Everything You Knew About Email Marketing is Wrong (except for one thing)

Email marketing (or “blasting” in the politically incorrect vernacular) is a vital aspect of online promotion. Unlike its earthly counterpart of flyers and advertising mail, its key component is not “where” to place them (like windshields and gates) but “when” to place them.

There is no agreement on the best times to send out email marketing, and that might be the best news for anyone seriously attempting to influence their audience—as will be shown.

The conventional view is that blasts-be-blasted between Tuesday and Thursday, during the day, before the Zombie Apocalypse, and never on weekends because people are focused on Downton Abbey or daring a Chicago polar vortex. There are, however, disagreements on this position from different studies and companies, like this one from Experian:

As for which day of the week performed best, emails sent on Mondays had the highest ROI, but emails sent on Friday had a higher click through rate. Ironically, Saturday and Sunday had the lowest volume rates, but the highest open and click through rates in the study. So even though the weekend was not the most popular time to send emails, those who opened were much more likely to engage with it and click through or purchase.

Beyond timing, devices also make a difference. For example, an audience primarily dependent on smartphones has a lower click-through rate, and thus it is suggested to provide the main message/call-to-action within the body of the email. Moreover, tablet users tend to open emails in the evening because that’s what they want to hold the most in bed.

Most experts claim it’s wiser to perhaps ignore any conventions and research, including their own, and stick to the basics. Here are some examples:

Wordstream: The answer to “what is the best time to send an email campaign?” is that there is no single “best time” to send an email – it depends on your audience.

Comm100: Despite all of the rules above, the No. 1 rule of email marketing is “Test. Then test again.”

Craft Creative Marketing: As always, I caution you about taking research at face value. Do your own! Test a wide variety of send days and times – several times – with different types of messages.

Right Mix Marketing: All this research is great, but in the end, knowing the daily routine of your audience and understanding their needs, wants and habits should be your top priority.

There is an overarching theme in these mentions. What is it exactly?

The ancient Oracle at Delphi in Greece had the inscription “know thyself,” attributed to the god Apollo. Surely, any seer temple in the internet today would be dedicated to Hermes, the god of money and information. The inscription on this temple would surely say:

Know thy audience

It may seem basic, but in our digital age it’s convenient to depend on reach and power instead of intimacy and understanding.

After all, if your audience is composed of bartenders, sending blasts at 8 A.M. is not something Hermes would approve of (or calling them “blasts”). If your audience is steeped in the IT world, nights and weekends are feasible because that industry is always plugged-in to the internet. This article from Smart Insights provides the best time to send email marketing depending on profession.

Another wonderful insight from the article to increasing open rates and click-troughs is to find an average of when people subscribe to your own organization—and then sending email marketing at that time. But again, this is all about that bass of knowing your audience.

If you’re unsure of your audience’s exact habits or haven’t tested them enough, how about an online survey that qSample can provide! (We are even working on a Downton Abbey and zombie panel).

Even with knowing your audience, content is still king, as they say in the marketing industry. Relevant and appropriate content should always be provided, and stay away from clickbait. (You clicked it, didn’t you?

In essence, email marketing is not that different from flyers in a mailbox.  Both need to capture attention quickly and send a message that sticks. One just doesn’t annoy the Apollo out of you when you turn on your windshield wipers.

Know thy audience

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