scheduling

Email Newsletter Open Rates: April 2008

By Justin Premick

Think you know the best day and time to send your email newsletter?

Ever wonder if your fellow email marketers are all sending at the same time you do?

Convinced your open rate is too low (or amazingly high)?

Some recent statistics pulled from all AWeber users may help you answer these questions:

What Kind of Open Rates Are People Getting?

If you’re sending HTML emails, you probably use your open rate to help gauge your success.

Even though it’s not a perfect measure of whether people are actually opening and reading your emails, it’s useful as a relative measure:

If it goes up over a short period of time, more people are probably reading
If it falls over a short period of time, it’s almost certain fewer people are reading.

Plus, all other things being equal, it can give you some motivation (if your open rates are lower than other senders’) or satisfaction (if your rates are higher).

So, here goes…

Average Open Rate Last Month: 13.6%

When Is/Was The Best Day To Send?

You’ll often hear (at least, I often hear) that Tuesday is the optimal day to send, because on Monday people are catching up from the weekend, and that on Tuesday morning you’ll have their undivided attention before they jump into their work for the upcoming week.

Do the numbers back up that theory? Let’s see.

The breakdown of open rates by day of the week:

Monday
13.67%
Tuesday
13.21%
Wednesday
14.07%
Thursday
14.52%
Friday
13.25%
Saturday
12.09%
Sunday
13.26%

Last month, Tuesday was actually the second-worst day to send, at least if you’re measuring by open rates.

(While we’re breaking assumptions, I should point out this, too: the hour of the day that got the best open rate was not 8-9AM, or 9-10AM, but in fact 2-3PM Eastern Time — email newsletters sent during that hour last month enjoyed a 19.1% open rate.)

Does This Mean I Should Switch My Campaigns To Thursdays?

In a word: No.

Don’t break with your readers’ expectations just to try to follow the latest day of the week stats. You might actually reduce your open rate by doing so.

In both March and February, Thursday newsletters got the 3rd-worst opens vs. the rest of the week.

I hesitated a little to publish these stats, because I’m concerned that people might flock to sending their newsletters at the day or time that happened to get the best results lately.

Please, don’t drastically change your sending times/days just because you see that the average last month, or any month, happened to be higher on a different day or time.

Yes, you might eventually be able to shift your sending schedule, or split test some broadcasts, but if you up and move everything, you may throw off subscribers who are used to hearing from you at the usual time.

“It’s So Busy, Nobody Goes There Anymore”

To get at the other reason for not shifting your sending based on these stats, let’s paraphrase Yogi Berra (see above).

If everyone switches their sending schedule to send on say, Thursday, then recipients will start getting a ton of email that day, and start paying less attention to each individual email.

One possible reason for Thursday’s success last month may be that it wasn’t as popular as say, Tuesday or Wednesday for sending email:

Percentage of Newsletters Sent by Day
Monday
16.0%
Tuesday
17.7%
Wednesday
16.9%
Thursday
16.6%
Friday
15.2%
Saturday
8.8%
Sunday
8.8%

Those higher-volume days mean more emails in readers’ inboxes, which might contribute to reduced open rates. Following that reasoning, some people may look at the low weekend volume (more email newsletters were sent on Tuesdays than on Saturdays and Sundays combined) and see an opportunity to get their audiences’ undivided attention.

My main point in showing these is to point out that our assumptions about what works are often quite wrong, and that you ultimately have to test for yourself to see what best suits your audience.

Some Inspiration… And Some Help

Are you getting better open rates than this?

If so, GREAT! Give yourself a pat on the back…

…but don’t get complacent. Open rates aren’t the be-all, end-all of email metrics. They don’t guarantee that people are reading your emails, only that they have images turned on and that they probably saw your email for at least a moment.

Plus, there’s always room for improvement, right?

Some ideas that can help you raise your open rates:

Ask people to add you to their address books. Some email programs will display images from senders who are in the recipient’s contact list.
If you are putting pictures in your emails, use the ALT text for those images to pique readers’ interest in what the picture is, so that they enable images. Or, just directly ask readers to turn on images!
Add a picture of yourself to your emails, near/next to your signature. People like seeing your smiling face, and if they see it in one of your emails, they may be more likely to turn on images to see it again later.

What statistics/benchmarks would you like to see and/or learn more about?

Share your requests below or email me your suggestions or drop me a line on Twitter!

How to Let Blog Readers Choose Their Email Frequency

By Justin Premick

In the comments of a post discussing our recent FeedBurner integration, Mike Hill asked a great question about email subscription options:

The scheduling would be more useful if it can be setup by the subscriber, not by me as the publisher. Is that a possibility with any subscription services on email?

To me, this would be far more useful to my readers than me picking when to get it. I

Better Results Using Both Newsletters and Follow Ups

By Marc Kline

Around the web and in conversation with ambitious new email marketers, we often hear of our company cited as either an “autoresponder” or an “email newsletter” service.

