U.K. Firm Helps Marketers Get Personal With Consumers

Silverpop Figures Prime Time to E-mail Promos to Each Individual on List

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LONDON (AdAge.com) -- Digital marketers have long been pondering what the best time and day is to send out e-mails. Now Silverpop claims to have the definitive answer, with its send-time optimization system that determines the best delivery time for each recipient on a mailing list.

"The system can cope with millions of addresses. We haven't hit a limit," said Riaz Kanani, director-international product marketing at Silverpop. "It examines the exact time for each individual."

Silverpop, which has offices in the U.S., U.K. and Germany, has been developing this marketing tool for several years, and has recently completed a trial with Encyclopaedia Britannica in the U.S. and U.K.

For its spring-sale e-mail, Encyclopaedia Britannica sent out half its e-mails at the same time, using the system for half. E-mail sent using optimization generated 40% to 60% more revenue than those not using the feature.

"It is more important than ever to take a one-to-one approach when engaging customers," said Kassie Stephenson Adams, director of consumer marketing and campaign management for Encyclopaedia Britannica. "The feature has allowed us to deliver each e-mail to the right person at the right time."

Timing is everything
The database is constantly updated, with opening times analyzed on a rolling basis. The time-optimization feature examines the last few e-mails, so outliers can be eliminated. E-mails times can be optimized over the course of a day or a week.

"The idea of sending e-mails at the right time is a fundamental principle of relevance," said Matt Simpson, head of digital at OMD Group U.K. "If you can time your communication in a relevant way, probably more people will open it."

Silverpop said it is continuing trials with marketers around the world, but would not name companies. Mr. Kanani said send-time optimization might not be relevant to every campaign. For instance, if a consumer has made an online purchase, it is always best practice to send a receipt immediately rather than wait for the "optimal" time for that individual.

"We've seen a shift in consumer behavior. Consumers now have much more power and control in the way they interact with brands, and marketers have correspondingly lost control," Mr. Kanani added. "Engagement marketing can't reverse the trend, but it can help marketers to work within this environment, to make sure users get what they want and marketers can react to information."

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