Last week, TRO’s 365 Guide offered 5 articles for building and maximizing your electronic newsletter. If you have not read the series, please do—there is a lot of very valuable information to make your e-newsletter as successful as it can be. Once your newsletter is established and you are mailing it out, you still need to take one more step—making sure as many people read it as possible. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand to make that happen, it will take some trial and error, but here are some tips to get you on your way.
Hopefully, you are utilizing a third party for your broadcast emails (Constant Contact, AWeber, Mail Chimp, My Emma, etc.) If not, sign up for one. Most of them offer a free period to kick the tires and all are priced competitively based on the number of names in your list. You can figure to spend $20 a month for 500 subscribers for unlimited email broadcasts. These services will allow you to send a professional looking email and as an added bonus, they will keep you in compliance with the CanSPAM Act and other regulations. Aside from a CRM system, this is probably one of the smartest investments you can make in your business.
Last week, a TRO Community member asked about the best day to send an email broadcast; and unfortunately there is no right time for everyone. Your business mix, client personality, client location, and market will determine that. But, you can hedge your bets a little with some forethought and work.
Most of the programs will allow you to do a split test of your broadcast. Essentially, you divide up your list by percentages and select your best guess for maximum readability. For most agencies, I would look to morning, afternoon and evening on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. I purposely left out Monday and Friday—Monday tends to be a day when people are swamped putting out fires from the weekend and pay little attention to solicitations. Friday has people looking forward to the weekend and more inclined to be planning what to do THAT weekend and not one in the future. But take your newsletter and rather than send it out all at once, divide it up and send out 15 newsletters—each to a different segment of your list. After the send, review your numbers and note which dates and times had the highest percentages of opens and clicks. If your list is not that large, it probably makes sense to send the newsletter out to smaller groups and take a bit longer to define the results.
Once your first one is sent, do it again and compare the numbers. You will begin to see a pattern develop. It may be a specific day or it may be a specific time of the day, but one will develop. Once you discover it—send your newsletter out on those days. After all, we cannot sell travel if someone is not even seeing our message! Going forward, do the split tests annually to make sure your customer’s habits have not changed dramatically.
For me, my best days are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday just before noon and Saturday afternoons. During these periods, my open rates hover between 45% and 55%, with a click through rate between 18% and 25%. I think my numbers are extraordinarily high. According to Mail Chimp, the average for the Travel & Transportation industry the average open rate is 14.5% and the average click through rate is only 2.71%. I suspect that my rates are due to the specific niche of my agency—but I am not complaining.
The TRO 365 Guide emphasized that you must look to your mailing list as one of the greatest assets of your agency. This is like the EE Savings Bond you may have received as a child—it starts out very small; and in time, it will grow to be very valuable.