Last week, I moderated an interactive seminar on email marketing at ECMOD, the home shopping and catalogue event.  At the end of each session, we discussed the presentations and the attendees asked any questions they had on email marketing. 

I’ve picked three of what I thought were the most interesting questions and I wanted to share with E-consultancy readers my thoughts and invite them to add their own:

When is the best time to send email marketing?

This is a common question that I am asked all the time.  The audience were suggesting certain days and times anecdotally but there was no consensus.  I ended up completely disagreeing.  In my opinion, there is no universal best time to send email. 

Instead, marketers should consider these factors:

  • Competition: do you operate in a competitive market with lots of email marketing taking place?  Achieving stand out is always more difficult
  • International: are any of your audience in different time zones?
  • Available resources:  Should you be pushing demand at quieter times for your call centre?
  • Life Stage: pushing out campaigns at a certain part of the week works well for some companies.  B&Q’s Friday afternoon email marketing always hits me when I’m thinking about the ever lasting list of DIY jobs for that weekend I get handed on my return on a Friday night.
  • Response Curves: are you going to reduce the impact of any other campaigns.  If you use timeline reporting from your ESP to see when people open emails and how quick from when you send them.  If you get all your response within 48 hours (B2B), this may help inform when your follow up campaigns should take place.

For me, one of the biggest indicators is to look at your web analytics and see when prospects use your site most.  They are willing and able to browse your site then, so why not use email to begin that customer journey by highlighting key offers etc
How can email marketing support my off line catalogue mailings?

I’ve seen a great number of case studies where email marketing works to support catalogues, and they are best categorised into:

  • Teasers: letting prospects know that the catalogue is coming!
  • Distribution: circulating digital brochures/ eCatalogues
  • Highlight: Creating quick promotional ‘hot offers’ mini brochure
  • Focus: Creating specialist niche newsletters which highlight specific product to specific niches.  These are used when cost means that offline  traditional media simply aren’t viable.

I’ve seen real life examples where it works too.  Taking the example of Boys Stuff, who take 75% of its orders via their web site.  Interestingly, after the 2m brochure run is sent out, the conversion rate on their site doubles.

Given email is a fraction of the cost of my offline direct mailing, why should I bother to test my email marketing?

Email marketing is a direct marketing channel.  It is in its infancy and UK email marketers are getting it wrong.  As an industry, we have a lot to learn still.

Access to consumers via email is massive- over 90% of people have access to email once a day and 44% of people have continuous access to email (DMA’s Participation Media Study, 2006).  Broadband uptake is forecasted to drive further online sales, and given email marketing’s primary success is as a retention vehicle, this will drive email further.

Yet, UK email marketers are getting it wrong- 63% of people delete email advertising without viewing it (Messagelabs 05) and 56% believe they receive too many email promotions (Forrester 05).  We cannot afford to turn people off to email marketing.

This is forcing consumers to fight back.  74% of them claim to have more than one email account, (source: Marketing Sherpa)  using specific ones to filter marketing.  They’re lying on sign up forms- 53% of them admit to filling in false information.  The more they lie, the more difficult it is to target consumers with relevant information, the more they’ll get turned off to email marketing.

UK email marketers need to make sure they are using email marketing properly and effectively and this means testing and learning to improve.  It is marketer’s duty to ensure their use of email marketing does not cause long term impact of the medium for everyone.

The seminar was attended by participants from niche home shopping companies through to those with nationwide high street presences.  More details on it are here and if you’d like a copy of our slides, just email my Marketing Team on

Managing Director, Adestra