What many email marketers don’t know is that there are specific times of day that certain emails are best sent. Segmentation by the clock is just as important as any other kind of email segmentation. Patricia Wilson has been involved in customer relationship management for over twenty years, the last ten of which have been heading up eWayDirect’s Raleigh, North Carolina office, helping clients use emarketing to its full potential. A frequent question she receives is email list segmentation in terms of time, so she agreed to an interview to share her views.
So let’s start with the issue I touched on in the introduction: what’s the best day of the week and time of the day to send out emails?
There is not doubt there are best time of the day to send/time your email campaigns, and best days of the week. However, it differs for every company and you need to learn what works best for your company by understanding the email habits of the audience you are sending emails to and the goal of the specific emails you are sending. Based on this information the day/time answer may be different. In addition B2B and B2C campaigns will perform better at different times and different days of the week.
Here are a couple of examples: If your goal as a B2B is to attract professionals to your booth at a trade show, you will want to reach those subscribers early morning before they reach the office, or at the end of the work day when they are checking their email one more time before leaving the office. If you are a B2C company selling children’s clothing your best time to reach the moms is mid-morning after the children have left for school, and second best is after 8 pm when the kids have gone to sleep. These two examples should give you a good idea of what I mean by timing depending on your audience.
Of course, the real answer is to test. Test, test, test. What works well today may not be as effective two months from now. Subscribers change habits frequently. Testing is easy yet studies show many companies don’t it, often because they are rushed for time or don’t have the discipline to test in an organized manner over time. Consistently test the day of week and the time of day.
And remember in this day of complex delivery issues be sure to monitor daily your inbox delivery rates, opens and clicks. When one or more of these change negatively have a sense of urgency to understand what is causing the change(s) until your response rates return to desired levels.
Okay, so now I have a sense of how to find out when to send these emails. What about frequency? How much is too much?
Again, there is no magic number to answer this question. What is right for your subscribers? If you are sending stock market updates, people might need to receive emails multiple times every day, if you are sending vacation offers, weekly might be all that is appreciated by your subscribers.
That being said, new subscribers should be messaged more frequently then your overall subscriber list. This is true because you are “growing the relationship” and these people are hungry for information about your company and your products/services. In addition, the first 30 days of an online relationship are, for most companies, the most valuable 30 days in the relationship and you want to optimize the opportunity.
Subscribers who are familiar with your products or service tend to be highly interactive with your campaigns, and can be messaged less frequently. But the information you have on these subscribers, information you have built over time, allows you to make the most of every message with highly targeted, relevant content, based on their buying habits.
And always work off a frequency plan that is tweaked on a regular basis, based on ongoing results from all campaigns.
How about special offer reminders? Should I send them? If so, when?
Online retailers do very well when sending a simple resend of the same offer to those who did not open and/or to those who opened but did not purchase. Send these offer 24 hours after the initial message with an updated subject line. Doing so an easy low cost way to remind the subscribers of your great offer and gain additional revenue.
Other types of activity messaging may be the most effective email messages you can ever send. Send email reminders to people soon after they leave your website, based on specific pages they visit, and send reminders to people soon after they call your helpdesk or sales desk, and of course after they place orders or email your company for information. Activity based response email reminders will deliver six to ten times the response rates of your standard email campaigns.
Is there a safe way to increase my email frequency and not increase complaints, unsubscribes, or list fatigue?
The trick to increasing your email campaign frequency is twofold, testing, testing and testing, providing relevant variable content. We tend to think about frequency results in terms of how the whole list behaves, and it is important to consider this. But within a list, there are segments that can be messaged more frequently then other segments and you need to always be watching to see which groups these are.
Create a plan to segment your list into testing/timing frequencies for best results and stick to the schedule and watch the results. And be sure to review your content for relevancy and variation. Sometimes people mistake the idea that response rates are going down because they are emailing too frequently, when in reality they are simply sending the same or similar content to people over and over again.
So this really brings us to the obvious question: which is more important, the time you send the email, or the content of the email?
What can marketers do in the next five minutes to improve the timing strategy of their email campaigns?
Sit down and set up testing parameters for the next 30 days. During this time you are going to test time of day and day of week. Then follow through. Once you have completed this test segment, plan your next 30 day segment around frequency, and segment at the individual list level.
The one thought I will leave you with is that the rewards of this program will be significant. All studies show that more frequent mailings drive higher revenue, so if you can learn enough to implement a plan that enables you to mail more frequently, without increasing complaints and opt-outs, and without lowering open rates, it will be a home run for your business.