“When is the best time to send your email newsletter?” I get asked that question all the time. And totally understandable. Timing affects conversion and engagement. And every time you are finished writing your email, you have to schedule it. Most are asking for the best days in the week or the best time of day.

But have you ever thought about the best time to send your email from a different angle? Because the best time to send an email is….. when the subscriber is ready to buy. That’s what I call a “Carpe Conversion” (seize conversion). This is nowhere more clear than with abandoned cart emails and New Years’ campaigns.

Adjust your timing to Customer behavior

What is the right time when your subscriber buys? That can depend on their place in the customer lifecycle. For most industries, there are also yearly fluctuations, times when people are more likely to buy.

Take for instance the start of the new year. Lots of people are making New year’s resolutions. Obviously content and products around these themes are going to do better. Outbrain analyzed their content comparing 1 January to December. Interests change during the year, this graph is a great example of that.

Addictions, fitness, and weight loss are the winners here, while people care less about banking and even their pets, Let’s see how smart email marketers incorporate that in their messaging.

Email marketing: Start the new year right

Barnes & Noble sent out this email with the subject line: Start this year Right – New Year New You on January 1st.

Instead of showing individual products, I like the way they grouped products together into benefit categories. So for instance you have category links to “Books for Healthier lifestyles”, just general enough to not say that people are too fat. Or “Inspiring books to engage the mind and energize the spirit”. This is very different than recommending one specific book that the email subscriber might not be interested in. Products versus categories is a strong email A/B split testing idea I would run.

Smart and casual handoff from email to landingpage

The landing page reconfirms the headline “Start the New Year Right”. The page has all the categories, but using anchor text they scroll you down right to the category you clicked on in the email. A subscriber can then look if any book catches their eye immediately, on the left and right are arrows to stimulate “casual browsing” in the same category. A great way to think about the steps (micro-yesses) we need to make in the email funnel leading up to a sale.

Amazon gets in quickly: New year, New You

Amazon made the switch from Year End promotion to the New Year theme page quite quickly. I was expecting a full-blown New Year, New You campaign but it wasn’t so. They did go very high email frequency on the Black Friday promotions and turned Cyber Monday into Cyber Monday week.

New year email campaigns

In other years Amazon.com sent an email campaign at the beginning of the year called “A new year, a new you”. This one is sent on 30 December, even before the year was over.

The email contains health-related books, sports gear, financial planning software and even a cross-trainer included for those that want to go all out. Notice that they give a discount on a much wider variety of books and products, but in the email they show only the pictures of the relevant ones, like food and health-related.

Then on 17 January, they sent an email “Jordie van Rijn: New Year, New You”. It looks very similar to the December mail, but if you look closely the big “See More” button is gone and now the email is categorised.

Recurring email marketing campaigns
It seems like Amazon finds this new year email marketing campaign to be successful. It has been “running” for a few years now. A year before I got the “New year, New you in books”. Could it be that that mail was more targeted / segmented to me as a books category buyer?

Reebok New Year, New Gear Newsletter

This email campaign by Reebok totally fits the new year’s spirit too. In this email you see that there is only one primary call to action: “Shop now”.

The best time to send is more about the message

Think about your marketing emails and which time of the year will appeal more to the shopping behavior, resolutions or underlying needs / wants of groups of subscribers. It is a lot harder to convince someone he is thirsty than it is to sell ice water in the desert.

Your email campaigns can be crafted to emphasize the underlying needs, sometimes the subscribers only need a reasonable excuse to buy. The perfect time to send a sales-oriented email is….. when the subscriber is ready to buy.

Image by Zürich Tourismus