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Study reveals optimum time to tackle GDPR consenting – and how to not let it become an avalanche of unsubscribers

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SmartFocus has revealed findings that companies trying to reconfirm marketing preferences under GDPR are at risk of triggering mass unsubscription requests, if they mail in the morning asking customers to make a decision.

The company studied user behaviour in relation to 1.4 billion email marketing messages sent by a subset of aggregated, anonymised customer data from major UK-based retailers. It revealed the optimum point in time to send marketing email to increase reconfirmations and minimise unsubscribes.

The most likely time for unsubscribes is between 10:15am and 12:30pm, with the time period producing a pronounced 20 per cent spike in email unsubscribe rates compared with the rest of the day. Such a pronounced rejection could decimate an established marketing database while trying to confirm marketing preferences. Retailers and brands must avoid this time when contacting consumers about future communication preferences. In contrast, 6pm produced the fewest unsubscribes, 15 per cent lower than the daily average and 35 per cent below the peak.

Other key findings included:

  • Most marketing emails (600,000 an hour) were opened between 6pm and 9pm
  • Just half that volume are opened at 9am, at the beginning of the business day
  • The number of unsubscribes is not always proportional to the number of emails sent.
  • Before 12noon, the proportion of unsubscribes against emails sent can be up to 40 per cent higher than other times of the day
  • Emails sent between 5pm and 6.30pm are the least likely to lead to unsubscribes

Companies must have the explicit consent of individuals to store and use their personal data. This means individuals must opt in and give permission for companies to send them marketing emails, rather than having a box pre-ticked for them. The imminent arrival of the EU’s General Data Protection Legislation (GDPR) risks disrupting this approach, with most organisations forced to conduct extensive consent-gathering outreach to existing databases to ensure compliance.

“Timing is an important part of a successful email campaign and an opportunity to build a better customer relationship. Knowing when to contact your audience with a request for information or consent can make the difference between success and failure,” said Sarah Taylor, CMO at SmartFocus.

“This analysis, based on unprecedented access to anonymised email behaviour data, suggests that mornings and lunchtimes are increasingly seen as an intrusion. Whereas in the evening and after the working day, a marketing message will get a much more positive viewing.”

How an organisation deals with the fall-out from requesting consent will be instrumental to their success for the coming year. Recent studies suggest that with just over three months until the legislation comes into force, a quarter of UK and EU businesses consider they are still ‘at risk’ from GDPR non-compliance. This is due to a lack of knowledge of data provenance, data location and permissions given.

By saving emails requesting an action, such as asking for consent, to the evening, using the daytime for more traditional and targeted sales-led emails should result in fewer losses. Moreover, it will create a foundation of trust, one that will prove to be more valuable for customer and retail brand alike.

Download the SmartFocus white paper here:

www.smartfocus.com/en/improving-customer-engagement-through-time-based-email-targeting

 

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1 Comment

  1. Nice to see some data on this Paul, thanks. We’ve seen a lot of interest from clients and prospects in consent solutions related enquiries this year as the GDPR deadline brings pressure to bear on sales and marketing databases.

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