Is there really a ‘best time’ to send email newsletters?

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Without doubt, “when is the best time to send email newsletters?” is one of the most frequently asked questions in email marketing today, and has been since time immemorial. Well at least since this online marketing strategy first started making a name for itself over a decade ago.

The truth is if you asked this question to 10 different email marketers, you’d likely get 10 different answers. Sure, there’s the Tuesday/Thursday morning/afternoon suggestion, or the ‘send over a weekend’ advice based on the fact that people are more likely to take their time reading through their emails at home. I’m not disputing any of these suggestions, as they have certainly helped garner higher open and click through rates for many companies that employ this sending strategy.

Ultimately though, in answering this question, it’s going to come down to what time works best for your campaigns and subscribers. To do this, you’re going to need to start analysing and segmenting different aspects of their online behaviour. Think it sounds a bit too much like stalking? It’s not, you’re simply using data that is readily available to optimise your campaigns and better target your customers. It’s a win-win situation.

With this in mind, where do you start? Let’s have a look at a couple of points you need to consider.

First, who are your recipients? Are they business people, consumers, stay-at-home-parents or students? What occupations do they have, what type of hours would they typically work or study? Put yourself in their shoes, when might you prefer to receive emails?

If you don’t have this information available about your subscribers, you should definitely consider setting up an email preference centre, especially if you have more than one product/service or different types of email newsletters. A preference centre allows subscribers to dictate what emails they receive and how often they receive them (which puts them in control and takes the guessing work out of it for you). The added bonus is that they’re also encouraged to include personal information about themselves, such as: gender, profession, location etc., which means you can start segmenting straight away.

Secondly, when are your subscribers most active online? Monitor your website analytics to see if you can establish patterns in their online behaviour. Are they more active and interactive in the mornings, afternoons or evenings? You should also segment according to this information.

Thirdly, how often are you testing? Once you’ve gathered the information you need, test it out with a few campaigns. From here, you can see how or if it changes any of your metrics. Unfortunately, you can’t assume that it’s just going to work. People are unpredictable in nature and you can assume that their online behaviour will change over time, which means this process is something you need to do on a regular basis.

Yes it’s going to take time to figure out averages based on behaviour over a certain period, and yes it’s going take time to effectively segment your target audience. The potential success that you can have from doing this, however, far outweighs the extra work involved. At the end of it, not only will you have worked out what the best time is for you to send your campaigns to your subscribers, but it will also allow you to:

  • Better engage with your subscribers on their terms
  • Improve your open rates, CTR’s and other valuable metrics
  • Improve your brand positioning (the more subscribers are reading and reacting (favourably) to your emails the greater the chance is of them talking about your company, both online and offline.
  • Finally, you (hopefully) don’t waste any unnecessary time or money sending emails at the wrong times or to the wrong people
  • .

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  • http://www.facebook.com/rolv.heggenhougen Rolv Heggenhougen

    In addition to the
    traditional email marketing (mass/bulk email) one should look at another
    marketing opportunity and that is the emails we all send from our corporate
    email addresses every day. I represent a company that has developed a solution
    for just those emails and thus this post.

    The basic idea behind
    wrapmail (OTC: WRAP) is to utilize the facts that all businesses have websites
    and employees that send emails every day. These emails can become complete
    marketing tools and help promote, brand, sell and cross-sell in addition to drive
    traffic to the website and conduct research. All links are tracked and reported back to client, also in real time.

    WrapMail can also be used
    to create personal email stationary based on social networks (Facebook,
    YouTube, Twitter, MySpace) hobbies, interests etc for anyone’s personal email.

    Wrapmail is available for
    free at http://www.wrapmail.com and wrapped emails arrive with no red x!

    WrapMail also helps expose
    missing children by having each email sent by us and participating users search
    for missing children in the US.

  • Davidneelygraham

    Hi Georgia

    We (Deloitte Consulting South Africa) have been using email marketing (which has yielded very good results, and still does) for over two years now, and based on our experiences, this is what we have noted:

    - Early Monday/Tuesday morning works well
    - Conversion is very much dependent on the subject line and introductory paragraph
    - Timing and relevance always produces good results (eg presenting issues relating to e-tolling)
    - Solicited contact generates more interest (ie we only send correspondence to persons that have subscribed to receive our thought ware

    Regards
    David Graham
    Digital Channels Executive
    Deloitte Consulting South Africa

  • http://www.facebook.com/rolv.heggenhougen Rolv Heggenhougen

    In addition to the
    traditional email marketing (mass/bulk email) one should look at another
    marketing opportunity and that is the emails we all send from our corporate
    email addresses every day. I represent a company that has developed a solution
    for just those emails and thus this post.

    The basic idea behind
    wrapmail (OTC: WRAP) is to utilize the facts that all businesses have websites
    and employees that send emails every day. These emails can become complete
    marketing tools and help promote, brand, sell and cross-sell in addition to drive
    traffic to the website and conduct research. All links are tracked and reported back to client, also in real time.

    WrapMail can also be used
    to create personal email stationary based on social networks (Facebook,
    YouTube, Twitter, MySpace) hobbies, interests etc for anyone’s personal email.

    Wrapmail is available for
    free at http://www.wrapmail.com and wrapped emails arrive with no red x!

    WrapMail also helps expose
    missing children by having each email sent by us and participating users search
    for missing children in the US.

  • http://twitter.com/mailblaze Spiro Malamoglou

    Hi David,

    Thanks for you comment. 

    I agree, subject lines absolutely play a very important role in getting your emails opened and it’s a fine art to create one that stays within the recommended amount of characters and choosing words that won’t trigger spam filters. 

    Also, finding out exactly what your subscribers are interested in, either via an email preference center or participating in forums and chat groups can give you a very good idea of what they are interested in right now. What questions do they have, what are they complaining about, what are they praising, all of which can be used to target them with content that’s relevant to them. 

    As far as only targeting subscribers that have given explicit permission for you to email them, I couldn’t agree more. This however, is something that many people don’t understand though, and they still feel it’s perfectly alright to blast campaigns out to an email database that they have bought. They aren’t interested in building up their database organically, from scratch. This is a mindset we are working hard to change. 

  • Pingback: NewsLever: September 2011 | FulcrumTech

  • Pingback: Send Email Newsletters | Email Marketing

  • http://twitter.com/dunnyone Steven

    Thanks for the comment and error-spotting Peter :) I had the colour, not the game :P

  • http://twitter.com/dannygreeff Danny Greeff

    Awesome article, quite amped to checkout 100 Rogues!

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