When is the best time to send email? (part 3)

We’ve covered when the best time to send email is via testing and looking at open rate decay in previous blog posts. Let’s now look at a third way of making a determination about when the best time to send email is, based on your business drivers and need for ROI.

Let’s say you know that there are problem spots in your sales and marketing that keep recurring. Maybe there’s a cyclical weakness that shows up seasonally. Pop open your Google Analytics. If you have it, take a look at the last two years of data by setting the date to be a full year and turning on Compare to Past. Look for swings and inflections in the graphs that might indicate some level of weakness at certain times. Here’s one example from my personal blog:

The visitor's overview section can help you decide best time to send.

Look at the four red arrows on that chart. Those are weeks of the year, over the past two years, where there’s been a downturn, where traffic to my website declines for at least 3 weeks in a row. Those weeks and the subsequent ones after those key dates are lean. That’s the perfect time to add an extra email campaign or two. I should consider, for example, releasing another eBook or maybe doing some extra interviews so that I have content I can promote and share during those times to stay in front of the audience when history suggests I lose their attention.

This tactic can become even more powerful if you integrate it as part of a holistic digital marketing strategy. Find the lean periods during the year when our businesses take a hit. Again, I’ll use my blog’s analytics as an example. Those are the periods when we should hit the gas.

Narrowing down the metrics.

You may not have the budget to run pay per click ads all year long, but what if you picked 4 periods of 3 weeks each corresponding to those lean periods? You might run a very community-oriented social media presence throughout most of the year. What if during those lean periods you did a bit more asking of your audience? What would hitting the gas a little harder look like? A recipe for boosting business during those periods might look something like this:

The Four Week Business Booster

Week 1:

  • Email drops at beginning of week (Sunday or Monday, depending on B2C
    or B2B)
  • Spend $10/day on PPC ads
  • Increase blog posts to daily
  • Increase shares on social media from 1x/day to 2x/day and end day with
    an “ask” (buy, try, donate, etc.)

Week 2:

  • Email drops at beginning of week (Sunday or Monday, depending on B2C
    or B2B)
  • Spend $15/day on PPC ads
  • Maintain daily blog posts
  • Maintain social activity

Week 3:

  • Email drops at beginning of week (Sunday or Monday, depending on B2C
    or B2B)
  • Mid-week email advertising a special you’re running
  • Spend $15/day on PPC ads
  • Maintain daily blog posts, add a mid-week advertising post on the
    special offer
  • Add special offer ask at the beginning and end of the day in addition
    to regular social postings

Week 4:

  • Email drops at beginning of week (Sunday or Monday, depending on B2C
    or B2B)
  • Mid-week email advertising a special you’re running and that it’s the
    final week
  • End of week email advertising that there are 24 hours left to take
    advantage of the special and then it’s gone for months (until the next
    weak area in your analytics)
  • Spend $20/day on PPC ads
  • Maintain daily blog posts, add a mid-week advertising post on the
    special offer, and a post near the end of the week reminding people that
    the offer is coming to an end
  • Add special offer ask at the beginning and end of the day in addition
    to regular social postings
  • Add 3 reminders during the last 3 days that the offer is coming to an
    end in social channels

Week 5:

  • Return all activity to normal
  • Send a thank you email to everyone for participating in the campaign
  • Turn off PPC ads
  • Write a thank you blog post
  • Post thank you messages in social channels

Is this a guaranteed recipe? No. It’s an example of the kind of thinking you’ll need to craft your own customized campaigns to make up for weak spots in your business as determined by your analytics. Pick and choose the tactics and tools that you can reliably use, combine them with effective email marketing, and fill the gaps when times are lean based on historical data.

What if you don’t have two years’ worth of data?

That’s okay. Someone else does: Google. Let’s say you’re in charge of marketing for the folks that make my morning coffee, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. We’ll head over to Google Insights for Search and type in Green Mountain Coffee and set the time period to two years.

Use Google Insights to determine best time to send.

You can clearly see that there are periods of downward trends in search volume for the company’s brand beginning in the springtime and persisting until September. People look for Green Mountain Coffee online less during those months, perhaps because of weather, and I’d be willing to bet their internal analytics and sales data mirrors this overall trend. (if you work there, feel free to tell me I’m right or wrong)

Perhaps some email campaigns advertising how to make iced coffee using Green Mountain’s brand would be effective. No matter what, sending more email to consumers during that time who are on the Green Mountain list would be part of a recipe to keep traffic, interest, and sales up during cyclical downturns.

Summary

We’ve talked about when to send email from the subscriber’s perspective, and now we’ve reviewed when to send email for maximum impact to your business. Both are important, and balanced correctly (business needs and subscriber needs) can make a world of difference to the health and strength of your business. Give these methods a try for your company and learn when you might need to be sending more email to patch up the weak spots in your digital marketing strategy.

And of course, if you’d like help doing this, please feel free to contact us. (clients, please contact your Account Managers!)

Christopher S. Penn
Director of Inbound Marketing, WhatCounts