How to use Google Analytics to find the best time to send emails | Econsultancy

In my experience, the day of the week and hour of the day at which marketing emails are sent is often based on little more than the gut feeling of the email marketer and the performance of previous emails, rather than real data. 

As someone who could put the anal in analytics, I think that’s a rather inexact science. Surely there’s a more accurate way to figure out whether the assumption is really true?

There are clearly some days of the week and hours of the day that result in higher conversion rates than others. So theoretically, if you can get your email marketing to your customers’ inboxes at the time they’re most likely to convert, or just before, your efforts should result in better conversion rates and more revenue.

Fortunately, there is a better way to determine the optimum mailing time, rather than using gut instinct – you can do it via Google Analytics.

Love the quote ‘put the anal in analytics’! I’m not especially anal (I think) but I do believe, quite firmly, in the power of evidence and research to inform decision-making. So this nice piece has come through from econsultancy at the right time for me. Question: did they use their analyics to time this?

Netvibes and me just don’t get along any more

I’ll be straight up: I like Netvibes. I’ve used it a lot in the past because I think it’s such a great solution to the problem of monitoring across the social mediascape. So it’s hurting me pretty badly now that it doesn’t work for me any more. That is, just me. As in, me personally. It’s fine for everyone else in the world, it would seem.

About a week ago, at the time of typing, they had a problem. None of the HTML or Twitter Search widgets worked which, considering I use a lot of HTML and Twitter Searches, was not good for me.

Then they fixed it. Nice.

Then, a few days ago, Twitter Searches stopped working for me again. “Not a problem”, I thought. “They’ll get it sorted.”

Problem is, they think there is nothing to sort. Twitter Searches work just fine for them. And, given that I’m using their free service, I do believe that’s the end of the story, as far as they’re concerned.

So the situation is this: every single private dashboard I ever set up is broken on Firefox pre-v4, and IE post-v7, including a completely new one I created specifically to test the problem.  Twitter Search widgets do not work on any of them, and another widget I used, called Remixed RSS, also does not work. It definitely did, even though it’s not an official Netvibes widget. Safari and Chrome are fine, as are other versions of Firefox and IE. But the versions that don’t work are the most popular. I cannot tell people to install a new browser simply to view my dashboard.

I’ve tested this on different machines, browsers, operating systems, accounts, dashboards, even entirely different infrastructures and countries. I consistently reproduce the problem: Netvibes do not. And they’ve had no other reports of the problem either. So that’s that then.

This is actually impossible. It’s almost as if I personally am unable to use Netvibes any more, no matter what machine I use, no matter what login details I create, or what dashboard I set up. Or even what country I’m in. It would appear just to be ‘me’. Given that, as I say, I use it a lot, I’m finding this extremely painful and frustrating.

Netvibes, in truth, have responded to some of my overtures via their support page, Facebook page and Twitter account. But they’ve now gone silent, even since sending them error messages from the IE and Firefox consoles which might give them an insight into the issue.

Of course they’ve gone silent. I don’t pay for support or anything. That’s the deal, right?

I guess I just need to advise people to use anything other than Firefox pre-v4, and IE post-v7 to use any dashboard I personally set up – although, in the same breath, I should also tell them that anyone else’s dashboards are probably fine. See? Crazy stuff.

In the meantime if you want to help me, you can. Here are the login details for the dashboard I set up to test this:

  1. Go to Netvibes.com
  2. Click ‘Sign in’ at the top right corner of the screen
  3. Sign in with email beans.milligan@gmail.com (yes, the names of my pets but don’t bother trying to use them to access any of my other stuff, I don’t use them for passwords or anything, and don’t use that email address for anything either), password testtest (you can even just copy and paste those details into the sign in page if you like).
  4. Tell me what you see.

Any help/advice/support appreciated…

What do subscribe, like and follow have in common?

They’re all ways of linking, true.

They’re all different words for linking on blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and so on. Also true.

But they all mean the same thing. And that thing is?

“I find what you have to say interesting, and I’d like to know more.”

This probably strikes you as blindingly obvious, but it does make you realise: what’s the point of starting any social media programme unless you’ve got something to say? Why should people be interested if you don’t have anything unique or interesting to say? And why should they come back if you stop saying it?

And this cuts to the heart of communications in so many ways, whether offline or online.

Imagine you’re setting up a radio station. You’ve erected the mast, bought a cool studio, installed your microphone and unnecessarily huge mixing desk. You smoked 20 Woodbine a day for the past year to give your voice that gravelly texture. Everything’s in place. You flick the switch. You’re on air. Everyone’s waiting. But you suddenly realise you don’t have anything to say or play. It’s just a big empty speech bubble.

Would this ever happen? I’d like to think not. In so-called ‘traditional’ media you think about what content you’re going to produce, whether in print or broadcast, who it’s going to be for, what are their needs and wants, and so on. PR people do the same, just on the other side of the media mirror. And we do the same in ‘new’ media, if you can imagine such a thing as a three-way mirror.

