Choosing the right time and duration for your webinar is an important factor in the success of your event.
In 2020, huge changes to our working routines as a result of COVID-19 saw more of us than ever before attend virtual events — especially webinars.
One thing that stood out in our own research is that the times we prefer to attend virtual events also changed in the past year, with evening, lunchtime and weekend events on the wane.
This change in preferences illustrates that as we spend more time working from home, we’re less inclined to let work impinge on our actual personal time.
With that in mind, here’s a handy, step-by-step formula to follow when you’re deciding when to hold your webinar:
Step 1: Consider your audience
The first thing to think about when scheduling your webinar is your audience.
What does your audience’s daily work routine involve? Are they regularly in front of a computer between 9am and 5pm?
If they are more likely to be on the road during the day, what day do they regularly spend in the office or at their computer if they’re working remotely? Do they have regular access to a reliable internet connection?
If you’re offering corporate access to your webinar, scheduling it during a regular office work day is more than likely your best option.
It’s also important to take into account where your audience is based. Make sure you consider the impact of time zones. There are three time zones in Australia alone — and don’t forget about daylight savings (when there’s essentially four).
Also consider school holidays and public holidays (don’t forget they can be different across states, as well as in regional areas), and the days surrounding those dates. For example, the Monday before a public holiday on a Tuesday, or the last week before Christmas break-up when people might be focussed on trying to get all their work finished, are periods to avoid.
It’s also important to avoid clashes with big industry events when a large chunk of your target audience might already be engaged.
Step 2: Choose a Day of the Week
Almost a third (32%) of the webinar attendees we surveyed for the 2020 Redback Report said Tuesday was their preferred day to attend a webinar, which was up from 22% a year earlier — an increase of almost 50%.
That was closely followed by Wednesday (29%) as the preferred day — which also saw a considerable increase from 21% who nominated it a year earlier.
Friday, which was nominated by 17% of attendees, also remained popular — and with just 12% of events actually scheduled for the final day of the traditional working week, it’s a less crowded option.
In contrast, only 2% think weekends are a good time to attend digital events, down from 7% in 2019, illustrating that they are increasingly a less favourable option.
Thursdays also took a significant dip, with less than one in ten (8%) attendees choosing that as their favourite day, which was down from more than one in four (27%) only a year earlier. With the traditional workplace being turned on its head in 2020, it seems that many of us like to use Thursdays as a day to get our work done before winding back on Fridays.
Step 3: Choose a Time of Day
When it comes to the time of day we like to attend online events: earlier is generally better, leaving us time to catch up on other work later in the day.
Our favourite time of day — by a considerable amount — to attend an online event is mid-morning, which was nominated by two in five (39%) respondents to the 2020 Redback Report. That was up from around one in four (28%) in 2019.
Mid-afternoon, nominated by almost a quarter (23%) of respondents, is also a popular time to attend a webinar, although only 13% of our clients scheduled their virtual event for that time.
Any other time in the morning ran third (15%), beating out lunchtime, which was preferred by 13% — although close to one in three (29%) of webinars are actually scheduled at that time, making it a fairly crowded time slot.
Afternoons in general were selected by just 7% last year, while evenings (3%) are the least popular time.
Step 4: Determine the Duration of Your Webinar
While it’s important to make sure you cover all the important content you’ve identified for your webinar, make sure you stick to your agenda and allotted time frame, and don’t make it too long. Remember, it’s a lot easier for people to tune out or shut down their computer altogether when they’re attending remotely.
Shorter is generally better when it comes to virtual events, although it seems most of us expect to allocate about an hour to a webinar or similar event, with almost half (46%) of respondents nominating that as their preferred duration.
Only 5% preferred 90 minutes, while one in three (33%) chose 45 minutes.
Attendees are also looking for substance. Less than one in five (16%) nominated 30 minutes as their preferred length, which corresponds to a general preference shift over the past year towards hour-long events and away from shorter, half-hour events.
No matter when you schedule your webinar, there will always be some people who can’t make it on a particular day or time. But that doesn’t mean they have to miss out altogether.
When it comes to different time zones, you can broadcast your webinar as-live at different times that suit the local audience best. You can also make it available on-demand so anyone can watch it at the time that suits them best.
Finally, this is only a guide: the best time, day and duration will always depend on the type of the event you are running, your industry and your audience.