Friday, November 1, 2013

Email Marketing FAQs to Grow Your Small Business

While the effectiveness of email marketing has recently become a point of contention among marketers, a 2013 study by iContact confirms that email is still a worthwhile part of an SMB marketing strategy. With a sample size of 601 marketing decision makers, the study indicates that 91 percent of businesses find email marketing either helpful or very helpful to their organization, with 56 percent saying that they plan to increase their use of email marketing in the future.
Despite its success, email marketing isn’t always black and white. Questions about send times and email frequency are never far from a marketer’s mind, and the answers are often as frustrating as you would imagine: everything depends. An email send time for a B2C email is entirely different than a B2B email, and your email frequency often depends on the size of your database, the purpose of your emails, and the expectations that you set when prospects or clients are added to your email lists.
Luckily, many email marketing companies collect and analyze huge amounts of email data so that we can get answers to some of the most common email marketing questions. Let’s take a look at some of the most pressing issues surrounding email marketing, and see what the experts think about each.

What time should I send my email?

The best time to send an email is in the early afternoon, right after lunch (source). Why? Because emails sent in the morning are forced to compete with the usual barrage of early-morning emails. On a similar note, emails sent in the late afternoon risk getting pushed aside as your recipients finish up their day’s work and head home. Experiment with early afternoon send times to see if any specific time resonates with your audience. Then, start trying different days of the week.

What’s the best day to send an email?

The answer to this question varies greatly between B2C and B2B marketing. If you’re a B2C marketer, your email sweet spot might be the evenings or weekends, when your email recipients won’t be distracted by work emails. B2B marketers, on the other hand, want to avoid nights and weekends like the plague. For a B2B email, Tuesdays and Thursdays are often the most popular and most effective days for email sends; however, sending on either of these days also puts you at risk for greater competition in the inbox. Try sending an email on a Wednesday or Friday to see what kind of results you get, but try to avoid sending on Monday since your recipients will still be playing catchup.

How often should I send emails?

Email frequency can be tricky. While you want to send emails often enough that you stay top of mind, you don’t want to become annoying. Most of the businesses surveyed by iContact indicated that they email their entire lists on a monthly basis, and send segmented communications at least weekly (only 6% indicated that they email their entire list every day). Using the email marketing or marketing automation tools at your disposal, you can track the impact of email frequency on your opt-out and click-through rates. You can also automate your email marketing efforts based on timing or your recipients’ actions, ensuring that your campaigns are timed correctly and won’t overwhelm your recipients.