Alright, let’s talk open rate. Mention open rate to an email marketer & the first thing they’ll tell you is that you need to work on your subject line. Unfortunately, that is where a lot of the advice stops & if you’re like most of us… you want more.
You are not happy with being slightly above your industry’s average. You have mastered the art of writing a really great subject line and you are ready for your next challenge. For you, the question keeping you up at night sounds something like, “How could I increase my lists’ open rates without changing the subject line?”
The Story That is Rarely Told
Marketers do not talk about send time enough— especially when it comes to increasing your email marketing open rate. We talk about subject lines a lot:
Send time? Not so much:
What’s more, when send time is talked about, articles often have a cryptic footnote along the lines of, “Adjust based on your subscriber behavior.”
Ok, great. But where do you go from there? How do you optimize your send time based on your audience? Is not it time we learned how to do that?
We sure think so. So in this article we wanted to share a simple plan for determining the best time to send emails.
A Note About Data
There have been countless articles written & studies performed trying to determine the best time to send an email marketing. The general consensus is, Tuesday at 10AM.
Got it? Great. We will not go into how that information has come about, if you have an hour & you would like to read all the studies yourself, click here.
For the aims of this article, we are going to assume that information is true. And with that out of the way, let’s put together a basic 4-step plan for segmenting your list based on subscribers’ habits.
The 4-Step Send Time Optimization Process
Step 1 – Getting your initial data.
Create an email campaign in your email marketing tool of choice. Schedule this email to go out to your entire list at 10AM & wait for the results to pour in.
Step 2 – Who opens email on Tuesday, anyway?
Write your next email, and schedule it to go out:
- On Tuesday (10AM) to subscribers whodid open the previous email;
- On Thursday (10AM) to subscribers whodid not open it.
Step 3 – You can see where we’re going with this
Write your third email. Schedule it to go out:
- Tuesday (10AM) to subscribers who opened the email in Step 1.
- Thursday (10AM) to subscribers who opened the Step 2 email.
- Wednesday (10AM) to everyone else.
Your email list is now segmented based on when your subscribers engage with your emails. You can continue doing this, sending emails at different days or times until you have the whole week segmented.
How granular you get is going to depend on your own patience and the size of your list (this plan works best on larger, 1000+ subscriber lists). If you are working with a smaller subscriber base, or simply do not want to segment your list for each day of the week— move on to the fourth & final step.
Step 4 – Cleaning your list (optional & scary)
For email marketers trying to develop the effectiveness of their campaigns, a clean list is crucial. As the final step of this plan, create a plain-text email and schedule it to go out:
- On Tuesday (10AM) to people who did not openany of your emails.
To this list of subscribers, write a final email asking about their inactivity. The point is not to be nasty or to tell them how hurt you are when they ignore the campaigns— be personable.
Show them the human being behind the marketing machine. Ask them if they are no longer interested and, if so, if there is anything you could be doing better. Finally, ask them what time they would prefer to receive your content.
This accomplishes 2 things. One, it will show you who’s actually interested in your emails & who is just on the list because they wanted your initial lead magnet. The first group of people are worth keeping around. Segment your future plans based on their responses & the time they prefer to receive your emails.
The second group of people, the ones who do not bother to open or respond… remove them.
Yes, you read that correctly. Remove them. It is a scary thought— after all, isn’t the point of this whole marketing thing to add subscribers? Are not we trying to build 100,000 subscriber lists?
As a marketer, you want an email list with engaged subscribers. These inactive folks are messing up your data, decreasing the effectiveness of your plans, and are—for whatever reason—not interested in your emails. You do not want them on your list and they probably do not want to be there. Do the right thing and clean them from your list.
A Marketer’s Work is Never Done!
Compare your open rate percentages before & after segmenting & cleaning your list. By sending emails based on your subscribers’ habits, you will notice that they’re much more likely to open every message than ever before.
Your next challenge becomes thinking of ways to monetize your list, developing clickthrough rates, and developing your overall list size. For more lessons on email marketing join the Sendlane newsletter by clicking here.