In an earlier post, Timing is Everything in Online Marketing, I discuss how effective scheduling and planning can make or break your online marketing success.
Business owners, even those that are experienced online marketers, commonly fail in two main areas with scheduling and planning:
- NOT taking the time to make an online marketing plan and schedule activities in advance, and
- NOT having the patience to keep to their schedule and recognise that an online marketing plan is for the long term.
User friendly social media and content management systems for websites make online marketing look very easy — but to get success you need to develop some skill — and this takes time.
The fast pace and ‘real time’ nature of social media make it seem like you have to do everything quickly to keep up with the competition and be a part of the whirlwind. This is the case with urgent announcements and breaking news, but not for regular articles and posts you are putting out there. Unless what you are posting is time relevant or it is important that you get your message out there as quick as possible, don’t rush into posting at what may be a bad time.
What’s a bad time to release information on your online marketing channels?
- When your target market is not online.
- When there is a lot of other stronger posts competing for the attention of your target market.
- When your information may seem irrelevant or in bad taste to your target market.
Note that I relate all of these timings to your target market. The only time that is significant to your online marketing, is time that relates to your target market. It doesn’t matter if the only time you have to go on Twitter is at 6am when you first get up in the morning, unless that’s when your target market go on Twitter.
I have to admit, that many times I’ve lacked the necessary patience: when I’ve written a great post and I can’t wait to tell everyone about it or was afraid I’d be too busy or forget to post at the later time; so I know first hand how this comes about and the effect it can have on your online marketing.
What are the effects of releasing at a bad time?
- At the least, you will waste your time.
- If you are paying someone to do your online marketing or an application to do it yourself, then you are wasting money.
- At the worst, you will ruin your brand by annoying or offending your audience: by posting at the wrong time, too often or at a time that may make you look unprofessional or insensitive to the audience.
- You are not building on the long term success of your online marketing.
So how do you find the right time to release information on your online marketing channels?
There are no set times that suit ALL online marketing campaigns. 11am tea break may be when a lot of people go online and check personal emails – the some countries – but others don’t have a tea break, don’t hold traditional jobs or won’t have time to read a full article until they are home at night. You need to determine what is the best time for your specific audience.
- One of the most important parts of your online marketing plan is target market research. This doesn’t have to be scientific, you can use common sense. If you are targeting the average person, they will be awake from 7am-11pm. If you post between these times it is likely that they are asleep (doh!). If you are targeting Stay At Home Moms, when are they likely to have time to go online? If you are targeting different time zones, you need to adjust your activity to suit. The more you segment and pinpoint who your target market is, you can better determine the best time to post or send an email newsletter.
- Review the data you have: interactions you’ve had on your social media channels, website analytics, email marketing campaign reports, etc. Where there are trends of user activity in the past, there is likely to be activity in the future. You usually cannot argue with real statistics.
- Even with your research and data, you still need to test to see when the best time is. Post at different times and see what the reaction is. Send your email marketing campaign in batches. Use the information from these tests to build on the information you have with your Target Market Research.
How do you fine tune your timing to get the result you are looking for?
- Keep an eye on seasonality and relevance. Don’t try to sell umbrellas on a sunny day. But if you have the capability to jump on an opportunity, push that back inventory of umbrellas on a rainy day with a quick post “Don’t get caught in the rain next time!” with a good call to action.
- Give your audience time to respond — and give a clear deadline. Too often I’ve received an email with a special offer that is time relevant, but the deadline is not mentioned until you get deep in the message. I open it too late and am cross and frustrated — not in a way to think, “Oh, I must open their emails straight away next time,” but in a “Their emails are just a waste of time. I’m unsubscribing!” way. Why not put the deadline in the subject: “Today Only: Special Offer on Umbrellas. Next time, don’t get caught in the rain”.
- Balance putting your offer out with good time to respond versus putting it out too soon. This will depend on the habits of your target market and the nature of your offer. People will need more time to consider a two week break, but may decide in a flash on a last minute weekend break. In some countries it would be common practice to give people a couple of weeks to make a decision; whereas in Ireland, if you put something out there too soon, people will not react. Last minute offers can be appealing and give a sense of urgency to get shoppers to react, but don’t make all of your offers last minute or you may get caught short on sales.
- Favour your dedicated community (subscribers, members, those that ‘liked’ your Facebook Page, etc.) priority status and give them exclusive access to information before the general public. Release information in a subscriber only email before posting to the Facebook Page and then on Twitter.
- Don’t panic if you don’t get instant results, especially if you are just starting with your campaigns. It takes time to build your mailing list and followers on social media channels. It takes time for people to make the decision to buy or sign up for your services. You need to determine what is the likely time frame and only start to get concerned when results are coming in more slowly than that. You may not get a lot of sales via the first email campaign you send out, but after a number of weekly mailshots you will start to hit at the right times.
What tools are there to help getting your timing right?
In addition to your analytics and reports from email marketing applications, there are a number of tools to help you keep your patience with your online marketing:
- Social media dashboards like Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to create the entry to be posted at a time in the future.
- Google Calendar is good to put posting into your schedule. You can also use my downloadable Internet Marketing Planners.
- Apps that determine best times for posting based on analysing past performance like Tweriod and CrowdBooster.
It may not be obvious at first but, with patience, in time you will see a more clear pattern of the best times to release new content to your website, post onto your social media channels and send your email marketing campaigns — all coordinated for the best results for your business.