The point I’m making is that so much of what we do in social media relies on exactly the same processes traditional media would go through. We don’t wave a magic wand. It’s not weird science or a black art. Messaging, content, audiences, everything you’d think about in a ‘traditional’ comms programme, you need to think about with social media too. But most of all, it’s about content. Actually having something to say, and saying it in an engaging, interesting, relevant way.

It doesn’t matter what you call it. Subscribe, Like and follow all mean: we’re listening, so talk!

Pressed for time? Cute tools that give immediate results

Last time around, I posted about not having enough time to blog. I’m trying to fix this by basically making time – but it seems a good point at which to list some tools that help you get ‘cool’ results with as little input as possible.

By this, I mean tools that use your media to create interesting publications or multimedia. In other words, the exact opposite of blogging. In that, writing a good, well researched, informative blog post takes a while and looks frankly boring, whereas some of these tools basically make people go ‘wow’ with the minimum of effort required.

Paper.li – newspapers from people you follow

I’ve often thought of Twitter as the ‘compressed web’, that is, people tend to tweet with a link to a web page, so you go from 140 characters to a page via Twitter. Paper.li have very cleverly demonstrated this, by automatically publishing a nicely formatted newspaper from people you follow on Twitter.

The idea is that, if you follow these people, it’s because you find them interesting in some way. In turn, the people who follow you might find them interesting too. So, ‘expand’ from the links of people you follow, package them into something attractive, and you’re promoting them and yourself in the process. It’s sort of curation, and you can click here to see mine live.

As you can see, you can give it a name, and you can choose how often to publish (daily makes sense given Twitter’s timescales). You can also use it to create newsletters from Facebook although I tried that with mixed success. It seems to promote/publish the tweets that have been retweeted the most.

What I’ve found is that people tend to retweet if they’re on it but I don’t know how well it works otherwise. Still, given that it’s free, takes virtually no time to put together and looks nice, it’s certainly something you can add to your client’s online presence.

Imagine how effective this would be if you then, say, print these off, put them in envelopes and mail them to people. Oh, wait…

Pummelvision – movies from your pictures

Pummelvision is cute. Point it at your Flickr account (or, as of fairly recently, Facebook, Tumblr and some other platforms) and it creates a nice movie from your images, synchronised to some quite cool music.

Here’s a fairly random example pulled from YouTube:

I think  it’s quite impressive. Take a ton of interesting pics at your next event, point Pummelvision its way, and when it’s rendered after a few minutes, you’ve got a video for presenting as a follow-up.

It would be nice if there were more customisation features, such as different music or arranging images by colour, but perhaps, as with the increased platform count, they’re in the pipeline. Like paper.li it’s just so quick and easy to put together, and it might just impress a client or two.

Xtranormal – cartoons from scripts

This one might not work so well for B2B because, well, it’s cartoons, but you can make some strong points with heavy irony and this might suit some brands. See below:

Here, you type in your script, choose the cartoon figures you want to use, and you can even put in small actions such as double-takes, glances to camera and so on.

It works well with small scripts but be warned, the script editor isn’t the easiest to use (for example, you can’t import from a word processor, you have to type it all in manually), and it can take a while to render the movie. I once tried to get it to perform Monty Python’s entire Cheese Shop Sketch, and after quite some time typing it all, it was still rendering 24 hours later, so I guess it just wasn’t to be.

Presentations from PDFs

No, not the other way around (ie PDFs from presentations). By this, I mean, adding a bit of pazazz to a client’s PDF simply by presenting it in an interesting new way. I’ve been looking around and there are packages out there that seem to do this, but I honestly cannot vouch for them and haven’t used any of them yet. I’ll report back when I have because I think this could be a very nice way to add a bit of spit n’polish to an annual report or corporate brochure, for example.

And finally… someone should invent this: Kinetic Typography software

Kinetic Typography is a buzz word par excellence. It means ‘moving text’ but, of course, we all have to invent clever terms for simple things, don’t we?

Once you’ve impressed your client with your ability to use seven syllables rather than three, you can start showing examples of what this means. Here are some:



Now, I’m sure this could be automated somehow, so you can just input text and get kinetic treatment out. I’ve looked and there’s a free package called Jahshaka that seems a bit unstable and could do with some interface refinement, and I’m not sure it does what I want it to. [post-edit: seems Cinefx have taken over development so perhaps I’ll give that a go sometime soon]

But I’m absolutely certain that someone with some nous would be able to develop software that lets you type in a script and use effects from a menu, very like xtranormal, with no need to understand graphics packages such as After Effects or programming. Perhaps you could coordinate it with music, a-la-Pummelvision, or create kinetic typography on the fly from Twitter input, like paper.li (kinetic microblogging typography anyone?).

Surely someone could do this. For free. Now. It’s so stunningly useful someone should invent it.