Top 10 Days for Sending Holiday Emails

November 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles, Email Marketing

Just read a great white paper from iContact that listed out the top 10 days to send holiday emails (dates based on 2009 calendar so note that some days may actually change from year to year but the principle is the same.) Nice timing and I thought I’d pass them along to you:

Monday after Halloween
Nov 2nd

Day before Thanksgiving
Nov 25th

Black Friday
Nov 27th

Cyber Monday
Nov 30th

First Friday in December
Dec 4th

Second Friday in December
Dec 11th

Friday before Christmas
Dec 18th

Monday before Christmas
Dec 21st

Day after Christmas
Dec 26th

Monday after Christmas
Dec 28th

Don’t wait to get started. Plan your emails now to ensure you are ready to take advantage of each.

Best Times to Send Emails

November 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles, Email Marketing

In continuing with my series on sprucing up your email campaigns, I thought a post on the best time to send emails would be appropriate.

To date I’ve discussed reasons you should consider a third party email service, 4 components present in all emails, and even promoting social media elements in your emails.

What we haven’t touched upon is the timing of the emails. The questions we are looking to answer are:

1) What are the best day(s) to send emails.

2) What is the best time of day to send emails.

Does a “best” day and time really exist?

The answer to this question is it depends and isn’t going to be the same for everyone—what works for one person might not work for another. It depends at the very least on your market, your customers, whether you sell B2C (Business to Consumer) or B2B (Business to Business), and even the time of year (which I won’t get into in this article.)

It goes without saying that if you are targeting B2B type readers you want to hit them during the work week (rather than on the weekend). With B2C you might get away with a weekend send depending on your offer, your target, and your objective. I personally find weekends to be slow no matter the market and try to stay away from them for sending marketing emails.

I am not going to leave you with just that as an answer though.

There have been many studies conducted and data collected on the best times to send emails. We can use these results as a general starting point for our own campaigns. In reality though, the real answer will be found in your own tracking of your sends (you are tracking your emails with some type of analytics right?)

You’ll find any number of answers on the internet to what is the best day / time, but I have complied my research into what seems to be a consistent “baseline” reported from not only third party email services like Aweber, Constant Contact, and iContact, but also based on market research studies conducted by non-email service providers.

Keep in mind while reading this that it is tough to truly nail down a best day and time because each is ever changing.

However, after rooting through all this data I found the following as a reasonable conclusion to start with (I based this on the frequency of mention for various days and times.) After conducting my research, I was somewhat surprised to discover that my personal experience fell within the ranges I found to be the most effective times and days. Again, this may not be the case with everyone, but it did prove to me that the baselines I settled on (and that I mention below in this article) were at the very least a good starting point for most.

The Survey Says…

According to combined surveys it looks like the best days/times on average to send emails are:

Best Days on Average
Tuesday and Weds continually stick out as better days during the week.

Best Times on Average
The results on this seem to be all over depending on who you talk to. In general though the consistent times mentioned were:

  • Morning between 8 AM and 9 AM
  • Mid morning between 10AM and 10:30AM
  • Early Afternoon between 1PM and 1:30PM

My personal experience has found that currently, sending at 8:15 AM on Weds. provides the best overall results across the board for both opens, clicks, and actions taken. I want to hit readers first thing in the morning when they are checking email before they start their day and before their email box gets filled (pushing my email to the back of the pack.)

Having said that, an article I reviewed on email marketing reports had some very interesting images of data tables based on metrics reported. It might be worth reading as well.

Pros and Cons of Each Day Outlined

Jenn Abecassis wrote an nice article that appeared in 60-Second Marketer which listed the positive and negative aspects of sending email on each day of the week. I reiterated her points below and will let you determine which if any sound reasonable for your needs. I personally have not tested her theory but really think she makes some great arguments for each day with looking into.

Monday –
Pros: Office work has not filled inboxes yet.
Cons: People are in “work mode” and won’t be focused on non-work tasks.
Best Practice: Send emails late Monday morning, after people have cleaned the weekend spam from their inboxes.

Tuesday –

Pros: People have organized their week, and can find personal time for emails.
Cons: Emails poised for a weekend response may be too early.
Best Practice: Use Tuesday for emails that request action during the workweek.

Wednesday/Thursday –
Pros: People are planning their weekends and gearing up for personal time.
Cons: Time during the workweek is running short, and requested action may be pushed back to the following week, or even forgotten about.
Best Practice: Focus leisure and weekend notifications during these key weekend planning days.

