A recent live chat promoted in an email by Ann Taylor Loft got the recipient - Kristen Gregory, manager of Strategic Services at Bronto Software - thinking about this form of online marketing and its role in email marketing. In short, she wrote in a blog post, live chats are a good idea to get consumers to engage with the brand, but the timing of the email promoting the chat needs to be carefully considered.
Subscribers need ample notice and Gregory only got the email at 3:38 pm the day of the chat session, which began at 4 pm. "While some could argue that getting this announcement before the chat began could snag me right then – the real risk was that I wouldn’t see the email (and I didn’t) until long after the chat had taken place." If Loft had sent a message about the chat the day before or the morning of followed by a last-minute reminder to join, it would have been more successful, she said.
Also the timeframe for the chat itself is questionable as most people are working at 4 pm. "Perhaps a better timeframe would have been right after work or later in the evening."
Timing is Everything
It is not surprising Gregory is questioning the wisdom of the timing of the email promoting the live chat. When to send an email marketing notice has been a long-standing issue of debate in the industry - and has extended itself to related forms of online marketing, most recently live chat. However, for all the debate the industry has not come to a consensus about a best time - for any format. Exact Target has found the optimal day/time to send an email to be a moving target. Monday may be seen as the best day by many firms but Exact Target has found it consistently ranks 5th or 6th in the terms of open rates, based data from the company's 2004 Markeitng Response Rate Study. A study in 2005 found that Friday was the best day to send email to get a high open rate.
For marketers seeking more specifics Gather developed some guidelines last year. It noted numerous studies that have been conducted over the years, that mail sent on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays has the best chance of being opened.
Social Media Too
The debate has also extended to Twitter. Opinions about the best time to send a Tweet range from 9:00AM Pacific Time to 4:01PM Eastern. Read MarketingVox’s articles on this subject here and here. As for Facebook, Vitrue analyzed more than 1.6 million posts, 7.56 million comments and 1,500 brand streams, and found that the consistently busiest period was 3 PM ET. In general, it found that the best time slots were 11 AM, 3 PM and 8 PM ET.