Let's Give Our Obsession With Send Time A Send-Off

Remember how you once had to make a concerted effort to check your email? It was an event that meant sitting down at your desk and dialing into AOL, praying that another member of your family wouldn’t pick up the phone and break your Internet connection.

Even as Internet speeds got faster in the 2000s, people still had to plan for checking email by sitting at a computer, logging in and completing the task. With the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 and the pervasive use of smartphones today, checking email is less of a planned event and now just a fluid part of people’s lives.  In fact, the average person looks at his phone 46 times per day, according to a Deloitte study, and 56% of emails are opened on a mobile device, per Litmus stats.

We’re in the midst of a seismic shift in how people engage with email, yet marketers are still fixated on the topic of the best day/time to send emails. There’s even a lot of hype around send-time personalization engines, which allow marketers to send emails in a dynamic timeframe based on a past behavior algorithm that tracks when individuals usually open their email.



Do I think marketers should totally neglect thinking about when to send?  No. Obviously, there’s a range of time that will tend to drive more engagement and conversions for your business. What I am saying is that it doesn’t need to be a complicated science to figure out your calendar-based communications.

How can marketers capitalize on this mobile age? Here are two ways to do so:

Behavioral-based automation. Most ESPs have triggered and automated send capabilities through which marketers can orchestrate communications based on consumer behaviors in near real time. That means you can email shortly after a consumer exhibits a desirable or undesirable behavior, such as browse behavior, abandoned cart, purchase history, etc. This response to behavior begins to establish a cycle of listening to your customers and delivering on their needs in the moment.

Encouragetriaging for later. Mobile opens are currently high for emails, but conversions are still far behind desktop. Until it becomes the norm for mobile conversions to be more aligned with engagement, I’d like to see marketers implement strategies that encourage a customer to triage an email.

Triaging is the idea that if user is interested enough in an email when seeing it on the go, she’ll come back to it later when (s)he has more time to engage with it and make a purchase. Some great techniques to make an email stand out to a mobile user and encourage triaging are:

-- Responsive design for superior rendering and usability
-- Subject lines that are catchy and shorter to fit the smaller screen
-- Hamburger menus to present navigation without taking up a lot of real estate at the top of emails
-- Image carousels to show various product shots or to present multiple offers as the hero
-- Expandable content to hide disclosures and other less-relevant content
-- Live content updated at the time of open based on device, location, weather, time, etc. to bring context to the message
-- Personalized content based on the user’s recent behaviors such as browse, purchase, and other behaviors you track

Again, you shouldn’t neglect thinking about send time altogether for calendar-based campaigns, but given the limited time you have in a day, I’d like to see more focus on the context, design, usability, and other points mentioned above.

How are you thinking about send time and addressing how your customers engage with their inboxes today?  Let me know in the comments.

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