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Strategies for timing your email marketing for maximum return

You’ve been told the “industry standard” for how to time your emails, but your return on investment may be going down the drain if you’re sticking to someone else’s script. here are three tips for maximizing your return on email marketing.

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Timing is everything

Does it matter what time your email lands in their inbox? Of course it does. Most real responses will happen within two hours. If you time your marketing emails properly, you will be seen by more people and get more out of the whole process. Why wouldn’t you give it some thought and try to maximize your return?

More often than not, senders will click to send immediately after they are finished building their email. It’s human nature. They work for hours writing the message. Sometimes toiling, or even arguing over every word. Time and money are spent finding just the right pictures to include. In some cases, time is invested to have others proofread it (as you should!). And then, a deep breath and click – without giving much thought to when that message will land on the other side. I’ve seen it a thousand times, whether it is 2am or 2pm, people are just glad to be done and want it to go out. Been there, done that – more times than I’d like to think. But quick senders are missing out on a big piece of their potential. When it comes to mass email for promotional purposes, timing isn’t everything but it is very close.

The best time to send a mass email

So, when is the best time to send a mass email? There is actually a standard answer in the email marketing industry – most will say to send mass email on Tuesday or Wednesday between 10am and 3pm. Don’t write that down just yet.

Remember, that is the “industry standard” and it makes sense if you think about it. It avoids the great delete of Monday and the “I’m leaving early” on Friday. It also skips past the first open of the day and the last. A sort of “business hours sweet spot” for email delivery. But go look at your inbox. That industry standard can now be translated into an awful lot of emails. This is when you yourself are getting the most promotional email. So are the people on your list. The competition for attention during this timeframe is high. Are you sure you want to throw your email into the mix up against all of the other marketers out there? Maybe, but maybe not.

There is a time that is just right for you

You have to time your emails to your own audience and try to land on their desktop at the moment when they are most likely to respond. There is no industry standard timeframe for that. The right time for your business to send is specific to you, and there is a simple way to figure out exactly what day of the week and what time of the day works best for you to deliver your messages.

Find your best time in three simple steps

1 . Look at your contact list and divide it into three equal lists – equal in number, but also equal demographically. If you have a particularly large list, this works with segments just as well. And if you cover a large geography, it can sometimes be helpful to do this by area or city. Obviously, you need to time international or out of state emails differently from your locals, and in some cases it can make sense to do this by city. My Austin list responds at a different time than my Dallas list. True story.

2. Choose three days of the week that you want to test. So, maybe you go with Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Maybe Tuesday, Thursday Saturday. It’s up to you. If you are B2B, you need to steer clear of weekends and nights. If you are B2C, nothing is off limits. Now, send the same email out on each of those days, using your three lists of contacts.

Example: list one gets the email on Monday, list two on Wednesday, list three on Friday (send them all at the same time of day to make sure you are testing day of week only). Now look at the responses, and you will know which day performed the best. If you are using an email marketing service, you should have actual data – opens, clicks, forwards, shares on social media, etc… If you are not using a service, well, you should use a service if for no other reason than the tracking tools they provide. You can track some response manually, without a service but most are so inexpensive ($15 – 30 per month) and most offer a free trial, so you may as well use one at least for this exercise. There are other reasons to use a service instead of your regular email account to send mass email, but that is worthy of a another article. Or seven.

3. Now that you know the day of the week that performs best, you wait a little bit. The next time you are ready to send out a mass email, you use your same three lists of contacts. You already know what day of the week to send, based on what you learned in the first step. This time, choose three times of day you want to test. 10am, 2pm or 4pm, for example. Or, if you want to test an evening email, try 10:30, 2:30 and 6pm. Do the same thing you did with days of the week – send out the same exact email to your three lists at the three times and then measure response. Pretty much every time, a winning time will emerge.

Now you know what time of day and which day of the week works best for your audience. No more guessing, hoping, praying. Well, you can still pray. That can’t hurt. But make these decisions based on data and fact, not on whether you finally finished the email and just want to get on with it. Knowledge is power. Good timing and the strategy behind it have the power to increase your return on the time and money you spent on the promotion.

