Clicking the “Send Now” button for a recent Starr Conspiracy email newsletter at 9:30 at night, by accident, generated some interesting results. The human error turned out to be a reminder that steadfastly adhering to best practices (like time-of-day “rules” for sending out emails) may be a slippery slope to mediocrity.
What did we learn, besides the fact that our audience may be night owls, given the “oops” moment yielded a 3 percent higher open rate? We learned that the rules should only be a starting point. It was a reminder that we need to A-B test, push the limits of the rules, and take chances and track the results in order to better understand our audience.
In the meantime, we’ll keep following (albeit more loosely) these key practices when it comes to email marketing:
- Provide Kick-ass Content — Enough cannot be said about providing provocative, valuable insights that speak to your email audience. Downloadable assets — infographics, e-books, white papers (Lightpapers®, if it’s developed by The Starr Conspiracy) — should be customized to your audience’s attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs.
- Think Mobile First — More than 50 percent of all emails are opened on mobile devices. That means you need to consider how subject lines and visuals will appear in a non-desktop environment. The typical 50-character limit for email subject lines appropriate for desktop users needs to shrink to 35 characters to accommodate mobile viewers.
- Send Optimization — Consider data by HubSpot that points to a 6 a.m. send and Wednesday and Friday as sweet spots for open and click rates. Lunchtime and evenings also see upticks in interaction.
All that said, we still suggest A-B testing (subject lines, images, CTAs, themes, etc.), experimenting with your audience, and constantly re-evaluating your performance data to discover your own best practices tailored to your unique audience. Lather, rinse, and repeat.
We typically send our Intelligence Unit newsletter on a Thursday between 6 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. — following the data trends for email marketing. The late-night Wednesday blast to our house list resulted in a 20.5 percent open rate, compared with our six-month average open rate of 17.3 percent.
We’ll test this some more and drill down on what segments of our list fall into this “night owl” tendency. If it turns out our audience responds better to an unconventional approach, that’s what we’ll do. After all, at The Starr Conspiracy, we’re in the business of analyzing audiences and finding the best ways to communicate with them. (Note to self: Treat ourselves the way we would treat our clients.)