Tuesday, January 10, 2012 8:56 AM
"What is the best time to send emails?"
"How do you know?"
The internet is peppered with blog posts all attempting to answer these same questions. One company may think the prime time for email sends is 8 am, while another may say it’s 11 pm.
So which is it?
The problem is that all of these companies have different types of audiences, so it is difficult to nail down the optimal time based upon another company’s successes.
Factors to consider
Consider your demographic and adjust sends and promotions accordingly:
- Are you targeting an older population? You won’t want to send ‘flash sale’ emails at times when they won’t be shopping (past midnight, for example)
- Are you targeting young adults? You may not want to send ‘flash sale’ emails on Friday nights, when they might be out partying.
In that regard, many retailers know their customers all too well – and those that don’t are making decent guesses as to their habits and behavior. The New York Times recently reported on a new trend of retailers sending their marketing emails after 1:00 or 2:00 am, targeting ‘partiers’ who’ve come home from bars tipsy and are more likely to be lenient with their credit card.
One researcher was quoted as saying that “when you’re loading things you can’t feel or touch into this fake cart, you don’t have a sense of, ‘I’m buying all this stuff, I’m buying too much.’ It takes you away from the actual spending-money experience,” (to read the original article, see “Online Retailers Home in on a New Demographic: the Drunken Consumer”). While not encouraging inebriated spending, many online retailers are taking notice of these traffic trends and marketing accordingly.
The best advice is to test when possible. It is the only way to know for sure what times work best for your own customers.
Try this: using your email platform to optimize send times
Some email platforms allow you to send emails to each individual based on when they are most likely to open. Silverpop, for example, offers a feature called “Send Time Optimization” (STO). They use historical recipient behavior collected throughout the customer’s entire lifecycle to decide the optimal send time. A perpetually early riser might be targeted to receive emails at 6 am, whereas an office worker who regularly checks emails on his lunch hour might be better suited to receive them at noon.
Once you start to think of email marketing in terms of time, you’ll begin to recognize factors that will indicate when your customers might be most receptive. If you already know the best time to send to your customers, then that’s great! If you don’t, then there are tools like Silverpop’s STO that can help. Take a look at your traffic and demographic data, and then test your sends to see if you can optimize them based upon your findings. Let us know what you find!