Should retailers obsess about e-mail blast timing?

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Mar 17, 2017
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MarketingCharts staff

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from MarketingCharts, a Watershed Publishing publication providing up-to-to-minute data and research to marketers.

The best time of day to send consumer marketing e-mail during Q4 of last year — at least when comparing transactions to volume — was between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. according to a new study from Experian Marketing Services.

More specifically, mailings in this time frame resulted in 21.1 percent of transactions relative to 14.8 percent of volume.

The results are interesting in light of the previous year’s data, in which the 12 a.m. time frame resulted in a disproportionately high share of transactions compared to send volume. This time around, that period was the least effective, with only 8.2 percent of transactions emerging from 16.9 percent of volume. It’s interesting to note that this early day-part seems to have become much more popular from one year to the next, as in 2015 just 6.6 percent of e-mails were sent then.

In both years, though, the largest share of transactions overall occurred during the 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. period.

When the Q4 2016 data was broken down by days of the week, Monday mailings produced the greatest return on volume with a higher percentage of transactions (19.8 percent) than mailing volume (17 percent). Sunday mailings also fared well with a higher transaction (11.8 percent) than volume share (10.5 percent).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How important is the time sent to e-mail performance? Do you think prime time or off-peak is typically the best time to send e-mails?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Sending emails when your customer is off-peak is a wasted effort. You need to analyze the data from your email system and send accordingly."
"Respect consumers’ time. Provide valuable information. "
"...email should be only one tool, and probably not the highest-priority one."

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14 Comments on "Should retailers obsess about e-mail blast timing?"


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Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

Our experience is that day of the week is more important than time of day. People don’t sit on their emails all day long (unless they’re analysts … ).

Phil Masiello
BrainTrust

Email marketing has evolved so much over the last five years. It is now possible to use email in a more personalized and dynamic way. We can provide products and offers tailored specifically to the emailed customer’s shopping behavior on the retailer’s website or in the store.

Email is one of the best customer retention tools that any retailer or e-commerce brand has. Timing is very important. But you cannot use averages. Every email system on the planet is able to provide the retailer with the best time to send their email to their customers to get the best open and read rates.

Sending emails when your customer is off-peak is a wasted effort. You need to analyze the data from your email system and send accordingly.

Max Goldberg
Guest

More important than the timing of emails is the subject line and content. Retailers should entice consumers to open and read emails by using eye-catching subject lines, then get right to the point in body copy. Respect consumers’ time. Provide valuable information. Present great offers. Otherwise emails might as well be spam.

Greg Zakowicz
Guest
I think it is important, but it is often overstated and under-simplified. For most retailers, there is no one time that overwhelmingly predicts success. Conversions are much like open rates, where they tend to be highest around the time of the send. A couple of factors to consider: First, the makeup of your audience may have significant impact on the timing. For example, for those who have younger children, during the workday and after 8 p.m. oftentimes sees better results. There is a common lull from the time they get home from work and put their children down for bed during which they are not engaged with activities like online shopping. For younger people or those with older children, this impact on time is lessened and they are likely to interact at times that are most convenient to their lifestyle. Second, look at other factors such as remailing. Many retailers choose to send multiple emails per day, typically earlier in the day and again in the evening. Sometimes those evening emails only go to those… Read more »
Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

Both retail and CPG have only average CTO (Click-to-Open) rates compared to other industries which enjoy much higher rates, including the insurance industry, for example. So email should be only one tool, and probably not the highest-priority one. There are literally dozens of surveys offering similar information with somewhat varying findings. There must be an effort to include all aspects of effective email marketing in order to maximize the productivity of these campaigns. Time of day, high-impact subject line, effective CTA (Call-to-Action), etc. are only a few.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

The best timing for email blasts depends upon the consumer AND the subject heading. Companies need to determine what response they desire, identify metrics and test and retest many options.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

I’m in the pro-content category. To be effective your email needs a great headline and hopefully an intriguing offer. Otherwise it’s just spam — no matter what day or what time you send it.

Rick Moss
Staff

Email marketing providers are getting quite sophisticated with what they term “Send Time Optimization.” The more advanced platforms now have the ability to calculate the optimal time of day for each email recipient — assuming that recipient has a history logged by the service — and parse out the bulk mailing to get the message to each individual when each is most likely to open it.

You can analyze your list broadly and come up with the best average time to send your messages, but each consumer of course has different habits. The best average time may only be best for only 15% of your customers. If you can cater to individual habits, you should do much better.

Tom Brown
Guest
2 years 8 months ago

There is always a best time and day of the week for sending to contacts you don’t have enough data on. Typically, as soon as they sign up is the perfect starting point. For everyone else, collect data and adjust the time accordingly. This is the first thing you should be doing to get your feet wet with Big Data.

Nir Manor
BrainTrust

As already mentioned, the key words are personalization and relevance. Each customer has his or her better day and better hour to encourage a response. And this also changes over time, when a customer changes jobs, location, family status, etc. This is a dynamic process to be followed and can be with advanced Big Data and AI tools. Retailers should track past behavior and personalize accordingly. They should personalize the headline, make the content relevant and try to improve in an ongoing, never-ending process.

Mark Price
BrainTrust
Mark Price
Managing Partner, Smart Data Solutions, ThreeBridge
2 years 8 months ago

In the testing work we have done with retailers, time of day and day of week have significantly influenced results. The article highlights the need to be validating those results frequently, since they do change over time.

We have had success with peak and off peak sends, depending on seasonality and holidays. For example, email campaigns run during the SuperBowl can have strong results, even though you might not think so. The same for New Year’s eve. Speaks to the need to create hypotheses and test and retest….

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

Yes, the timing for sending emails is a science. Every retailer should have enough data by now to understand when the right day and time is for their customer mix. And it may not be the same for all customers. Retailers need to make sure they have a good analytics system in place to help them program the right time, and content, that should go into every email to properly promote themselves. Too many emails is still a problem for most retailers, too.

Dave Nixon
BrainTrust
Dave Nixon
Data Analytics Solutions Executive, Teradata
2 years 8 months ago

PRIME TIME. Meaning Prime time for how YOUR customer buys and what their preferences are. Land the email when they will see it. Deliverability is not a driver for engagement. If an email lands at 3 a.m. and it gets buried in the shopper’s inbox by the time they choose to shop, why take that chance?

If you know when she shops, then land the email right before that prime time to increase the percentage of consumption. Be strategic and laser-focused in your approach, but you have to KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER to do this correctly.

Michael Spencer
Guest

Part of personalizing and segmenting lists is sending them at the right time. Tools like Rabbut even send them when a person signs in. Day of week and time of day matters, some are better for open rates, other better for click rates. Depending on the nature of the campaign and the segment used, the ideal time will change.

Retailers continue to be pretty bad at email marketing, in an age where open-rates lag, SMS marketing and chatbots have emerged. Guess what happens? Higher open-rates and higher click rates.

Since email still has relatively high ROI, retailers keep doing it and our ESPs improve. Gone are the days when Mailchimp was sufficient; there are better tools for better prices out there today.

It’s pretty pointless to generalize, but common sense still wins out. Many people check their Email first thing in the morning. Time of day might change by day of week, know your audience!

Evening or weekend may have lower open-rates, but what about those click rates. That’s often more important.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Sending emails when your customer is off-peak is a wasted effort. You need to analyze the data from your email system and send accordingly."
"Respect consumers’ time. Provide valuable information. "
"...email should be only one tool, and probably not the highest-priority one."

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