To every purpose, there is a season…to every tweet, there is an optimum time. (Rephrasing Ecclesiastes…and the Byrds..with no intent to offend fans of either one.) It is true: there is a best time to send email, and timing social media for best results will deliver more leads and more sales than social media that isn’t properly timed.
To be successful in email, content and social media marketing, you have to have three things:
- Interesting content that gives people value for their time.
- The ability to deliver your message at a time when your prospective customer is receptive to hearing it.
- Knowledge of the behavior and preferences of your target audience.
This blog post is about that last point – knowing how your target audience behaves. The first thing you have to know about timing social media for best results, is that email and social media have become “adult homework”. We do it when we have time – and that means that millions of us read our LinkedIn Groups, our Facebook pages, and the email that isn’t directly related to our job early in the morning, after work, while eating lunch at our desk, or on the weekend, because that’s when we have time to do it.
So you may be as surprised as I was to find that the best time to send email has changed over the last few years — and it will continue to change. Last summer, I presented a session called “Timing Social Media for Best Results” at the LIMRA Social Media Conference. This blog post is an update that expands on what I said then, thanks to newer information on social media best practices that we’ve learned in the seven months since that presentation.
For email, our research shows that the best time to send email is for arrival at the beginning of the work day (6 a.m. to 10 a.m.). Late evenings and very early mornings – from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. – are a kind of dead zone for email. People are sleeping or starting a morning commute, and messages sent then get caught up in a wave of spam and are generally ignored.
From 10-4 p.m., most people are focused on their jobs. They may browse social media sites at lunchtime (making the period between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. good times for Twitter and Facebook), but they may not open email.
However, sometime around 3 p.m., people start thinking about personal matters again. So the period between 3-5 p.m. is a good one for financial services, insurance, and real estate or health care messages. (In fact, 3-5 p.m. marks the highest open rate period for some of our large insurance and financial services clients.)
If you’re sending business to business promotions or emails, send them so they arrive by 5 p.m. – B2B and holiday promotions are opened more often between 5-7 p.m. than any other time.
As for consumer promotions, the early evening (6:30-10 p.m.) is the best time for those, because recipients are most likely to respond to consumer promotions is when they get off work.
Some other timing facts to consider include:
- Bounce and click-through rates are highest in the morning.
- Open rates are highest (by over 40%) during the weekend and in the morning.
- People are most likely to unsubscribe within 10 days of receiving their first email from you – but new subscribers are also the most likely to click through.
It’s vital to realize that consumer behavior changes constantly, especially in a changing, living, growing communications channel like social media. So the social media best practices that work today may not work tomorrow. Constant testing and refinement is the only way that any marketer can determine what time, what channel, and what format will work best for their target audience.
One of the most important points is that there isn’t a magic wand here. The ideal time to post a message varies by audience and channel. The other key point is that when a customer reaches out to your company online, they want a response “at Internet speed” – social media isn’t a 9-5 job, and monitoring it is vital because bad news can spread a lot faster than you can prepare a response and get it approved by legal
Edgar Rodriguez is Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales and Distribion, Inc., and is a regular contributor to this blog. To download a copy of the presentaiton on social media and email timing that Edgar gave at the LIMRA Social Media Conference in August, 2011, click here. For more information about Edgar or Distribion’s products and services, visit his personal landing page by clicking here.