Timing is everything. So make sure your e-mail is optimally timed with your audience's calendar.
Did you send out an e-mail blast the week of April 13 and get a lower response than usual?
The days surrounding the U.S.'s April 15 tax day -- when a lot of small businesses empty their accounts to pay the IRS and stash away tax-deferred money into SEP and Keogh accounts -- might not be your best day to broadcast. I'm no economist, but I'm guessing the reverberations of tax day in this bad economy can't be good news to anyone trying to sell to small businesses.
This year, one of my clients sent out a sales e-mail on April 16, and the results were less than desirable (especially because the date was also in the middle of the Easter week spring recess). As the copywriter who put a lot of time and hard work into writing that e-mail campaign, I was demoralized.
If it had been sent a week later, I think it would have performed better. Perhaps not, but I'd like to see the best efforts of everyone -- the writer, the marketing department, and so on -- get the best shot at achieving revenue goals.
It's time to synchronize our calendars with our audience's. If you sell to the small business market, for example, you might want to add some new blackout dates to your calendar: January 15, April 15, June 15, and September 15 -- the quarterly tax due dates for sole proprietors.
Then consider that corporations pay their taxes monthly. New York state taxes are due around the third of the month, for example, and the monthly federal taxes are due around the 15th. Annual federal corporate tax returns are due March 15.
Don't Be Driven by Deadlines That Conflict With Reality
Here's another trend I've seen: selecting an arbitrary date for an e-mail blast then not being willing to adjust it in light of new events. One small marketing agency told its corporate client that it would absolutely broadcast an event invitation January 20, not realizing it was Inauguration Day in the U.S.
I tried to explain to the client that everyone would be glued to their TVs that day and a lot of people were taking off work to celebrate. But the agency couldn't be dissuaded from sending the e-mail. I don't know the results of this case, but you can only imagine.
Respect Religious Holidays and Sync Up With School Calendars
Another big campaign I just worked on blasted on Passover -- and the day before Good Friday. Need I say more? The follow-up e-mail was sent out the following week when so many schools were on recess -- and parents were home from work and away from their desktops. While in the end we made our numbers, let's just say the timing was a bit off.
Remember, not all holidays fall on a fixed date the way Christmas does. It's important to pull out a calendar for the year ahead, download a public school schedule, and sync your marketing campaigns accordingly.
Fewer Vacations? More Time at the Desk?
Statistical trends show that Americans are taking less vacation time than ever. And in 2009, with so many people worried about their jobs, that trend is on the uptick.
According to Expedia's annual Vacation Deprivation survey, 34 percent of employed Americans won't use all of their earned vacation days, citing work-related pressure as a primary reason. Only about 39 percent of working Americans plan to use most of their vacation time in 2009 by taking at least one full week of vacation and spreading out remaining days.
With more businesspeople at their desks this summer, you may want to rethink the notion of summer being a slow season for sales. There might be more opportunities for summertime B2B (define) e-mail campaigns than in years past.
Action Item: Review the Rest of Your 2009 Calendar Now
Ask yourself: in this new economic reality, does everything I know about my annual sales and marketing cycle still hold true?
For example, if you typically make the lion's share of your sales during fall tradeshows, will those shows be as well attended in the past? Or do you need a Plan B? If the Christmas holidays are a key selling season, should you start your sales efforts earlier in the fall to gain early wallet share before your competitors do?
Planning now can help you spot the opportunities -- and avoid the sinkholes -- in your marketing calendar for the rest of the year.
What new trends are you experiencing in the new economy? Share your insights with Karen for a future column.
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Karen Gedney, an award-winning creative director and copywriter, shared her insights as a ClickZ Experts contributor from 2000 through 2009. She was known for her successful track record of achieving high e-mail response rates for Fortune 1000 companies and leading organizations. She died Nov. 16, 2010.
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