behavior as long as social distancing is the norm. Over the coming months, we’ll keep a close eye on these metrics and inform you of how companies are continuing to get business done with ON24.