Friday –
Pros: Studies indicate fewer total emails sent compared to the rest of the week, increasing visibility among the myriad of other messages.
Cons: People hurry to leave the office early, and may not take time to view non-work related emails.
Best Practice: Send emails early in the day to give consumers more time to take action. An unopened email from Friday will sort to the bottom of an inbox on Monday, and is often discarded.

Weekends –
Pros: People check emails on weekends, too, so weekends may have untapped potential.
Cons: A weekend email may seem overly-intrusive to some people.
Best Practice: If possible, try to avoid Sundays and focus on Saturdays, which may have a better response rate. (SK: Actually, if you are B2C, I would test Sundays myself — we used to get great response on Sunday).

Conclusion

What works for one person may not work for another. Email marketing should be tested and tracked as much as any other portion of your business.

Keep these points in mind when determining the best time and day for your own email marketing.

The answer isn’t the same for everyone.

  • The best day for you and your business might not be the best day for the next person.
  • The best day might change from month to month (based on time of year) and from send to send.
  • The best time could be different for subscribers located in different parts of the world.
  • Not all messages necessarily “work” on the same day or at the same time. Understanding your objective and your subscribers will help you focus your efforts and find what works for you.

The BEST way to move forward:

  1. Use the guidelines above in making an initial educated guess
  2. Test to see whether your guess was right or not
  3. Once you’ve got the best day nailed down, try experimenting with what time of day works best
  4. Make sure you maintain accurate reports so you can benchmark your results moving forward.

Remember, it ultimately will come down to testing, testing, and more testing. Don’t neglect the fact that you won’t know for sure until you thoroughly test and measure your own individual results.

5 Reasons to Consider Third Party Email Services

October 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Email Marketing

In one of my recent articles I talked about the 4 main elements that are present in all effective emails. In that post I went into detail on the things you should consider in writing an email that generates action.

However, having a good email is not always enough especially if it doesn’t reach its destination and get delivered. So, in this post I wanted to point out 5 reasons you should consider using a third party professional email service to handle the delivery and management of your email campaigns.

1) Deliverability
No matter how good an email is it doesn’t have a chance if it doesn’t get delivered. If you are using your own email server and are not using a professional service like Constant Contact, Aweber, iContact, etc… you’re likely missing out on higher delivery rates.

Professional services such as these mentioned above (and there are more) have relationships with various ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and also provide strict guidelines for those who use their service to avoid being labeled as a server that delivers spam. As such, they work hard to keep their servers on Internet white lists.

You can check to see if your mail server is on an Internet blacklist by using one of these handy resources:

When using any of the above black list checks be sure you enter the IP Address of your MAIL server (or website if it is the same as is with most shared hosting services). Do not just click “enter” for the default IP Address that shows because this is your computer IP address (the one you are reading this on now) and not the email server that is actually sending your email.

If you find your email server is on any blacklists, you likely are seeing lower delivery rates than could be if you switched to a professional delivery service.

2) CAN SPAM Laws
Professional email services help you abide by any CAN SPAM laws by providing you with the right information required to meet guidelines. Things like “unsubscribe links”, “do not mail” lists, etc… Trying to do this on your own could be very time consuming, and if done wrong, could land you in legal trouble.

3) Bounce Management
Professional email services often provide automatic bounce management and even disclose the reason (segmenting the bounces into various groups) why an email bounced. Some even keep your list clean by enabling the automatic removal of addresses that bounce more than a certain number of times.

If you’re trying to manage bounces on your own this can be extremely difficult.

4) Reporting
The reporting you get from professional email services is outstanding and gets better all the time. From open rates, to the exact email addresses who opened, to what they did after opening, to how many sales were generated from the email, to hourly opens, and more. You can’t beat the reporting that a professional service provides.

Reporting is a key ingredient to running a successful campaign. Without it you have little chance at true success.

5) List Segmentation and Automation
Many professional email services enable you to setup automation rules and segment lists into various groups. These automation rules may be something like “move an email address to list 2 from list 1 if the person clicks a link in the email”. This is very important because you can setup various list groups that fill with targeted users using automatic rules. You can then further and more precisely send targeted emails to those in the individual groups based on their exact wants and needs.

List segmentation and automation is something that can’t be matched in most non-professional email services.

Conclusion

These are just 5 reasons why you should consider using a professional service and third party email server rather than relying on your own personal system. I’ve tried both routes and given the choice between using a professional service and my own mail server I would choose the professional route every time.

Have you come across any other email services that are nice? Let me know about them by posting a comment below.

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