A few things to keep in mind

Consider the different types of people on your list and the possibility that you may need to segment them based on what you are trying to get them to do. Do different groups respond differently? Cater to their specific patterns if you think it’s worth your time. For example, if you were working with a church trying to drive attendance on Sunday morning, you should probably send one email to teens in the youth group the day before with one kind of message about what matters to them and a different message to senior citizens on Wednesday or Thursday with a completely different message, giving them time to plan to attend. This applies to all business and organizations. If you are serving different audiences you might want to test each of them separately.

Try to avoid that first and last open of the day. That “industry-standard” has some value for you there. It’s very difficult to win the battle of priorities in a long list of emails like the list waiting for you the first time to open your email in the morning. Similarly, it is very difficult to elicit responses at the end of the day because people are trying to find reasons not to do anything else. They are done.

Ease of response should be top of mind

What are you trying to get recipients to do? And when do they typically do that anyway? Ever notice that you get pizza offers from delivery companies near the end of the day or just before dinnertime, often on Fridays? That is when many working people are finishing up at work and that email can solve the one last decision they have to make for the day.

Do not assume anything

You may be surprised by your audience. Do not assume that you already know when they are likely to respond. Look at the stats. I once sent an email out at 10pm because I was running late and had to travel the next day. I was in a hurry, not being strategic and just clicked send to be done. Imagine my surprise when I had a huge uptick in my open rate, upwards of 80% (the average is between 18 and 32 percent depending on your industry and geography). I would not usually have sent at night and was surprised to say the least. Assume nothing.

Do not be romanced by the open rate

Obviously people need to open your email to read it and respond. You want a good open rate. But that number, the percentage of people that open your email, is not the real measure of success. You have to measure the responses and the actions people took. Did they click, reply, buy, forward, share on Facebook, pick up the phone and call you, etc.? This is what really matters.

That 80% open rate I was surprised by did not change my timing for future emails. Lots of people opened it. Great. It looked good on paper. The reality is that almost no one signed up for the workshop my email was touting. 10pm is when they were doing that last inbox review before going to bed, they were not in the frame of mind to take real action and sign up for my free marketing class. That big beautiful open rate was a disguise for my big waste of an email because I didn’t stop and think about timing before clicking send.

Rinse and repeat

Your business and the list of people you are emailing for promotional purposes is like a growing, living organism. What works for you today may not be what works in a year or two. I recommend re-testing your best time for delivery at least once a year, and in some cases where you have a very large list or rapid growth, every six months. If you see a decline in response, do not assume that people stopped caring. Test a new time or try something different, and never test a big change on everyone at once. Try new ideas on ten or twenty percent of your list first. If it fails, you didn’t screw it up for everyone, just those poor guinea pigs that happened to be in your beta. You can fix that.

Be strategic. Be smart. Deliver when it works best for your people and they will reward you with more opens, more clicks, more forwards and shares. More business. Less wasted time, money and energy. It’s ten o’clock. Do you know where your email is?

Niehoff speaks and writes about marketing strategy and best practices for small business and nonprofits. She is the Director of Education & Development for Constant Contact, and serves as Vice Chair of Marketing Communciations for the Texas Association of Nonprofit Organizations

Business Marketing

Gloves that translate sign language in real time

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new wearable tech translates American Sign Language into audible English in real time.

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Advancements in technology never cease to amaze. The same is true right this moment as a new technology has been released that helps translate American Sign Language (ASL) signs into spoken English in real time.

This technology comes in the form of a hand glove – similar looking on the front side to what one would wear in the winter, but much more advanced when in view of the palm. The palm side of the glove contains sensors on the wearer to identify each word, phrase, or letter that they form via ASL, and is then translated into audible English via an app that coincides with the glove.

This is all done in real time and allows for instant communication without the need for a human translator. The signals are translated at a rate of one word per second.

The project was developed by scientists at UCLA. “Our hope is that this opens up an easy way for people who use sign language to communicate directly with non-signers without needing someone else to translate for them,” said lead researcher Jun Chen.

The hope is to make communication easier for those who rely on ASL, and to help those unfamiliar with ASL adapt to the signs. It is thought that between 250,000 and 500,000 people in the United States use ASL. As of now, the glove does not translate British Sign Language – the other form a sign language that utilizes English.

According to CNN, the researchers also added adhesive sensors to the faces of people used to test the device — between their eyebrows and on one side of their mouths — to capture facial expressions that are a part of American Sign Language. However, this facet of the technology is not loved by all.

