Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Marketing Automation and Restricting Send Times

Whereas I think that the idea that you can achieve major gains in undifferentiated email marketing through time-of-day email sending has been overhyped by the industry, I do think that there are specific situations where careful selection of the time a communication is sent can be of value.

There are two general scenarios in which it makes sense:

- if it is best that it arrives to the sender within a specific time window

- if it is best that it appears it was sent within a specific time window

Email, by its nature, is an asynchronous medium that generally does not "interrupt" the recipient, so the recipient is able to work through the emails they have received at a time that is convenient to them. However, other media type, such as recorded voice and SMS (text messaging) are media types that do interrupt the recipient.

In using those media types within a marketing automation system, you'll want to restrict when they can be sent. Likely, you'll restrict them to business hours. When setting communications up in Program Builder, it's quite easy to define when they can be executed.

On the Edit Action page, there is a selection to "Run action at all times". If you set this to "No", you are then presented with a menu of options. You can select the timezone you would like to use to define the execution times, and then a schedule for when the communication can be sent.

The second situation in which you might want to use this technique to manage when a communication is sent is if it is important that it be seen as having been sent at a particular time. The most common situation in which this is relevant is when you are sending an email on behalf of a sales person. This technique can be very powerful in terms of generating response from prospects, but you will want to ensure that the email is sent in daylight hours unless your sales team has a well established reputation for burning the midnight oil.

Although the email industry has overhyped the relevance of time-of-day on results for undifferentiated email, in a marketing automation context, being able to control time of sending can be very relevant in situations where the media type being used should only be received in daytime hours, or in situations where you want the communication to be seen as being sent in daytime hours.


Ashley Peterson said...

Do you have any recommendations for sending to different time zones? For example we may want to leave a voicemail for our contacts. But we don't want our messages disturbing anyone on the west coast at say 5am but it would be appropriate for east coast contacts to receive vmails at 8am. Same goes for email blasts.

Steven Woods said...

Great question - your best bet is probably to separate the groups in program builder prior to the send step - have a decision rule or rules that split people into the key (known) time zones. From there, each step will be specific to that time zone and you can set the send time accordingly.
Hope that helps.