Hit ‘Em Where They Ain’t

“I keep my eyes clear and I hit ’em where they ain’t.”
“Wee Willie” Keeler
Hall of Fame Baseball Player (1872–1923)

Back in the days when I had a job, I did a fair amount of hiring. Ours was a large, decentralized company, and as the hiring manager for an open position, I would do everything from writing the job description to placing the ad to interviewing the candidates.

(Interestingly, one of my first, “This Internet thing is going to change the world” epiphanies came while trying to fill a position. I spent $3,500 to place a single help wanted ad in The Sunday Boston Globe, and $150 to run the same ad on Monster.com. Both ads yielded the same number of qualified responses. I decided right there to never again place a help wanted ad in a newspaper.)

In any case, the first few days after an ad ran, I’d be inundated with resumes. Sometimes, if it was a particularly attractive job, I’d have so much paper in my office that it looked like there had been a collision between a Staples truck and a carload of IRS auditors.

As you can imagine, my first objective in these situations was to get rid of as many resumes as possible, and winnow the pile down to a manageable six or seven good choices. The fact is, with a couple of hundred options on my desk, if your resume didn’t have every qualification I was looking for, I tossed it like a day old muffin (or whatever). Average time spent per resume? Maybe 15 seconds each.

One thing I eventually noticed however, was that resumes which dribbled in towards the end of the week got more of my attention. With my office once again clean, and most of the sorting work now behind me, I’d give a much closer look to these late arrivals. Not consciously, but simply because my orientation had shifted from “weed out” to “weed in.”

When it comes to determining the best day and time to send your E-Newsletter, the same logic applies. In other words, the answer lies in figuring out when your recipients are most likely to not be trying to weed you out.

And with that in mind, I offer the following recommendations:

  • Stay away from early morning. The first thing your readers do when they arrive at the office is check e-mail. Since most of them spend more time away from their computers overnight than during any other period, it stands to reason that the biggest backlog — and therefore, the greatest tendency to delete all but the most critical — will occur when they first check in the morning. We don’t want our newsletters in this pile. For the same reason, I wouldn’t send a newsletter after about 4PM, since for anybody who doesn’t get to it today, 4PM turns into tomorrow morning.
  • Stay away from Mondays (or Tuesdays after a long weekend). As with early morning, it all backs up over the weekend (if your audience is made up of businesspeople), and we need to steer clear. In fact, I avoid the first day after the weekend entirely, since it tends to be a day when people are scrambling and eager to clear the decks of anything “unnecessary.”
  • Pay attention to time zones. If most of your important readers (i.e. the ones who are most likely to become clients) are in the same location as you, it’s easy. If however, they’re spread out all over the country or world, you may have to split the difference a bit to minimize the overnight problem. See if you can find a time of day that is between 9AM and 4PM for most readers.
  • Hit ’em where they ain’t. There have been — and continue to be — all kinds of studies which attempt to isolate the best day/time to send. Don’t take these at face value however, since different companies have different audiences and different objectives, and what works “in general” may not apply to you.For me, as somebody sending a “thought piece” — as opposed to an e-mail looking for an immediate response or purchase — I look for the day and time where I think my readers are ready to take a little break from their working day and think about something else. In my case, mid-morning on Friday seems to be about right. Your readers may be different however, so give some thought to who they are and when they will be most inclined to hear your message.

Bottom Line: With E-Newsletters, content is what matters most. If you don’t have that taken care of, there is no best day/time to send. That said, you’ll increase your chances of avoiding the dreaded delete key if you take into account when your readers are least interested in throwing everything (including you) overboard.

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