Long-standing advice amongst email marketers when asked, “When is the best time to send email?” has always been, “Tuesday through Thursday morning, between 8 and 10am.” Sure, it’s common knowledge throughout the industry that people tend to open their email in the mornings, but “the times, they are a-changin’,” as Bob Dylan would say. Let’s visit some current email marketing trends that are creating shifts in open rates, and how they’ll impact your next email send.
AdWeek Infographic based on Experian study
A 2012 Experian email marketing benchmark study across all industries found that recipients are surprisingly active late at night. Unique open rates averaged 21.7% from 8pm to 11:59pm and 17.6% for 12am to 4am. Moreover, this late night group was more likely to click-through, with open rates of 4.2% and 3.2%, respectively. These night owls also had the highest click through rates for all times of day. Revenue per email was also the highest in the 8pm to 11:59pm group. Additionally, in 2015, Experian’s quarterly email marketing benchmark release showed that 54% of emails are now opened on a mobile device, and a 2014 ExactTarget mobile behavior report found mobile activity peaks between 9pm to 12am. With consumers becoming more and more active on their mobile devices, especially outside of standard nine to five working hours spent at an office desktop, testing sends outside the traditional morning hours is essential.
As for which day of the week performed best, emails sent on Mondays had the highest ROI, but emails sent on Friday had a higher click through rate. Ironically, Saturday and Sunday had the lowest volume rates, but the highest open and click through rates in the study. So even though the weekend was not the most popular time to send emails, those who opened were much more likely to engage with it and click through or purchase.
Based on these findings, you might want to experiment with sending your emails at unconventional times – such as 11pm or 6pm and on the weekend– to see if it yields better results.
Weekend WarriorsFewer promotional emails are sent on the weekends. This has created an opportunity for some businesses to scoop up some email love when there is less competition.
Experian’s email marketing study found that recipients responded more to promotional emails they received on the weekends – when the send volume was the lowest. The unique open rate for Saturday and Sunday was 17.8% for both days, the highest percentages of the week.
Email data from Harland Clarke also supported this finding in their recent study. Although 26.9% of emails were sent on Wednesdays, recipients viewed only 15.6% of those emails, whereas Saturday (a day when only 5.5% of emails were sent), they viewed 32.5%.
Before you change all your email launches to Saturday and Sunday, we recommend you test it first. (Remember that open rates on these days are still lower.) Try splitting your list in half and send the same email to group A on Sunday then group B on Monday or Tuesday. Repeat this a few times to see where you get better results.
Mobile MattersThe same study by Experian we touched upon earlier found that not only are 54% of all emails viewed on a mobile device, but this percentage is on the rise, growing two percent between June and September 2015. Because mobile click through rates are lower, you want to be sure your call to action is clear and direct, and that your links are easy to spot and click (no matter what time of day you’re sending).
Harland Clarke’s study also found that the email open rates depended on the device the recipient is using. They found that tablet users, for example, were more like to open emails outside of business hours (from 5pm to 8am), while desktop users were more likely to open during business hours. Tablet users were the most active from 8 to 9pm, while desktop users and smartphone users were most active between 3 and 4pm.
Finally, when considering the importance of mobile in your email sends, remember that if your customers can’t read your emails, they’re not likely to continue to interact with them, affecting your future campaigns. Litmus found that by testing a non-responsive versus responsive email design, they were able to increase click-throughs by 130%.
So consider your audience in your email marketing. Try sending a split test to half of your list in the morning during work hours and the other half at 7 or 8pm and note any differences. Be sure your emails (and landing pages) are mobile-friendly.
Timing Isn’t EverythingIf you’re noticing a dip in your open rates, maybe other factors are contributing to the decline. Here are some additional email marketing tips to help with your open and click through rates:
1. Test your email to make sure it’s rendering properly in multiple browsers and email service providers (Email on Acid offers an easy way to do this if you want to save some time.)
2. Review your email list. How old is it? Are there emails that should be removed? How can you grow your email list effectively? Here are some tips for good organic email list growth: 10 Steps to Build Your Email List the Right Way
3. Are you effectively rocking your subject line? The subject line is your one brief opportunity to get someone to open your email. Be sure you know the best practices when creating this magic line. Check out these helpful tips on creating your subject line.
4. Frequency. Are you sending too often? Be sure to play it cool and segment your lists so you aren’t bombarding your recipients with unwanted email (or, dare we say spam!)
