Many marketers I talk to are quite interested in optimizing the content of their email messages. They test images, calls to action, subject lines, and the tone of the email. However, how many companies test the timing of email sends and how this affects readership?
Proper timing = greater relevance
To illustrate how timing might affect open and click-through rates, think about how you read email. In the afternoon when the day is dragging on and you need a break, do you give each email message a little more time than when you first get into the office in the morning and are confronted with 20 hot items bursting from your inbox?
So would an email with a more complex conversion goal (such as signing up for a recurring subscription) do better with you in the afternoon while a simple conversion goal (like signing up for a free web clinic) might have a better chance in the morning when you’re plugging and chugging and not putting as much thought (and perhaps doubt) into your actions?
While you were sleeping
If you subscribe to our informative email, you know that we send it in the middle of the night. By testing, we learned that email messages sent before 9 a.m. EST dramatically lifted click-through rates for our list. Here are the key takeways from our testing:
- Late-nighters in the management level and ‘indiepreneur’ crowds on the West Coast are opening work email up until the midnight hour. East Coast execs are responsive in the ‘early bird’ hours.
- Subscribers based in Asia and Europe respond to email messages that don’t get buried in their inbox during non-work hours.
- Time zone segmentation is worth a test for any marketer with a substantial international list – especially B-to-Bers.
What works for your audience?
Keep in mind, that for every demographic and persona that is part of your readership, their habits and optimal send time might be different. Test sending out at different times to see what affect that has on not only readership, but conversion – because even in these “tight time zones,” people might just glance at the email, (giving you the open metrics) but save the action for later. However, we all know sometimes “later” never comes.
Speaking of testing, it is not just good enough to just try different send times for entire lists. Aggregate testing like this can get you subpar results and hide the real conversions nuggets. Narrowing the scope to particular segments in your list (which you should always be doing…) will help you see how certain segments respond to timing and allow you to make stronger conclusions.
Sometimes the conversion gems that are waiting to be discovered are not only in the message itself, but how and (in this case) when it is being delivered. It is like when you asked your Mom to borrow the car – you knew not to bother her when she was busy if you wanted a good response.
Good luck in testing.
For a deeper discussion about timing and relevance, you can join our Senior Manager of Research Partnerships, Andy Mott, as he explores Increasing Conversion with Right Time, Right Message Strategies on Thursday, March 11 at 2 p.m. This free BtoB Magazine webcast is sponsored by Eloqua.