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How to get higher engagement & fewer unsubscribes

10th May 2018
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In less than a month’s time, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be on our doorsteps, upending the established trend of mass-email digital marketing campaigns for more focused and relevant marketing communications. This will open up an entirely new set of challenges and pressures for organisations within all industries, as the balance between brand and consumer will be weighed in favour of the consumer.

The time remaining is extremely vital if brands are to ensure that they secure customers before they have to re-consent, let alone avoid the penalties at stake from a data breach. This will not be an easy process either, as brands will have to provide “legitimate reasons” for requiring such data, and naturally, consumers will be less willing to offload their personal data to any brand that asks for it.

Gone are the days when marketers can rely purely on personalisation as the key to post-GDPR success, despite this being undeniably crucial in providing tailored marketing content. This new legislation must be seen as an opportunity for brands to refine their approach to marketing and their use of customer data. However, the missing ingredient in these strategies comes down to delivering personalised messages at the right time and at scale across all channels.

Make it count

In preparation of the upcoming regulation, marketers have been investing huge amounts of time and money in refining their email campaigns, producing bespoke and individualised content for their target audience. However, time and time again, this content could be ignored or simply missed, because brands have not been considering when their consumers are checking their emails.

Recently, SmartFocus analysed more than 1.4 billion email marketing messages sent to customers and potential customers in 2016 and 2017. The study offered some interesting insights around customer email behaviour, revealing that it is a common misconception that consumers engage most with emails received towards the end of the week. Contrary to belief, consumers are more likely to engage with their emails on Tuesdays, followed by Mondays and Sundays.

Time it right

In general, the study revealed that evening emails tend to be the most successful in terms of engagement and unsubscribes, particularly after 5pm. Whilst emails sent between 11am and 12.15pm suffered the most unsubscribes and had the least openings.

Certainly, other influences have to also be factored in here, such as age and gender. Unsurprisingly, there is a clear distinction between email preferences of young professionals and older retirees in their golden years.

The gender gap

Like many other habits, men and women possess very different preferences and behaviours when it comes to emails. Whilst women’s engagement peaks between 8pm and 9.30pm, men tend read and engage with their marketing messages soon after they open them, particularly between 4pm and 5.30pm.

Reaching retirees

For the older category (defined as 70 and over), the study found that emails sent between 11am-noon and 2pm-3pm resulted in the most engagement, whilst emails sent out in the evening cause a long tail of engagement throughout the evening until the morning.

Surprisingly, this dip in engagement is mutual amongst millennials (defined as 18-30), who favour the mornings up until 12.30pm. After this time, click-through rates for young consumers decline, with the least optimum time being after 2pm.

Timing is everything

GDPR compliance is just one aspect that brands must keep front of mind as we approach the regulation deadline date. Statistically, more than 70% of first interactions with a brand are also the last. Now is the time to turn this statistic around and ensure that all marketing material is transposed into positive response and engagements.  

In order to get the most out of the time remaining, marketers must think more strategically about when they are sending their messages, as much as what they are sending and who they are approaching. They need to get the message right, nail the timing and then deliver it to scale.  


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