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When to send a message – Part II?

March 23, 2006

Over the years, there has been much debate about when the best time is to send an e-mail to supporters. The current standard is that Monday-Thursday are the best days to send a message. But, according to a recent study, that theory is just plain wrong.

The “eNonprofit Benchmark” study found that open rates are pretty constant from Monday through Friday. It also found that Thursday and Fridays tend to have a higher percentage of click-throughs. Click-throughs are when supporters click on a link in an e-mail.

This data shows that when you send a message is not as important as many of us once thought. I, for one, would always try to stay away from sending e-mails out on Fridays. It now appears that the end of the week is actually a good time to send out e-mails because the study showed that percentage of people that took action from an e-mail actually increased at the end of the week.

I would speculate that this shift has occurred because more people are now using e-mail for personal use and have Internet access at home. As use of high-speed Internet continues to increase, I expect that we will see an even greater level of Internet use at home.

The study also found that time-of-day or message length had no impact on click-through rates. But it did find that geographic and interest area targeting significantly increased the effectiveness of the e-mail. This sort of targeting is important for a few reasons:

  1. Prevents list burnout
    Targeting e-mails to individuals’ interest can help decrease the number of silent e-mails sent. This will prevent people from ignoring future e-mail messages.
  2. Demonstrates local impact
    Creating a local impact angle can be an effective way to show that your cause does affect them. When I was at the University, we had a database that showed how many students, alumni, and staff lived in each legislative district. This helped show the community and legislators that we had an impact in their area. Taking this to the next level by identifying anecdotal stories will make an even larger impact.

It will be important to explore ways to segment your audience into their specific interests. In the coming years there is going to be an even greater expectation that you are talking directly to the needs, wants and interests of your audience. Because, if you don’t provide it all they have to do is go to Google and they can find it.

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