News and tips from the industry leaders in email compliance.

Getting the timing right can be the difference between an effective and ineffective email advertising message, and the marketing campaign as a whole. Yet achieving ideal timing for email messages can be extremely difficult. It starts with understanding the timing involved with different types of email campaigns – acquisition vs. retention, unsolicited messages vs. responses or activity triggered messages, etc.

Here are three keys to optimizing timing.

1. Quick follow-up
Follow-up is critical when it comes to email marketing. If a customer or prospect has reached out, prompt follow-up is a must. Such messages provide receipt confirmation and acknowledgement to customers that their message was received, which many people appreciate. Prompt responses establish that the organization is paying attention to its customers and is committed to providing them with a high-quality experience. There are numerous situations in which a follow-up email is advisable, including when someone first subscribes to receive a newsletter or makes a purchase or actively reaches out with a question or comment.

However, many companies either do not send such confirmation messages at all, or wait too long to respond. Delays can diminish the effectiveness of messages of many types – in addition to confirmations, triggered emails must be near-immediate. A past eMarketer study, for example, found that response rates and conversions reduced substantially when organizations waited too long to follow-up on a request.

2. Avoiding the deluge
As important as it is for email marketers to be quick and responsive with many of their messages, it is just as vital that organizations do not overwhelm recipients with too many emails over a short period of time. While responsiveness and proactivity are appreciated, such a deluge will likely rub individuals the wrong way if the messages aren’t all relevant and it isn’t clear why each one needed to be a separate message. It can come across as overbearing and grasping, and potentially feel like spam, even if technically the messages were all in response to a request.

One result will be that few, if any, of the emails are actually read by the subscribers. Instead, they will realize they can’t read all of the messages, and may simply decide to read none of them. If multiple-messages are necessary, the cadence should be monitored carefully to ensure they don’t arrive to closely together.  Companies with complex email programs involving communications from multiple teams (customer service, order processing, marketing, etc.) may need to look at setting up rules that limit the number of emails one customer can receive in a specific time period, so they don’t receive an order confirmation, upsell offer, newsletter, special sale announcement, customer service survey, etc. all on the same day.

3. Regular is best
When it comes to newsletters and other update-based marketing messages, the most important rule regarding timing is regularity. Whether the emails are sent on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis, the timing should be consistent.  If it’s weekly, send on the same day each week, if monthly, focus on sending out during the same week each month, etc.

There are several reasons for this. For one, the recipient may have a negative reaction if he or she realizes that the last “monthly” newsletter arrived two or three months ago. Such delays may make companies look unprofessional and disorganized.  Recipients also can come to expect regular emails in their inbox at regular intervals.  If they don’t show up when anticipated, it can lead to confusion and unhappy customers.

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