So when is the best time to send email? As you can see, there is no one right answer. If you’re ready to see some improvements, start by doing some simple email split tests and see which times your recipients respond to best.
Are you still using email marketing without a thought to whether your emails are mobile-friendly or not? Today, you need to think beyond mobile-friendly emails to “mobile-first” emails. Here are seven reasons why:
That means using:
Karen Axelton is editor for the Web.com Small Business Forum and Chief Content Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit them at SmallBizDaily.com.
As seen on Samsclub.com
At first, spending under half an hour on managing social media may sound like a tall order, especially considering that an average user spends approximately 3 hours on social media per day. But if you’re running a small business, you may not have 3 hours. Let’s say you’ve only got a measly 18 minutes—it’s going to be tight, but we’ve got a plan we think can work for you.
Before you start, there’s a lot to think about. Which social media network do you visit first? Do you go through the same steps for each network every time, or prioritize your actions on the spot? Another important consideration before you create your speedy social media management plan is what social networks your business needs to be on. In this sample plan we will go over the 5 major networks—Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram—we will help you choose the right channels.
To help you plan your day, we’ve divided this approach by blocks dedicated to an important social business activity. You may go over the 18-minute mark in the first few tries as you adjust to the new rhythm, but once you familiarize yourself with the routine, you will never waste a minute on extraneous social media activity again. Become a social media management rockstar with this 18-minute-a-day social media plan for small businesses.
18-Minute-A-Day Social Media Plan For Small Businesses
6 minutes: Browse and engage
Interaction with your customers is one of the most important reasons for your business to make a leap to social media. In fact, 9 out of 10 customers wish to have the ability to have meaningful interactions with brands on social media, but many businesses just aren’t standing up to the task. Your first step in your social media routine, no matter how long it takes at first, should always be to pay attention to your most important audience—your current and potential customers.
On Facebook, Check your Notifications. Like posts shared by your customers about your brand, and reply to any new posts and messages from customers.
On Twitter, Check your Mentions tab to see new interactions and followers. Take time to note inquiries that warrant a response. If you’re still in the process of growing your follower base, thank your new followers.
On LinkedIn, Check and moderate your new Connections. If you published any articles with LinkedIn Publisher, see if there are any comments that need in-depth replies; otherwise, thank people for taking the time to read your post.
On Google+, Check additions to your Circles and give them a warm welcome. See if any of your Google+ content has been shared by others in their Circle, and thank them for sharing.
On Instagram, Check your News tab for any comments or any pictures your product or brand may have been tagged in. Take the time to thank users who tagged you, and take note of photos you can feature on your brand’s own Instagram account.
4 minutes: Monitor
Once you have responded to people who have reached out to you directly, dedicate some time to see what’s happening in the network that day. Notice trending topics to see if there is any content relevant to your field or your clients.
On Facebook, browse your Feed, and any search streams you have set up for news in your industry, to find out popular stories in your network.
On Twitter, check search streams set up to follow industry news, @mentions of your brand, branded hashtags, and anything else you may have missed in the first block.
On LinkedIn, Check LinkedIn pulse, and any published material through LinkedIn Publisher from people you follow.
On Google+, See what has going on with people in your Circles, and check your notifications.
On Instagram, Check the News tab to see any mentions of your brand. If your business uses any branded hashtags, see if there are any new photos tagged with those hashtags.
Pro tip: Take time to check in on your social networks throughout the day. Often, the difference between a happy and a lost customer is a timely response to a Tweet. Going an extra step, such as setting up alerts for @replies on your mobile phone, allows you to respond to people quickly.
3 minutes: Post
Post any real-time (non-scheduled) content as needed. If you don’t use a scheduler tool, use this time to post the content you have lined up in your daily plan—and you should always have something interesting and informative for your social media audience, whether it comes to the original content from your business or external articles.
On Facebook, post a resourceful and relevant article, either from your own content team, or shared from a trusted and informative source.
On Twitter, pick a customer Tweet to retweet: look for those that contain images or videos, or a happy customer testimony. Post a Tweet that drives followers to your business’s official website.
On LinkedIn, publish or share a post through LinkedIn publisher.
On Google+, post one piece of original content or share one piece useful external content.
On Instagram, post at least 1 photo a day.
