Email can be overwhelming. Many of us let emails sit, often with good intentions of getting to them later, which results in emails not being opened or read at all.
Email communication suffers when we’re busy or our inboxes are clogged with to-dos. That’s why you need to send your marketing and member emails at the optimal time, when people are most likely to pay attention. Catch your audience at the right time, and you’ll increase the likelihood of your members opening and engaging with your communication.
Every association is unique, but there are some common patterns that everyone can use to optimize their email calendar. MailChimp’s Email Genome project will get you started. It gave rise to a wealth of information on email send and open patterns. Here are three top findings to help your organization improve email communication today.
1. Open Rates
Figure out when your members are most likely to open your emails. You can explicitly ask members when they’re most likely to check their emails as well as use third-party research and data from your association’s marketing to find the answer for your unique member base.
The open patterns you find will likely vary based on the day and time emails are sent. Ideally, your email should be sent when members are online and are receiving fewer messages so their inbox is cleaner.
According to MailChimp, Monday-Friday is the optimal time for sending business emails. You can improve further by avoiding Mondays, since people are coming back from the weekend, and Fridays because people are busy wrapping up loose ends. Midday on Thursday is your best bet because people generally have a lower number of emails coming in and more time to deal engage with the content.
2. Industries and Weekends
Before you set all your emails for Thursday at 1 PM, remember that days and times are not the only factors that influence open rates. Your industry and the type of emails you’re sending are also important.
If your communication involves a hobby, retail, ecommerce, or the arts, consider sending messages on the weekend. You’ll have less work email to compete with and people are in the mood for more relaxed, fun reading. Most people also have more time to read your emails when they’re not trying to check items off their to-do list at work.
3. Time Zones
MailChimp found 10 AM is the best time to send emails across all industries. The caveat is that 10 AM doesn’t refer to 10 AM at your workplace. It refers to 10 AM where your recipient is located.
But just because MailChimp found that 10 AM was ideal doesn’t mean your members will agree. Your audience may prefer to skim emails in the evening, using them to unwind with their favorite show in the background. So test MailChimp’s estimate of 10 AM and see how your members respond. If open rates are low, try different times until you get it right.
Using Email Patterns in Your Association
Every email pattern, not just time zones, needs to be adapted for your organization. Use A/B testing and open rates to find out the times that work best for your members and what types of emails they’re engaging with.
Develop a theory about the best days and times to send email based on MailChimp’s findings, then A/B test your ideas. Divide your members into even groups and send the same email at the same time, with the same subject line and sender, but on different days. One group may get the email at 10 AM Monday, while the next group gets the email at 10 AM on Tuesday.
Look for the best open rates and select the best day from that round as your guideline going forward. You can continue testing until you develop a schedule that works for your members.
Even a perfect send schedule doesn’t guarantee high open rates. If all your emails are being delivered but open rates are still dismal, look at content. Your members won’t open a boring email with information that isn’t relevant to them no matter when it pops up in their inbox.
Review the content you’re sending out to make sure it’s timely, relevant, and helpful or entertaining for your members. Every email you send should have content that members find valuable. Test different types and content forms until you find something that members engage with.
Expert Tip: When evaluating your email open rates, take out unrelated communication types such as welcome emails, invoices, or renewal notices. These emails provide a different type of value for your members and may skew results for general marketing and member communication.
Design and Send Emails Based on Your Members’ Preferences
If you have an important message, you don’t want it to get lost in the inbox. Take expert advice from companies like MailChimp and adapt it to work for your members. If your audience opens more emails on the weekends at midnight, great. Stick with the times that work for your members and continue to track open rates to see if they change over time. Adapt with your members as their needs evolve.
By staying on top of your members’ email preferences, you’ll help ensure that everyone receives valuable information and your association stays top of mind.