From a very early age we learn to tell the time and that the big hand being at twelve and the little one at five means it’s nearly dinner time (or home time now that I’m older). But it is not until we do get older and acquire responsibility that we start to really appreciate the importance of time and timing and how these can have an impact on outcomes and decisions, and knock on effects on other related activities.
For example, you know you have to leave the house at a certain time of the day to be on time for work, and if you leave later or earlier you may encounter more traffic or parents on the school run which in turn may make you late, which may make you miss an important meeting which could lose you work…far-fetched I know but it highlights, in a nutshell, how important time can be. Now, because you do this on a regular basis your timing has become an important part of a routine, but timing in marketing is different to a routine and goes hand in hand with planning, you know, that “minor” detail that I mention from time to time.
From a marketing perspective time and timing are crucial factors in many activities and campaigns and can be the key to a successful outcome or not.
When planning any marketing activity, one of the first timing related issues that immediately springs to mind is seasonality as it has an effect on most types of businesses for one reason or another. Whether it is communication, product focus, design ideas or resources, seasonality is of prime importance. The product or service you specialise in will have seasonal peaks no matter what industry you are in and recognising how your business or product fits in with specific seasons or times of year is key to formulating a cohesive and structured activity plan and capitalising on this seasonal demand.
Another factor that can affect performance and people’s buying decisions is the day of the week. Of course I am not saying that everyone is grumpy on a Monday and therefore adverse to purchasing, or that Friday instills a sense of frivolity in us making us more likely to part with our cash, what I mean is that your audience’s attention is going to peak and trough throughout the week for different reasons. For example, if you are planning to send an email campaign to companies think about your busiest times in the office before you hit send. Mondays tend to be most companies’ busiest days and if you expect them to prioritise your email or action your request for a response straight away then the chances are you will be waiting…and waiting. But if you were to send your email on a Friday afternoon when things are more likely to be getting tied up for the start of another week then you may find that you get a quicker response.
When sending your email you should also factor into your strategy the time of the day you send it as it can make a huge difference to open rates, click throughs and conversion and even unsubscribes. Widely speaking the best time to send an email is 12.45pm and 4.45pm. Believe it or not this is when traffic of email checking is at it’s highest due to people checking their mail at work at lunchtime and last thing, and commuters heading home.
The most effective way to check which day of the week and time of the day is likely to work best for your specific needs is to run a test.
Now don’t be put off as for most part this is going to entail some market research combined with educated guess work, just think how you yourself as a consumer buy things and what factors contribute to you making a purchase on a specific day as opposed to any other. For example, grocery shoppers are more likely to stock up the cupboard on a Monday after a weekend or on a Thursday, ready for the weekend. Would you agree that both of these scenarios are feasible whereas doing a massive mid-week shop is not so likely?
Only by testing will you know what works best for your company and what yields the highest responses, not every day is payday after all but the end of the month tends to be a good time to get results.
Now, say you’re thinking about advertising in a newspaper or widely circulated publication, how does timing affect you now? Well, newspaper audiences, circulations and content differ for each day of the week. For instance most newspapers see a spike in readership on a certain day, normally a Friday, and Sunday newspapers have a higher circulation but are larger so their content is diluted. Pick the day of the week that runs content that is most suited to your company, product and offer and your audience.
Try and be ahead of the game
Here is a good example where timing is everything and can curry a lot of favour amongst your audience, if you can launch a product or service BEFORE someone else. Only one person can be the first so therefore it is extremely important to continue to evolve and innovate to ensure that you are ahead of your competitors and responding to demand of the consumers.
And finally you need to be responsive and ready to react to micro trends. The horse meat scandal is a great example. Being able to react to the scandal made certain people position themselves in the right place for customers. Local butchers and high quality retailers were able to react very quickly to have reassurance messages and take advantage of the mistrust in major retailers’ products and were able to increase sales. This took advantage of the situation but ensured they took advantage of the timing as well, so striking when the iron was hot was of prime importance as opposed to waiting 3 months to come out with the communication and advantageous marketing campaigns.
So there you go, there is more to time and timing than there being 24 hours in a day. Next week I will talk about how to plan and execute a test effectively. So that’s next Thursday, same time…see you then.