Targeting bloggers and influencers with marketing is hard. If I was working with any other market, my first instinct would be the define demographic data and characteristics about the people in that market. Then, I would hit them with ads for my product on social media or search while I brainstormed some more clever marketing tactics.
With influencers and bloggers, this is tricky: there isn't one demographic to target in order to reach these people (bloggers don't look one way or live in one place; they can be literally anyone). There also isn't a specific job title to target on a network like LinkedIn. Bloggers refer to themselves with a huge variety of words, from "entrepreneur" to "blogger" to "editor-in-chief."
So, in the past year and a half at Chicory, we've worked through lots of ideas and found that email remains our strongest marketing channel. Once we identified that, it was time to optimize. In a month, we send out approximately 700 to 1,000 cold emails to influencers. With our highly niche product, we looked into standards for the return on cold email outreach to influencers, specifically in the food space, to see how we stacked up. Without any real benchmarks that we could find, we thought we'd share ours along with some tips for getting the best results with this market.
We tested out lots of different combos of days in order to figure out the best time to prompt our messaging flows. The results shocked me. In every other industry I've worked in, email marketing trends usually indicated that earlier in the week, earlier in the day emails got better open rates. With bloggers and influencers, the exact opposite was true.
The best time to email bloggers is on Thursday and Friday afternoons; go figure! Why is this true? Well, our evidence is anecdotal, but we know that many of our recipe blogging partners juggle multiple jobs and roles. They might be full-time parents, or have a nine-to-five unrelated to their blog. When taking this into account, it seems that the best time to reach bloggers via email is in after-hours.
Conversion and Reply Rate
We found that our open rate was highest on Thursdays and Fridays. But our conversion, click, and reply rate was highest for emails sent on Thursdays or Sundays. When reviewing the trends on how these emails performed, we found something fascinating: bloggers opened emails sent on a Thursday many times. Ultimately, though, they converted towards the end of the weekend.
Responses to our emails or form submissions came through beginning on the Friday evening and continued through weekend days following the initial delivery of the email. As you can see according to the image above, a follow-up email (or, "cold email 2") sent on Sunday resulted in our highest reply rate of 11%, but lower click rates. Conversions also are consistently highest for us on Sundays.
Nowadays, content marketing is the big trend for companies trying to stay top-of-mind and build brand recognition among their market. If your email marketing isn't geared toward a specific CTA (for us, it's all about "fill out THIS FORM to become a recipe partner"), but rather gets packed with lots of links to content, then Wednesdays and Tuesdays are where you want to focus.
In looking at traffic trends specifically tied to our email campaigns (we track all of those links with UTM parameters), we see peaks on Wednesdays and the lowest engagement on, ironically, Sunday--our highest conversion day. Unsurprisingly, the more links that were packed into these emails, the higher the click rate. If you want clicks, give your email recipients more places to engage.
Bloggers respond to different things at different points in the week, but the trends have been very consistent throughout our past few months of testing. The takeaways:
- Send emails to bloggers/influencers on Sundays for the highest reply rate (11%).
- Send emails to bloggers/influencers on Thursdays for the highest open rate (20%).
- Send emails to bloggers/influencers on Tuesdays for the highest click rate (20%).
- Overall, Thursdays resulted in our highest conversion rates (8%).