You say “toe-may-toh” I say “toe-mah-toh”, right?

Well, we often describe our service as a “permission only email marketing solution”, because autoresponders and newsletters are only two of the many features we offer. With that said, we’re not overly concerned about how our service is referred to.

What we are concerned about is how this limited perception sometimes holds back many new and even some experienced email marketers from reaching their campaigns’ potential.

Starting on the Right Foot …

With an understanding of some of the benefits of email marketing, new customers often join us with a single, very focused goal. Often it is something like:

“I’d like to send an email newsletter for my website”
“I’d like to send an automatic series of messages to convert prospects into customers”

These are great ideas, and they describe perfect applications of both our broadcast feature (for newsletters) and follow up feature (for a series of messages) for helping a business to grow.

Not clear on exactly clear on what makes these features unique? Read more on the difference between follow up messages and broadcasts and how they can be used.

The problem is, once these ideas reach fruition and some success is evident, too many marketers stop there.

What Else Would They Do?

Whether an email campaign has series of follow ups with no broadcast messages — or vice versa — it is missing a critical piece for optimal success.

A while back, Justin published an article discussing why email newsletter publishers need autoresponders, meant to motivate senders who focus solely on newsletters (broadcasts) to also schedule a few follow up messages.

A new article in our Knowledge Base takes a slightly different approach, explaining why all email marketers should use both follow up and messages:

This is also one of the many topics we cover with new email marketers in our weekly, free getting started live training seminar, along with others tips, like what to write in your messages as you get your campaign set up.

Only Using One or the Other?

If you’re sending only follow up or broadcast messages and not both, don’t fret. Today you can use this opportunity to do something quite simple that will boost your results.

New Scheduling Options For Your Blog’s Newsletter

By Justin Premick

A lot of you have asked about this one, so I’m really excited to show it off!

Many bloggers send email newsletters to their subscribers to keep them up-to-date on the latest posts.

While bloggers have embraced our Blog Broadcast tool, they’ve pointed out a couple of things they’d like to see us add to make it even more powerful.

Today, I’m happy to announce that we’ve answered by far the most popular feature request for this tool: advanced scheduling features.

Let me show you how it works with a short video.

Scheduling Your Blog’s Email Newsletter: What You Can Do

Used to be, you chose how many posts you wanted to appear in each email, and whenever there were that many new posts, we sent your newsletter.

Some of you said you’d rather send once per day, or per week, regardless of however many new posts you’d made. Others said you wanted to send at a certain time of day, regardless of what time you were posting new content.

Makes sense to us.

You can now:

Schedule which day/s of the week — or which dates of the month — you want to send your email newsletter
Choose what time of day you want your blog readers to get your email
Want to send on Tuesdays and Fridays? Or on the 15th and 31st of the month? No problem! You can choose up to 4 frequencies per blog.

With these new scheduling options, you can tailor your blog’s email newsletter to reach your subscribers as frequently as you want.

See The New Scheduling Options In Action

In this short video, I show you how to easily customize when you send your blog’s newsletter:

RSS Subscribers: Click to watch the video.

Pretty cool, no?

This is just one of a number of enhancements we’ll be making to the Blog Broadcast tool. Stay tuned…

Cyber Monday: Hype or Holiday Opportunity?

By Marc Kline

Laptop and GiftsIf you’ve spent a few days now away from your computer (and your inbox), you might now open email only to find a flood of messages from businesses you’ve purchased promoting specials, with many of them arriving just this morning.

If so, that might have struck you as a coincidence, but it may not have been.

Cyber Monday, a term coined in 2005 by Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation, is ostensibly the day when many consumers return to work after the Black Friday weekend, only to surf online for more holiday deals.

This year, more businesses are jumping on the bandwagon to take advantage of this potential rush. So, should we join them and send out messages to our own subscribers?

Email Scheduling: How Soon is Too Soon?

By Marc Kline

Winter CalendarSomewhere in the back of my mind I was waiting for it –the first Christmas song of the year. This time I was at a local coffee shop (OK, it was the local Starbucks).

John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” made it through about 10 seconds of play. Then, the stereo went silent for about another 10 and we were back to quiet, singer-songwriter cafe music.

From a back room I heard someone scream “It’s too early for Christmas!”. It might seem odd at first, but this got me to thinking about email marketing and how we schedule our messages.

Dear Email Subscriber: Remember Me?

By Marc Kline

Sometimes we have to wonder what causes a subscriber to delete our messages instead of reading them. Maybe they don’t connect with the reader’s interests. Or, maybe they’ve gone with a competitor and just haven’t unsubscribed yet.

There are several reasons we can guess at, but few are more troublesome than the idea of the subscriber simply not recognizing the sender or the fact that they’d requested information in the first place.

It’s frustrating, and it seems to happen all to commonly. Fortunately, it’s easily preventable. Let’s take at easy-to-implement ways to ensure your subscribers remember you and their subscription to your campaigns.