The question of when the best time to send email campaigns is a very different question to when is the best time to send email blasts, but because we are dealing with ecommerce the process and considerations are very much the same.
Whichever scenario brought you to this article the following applies: using email blasts in isolation is not an effective strategy for communicating ecommerce offers, only with a well-planned integrated marketing strategy with both onsite and offsite advertising strategy can you achieve a healthy conversion rate and ROI.
Let’s look at the problems associated with email blasts.
Problems associated with sending out email blasts
Free personal email services from providers like Google are what most of us use when signing up for retail ecommerce newsletters.
These providers make it very easy for us to label emails as spam. In addition, they use AI, so based on how the majority of recipients interact with your promotional emails it determines how your promotional emails are handled.
Most likely they will go directly to the promotions tab where they will languish unread. Your emails might well be of interest to your customers if only they knew about them.
The problem with sending email blasts is that they are usually unsolicited, although not spam (they subscribed), if they aren’t expecting it on a specific occasion then your open rates will be disappointing, which in itself is another indication of spam to Google’s AI.
Consequently, the answer to the question of when is the best time to send email blasts, the answer is never in isolation, because it’s counterproductive, potentially hurting your email deliverability in the future.
Effective email delivery: co-ordinated, personalized multi-channel marketing campaigns
Capturing and keeping the attention of website visitors during the period leading up to retail holidays is a real challenge for webshop owners. There are just so many competing offers and websites.
Historically, retailers have heavily relied on email blasts, while this is still a common scenario things are changing. Thanks to the ability to personalize content via precise targeting, retailers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their use of cross-channel marketing, using integrated campaigns that consider the multi-device and multi-channel consumer journeys (this is the new norm).
Advanced messaging tools can now be used to trigger automated, personalized onsite messages at any stage of the conversion funnel. The goal is always to learn more about visitors and test them by asking them what they want so that you, the retailer can provide it to them.
This is achieved by segmenting individuals into interest-based lists for immediate sending (in real-time, no bulk list sending here) and for later retargeting via social media or PPC advertising or advanced marketing automation tools that provide messages onsite and through integrations with an email automation platform you can automatically segment them (for example OptiMonk).
So considering this advanced communication ecosystem when is the best time to send email campaigns? I’ll get to this later.
Personalization is key to building user anticipation
Bulk sending of emails can now be avoided, instead, use small personalized segments that have campaign sending based on specific triggers/goals achieved through interaction with your website. With this approach, there is no need to send out vast email lists indiscriminately.
The challenge for online retailers is how to excite customers and build website visitor anticipation and expectation of your sales event, and do so without annoying or alienating potential customers. You need them to want your emails. This can be achieved with an understanding of consumer psychology and by increasing personalization.
- Leverage the fact that both holiday events and the offers that apply, – by their very nature are time-limited. This fact can be highlighted by creating a countdown timer, supplied via a top banner (nanobar) or via a popup overlay onsite message. If and when traffic comes from your email messages then this time-limited aspect will increase conversion, even if it is not immediate. Also, remember that 50% of sales happen after the 5th contact. A great way to optimize your email follow-ups, and not to spend your whole day, is to use email automation tools.
- Upon interaction and action is taken (micro-conversion), automatically should trigger segmentation of visitors/user into a specific drip campaign list. Your drip campaign sent through any email marketing platform will be ever-present in their inbox, with emails being no less than 3-5 days apart in the period leading up to the event.
- By using OptiMonk you can segment visitors according to interest and by many other factors. You can create offers that appeal to customer interest (related products) and bundle products and create offers that appeal to specific interest groups.
Since Black Friday (BF) is the busiest shopping day of the year in America, it makes for a good example. Each year more and more shoppers are choosing to purchase online rather than wait in line on Black Friday, moreover they are purchasing during the week prior, effectively extending Black Friday over the weekend and particularly for digital products into Cyber Monday.
Despite physical stores having many advantages over online stores, (including the sensations of touch and smell to leverage), they are still losing out to online-only retailers because of convenience and price competition.
