Timing Matters

When pulling a list of donors or customers for a campaign, timing can be everything. Below is a list of things you should consider when pulling a direct marketing list from your customer database. These principles apply to both non-profit organizations and for-profit businesses.

  •  How much communication has a customer received in a short amount of time?
    • To a certain point, additional mediums of communication can boost the response of a mailing, email, or telemarketing campaign. However, communicating too much can confuse or annoy a customer. Communication with other departments can be key to solving the problem of too much communication. For instance, if a customer received a mail piece for planned giving, an appeal for a capital campaign, and a membership renewal letter all within a short amount of time, at best, the campaigns would siphon results from one another, and, at worst, the donor may be too confused by the mixed messaging and not give at all. Unifying your message can boost any communication. If a business has radio ads about a sale on a particular product and sends an email and direct mailing about the same sale, the unified message will boost the response rate for the sale overall.
  • What is the ideal time to attain the best responses? 
    • In general, email marketing has the best response rate when sent on a Tuesday or Wednesday. However, this is not true for all organizations. Using analytics, an organization can determine what time of day, day of the week, week in the month, and month of the year elicits the best responses from their direct marketing. The ideal time to send an email or place a telemarketing call can be calculated to the hour of day, while direct mailing timing is better thought of in terms of week of the month as postal time can vary. Timing can also be calculated in terms of days until a sale date or other deadline. Analysis of past data from your organization can be used to determine if customers respond better to an email sent one week before or one day before a sale day begins.
  • When will customers spend the most?
    • Similar to using analysis to find out when customers respond the best to direct marketing pieces, an organization can use analytics to determine when they spend the most. This may be the same as the response rate timing, but it could be different. For instance, you may have a very high response rate for a marketing piece sent in December, but customers buy big ticket items in October. Knowing when people are likely to spend the highest amount of give the largest donation helps an organization to target their messaging appropriately.
  • Will the customers likely be at home?
    • Though Christmas is a great time for purchasing and giving, it is also a high travel season. Sending direct mail pieces when customers are likely to be traveling is risky. Even emails can be ineffective at this time of year, as many are at their bach, where they may not have internet access.
  • Do different groups of customers behave differently?
    • Many times different groups of customers spend or donate in very different ways. An organization can use analytics to segment their customer/donor base into like groups and use different messaging or timing in their direct marketing to the diverse groups. You may have a group of donors who give monthly via an automatic charge on their credit cards, a group who gives once a year around the holidays in December, and a group whose gifts come at varying times of the year in response to renewal letters. All of these groups should be communicated with differently in terms of timing and messaging.