Digital
Writer: Amit Sarna - Friday, Apr 06,2012 11:44 AM
Guest Article: Timing is everything

The Indian e-commerce space is gung-ho about the current boom. Never before have so many Indians – both in India and overseas – filled up their virtual shopping carts and proceeded to check out. And never before have ‘Call-to-Action’ buttons seen so much action. This brings us to one of the most important communication vehicles these propositions ride on – daily mailers.

Digital direct marketing communication – a one-on-one with potential buyers – is not as easy as it seems. Everyone knows the importance of deliverability and other success metrics. Everyone is sure recipients are definitely receiving email campaigns. There’s just one question that needs to be asked…are they reading these emails?

Some of the key considerations that email marketers must take into consideration while creating a “read and respond” campaign are:
• Relevance: Making the content relevant to each recipient. If a recipient knows when a brand’s email has arrived in their inbox; this email is definitely something they will read and then act on.
• Segmentation: The best way to implement relevance is to effectively segment your database so that interested customers get content that is most relevant to them.
• Timing: Ask Usain Bolt what the importance of timing is? Even A/B split tested subject lines and creatives can turn horribly wrong if the timing is off. A well timed campaign – other criteria remaining the same – can work wonders on the open rates and further on the RoI of the campaign. Unfortunately, there is no formula or overall ideal time slot that you can follow to achieve this elusive golden hour. There are a number of factors that go into your decision of what time is best to hit the send button.

The timing – day and hour – depends on the answers to the following questions.

Who are your audiences?

For a B2B audience, it doesn’t take an Einstein to work out that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the optimum days. As we all know, Mondays are spent getting back in to the swing of work after the weekend and Friday sees offices winding down for the next weekend. Saturday and Sunday are redundant as offices are closed.

For B2C email marketing, timings are very different. It is very dependent on the demographic of your audience. One can safely assume most prospects will mainly be checking their personal emails in the evenings, during lunchtimes and over the weekends. However it is best to test which brings us back to segmenting. B2C sending can be a bit of a gamble without thorough testing of your specific target audience. Homework must be done and learning interpreted.

Is your campaign seasonal?

For the B2B sector, marketers must avoid sending their campaigns over school vacation seasons, long weekends and of course, the many holidays that we have. Again, advice for the B2C sector is entirely opposite. If relevant, a seasonal approach can boost additional sales and therefore, revenue. Most campaigns are timed to address seasonal offers.

Timing is most important when the ‘prospect’ is on the verge of becoming a ‘paying customer’. Many a sales people have rued their chances by communicating a little later than they should have. The optimum time for any recipient to receive your communication is when they have shown an interest in your brand or product. Using automated mails or trigger campaigns based on browsing behaviour or when they last clicked on or opened an email gives you a clear indication as to when to send the email and what content to include.

A typical scenario of such lost opportunities would be apparent in a colleague’s recent experience on a very popular online store. As he described it, “I was on my way to check out and proceed to pay when I saw this dangling banner in the right column: Sign up for our newsletter and get 10 per cent off. I paused and thought I could save 10 per cent by signing up and using the voucher code. So I smartly opened another browser, signed up and waited for the voucher. About an hour later, neither my inbox nor my spam folder had any sign of an email from these guys. I gave up hope and eventually had lost all interest in buying that item at 10 per cent higher than I could have.”

A simple triggered email could have, rather should have been used here to enable interest being converted to action at the point when the customer is most engaged.

While still on timing, or should I say, while there is time – it would be good to remind you to look for patterns in your open and click-through rates or other email metrics. Things to look for are whether certain offers work better when sent at some time or another? Are there any influences that make your campaigns more successful, like salary days (beginning of the month)? Are you responding to your customers at the optimum moment?

The only way for you to determine what works best for you is to test, test and test.

The author is Amit Sarna, AVP Customer Success, Kenscio Digital Marketing.

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