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Email marketing is a powerful yet inexpensive way to make contact with customers and prospects. Depending on whom you are trying to touch, there may be certain times of day, or days of the week, when the recipient may be more responsive to your message. In addition to specific timing for your email marketing campaigns, the frequency (how often to send) and the number of times to send can all play a big role in helping improve your results.

The Best Times Of Day
For a mailing to business recipients, sending midday from 11 AM thru 3 PM is best. Sending a message earlier in the day can result in a higher risk of the message getting lost in the rush to prepare for morning meetings. Sending it too late in the day and it may end up quickly deleted before the recipient leaves for their commute home.

On the other hand, when mailing to consumers from 5 PM thru 8 PM are the best hours. People tend to check their personal email when they get home from work or after dinner. Most consumers are too busy getting ready for work in the morning to read their email.

The Best Days Of Week
Depending if you are reaching out to businesses or consumers, different days of the week can affect your results as well. The best days to contact businesses are Tuesday thru Thursday. Monday has proven to have too many meeting to reach decision makers, and on Friday most people would prefer to leave early before the rush hour than receive your email, no matter how cool the email and offer may be.

Consumers are more likely to spend more time on the Internet on Friday thru Sunday, and hence have more time to consider your offer. One observation is that since many people tend to check their personal email at various points throughout the day, selecting a specific time to hit your target group while they are online is much more difficult.

How Often To Make Contact
Sending email too often can be annoying, resulting in recipients asking to be removed. Not sending often enough and you may have been forgotten when the recipient is finally ready to buy. As for most communication, once a month is best. A few exceptions are a daily newspaper, or a time-dependant offer like a seminar invitation.

How Many Times To Make Contact
Sending three variations of the same offer to the same recipient is a good way to improve response rates. You should never send the exact same offer more than once. Otherwise you risk the recipient thinking that it’s just another copy of the same email and deleting it. If a recipient has not responded by the third attempt, they are not going to, either because it’s the right offer/wrong person, or the wrong offer/right person.

Priming The Pump
This refers to the idea of getting the recipient ready to receive an offer by “setting up” the correct state of mind beforehand. Hitting someone who agreed to receive a free marketing report with a hard-sell offer too soon gives a bad “bait and switch” impression. It is far more effective to first build credibility and then ask for the sale. Depending upon the complexity of the product or service being offered, it may take 3 to 7 contacts or “hits” to build the relationship to the point where they are ready for the offer.

Another way this technique can be used is to create buzz before the launch of a new product or service. Giving the recipient a “first peak” into something new helps make them feel special, and encourages them to spread the word. Sending a new product message one to three weeks in advance of the launch is optimal.

Following Up
It is important to follow up at least once after an initial offer. Many times we have seen a number of recipients who click-thru on the first mailing after receiving a second mailing. You cannot wait too long to send a follow-up message or they may have forgotten about the original offer! Follow-up contact is recommended one to two weeks after the original offer is sent.

All of these guidelines can help you set some starting points for your own email marketing campaigns. However, the only way to determine the most effective use of email marketing for your organization is to test, test, and test some more! Without carefully measuring the results of different variations on timing, frequency, and number of contacts (not to mention messaging and creative) there is no way to know what works best for you to achieve an optimal response rate.

This Web Marketing article was written by Ron Evans on 2/14/2005