We can’t believe another year is over. However, we believe that doing something three times in a row becomes a tradition. So let’s get traditional and take a look at the 2020 Black Friday and Cyber Monday results. Do you remember what we did last year and the year before? Here is a brief summary of our findings.

Udemy Black Friday 2018

We started our analysis of Black Friday and Cyber Monday two years ago. A key finding was that the number of Udemy signups in all categories had increased by 33%, based on a comparison between the average sales for the Black Friday week and the five weeks prior. Another finding was that the largest average increases were hobby-related topics. We assumed that most students would be waiting for great offers in order to invest as little money as possible in a topic they like. However, it is more likely that students are willing to invest a larger amount in a more professional course. You expect this investment to pay off at some point. If you want to read the results in more detail, you can find the article here.

Cyber Monday 2019

Almost a year later, a month before Udemy’s most important sales week, we’ve formulated eight steps to prepare for Cyber Week 2019. And finally, just a week before Cyber Monday, we gave Instructors eight more tips to get the most out of the day. We are sure these tips have not lost their validity and we encourage our readers to take a look – not just when an Udemy promotion is coming up. Remember how we emphasized the importance of Cyber Monday by looking at the nature of this event? Finally, after processing much of the data, we found that it’s not just the day of the promotion itself that drives sales. The afterburner effects lasted two further weeks before the average number of daily enrollments returned to pre-Black Friday levels. As in 2018, we also determined the most popular course categories with their number of enrollments and the rate of increase compared to the average turnover. Due to the growing amount of valuable data at Teachinguide, we also dared to dig deeper into winning topics and even the top winners among the instructors. The complete insights for 2019 can be found here.

Udemy Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020

As in the previous year, we are looking at the 2020 data from three different perspectives: by categories, topics, and instructors. First of all, we start with a general view of this year.

A general view

It is no surprise that both in the Black Friday week and the Cyber Monday week sales were higher than the average sales five weeks before. This trend still continues and proofs that both promotional occasions have a huge impact on the number of new enrollments. Students are still looking for great deals, instructors benefit from building a greater audience and Udemy brings them all together. However, statistics show two remarkable variations in comparison to last year.

  1. In 2019 Black Friday week and Cyber Monday week showed quite equal results. Cyber Monday week actually was a tiny bit more successful and exceeded Black Friday week by only a few thousand (less than 1%) new enrollments. In 2020 the Cyber Monday week results surprisingly declined by 25% in comparison to Black Friday week. This decrease was not just a dip and the low performance of Cyber Monday week continued during December. We did not see the same afterburner effect from last year.
  2. Overall, Black Friday week and Cyber Monday week 2019 were more successful than the same weeks 2020. Our data shows a total number of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales of 3,227 million last year and 3,053 million this year.

This leads us to two questions:

  • What triggered the low Cyber Monday performance this year
  • Why was 2020 less successful than 2019?

Our data shows that Udemy had a major sales wave in spring during the first Corona lockdown. When people were confronted with the situation to stay at home, many decided to get in touch with Udemy, some of them for the first time. Google trends show that the first week of April had the most searches on Google (100%) over the last 12 months. In comparison, the second January week achieved search results of 71%, Black Friday week 66%, and Cyber Monday week 58%. We strongly believe that Udemy’s general success due to the Corona lockdown stole Black Friday’s and Cyber Monday’s thunder. The ongoing low sales performance during the weeks after Cyber Monday confirms this trend. We assume that the consumer’s spending power lost breath over the year. The high number of course enrollments from spring onwards and a successful Black Friday week led to a Cyber Monday that did not keep up to the expectations. There is no doubt that Corona had and still has a huge impact on Udemy and the industry of online learning and teaching.

Corona – Is there an impact on health courses?

Let’s try to get an insight into if Corona changed more than just consumer behavior. We are particularly interested in whether Corona-related topics had a greater sales effect. So we took a look at all courses that are assigned to the topics Health, Healthcare, Healthcare IT, and Health Coaching and we call them health-related courses. For sure there may be more courses assigned to further topics. We neglect further topics here.