2 minutes: Analyze
In order to develop an efficient content plan, you need to know what kind of existing content performs best on various social networks. In order to do that, you can use analytics tools that tell you about performance of several social networks at once—such as Hootsuite, or Google Analytics—or use native data tools for each social network. Once you pick your analytics tools, set aside some time to look over your social media reports to make sure you’re on track with your social media goals.
On Facebook, Facebook Insights shows your audience demographics by age, region, and gender; number of Likes, number of monthly active users, and daily likes.
On Twitter, Twitter Analytics gives you information on Tweet activity such as Mentions, Retweets, link clicks and number of impressions.
On LinkedIn, LinkedIn offers analytics on the right side of the page, which includes your profile ranking. See how your published posts are doing, compared to the previous day. If you manage a Company Page, the Analytics Tab provides updates on impressions, clicks, interactions, engagement, and followers acquired. You can also see how your sponsored campaigns are doing.
On Google+, Google Analytics can generate reports for several social media channels, but if you’re using a different tool for your metrics, it helps to test it out at least with Google’s own social network.
On Instagram, while the photo social network doesn’t have a native analytics feature, Iconosquare for Instagram provides insight into everything you may need to know about your account, such as your most liked photos, daily and monthly follower growth numbers, and engagement statistics.
3 minutes: Schedule
Notice how this is the last block of the 18-minute plan. No matter how much time social media automation helps us save, it’s important that your audience knows there’s a real person behind those Tweets and Facebook messages, and that their comment is worth more than an obviously automated response. Use scheduling to help you curate content for the next day, pick optimal posting times based on your audience’s habits, and find relevant social media content for your channels.
On Facebook, choose storytelling, visually rich messaging. Limit your posts to 1-2 a day.
On Twitter, if you schedule Tweets, make sure to space them out, to avoid being perceived as “spamming” your audience. Include Tweets with different formats—photo, video, different placement of the links—to test which ones perform best. If you are sharing content from an external source, include the appropriate hashtags and @mentions.
On LinkedIn, share content with a more serious tone, oriented to a professional audience, through LinkedIn’s publishing platform.
On Google+, share any news from your business, as well as external content relevant to your business, your field, or may otherwise be interesting to people in your Circles.
On Instagram, plan photo content to complement social media messaging on your other, less visual channels. If you have a campaign or a product release coming up, schedule a photo to spread awareness among a bigger audience. Instagram also presents a great opportunity to give your customers an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at your business and the people who run it.
A couple of years ago, social networking sites were largely a teenager’s play-field. More than a decade later, social platforms have become an integral part of how we work, play, connect, do business and live life day by day.
In 2016, social media as a marketing tool will continue to grow in robust ways while utilizing the wide array of emerging technologies to provide brands with more opportunities for connecting with their customers.
Here are some of the big changes to anticipate:
Greater utilization of social messaging services
While social messaging is not a new phenomenon, 2016 is likely to be the year that will see more and more users gravitating towards messaging services including Twitter’s direct messages, Facebook Messenger , WeChat, Whatsapp and others.
Greater preference for social messaging means that users are now more interested in private communication, whether one-on-one, or within exclusive groups.
What does this mean for marketers? Marketers must find ways to create private social spaces where they can communicate with their customers and where customers can ask questions and receive direct, clear and helpful information.
Increased interest in live streaming
The social media world got a taste of live video streaming in 2015. In 2016, live streaming might just be the next big thing that ever happened to social media.
From Meerkat, Beme, Periscope to Facebook Live, there is a rapidly growing demand for live, video-based content. While live streaming tools are still few, increased interest among consumers and brands alike will see more streaming tools developed.
Live streaming offers marketers a great opportunity to showcase live footage, for example of the workplace, a manufacturing process or a DIY procedure. This not only puts your face in front of your audience; but also offers a chance to connect with fans and followers in an authentic way.
Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Rift hints toward an upcoming explosion of virtual reality. Virtual reality offers users more than just video; it provides an immersive experience that enables users to view video content from all angles on mobile and web devices.
Early adopters of virtual reality technology include the Disney Channel and the Vice but 2016 will see more brands experiment with 360 degree broadcasting coupled with live streaming capabilities.
Explosion of social video sharing
Virtual Reality is not the only trend that is set to explode; social video too will dominate 2016 and beyond.
Statistics show that the number of videos uploaded on Facebook in 2015, came close to surpassing those uploaded on YouTube. Other findings show that up to 1.5 billion Vine loops are played each day!
