Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Email Knock, Knock!

Yesterday I had a meeting with another client where I ask my traditional question of when do they send their email messages, followed by the question that always seems to trip clients up..Why? Why do they pick that time and day to go knocking on someone's inbox door?

The resultant answers to the latter usually vary from the because we always send at that time, to because we tie in with our 'bricks and mortar' bigger brother, to because we think it works best at that time.

The one answer that very rarely materialises is ' because we regularly test broadcast time and date and align it with it with our customer behaviour'. And when I say rarely I really do mean rarely!

Sometimes the ' because we always have' is justified on the basis on what they deem to be best practice. Admittedly there are stacks of tables indicating the most popular broadcast days and times (click here for an example from Kris Kiler). But most popular doesn't mean best for you and your audience.

According to Pure360, many marketers rely on 'gut instinct'. Their research shows that this can often lead marketers astray.

Their research, which can be downloaded at their resources page showed some key periods in the day

The Abyss (10pm to 9am)
This is an ineffective time to send email promotions – it’s like throwing them into a black hole.

Consumer AM (9am to 10am)
The second most prevalent opening time is at the beginning of the working day, with consumers allowing themselves to be distracted by offers on clothes, live events, restaurants and consumer goods.

Do Not Disturb (10am to Noon) Consumers are not opening marketing emails, choosing instead to focus on work.

The Lunchtime News (Noon to 2pm)
Counter-intuitively, consumers are also unlikely to open marketing emails during their lunch, choosing Instead to spend time on news and magazine alerts.

In The Zone (2pm to 3pm)
In the immediate post-lunch period consumers remain focussed on work, responding only to email offers relating to financial services.

A Life-changing Afternoon (3pm to 5pm)
Job-related apathy sets in and consumers start thinking about their personal situation. As a result, more emails relating to property and financial services are opened between 3pm and 5pm than any other type of promotion.

‘Working Late’ (5pm to 7pm)
There is a dramatic rise in recipients opening holiday promotions during the period (17.9% of all emails promoting holiday promotions were opened in these two hours). Counter-intuitively, this is also the timeframe within which recipients are most likely to open B2B promotions (26.4%).

Last Orders (7pm to 10pm)
Recipients are more likely to respond to consumer promotions in their own time, with 23% being opened in this period. Offers on clothes, special interests such as sports and gym promotions (26% opened during this time) performed extremely well in this period.

I've recently worked with 1 online retailer whose broadcast time of a Thursday is dictated by their physical stores.This seems ok to a point, but the we started to look at data around when customers were opening their emails and actually placing online orders.

It turns out that a large segment of their base placed their orders on a Monday evening for delivery later that week. Nowto me its seems to make sense that knowing their customers are 'at home in their inbox' at that time, that a relevant message be there waiting for them as well?

EmailInsider had an interesting view on a blogpost recently .

2 points deserving extra mention are that

1 - Mobile changes everything. A Nielsen study highlights the fact that the Number 1 activity on mobile is email ! So when is the best time when the inbox is now so mobile?
2 - Lifecyle  / Behaviour Triggers eliminate the question. By basing broadcast on a tangible event, the guesswork is removed or at least reduced!

By using the data available, you can start to make real sense of when is the best time and date to contact customers,or rather, set up Broadcast Time and Date as a key parameter in any Test , Learn , Refine Methodolgy you have.

So the next time you go knocking on someones inbox, think ahead and and find out if they are in first!

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