Email marketing is a powerful tool for reaching and engaging with your target market, nurturing leads, and building a community that supports your brand. In the image below, you see the extremely high ROI provided by email marketing when compared to other marketing tactics, employing both online and traditional media. However, sending emails at the wrong time can mean they get lost in a sea of other messages or even worse, end up in the spam folder. In this guide, we’ll explore how to find the best time to send an email newsletter to your list for maximum impact.
As you can see in the image above, the ROI (return on investment) offered by email marketing is tremendous but you only see these results when you optimize your email newsletter campaigns while doing email marketing wrong can backfire by damaging your brand. First, let’s look at the elements of email you need to optimize.
1. Subject lines
When you send an email newsletter, the subscriber sees limited information about your newsletter; mostly the sender’s name and the subject line, although some email clients, such as Outlook, provide a preview of the message content. Based on this limited information, the subscriber decides whether to open the missive or not. If they delete your email newsletter without opening it, you just wasted the time and effort needed to create the newsletter in the first place and you won’t see any improvement in the metrics that matter, especially sales.
Creating subject lines that entice subscribers to open the email newsletter is a must. So, how do you do that?
- add emojis to the subject line
- create a sense of urgency such as limited-time offers
- use personalization and by that, we mean beyond just using the subscriber’s name in the subject line. Consider your subscriber and only send messages that meet their needs and provide value. Subject lines that address their pain points work well.
- keep it short
- use emotional words, and be upbeat and positive
- generate curiosity to entice opens
- use funny subject lines
- retargeting messages to visitors to encourage them to pick up where they left off during their last visit, especially in cases of shopping cart abandonment
Also, consider that your subject line, along with a few other factors, determines your spam score which sends your message to a separate folder that most users don’t look at.
Some marketers pretend that an email newsletter is a one-shot deal to reach subscribers and cram as much into the email as possible. While this won’t impact your open rates except when viewed through an email client that provides a preview, it damages your reputation once the subscriber opens the message. It looks unprofessional and doesn’t entice subscribers to read but to delete the message.
Instead, include lots of white space, attractive images, content organized for easy scanning, and keep it short. The idea of email marketing is to maintain contact with the subscriber so you can send frequent email newsletters with additional information so you don’t have to cram everything into a single newsletter. Using a similar layout for sending messages also lets subscribers know what to expect and they look forward to new messages from you.
Use attractive, high-quality images that look great no matter what device the subscriber uses to open the message. My advice is to avoid using images to share information as some email clients don’t automatically download images when showing a preview of the message to protect the privacy of the user. Don’t make the subscriber download the image to get the point of your email. This is especially problematic when users view the newsletter on a mobile device as the words might be too small to see without panning in.
4. Sending an email at the right time
Users get many email messages every day, on average a user gets over 100 email messages per day with nearly half of them consisting of unwanted emails. And, that number keeps growing every year. A lot of users try to clear their email messages on a daily basis, which applies additional pressure on a business to achieve high open rates. Hence, if you avoid sending your newsletter when the subscriber likely has a heavy influx of unopened email messages, the temptation is even greater to simply delete the message without opening it.
For a business person, that pressure is most intense on Monday morning when a host of messages arrived over the weekend. Another consideration is that many folks limit their access to email to maintain productivity. For instance, a number of users address email first thing in the morning and upon their return from lunch. Again, the morning faces the challenge of all those messages that arrived between lunch (if that’s the last time a user accessed his/her email) and the morning, resulting in a larger number of messages and enhanced pressure to delete messages.
When is the right time to send an email newsletter?
There’s no easy answer to this question. It depends on your subscriber list and a multitude of other factors. That said, you can easily determine when it’s the best time to send an email newsletter for your brand by using these tactics.
Test your emails
One of the best ways to find the best time to send your email newsletter is through A/B testing. This involves creating two (or more) versions of your email with just one thing that’s different between them, such as the send time (this is also a great way to test subject lines and other aspects of your email marketing program. Just remember to only change one element at a time for clear insights). Then, you can send each version to a small segment of your email list to see which one performs better.
For example, you could send version A at 9 am on a Monday and version B at 2 pm on a Tuesday. After a set time, such as 24 hours, you can analyze the data to see which version had a higher open rate, click-through rate, and engagement. This gives you an idea of which send time resonates better with your audience.
Analyze the data
After conducting A/B testing, it’s crucial to analyze the data to gain insights into your audience’s behavior. Look at your email marketing metrics to see which version of your email had a higher open rate, click-through rate, and engagement. Also, look at other variables, such as the day of the week, subject line, and content.
If you’re not seeing significant differences between the two versions, it’s worth conducting more A/B tests with different variables. By testing and analyzing the data, you can gather more information about your audience’s preferences and behavior.
Don’t forget that your ultimate goal is to make money (or raise money or awareness for a social cause). Thus, don’t stop by analyzing the email newsletter for these metrics. Track the newsletter’s performance through your website (or physical location) to see the results of your newsletter in terms of terminal goals, like sales. By coding the link to your website with information about the campaign, such as send time and specific email content, you can see which messages generate higher sales, not just higher opens and clicks. You might find the results surprising.
Optimize based on the results
Once you gathered data from your email campaigns, it’s time to optimize your email newsletter send time based on the results. Use the insights you gained to adjust your send time and create a more targeted email marketing strategy. Keep in mind that your audience’s behavior may change over time, so it’s essential to continue testing and adjusting your strategy as needed.
Let’s say you conducted an A/B test and found that your email newsletter had a higher open rate when sent at 10 am on a Tuesday compared to 2 pm on a Friday. Based on this data, you decide to adjust your send time to 10 am on Tuesdays for future newsletters.
After a few weeks, you notice that your open rate has started to decline. Upon further analysis, you realize that your audience’s behavior has shifted, and they are now more responsive to emails sent at 2 pm on Thursdays. You adjust your send time accordingly, and your open rate starts to increase again.
Sending your email newsletter at the best time
Finding the best time to send an email newsletter to your audience is an ongoing process. By testing, analyzing, and optimizing your email marketing strategy, you can improve your open rate, click-through rate, and overall engagement.
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