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Want to Reach Consumers? Don't Think Where, Think When

  |  July 12, 2012   |  Comments

Time your message well, and your audience is certain to receive it.

If it feels like you're working more than you used to, take solace in the fact that you're not alone: a new report by mobile security company Good Technology has found that 80 percent of Americans continue working after they've left the office. With the average amount of evening at-home work amounting to seven hours per week (nearly another full day of work), this adds up to an extra 30 hours per month, or 365 hours per year.

Lament this if you will (whether you do or don't is largely contingent on how much you like your job - another issue altogether), but this information is important, particularly for digital marketers. Extra time spent online each night means added opportunity for connecting with consumers, because we all know that those workers are going to need a respite from their spreadsheets sometime. But this behavioral shift poses an interesting question: when is the best time to reach your target audience?

Social Media

There have been some conflicting reports about when to post branded updates to Facebook and Twitter - first thing in the morning, late at night. A recent study has found that Facebook usage peaks at 3 p.m. ET on weekdays, with Wednesdays being the busiest day of all. As for weekends, Sundays can be slow, so save your updates if you can.

Curiously, the opposite is true if you're preparing a post for your Twitter page. Buddy Media has found that consumer engagement with brands increases on the weekends, particularly for certain types of brands. Engagement rates for sports brands are typically up to 52 percent higher than average on weekends, while apparel companies can see increases of more than 30 percent. As for the best time of the day to tweet, as long as marketers are active between the peak usage hours of 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. they'll get about 30 percent more interest than they would by posting at any other time. If you're posting links, however, aim for sometime between 1 and 3 p.m., as this is the time frame in which they're likely to get the most clicks.

Email

For years we've been looking for that magic timeframe within which to send our branded emails. Trends have included mailing first thing in the morning and setting campaigns to deploy in the middle of the night. Both approaches can be effective; the idea is to ensure your messages are ready and waiting for consumers when they log in to their email programs in the early hours of the day. Some email experts even go so far as to say that you should time your blast for as close to 6 a.m. as possible to ensure that your message is at the top of your target customer's email list, thus increasing the chances that it will be read (Good Technology also found that 68 percent of consumers check their work email account before 8 a.m.).

That said, increased smartphone usage has led to email peaks at unexpected times, such as Sunday afternoons after the weekend partying has come to a close, and first thing in the morning (the average person first checks their phone just after 7 a.m.). You can try to stay ahead of the latest reports and case studies, but a more effective strategy might be to consider the nature of your message and what makes the most sense for your brand. If your audience tends to make purchases during the lunch hour, send prior to that to get on their radar, perhaps including a time-sensitive deal. If your customers patronize your business most on the weekends, it follows that you should shoot for later in the week.

Mobile

We've been told that lunchtime is the best time of day to deliver mobile ads, with ad interaction rates on mobile ad networks peaking around midday. But just as with email marketing, there is no single answer for success. Some brands, like restaurants and food services, would do well to employ day-part targeting on mobile ad networks, aiming for the times of day that food is top of mind for consumers. Others might require a more tactile strategy, like studying website analytics for visitation trends and translating that usage structure into a mobile campaign. Either way, with its reams of data on past client and category successes, your mobile ad network is a good place to start formulating your plan.

Just when to display your ads and branded posts is a question of where you're placing them. Time your message well, and your audience is certain to receive it.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tessa Wegert

Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.

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