With the new Facebook Video feature, users can view videos that play automatically as they scroll through the newsfeed. The native nature of Facebook videos as opposed to YouTube is increasingly driving greater engagement.
In 2016, smart marketers will dedicate more time and resources to the creation of videos and direct distribution to social networks, instead of posting videos to YouTube only.
Prepare to pay more for social visibility
Once upon a time, all you had to do to market your business was post a status update on Facebook directing users to your website and traffic would flow almost effortlessly. For Twitter, you just had to churn out a 140-character message, include a link and traffic would, again, flow to your website free and without a hassle.
Today, it is increasingly difficult to get all your fans to even see your post, let alone click on it. In 2016 and beyond, marketers should be prepared to shell out more money on social advertising to ensure that their content reaches the greatest possible target audience.
More options for audience targeting will be available, ensuring that social ads generate a premium return on investment.
Growth of personalized social content
The proliferation of big data facilitated by powerful digital tracking and analytics tools will continue to enable marketers to deliver highly personalized content throughout the customers’ purchase journey.
In 2016, employee advocacy and influencers will play a bigger role in enabling brands to deliver dynamic, authentic content that meets customers’ needs.
In many ways, marketers will no longer take on the sole responsibility of creating and delivering content—they will bring other creators into the loop to deliver social content that really resonates with consumers.
Growing trend toward social selling and shopping
Finally, opportunities for social selling and shopping will fundamentally change the way marketers view revenue generation across social media platforms.
For a long time now, the mantra among social media marketers has been ‘connect and engage, don’t sell.’ This is set to change in 2016, as major social platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest fully roll out their ‘buy now’ buttons. Such functionalities will allow users to buy products and services directly on the social platform instead of being referred to a third-party site.
The incorporation of buy buttons hints toward the increase in powerful tracking capabilities for social selling to enable marketers to analyse and track the transactions taking place.
Social Media Trends2016 is certainly the year of massive technological changes that will facilitate greater connection among online users and between online consumers and brands. Social media marketers should be prepared to ride the wave of change and to adapt to the new landscape of social.
When you think of all your favorite websites, what about them do you find particularly great? Of course, each website is unique in itself depending on its owner and the information it is designed to share. However, there are 10 things that all great websites have that should be incorporated into your own site to make it great, too.
1. Responsive Design – If your website does not have a responsive design, you might want to stop reading this post right now and call us immediately. Having a mobile-ready site is probably the most important thing you can change considering most of today’s web users are browsing on some sort of mobile device.
2. CMS (Content Management System) – Having a content management system in place that is user friendly for all levels is important. Visual Media builds all of our websites using an easy to use Content Management System that gives even a novice user the ability to add/edit content easily as if they are editing a word document.
3. Navigation – You want your site to be easily navigated on any device. Users should be able to find whatever they are looking for with ease.
4. Engaging Content – Think of who will be searching and reading your site’s content. Write as much information as possible while keeping your readers engaged. Show that you value your customers and want to inspire their interest in your products or services.
5. Relevant Visuals and Beautiful Graphics / Great Photos – If you have been on the fence about whether or not it is worth hiring a professional photographer, it is. Using professional photographs really makes a difference in the appeal of a website.
6. Call-To-Action (email list signups, promos) – Sending out a newsletter will help remind customers of your presence. Offering giveaways or other promos can keep readers interested in your business as well.
7. Forms – Contact forms increase conversions. Readers like to know they can get in touch with you if they need an answer. The key to having forms is to respond timely to each one.
8. Contact Information, Business Hours, Google Map for Directions – Make it easy for your visitors to find you especially if they are on mobile and trying to drive to your location.
9. Blog – Your blog is going to be your lifeline in creating new content and climbing up the organic search rankings. A lot of businesses overlook blogging because they assume no one will read it. A blog will give you fresh content on your website and give you content to share through social media. Interested visitors can learn more about your company, related interests, and local news. Google’s bots will crawl your blog and return your site if your content is relevant to what people are searching for.
10. Testimonials – Readers want to know what others think of your company. Having a page with some of your clients’ reviews can help in the decision making process of new customers who may be considering your business for an upcoming project.
Along with your business’s personal touches, Visual Media can build your website using these 10 design elements to help your business flourish online. To get started on your business’s new website, give us a call at (732) 354-1123.
About This Blog
I am Eric Acevedo, a web site designer and Internet Marketing specialist. Here is where I blog about web tips, ideas, and information about how the web can help your business.