Tips on Send Times and Subject Lines From Informz Study

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It used to be that midweek, early mornings were considered the best times to send emails, but as mobile keeps growing, this just isn't the case anymore. The 2017 Association Email Marketing Benchmark Report put out by SIPA member Informz reports that late afternoon is now the best time. And nighttime wasn't far behind. Their open rates were both 14% higher than emails sent first thing in the morning.

We all stroll/stumble into our offices or virtual desks early in the morning and what's waiting? Lots of email. Do we carefully go through everything? As for nighttime, a 2016 Deloitte mobile survey found that 30% of people check their devices five minutes before going to sleep. And about 50% check their devices in the middle of the night! (Hence, the increase in nightmares.)

And as for conversion rates, morning didn't cut it there either. Midday and late afternoon were both higher, with midday winning by just .04%.

Here are some other notes from that Informz study and a couple speakers:

Give the weekend a try. Open rates in the Informz study were about the same for every day of the week, including the weekend, though click-thru rates were less for Saturday and Sunday. But it still seems worth it to try a weekend delivery. An Experian email study found that recipients responded more to promotional emails they received on the weekends – when the send volume was the lowest. The unique open rate for Saturday and Sunday was 17.8% for both days, the highest percentages of the week.

...Especially Sunday evening. At an SIIA Digital Marketing Boot Camp in Chicago in May, Tracy Samantha Schmidt, principal of Socially Authentic, told us that she has had great success—an over-50% open rate—with a Sunday night "memo" that goes to executives. "It takes two-minutes to read and we really think value. CEOs are thinking about work at 7 pm on Sunday. I'm totally against putting everything on social media at 9 am Monday morning." Biggest lesson here - know your audience.

Try short subject lines. In the Informz study, subject lines with less than 10 characters had the highest open rate but accounted for less than 1% of the volume. Interestingly, email with subject line lengths greater than 40 characters accounted for 50% of the volume, yet had open rates lower than the benchmark standard.

Think mobile. Mobile readers engaged with emails longer than desktop readers. More than two-thirds of mobile readers spend longer than 10 seconds reading emails compared to 59.8% of desktop readers. This could be because we're balancing so many balls in the air at work, where at home—in the middle of the night?—we have more time. Mobile also had about a 25% higher open rate than desktop.

Providing a few links can increase engagement. Emails containing between 3-7 links had click rates greater than the 2016 benchmark average.

Make a good first impression. Over three-fourths of email opens occur just once, with mobile-only having the highest percentage at 34.3%. People may use mobile to decide which emails to keep or not, going back later on desktop to ones they keep. The Experian study found that 54% of all emails are now viewed at least once on a mobile device.

"Think like a business user in your send timing." That quote came from Christina Karabetsos, executive vice president, QCSS, Inc., at that same Chicago Boot Camp. She reiterated the value of subject lines—33% decide to open based on subject line alone. "Be short and sweet, less than 50 characters," she said. Interestingly, she asked, who writes subject lines before writing his or her post. Only one person raised her hand. "That might be interesting to test."

Download the full Informz report here.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…