The best-selling health-related course both in Black Friday week and Cyber Monday week was “Health and Nutrition Life Coach Certification (Accredited)”. This course typically sold a weekly average of 89 times whereas it sold 221 times during Black Friday Week and 192 times during Cyber Monday Week.

We also made a yearly comparison between the number of all health-related courses sold in Black Friday week and Cyber Monday week.

2019: 247 courses offered and sold 1,396 times
2020: 396 courses offered and sold 2,973 times

We have to conclude that health-related topics continue to represent a niche on Udemy.

Udemy Black Friday 2020 Sales by Category

Let’s take a view of the most successful categories on Udemy. No surprise that “Development” and “IT & Software” lead the statistics again. A stunning number of 58 out of the top 100 best selling courses are among these two categories. Can you see how little the category “Health & Fitness” is? It is actually 20 times smaller than “Development” by the number of enrollments.

Our data shows that IT & Software and Development convince with a high probability of success. These categories achieve a constant number of sales without showing the highest increases. The courses seem to sell easily. One success reason might be the nature of the course. In an online learning environment, it is less complicated to teach a tech-related and fact-based topic than teaching an instrument or introducing students to topics like fine art. These categories will never get as big as the tech-related category. However, we can see again high increase rates as in 2018. Also in 2020, there are creative-related topics that show the highest increases: Music, Design, and Photography.

Udemy Black Friday 2020 by Category
Udemy Black Friday 2020 week sales by course category

Udemy Black Friday 2020 Sales by Topic

Having a look at the most successful course topics one can see a dominance of tech-related topics. Some course topics never die. In 2020, Python courses will top the registration lists in Black Friday week with over 14,000 registrations just for the top course. The image also reveals one more time the supremacy of tech-related topics in general. If you look closely you can spot some musical instruments that sneaked into this monoculture.

We can conclude that non-tech topics remain under-represented. On the one hand, this means a safe planning base for instructors that offer tech topics. On the other hand, it displays the untapped potential for other topics. We from Teachinguide will stay curious about how we can support instructors irrespective of what topic they occupy.

Udemy Black Friday 2020 by Topic
Black Friday 2020 week sales by primary course topic

Udemy Black Friday 2020 Sales by Instructor

Some instructors prefer to use their real name and others prefer to use the name of their channel or company. According to our data, this choice does not make difference. However, there are not many exceptions with instructors using their real name and a channel name. Here are a few examples:

  • Kirill Emerenko / Super Datascience Team
  • Maximilian Schwarzmüller / Academind by Maximilian Schwarzmüller
  • Rob Percival / Codestars by Rob Percival
  • Phil Ebiner / Video School Online

We can’t see a great dominance of a single instructor and students seem to like the variations thereof. Among the top 100 top-selling courses in the Black Friday week, only 20 Udemy instructors sold more than one course whereas 45 instructors sold exactly one course. The most successful instructor has six courses among the top 100. In total, the 100 top selling courses sold in Black Friday week are split between 65 instructors.

Number of InstructorsNumber of courses sold per instructorTotal number of courses
45145
13226
339
144
2510
166
65b100

Since the top categories and topics are tech-related it is no surprise that also the best-selling instructors offer tech-related classes.

Udemy Black Friday 2020 by Instructor
Black Friday 2020 week sales – Top Instructors

Conclusion

This year Corona put things upside down. The success of Udemy’s Black Friday week and Cyber Monday week could not exceed last year’s result. The emergence of the pandemic early this year caused a general boom for online teaching and learning. We saw a change in consumer behavior and the importance of Black Friday/Cyber Monday for Udemy, instructors, and students were less than the years before. In terms of the course content, the tech categories and topics remain unchallenged and claim another year the top position in the number of sales. Hobby-related topics seem to sell better with a higher discount. Although the omnipresence of Corona in our lives the topic itself did not really have an effect on the content of courses offered.

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