“The tech is redundant because deaf signers already make extensive use of text-to-speech or text translation software on their phones, or simply write with pen and paper, or even gesture clearly,” said Gabrielle Hodge, a deaf post-doctoral researcher from the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) at University College London. “There is nothing wrong with these forms of communication.”

What are your thoughts on this advancement? Comment below!

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Business Marketing

Stand out with video as part of your resume (but be careful)

(MARKETING) This new tool helps you stand out in the job market, as video now dominates – so it’s possible to use this to your advantage (with caution).

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job market video

In the midst of a pandemic, people are finding themselves thrust back into the job market sooner than expected due to mass company layoffs or underemployment as a freelancer. Fields are oversaturated and jobs are sparse so it can be hard to stand out in today’s job market.

Although standing out in the job market is hardly a new problem, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t use some new and creative solutions. One company, VCV.ME has designed a tool to help you get creative and stand out from your competition.

VCV.ME turns your traditional resume into a video à la Instagram stories.

The process is simple. You answer a few questions and upload a video of yourself then the tool will provide you with a sharable link.

VCV Founder and CEO, Arik Akverdian, believes that video is the future saying, “Video will represent 80% of all internet traffic by 2021 according to Cisco, and according to eMarketer 94.1% of millennial internet users were streaming digital video in 2019. With growing demand for video social media such as TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram stories, and others, we’re bringing the short video format to the job market.”

There are some obvious limitations to using this tool in your job hunt.

First, not all employers will take videos as part of an application both for technical and legal reasons.

On the technical side, many automated tracking systems are not designed to filter that kind of file, so there may not even be an opportunity to showcase it. That’s not to say there aren’t some work-arounds. Many job applications will have a place for applicants to link to their portfolio or websites. An alternate option for this tool could be to place the video introduction on your website.

Another problem with the tool is how it exposes candidates and hiring managers to bias.

As more companies work to remove bias from their hiring practices and hire more diverse candidates, a video intro just won’t fly. Some companies have removed names and even alma maters from their applicants in order to make more unbiased hiring decisions. A video introduction would expose many characteristics that people have conscious and subconscious biases towards such as race, gender, age, and ethnicity.

Although VCV.ME’s intentions are to help candidates stand out in the job market, it’s worth questioning whether they would be standing out for the right reasons, so tread carefully.

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Business Marketing

Why should you take Facebook’s ‘Summer of Support’ courses

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Every company can use a little marketing advice, well Facebook has partnered with big companies to give you some free digital marketing courses.

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marketing courses

Our world has turned into a place of upheaval and unrest and we are continuously surrounded by more and more evidence of it. One thing that the majority of us are constantly seeing is announcements from companies. Some of those are about closing hours, but others are more helpful. As they all attempt to get used to this new world that COVID-19 has created we begin to see some different tactics. Some are only politically motivated, but others are more focused on helping out their communities.

Earlier this week Facebook announced that they will be putting on a six-week digital marketing education series. This series will be an extensive collection of videos with a full in depth set of courses that will cover a large amount of topics. The company has put together a cast of renowned entrepreneurs for the presenters as well.

The topics will be done in themed weeks starting on June 24th, and running through the month of July. They include categories such “The Changing World” & “Resilience”. Focusing primarily on the world that is here and now, with recommendations on how to adapt to it. With this world in a constant state of flux the push for adapting to change and staying in front of the tide is crucial for a small business.

The next two courses will be going forward with discussing “Reinvention” & “Re-Emergence”. Encouraging struggling companies to take a serious look at their potential for moving forward, or changing the things that they can to stay more on top of their client base. They also plan on attacking the confusing world that we will have when things get closer to normal.

The last two weeks are focused on community and customer care, which is actually their names as well: “Customers & Commerce” & “Community”. These will help develop a sense of how your business affects your community and the impact you have on it. Keeping that in mind you can then develop a plan for how you want your community to see you and shape things within it.

These courses are all set up for free and open to anyone. With a completely online set up with their new “Summer of Support” mini-site they are prepped to reach millions of people. They’ve organized this with a range of partners as well: Dell, PayPal, American Express, & Small Business Roundtable. A helping hand for people who wouldn’t currently be able to source things like this.

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