Every email we send is meant to be opened. To make sure that happens, countless hours have been spent decoding the best day, the right time, the funniest subject lines, the ideal length and the right amount of customization needed to get human-to-human emails opened.
We know, for example, emails are typically received with the best response when they’re chalk-full of customer-centric messaging and sent around 10 a.m. on Tuesdays. Of course that depends on your content, industry and the list you’ve uploaded. But for the most part, the guidelines work really well all year.
Until the holidays.
Every year, from November until January email behavior changes. Our metrics plummet and our carefully crafted email strategies are left useless in our holiday email marketing sends.
People care before Christmas
A 2015 study from Hubspot looked at more than 4.5 million emails sent over the previous holiday season. They found while almost 54,000 emails were sent daily through their platform alone, few were actually opened. And even fewer were responded to.
The exception? The week before Christmas. In fact, the five days leading into Christmas showed open rates for 1:1 holiday email marketing campaigns were up by 6 percent over average. But the spike didn’t last long, as the study found a 42 percent drop in opens on Christmas Eve and a steep 72 percent decline on Christmas Day. And it makes sense – between opening toys and enjoying family, there’s not a ton of time (or desire) to be checking our email.
But the bustle is over on December 26, right? We head back to the office and we’re ready to get back to the grind. We’re rested and prepped to tackle our to-do lists, aren’t we?
Of course not! At least I’m not. People aren’t quite ready to come out of their egg-nog-induced stupor. And so your email just isn’t a priority to them. Open rates sit at 33 percent and 35 percent lower than average on the two workdays immediately after the holiday, respectively.
Let’s talk next year
People stay in their jovial daze from Christmas until the new year. Some may be vacationing; others are simply taking time off to spend with their families. Still others will be in the office, but they’re not focused on your emails. These workers typically fall into one of two categories: Either they’re there because they’re buried under mountains of work to finish before the end of the year, or they’re out of vacation days.
Recipients don’t have the time to care about your emails before the new year. Almost 60 percent fewer than average emails are opened on New Year’s Eve. And 62 percent less are seen on New Year’s Day.
The drop off is brief, though. When workers show up to the office after the ball drops, they’re ready to start working. The Hubspot data showed a record number of opens four days after New Year’s Day.
Wait, what? Let’s Review
To get your one-to-one human emails opened by your business connections:
Send in the five working days before Christmas
Send emails four days after New Year’s Day
Send emails on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day
Send emails on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day
Optimize your human-to-human connection
So we know when to send emails this season, but how do we create meaningful and engaging conversations? We make the message about them.
Writing for email is one of the most difficult jobs in marketing. Different recipients, different segments each call for different messaging. And because so many people are concentrating on account-based and even people-based marketing, you have to be authentic and tailor your messaging. Oh and you have to think about the devices your recipient is using, too. What’s helpful on a desktop may be overly strenuous on mobile.
And subject lines? Yikes! Too often left as an afterthought in your email send, these few short words are supposed to convey the importance of your message and intrigue your reader into opening.
In the messaging, we need to offer focus to direct our recipient without wasting their time. Before we start writing, we need to know the one thing we’re trying to convey. It should only be one thing. Don’t have three or four calls-to-action. Have one. Be succinct and customer-centric.
Once you have a clear idea what it is you're trying to say, craft a short message around why it's important to your recipient.
What about the rest of the year?
A report from Coschedule sampled 10 studies looking at the best days and times to send business emails outside of your one-to-one holiday email marketing. The results, culled from studies of billions of emails, case studies and round ups, were diverse, but there were common threads to figure out your own best practices.
According to the report, Tuesdays are still the best day to send. Thursdays are great for follow ups while Wednesdays snag third place in open rates. Late morning send times are, in general, the most popular with 10 a.m. being the best time noted. The second favorite open time is between 8 p.m. and midnight, likely because people are checking email before bed.
Use this as an outline, but test your days and times to send and analyze the data to see when you receive the most opens.