Low overheads enable online retailers to make big discounts, or/and provide free shipping and returns, some will even sell at a loss in order to get that first-time buyer, and prevent a competitor from getting that first sale.
Planning your campaign
How you plan your communication and your promotions will determine success rather than being the cheapest on the block. The channels used to communicate below depend on the channels used by the consumer. Marketing automation now provides the means to select the channel of communication according to user preference.
Timeline – Black Friday, November 29, 2019
Campaign Starting point: 31st October (Thursday 10 am).
Reason – Before monthly payday. A reminder to save their money to make crazy savings on Black Friday.
Onsite Countdown timer banner start (on webshop nanobar).
Pre-Black Friday Offer (not as big as Black Friday offer), beat the rush, don’t risk the out-of-stock sign.
Tuesday 5th November 4 pm), Special discount + pre BF 15% discount (most profitable items only – those related items – to customer interest). Lots of stock to shift. Upsell bundling of items for a discount. No special discount on the primary item, the discount only as part of upselling of grouped items.
Thursday 7th November 10 am) Offer items to come the following week, different items to the first email. In addition low stock warning for week 1 products (promote the feeling of scarcity + urgency). If a purchase made end campaign.
Week 3 (Tuesday 12th November 4 pm):
Week 2 offers, discount items visitors are most interested in as a pre-Black Friday discount (browsing history – product category segment) but only when bundled with another product (upselling). As always keep your free shipping and great returns policy clear and in view to inspire confidence.
Thursday 14th November 10 am) Remind users what they will gain by purchasing the product of interest. What is are the common pain points your customer is looking to overcome by buying your product. Remember that you are selling an emotional outcome that your product will elicit. How will your product solve their problem, show empathy for their pain and show the joy that they will receive when they resolve their problem.
The greater the cart value the greater the value of the offer (Checkout the Avon case study) for the use-case of this OptiMonk feature.
Discount the item of interest but make the upsell so good they will want that instead with further discount or consider throwing in a free item.
Again remind users what they will gain by purchasing the product.
By the time Black Friday comes they will have so many offers in the email inbox, it might seem redundant to email out on Black Friday itself. That being said some savvy shoppers wait for the very best offer. You’ll know what they want from your data.
Planning your promotions
With so much resting upon key dates like Black Friday it is essential to meticulously plan every aspect of your online campaigns and communication in general.
One of the most crucial tasks is planning your email campaigns, with slight changes in your strategy making a big difference to your bottom line.
The most basic of tasks is setting up your email campaigns to go out at the right time, it is surprising how often something goes wrong. So when is the best time to send an email blast?
From the above Black Friday example, you might have noticed the suggested communication takes place on Tuesday and Thursday. These are the best times to send an email blast between 10 a.m. and noon in the morning, and around 4 pm in the afternoon. This is according to MailChimp and Campaign Monitor, and of course, it varies according to numerous factors that should be researched.
There are many different factors to consider that may affect your optimal sent time. The more data you have on your consumer habits the more effective your email communication can become.
- Factors to consider (to collect data on)
- Industry (B2B or B2C – both perhaps)
- Frequency of emails (building anticipation of sales is a powerful converter)
- Time of the month (payday)
- Type of product
Email frequency is one common problem area, with retailers often sending either too many or too few emails. It is a fine balance that is difficult to get right.
Increased sales from increased email marketing do not necessarily translate to greater profit. As a general rule, sending more than one email a month will improve sales but it will also cause a drop in conversion and an increase in unsubscribes. Consequently, additional expenditure may be needed on advertising to grow your email list and your business.
Conversion rate optimization
Just as you would optimize your website, you can also apply many of the same principles to optimize your email marketing strategy. Understanding consumer psychology is key to success, specifically in reference to your own customers and potential customers.
Psychographic data collected on your website using OptiMonk can be used to better target your emails. OptiMonk enables the segmentation of emails according to product or product group interest, enabling retailers to send out highly personalized communication about the product in question.