Lessons from the stats

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In marketing, there are few absolutes. Strategies and methods change based on audience, vertical and budget. However, according to the Direct Marketing Association's 2011 Statistical Fact Book, released earlier this month, there are some things that e-mail marketers can take—and use—at face value. The book, a collection and analysis of internal and external research, provides marketers with detailed information about all direct marketing vehicles. Below, we list four of the report's top take-aways for e-mail marketers.
  • Midday, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., seems to be the best time to send e-mails. According to the Fact Book, almost half (49%) of marketers said they saw the highest ROI from e-mails sent during this time period. More than a third (35%) said they prefer to send e-mails at the beginning of the workday between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. “When you have a pronounced time period like this it's an indication of a shift—something is going on,” said Yory Wurmser, director of marketing and media insights at the DMA. “It's worth testing to find out if your customers will also be most responsive during this time.”
  • The last day of the week is the best day, for some marketers. Friday is the most popular day of the week for sending promotional retail e-mails, according to the Fact Book. However, that doesn't mean that every company should simply shift their e-mails to Fridays. In fact, said Wurmser, b-to-b marketers may have better luck spreading out their e-mails over a series of days or considering weekend e-mailing. “We send out a lot of e-mails on Sunday evening because, from a b-to-b perspective, it's a good time because then that e-mail is waiting for them on Monday morning,” he said. “Bottom line: E-mail volumes have gone up, so you need to find new times to send and new ways to send.”
  • Short and sweet is the way to go. Subject lines can help boost open rates, and the DMA has found that those e-mails with subject lines of 35 characters or fewer have higher click-through rates. The reason for this is clear, Wurmser said. “More and more e-mails are being read on mobile devices, where there's not a lot of room for the subject line,” he said. “It makes sense that a shorter, "nuggety' subject is going to get more opens.”
  • E-mail and social media have never been more intricately tied together. More than half (52%) of marketers and business leaders said they have an integrated strategy in place that brings e-mail marketing and social media together, and half of those people said they have already begun implementing that strategy. This is a good thing, Wurmser said, but integrated strategies have to come second. “You can't integrate before you decide exactly what you want to do with your social media,” he said.
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