Talking email marketing strategy can be a bit like talking religion or politics at a party. Everyone has their own (very strong) opinions about what does — or does not — work.
You’ve heard it all before:
“Don’t send anything on weekdays, on the weekends, or after 5 pm, because people aren’t at their computers.”
“Don’t email on Mondays because your prospects are too busy, and avoid Fridays because everyone is winding down for the weekend.”
“And be sure to stay away from the lunch hour. In fact, the best time to email is on Tuesday at 10:13 am.”
I call B.S.
The fact is, your industry, your business, and your audience have unique demands and desires. You’ve got to test (and test, and test) what works in your world, and then test some more.
My experience of email marketing
Because I’m impatient, I like to send out emails as soon as have something to send, whether it’s on a Sunday night or Thanksgiving day. And I get responses: I’ve had editors email me back at 10 pm, and last year I had an editor request a phone meeting on Christmas Eve.
That’s all fine and good for my magazine writing, but what about emailing my list? I have a email list of about 2,200 writers who are interested in hearing about my e-course, e-books, and mentoring, as well as getting the scoop on freebies like contests and webinars.
I recently decided, on a Saturday afternoon, to hold a contest to see who could come up with the best topic idea for my first podcast.
Within four hours, more than 500 people had opened the email, and a couple dozen writers had sent in their suggestions. By Tuesday, I had a winner and posted the resulting podcast on my blog.
Looks like people were checking their email on the weekend after all — and taking action, too.
So this past weekend, I did a little experiment. On Sunday at 11:23 am — probably one of the worst times to send a marketing message, according to conventional wisdom — I sent out an email announcing that I was holding a contest to promote my newest e-book.
Within 30 minutes, I had 97 opens, 16 clicks, and 8 sales. Within an hour, the numbers had increased to 212 opens, 39 clicks, and 11 sales. By 3:23, I had 484 opens, 93 clicks, and a total of 27 sales.
By the time I went to bed early that evening, I’d sold 53 e-books. The next day, Monday, I sold 30 more.
After-hours marketing: The experts speak
To be clear, this is not proof of anything.
Maybe if I had sent out the email on Monday or Tuesday, I would have gotten the same results — or even better. But still, the old saw that “no one is checking their email or buying on the weekend” doesn’t seem to hold.
To find out if others had the same experience, I asked around. I looked for seasoned marketers who had good results emailing their lists on weekends, after hours, and on holidays.
- Hope Clark of Funds for Writers sends out her newsletters on Friday by 10 pm. “I settled on this release date after feedback from many readers over the years, and I feel I’ve found a happy balance for all concerned,” she says. She finds that her readers with 9-5 jobs enjoy relaxing with the newsletter on Saturday.
- Max Librach of the Groupon-like business Gluten-Free Saver posts deals on Sunday and sends out email blasts on the offers the following Saturday and Sunday. “The workweek is filled with the split testing of subject lines, headlines and email copy, so that our weekend [mailings] are as optimized as possible,” he says. “By sending subscribers the most optimized message over the weekend, we are able to reach people who are too busy during the week to purchase the deal.”
- Dan Bischoff of Lendio.com says, “We often send our newsletter out on Sundays, although we continue to test the best days. Sundays seem to have lower open rates but better click through rates, with people spending more time reading content.”
- Jeff Kear of Planning Pod finds that the best time to email prospects depends on whether they’re business clients or consumers: B-to-B companies do best emailing during the week when people are at their desks, while B-to-C businesses do better mailing after hours and on weekend mornings when prospects are checking their personal email accounts.
- Alessandra Souers of One Click Ventures, which sells mostly fashion products, says her email program includes morning/midday/afternoon sends on weekdays, but her company saw so much success with Thursday, Friday, and Sunday evening email specials that they’ve integrated them into their regular schedule as well. “Holidays such as Memorial Day have also been huge for us,” she adds.
So I’m not the only one: Smart marketers are constantly testing sending emails on different days and times, and not shrinking from sending evening and weekend email messages.
My take is that you never know when someone is going to be at their computer and ready to buy — so why knock yourself out trying to figure out “the very best minute” to email? And why apply a hard-and-fast “waiting” rule, when you’ve got something of value to pass along to your audience?
Also, there’s this amazing thing about email: If the recipient is not available right when you send it, the email will be sitting there waiting for them when they are ready.