Sunday, July 13, 2008

What Works For Me May Not Work For You

I travel around the country, and sometimes to other countries, talking to people about SMB Consulting, Managed Services, and finding success in the profession of technical consulting. I'm always amazed at how advice is perceived.

For example, in the whole blog post series on Managed Services in a Month, I spell out step-by-step what you can do. People email me and tell me their success stories. When I look at what they're doing, it's nothing like what I recommended!

So why are they thanking me? I guess I kicked them in the butt and got them thinking about it. And they did some things I recommended. And they changed others. And they ignored some. etc.

The point is: what works for me may not work for you. But seeing an open, in-depth view of how do things may help you hold a mirror to what your company is doing. And it may motivate you for change.

And if you have success, I'd appreciate it if you take out your credit card and wander over to and buy something. :-)

So last Monday, Vlad drops me an email and recommends that I move my regular Monday SMB Email to . . . any day but Monday.

    Important safety tip for life: There are certain people in your life whose advice you should listen to, even if you don't want to. For me, one of these people is Vlad Mazek. That doesn't mean I always do what he says, but I take it seriously.

His argument is that Monday sucks for everyone because they're overwhelmed with email and newsletters from the weekend. Fridays suck because everyone's half gone anyway and cleaning up their desk so they can scoot for the weekend. that leave Tues, Wed, and Thu.

Basically, Vlad aims for Tuesdays during the holiday season and Thursdays during the non-holiday season. And he prefers afternoons, to catch people as they're either winding down for the day or stuck in traffic.

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So I start poking around. First, my own stats. My average open rate is in the range of 27 - 32%. I know, from talking to other legitimate email marketers (opt-in, easy-out), that this is a good rate. My peak open rate was 61.9%, which happened on a Monday in January.

Here's a good, recent article about open rates: What Kind of Open Rates Are People Getting? (AWeber). Legitimate newsletters were receiving an average open rate of 12 - 14.5% in April. Those sent in the range of 2-3 PM had a significantly higher open rate (19%).

I normally get 27 - 30% on Monday and then the numbers float up through the week. So people are saving the newsletter and opening it as they go through the week.

It turns out that there's a small difference in open rates between different days of the week, with Thursday coming out the winner over all (but Tuesday winning some months). The author of that piece, Justin Premick, also gives a word of caution.

    "Please, don’t drastically change your sending times/days just because you see that the average last month, or any month, happened to be higher on a different day or time.

    Yes, you might eventually be able to shift your sending schedule, or split test some broadcasts, but if you up and move everything, you may throw off subscribers who are used to hearing from you at the usual time."

Just as a comparison, spammers have their own community and benchmarks. For example, this is from
    eRoi found that Friday was the best day for sending email, in terms of open and click-through rates (21.0 and 4.0 percent, respectively), during the fourth quarter. Tuesday had the second-highest open rate (20.8 percent), and Thursday had the second-highest click-through rate (3.7 percent), followed closely by Tuesday (also 3.7 percent).

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The bottom line for me: I'm having good success with my current schedule and I'll stick to that. But the world keeps turning, change happens, and I'll revisit this whole issue from time to time.

Thanks, Vlad, for adding a recurring task to my to-do list. Like I don't have enough on my plate already!

What are friends for?


  1. Karl,

    It all comes down to fighting for attention. If you are sending emails out you have to fight for mailbox space and hope that the recipient isn't dealing with 5,000 other things at the time your messages come in. It's just a matter of gaming availability.

    I am not too sure this is going to continue to matter for long. We are getting more traction and response from our blog which is why I am putting more effort into that and the podcast. People are responding to something that is different, that is challenging, that is entertaining on multiple levels.

    Now not everyone can quite "paint the picture" like I do but at least I'll link to you! Oh, speaking of which...



  2. Anonymous6:14 AM

    I guess it depends on the audience you are talking too right now.

    If it's me, the one who looks forward to your newsletter, then you could put it under my windshield in a parking lot and I'd make sure to peruse the content and write down the links.

    If your attempting to talk to prospective readers, then I have no idea what works and what doesn't.

    For those of us that subscribe to your newsletter (and yes, I subject myself to Vlad's daily dose of either directed humility or humiliation, depending on his mood:)), we're going to focus on the things that help our business.

    And you (and Vlad) help us with our business.


  3. It sounds like you follow your own advice well. There's so much advice on best practices that it's hard to really know what works best. I believe the true best practice is to test the advice you receive from trusted sources and find what works best for your specific email/newsletters. Whatever you're doing seems to be doing the trick (as seen by your high open rates). Keep up the good work.

    Jeff Kempf, marketing intern at eROI


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