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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Email Marketing: Timing May Not Be Everything, But It Does Matter! - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

Email Marketing: Timing May Not Be Everything, But It Does Matter! - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community


Experian Marketing Reports that most Car Dealer sent targeted email campaigns are deployed in AM – Yet, the Best Results are seen with Emails sent in the Evening...

As part of its Q4 2012 Email Marketing Quarterly Benchmark Study [download page], Experian Marketing Services has analyzed the best time of the day to send emails.
     
Experian cautions automotive marketers by pointing out that the data is retrospective rather than controlled.  The study included all industry segments, (US based) with automotive being just one of the multiple segments analyzed (Multi-Channel Retailers).  It is wise to note that logic would dictate that optimal deployment timing will vary by industry, and in the case of automotive, perhaps even by brand. But, despite the naysayers that often want to shove their heads in the sand and ignore all objective data that doesn't come from themselves, it doesn't hurt to take a look at the Experian study's results.
     
Not surprisingly, at least to me and anyone else who has ever used email marketing at a dealership for any length of time, the Experian study shows somewhat of an inverse relationship between email volume and performance.  Plainly stated, the more email a prospective customer receives during any given time segment, the less likely that your dealership's email will get opened and read... (less results).
    
For example, looking at time of day, the study finds that a plurality 40% of emails were deployed between 8AM and 11:59AM, with that range accounting for 42% of transactions. But, the 16.1% unique open rate and 2.4% unique click rate of this time period counted as the lowest of the 6 distinct time periods.
    
To some extent, that could simply be a function of volume, meaning that it could be harder for email marketers to differentiate themselves in the morning, when consumers are receiving the highest volume of inbound emails.
            
Interestingly, the transaction rate (.13%) in that morning period also was the lowest of any time range, revenue per email ($0.17) was among the lowest, and average order value was middle of the pack, at $174.
       
When looking at the time of day that got the smallest share of volume and transactions (2% each) – between 8PM and 11:59PM – the picture changes considerably. During this time period, unique open rate (21.7%), unique click rate (4.2%), transaction rate (0.34%), revenue per email ($0.48), and average order value ($246) for eCommerce businesses submitting data were all considerably higher than during any other time of day. Experian doesn’t offer any suggestions as to why this might be the case, but it could be related to consumers simply being more engaged at that time of the day and more apt to submit an inquiry (lead) or spend money.
The Experian report also analyzes performance by day of the week, finding again that the days with the lowest volume of emails (Saturday and Sunday) boasted the best response rates (each with a unique open rate of 17.8% and a unique click rate of 2.9%). Saturday (9% of email volume) also sported the best lead submission (CPA) and transaction rate (0.16%) and revenue per email ($0.20), although average order values lagged for the eCommerce businesses submitting their data.
The Experian CheetahMail 2012 Q4 Benchmark Study also shows the changes in overall email campaign performance across all industries on a year over year basis. It is interesting to note that a significant reduction (28%) in overall email bounce rates using the Experience email services branded "CheetahMail" has occurred and may be something for dealers to use in comparing with their current email marketing service provider. A reduction in bounce rate translates into higher deliverable rates for a variety of reasons, beyond the simple mathematics...
                      
Regardless of the specifics by industry, region or brand, what the Experian study clearly shows is that when it comes to car dealers using email marketing, timing does effect an email campaign's performance. The actionable item for car dealers reviewing this information is to start comparing results from your email marketing campaigns using the metrics that Experian has identified, such as open rates, click through rates and engagement rates (inquiries/leads submitted). Identify the best time segments and days of the week for your dealership, your brand and your location to get the optimum results...
                 
Just remember what Digital Ralph has said hundreds of times; "Random is the Opposite of Optimized".  Don't let random selection be the means by which you time the deployment of your email campaigns, know the nest days and times to deploy campaigns by their offer type and targeted audience, then put planning in place to ensure that your dealership's email campaigns are deployed during those optimal day and time segments. 
                                    
ADM Professional Community members can download the Experian Research report in PDF document format using the following link: