I’ll admit it: for me, the first hurdle was WHETHER to build/maintain/develop an email list AT ALL.
I mean, how many lists am I already on that I consistently ignore (and how many have I unsubscribed to over time)? The answer is LOTS and the short story is that I got over all of that with some help. That’s not what this post is about.
The second hurdle, once I decided to start collecting email addresses and doing regular newsletters, was WHAT in the world do I say or share? I’m still green enough that we’ll call this one a jump-in-progress (sticking with my hurdle metaphor, see?), but I do have a consistent format and content that I’m trying. Watch me be super-clever: you can sign up for my email list right in the sidebar! 😀
It’s usually not until those first two challenges are behind you that this one comes into view: WHEN should I send to my list? Is there a better time than another for my good news to be landing in someone’s inbox? How can I maximize the likelihood that my beloved audience actually reads what I send? I got ahead of myself by helping clients with THEIR email newsletter campaigns, and learned a few things about “social timing” or “timing science” that I’m still playing with, and would love to pass along to you.
The Science of Social Timing
I found a few amazing infographics put together by KISSmetrics based on data from social media scientist Dan Zarrella and the good folks at Pure360 that I’ve been referencing pretty consistently, and they reveal the following about the best (and worst) times to put your content out into the interwebz.
When to Send Newsletter EmailsFirst, when NOT to: Your email stats are likely to get as ugly and mean as a Gremlin if you feed your list after midnight. Zarrella’s data shows that most emails sent between 10pm and 6am are ineffective, and the daytime working hours of 10am to 3pm aren’t very promising, either. So that leaves two windows of opportunity in a given 24-hour period: worker bees get a slow start and allow themselves to be distracted by marketing emails between 6 and 10am, and several industries performed well in various swatches of 3-10pm.
Probably a huge caveat to put to you right now is that this data is a) from only the sources I mentioned, and b) very generalized. Different industries perform better and worse at different times, and all of this data was gathered in the United States. It’s also wise to be mindful of your time zone and that of your recipient(s) when planning a campaign.
As you may have noticed already, the more emails you send out and the more your list grows (and it will!), the more ALL of your metrics go up. That includes bounce rates and unsubscribes, and it just makes sense: the more shots you take, the more you miss…AND the more you make. Zarrella’s data says that abuse reports and bounce rates are highest on the weekends in the early morning. So send in the afternoon during the week, right? The timing data I just showed you suggests you could do well there, but consider that open rates and click rates are ALSO highest on the weekends in the early morning. It all goes up together (just ideally at different rates).
Another curious parallel: the Click Through Rate (number of clicks divided by the number of times it’s seen, usually referring to an ad, but relevant to links in an email too) is highest when emails are sent fewer than 4 times per month. The unsubscribe rate is also highest at this exact same frequency, but the curators of this data suggest that both rates remain rather constant with sending frequencies greater than 4 times per month, so sending slightly more often may be a worthwhile experiment.
Finally, the highest unsubscribe rate is seen among users who’ve been subscribed fewer than 10 days, the same 10 days during which those users give you the highest CTR (click through rate). So expect some users to self-select out of your system pretty quickly if they’re not digging what you’re offering, and for your CTR to taper off among those who stay after that opening honeymoon period too. If you can keep people longer than 10 days, though, there’s an intriguing spike in CTR at the 116-day mark.
When to Blog
In brief, some of their other data for comparison and to round out your strategy:
Blogging dances that fine line between daytime hours when there’s more overall traffic AND more overall “noise”, and the nighttime when both traffic and noise decrease. It’s key to know your audience demographics, or at least the attributes of the audience you WANT to have: most users read blogs in the morning hours, but most men read blogs in the evenings.
But when, exactly? Consider that blogs get the most TRAFFIC on Mondays at around 11am, but get the most COMMENTS on Saturdays at around 9am. Inbound links (other sites or blogs linking to yours) are greatest on Monday and Thursday at 7am. (Huh-whaaa?) In terms of posting frequency, your unique views and inbound links continue to go up as your frequency does, even to the point of more than once per day. PER DAY. Blog away, friends!
When to Tweet and ‘Book
Lastly, you have this great content queued up for your blog and email campaign…when do you share it on social media? Zarrella & Co.’s first takeaway is to realize that 50% of the U.S. population is in the Eastern time zone. Combine that with the Central time zone, and you get a whopping 80% of the U.S. population.
Twitter: Most retweets (users re-posting your content to their audience) occur around 5pm, while CTR spikes are seen at noon and 6pm, midweek and weekends. Click Through Rate is also best at a frequency of 1-4 tweets per hour.
Facebook: The most Sharing (users re-posting your content to their News Feeds) takes place on Saturdays at noon, with a second spike after 7pm. To get the most Likes on your Facebook Page, post ONCE every TWO DAYS. This ain’t Twitter, friends!
The BIG Picture
If you absolutely MUST have something resembling a formula:
- Send a newsletter/marketing email before 10am, every weekend.
- Blog on Monday before 11am, then visit on Saturday morning to respond to comments.
- Tweet at noon, 5pm, and 6pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
- Post to Facebook on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and noon on Saturday.
Know what seems more realistic to me, though?
Just do it. Whenever and as often as you can. (I’m talking about publishing content to the internet, here!) Clearly there are some trends to be conscious of when the message is REALLY important, and clearly most of these environments can handle more than what I imagine most of us are putting out (do YOU publish a new blog post every single day and tweet 4 times per hour?…cuz I sure don’t!), so just go for it. Measure, watch, analyze, and do your level best, but STAY SANE!
Check out all 3 KISSmetrics infographics here:
What’s all this madness about, anyway?
Word Carnival happens on the last Wednesday of each month, and features a colorful collection of small business bloggers all tackling the same topic. This month is all about The Care & Feeding of Email Lists, and you can find out what all the Carnies are saying at WordCarnivals.com.