Is your email strategy working while your audience is out of office?
Yes, I am guilty. I deleted your email.
When I returned from my sunny vacation in Akron, I didn’t have the strength to deal with my overflowing inbox. I saw the hundreds of emails and found it easier to send them to the Valhalla of the trash folder than to spend a single second looking at them. And I’m not the only one.
Companies are taking charge of their employee’s work-life balance. Employers are mindful to the time when you are expected to be available and how email correspondence impacts your time out of the office. Instead of leaving it to employees, more companies are creating policies to deal with emails over holiday and vacations.
Daimler, the German auto manufacturer, recently announced an updated email policy for its 100,000 employees: All incoming emails will be deleted automatically while an employee is on vacation. Other entities aren’t far behind. In 2013, the German labor ministry announced it was setting guidelines to prevent emailing of staff outside of work hours except those in emergency. Companies from Volkswagen to PricewaterhouseCoopers have announced policies limiting when employees should reply to or even read emails.
This does not mean this is the end of email marketing. No need to go out and start looking at mobile or social marketing jobs yet , but you should update your email strategy to tackle this challenge.
Do More Segmenting
If you haven’t done it already, segment work and personal email addresses. Although most of us have done hundreds of segmented email lists, we haven’t necessarily put much effort into segmenting personal vs work email accounts. Rarely do we ask if an email is personal or work on any landing page, so you probably have both intermixed in your lists. Without this segmentation, you might misinterpret a drop in open rates to poor copy or design when in fact, you just sent it at the wrong time. If you have collected additional data from your landing pages, you can segment further by state or country. You might just discover which week people go on spring break or which months to minimize campaigns in Europe.
Some quick ways to start building your segmented lists:
- Separate all free accounts such as gMail, Yahoo and ISP-provided and add them to a personal email list
- Add a new field to your preference center
- Send a survey to your subscribers
Other benefits of splitting your list:
- Personal emails are often read while on holiday or over weekends. If you read your email like I do on my phones (yes, I use many), then you have a good shot of reaching your audience on their personal gMail or Yahoo account. Even when I am on vacation, I will check my personal email while ignoring my work one.
- Work emails can be your captured audience. Like parents at a middle school band recital, many of your corporate workers are trapped on email to communicate to each other, but only during work hours. You might as well just suppress the weekend sends knowing they won’t receive it until Monday.
- You can simplify your content and design rather than building one universal one. Nothing worse than building bulky complex emails for multiple audiences. With personal emails you can focus on making gMail and Yahoo the primary client and spend time on Lotus Notes for those work accounts.
Do More Scheduling
If you haven’t discovered which day of the week works best for you, you need to find out. The 2013 MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Benchmark Report, looked into the effectiveness of emails sent on different days of the week. The results show Tuesday and Wednesday as high performers, but there was no single best day. If you find your lists perform better on a different day, you probably need to adjust your plan during the long weekend holidays.
And Don’t Forget Your Drip
All you marketing automation folks who love building out hundreds of drip campaigns need to pay attention as well. Think about adjusting your drips during holiday seasons. If you haven’t added a marketing calendar into your strategic plans, you risk diluting the effectiveness of your campaign by delivering it while most people are still on vacation. Consider using a weekly calendar and plan out your execution accordingly. Take a cue from the children who count down days until the next holiday break. You can make your drip campaigns more effective if you do the same. If you don’t have time to rebuild all your campaigns, at least make sure you turn off your drip before the next holiday.
Happy Holidays. Delete!