What is the best time to reach your audience through advertising?

You may say “Well, I want my products to be seen anytime, anywhere!” However, that may not be the smartest use of your limited marketing budget, and in many cases too much exposure (through commercials or product placements) may actually generate a negative impact on the attitude towards the brand[1]. Even big brands such as Coca-Cola, which you are exposed every day have moderated their mass advertising to target their audience more wisely, with specific strategies for each medium (street banners, newspapers, TV, radio, Internet, Mobile Apps, etc.)[2].

So what is the best time to reach your audience? And how can you know it?

The first thing to understand clearly is the goal you are wanting to achieve. Visits or conversions? And from which visitors segment? New or returning visitors? Once you have clearly defined your goal, Google Analytics will provide you with useful insights to understand your visitors’ behaviour and the best period to engage with then and convert them.

Traffic per Day of the Week and Hour of the Day

Even if weekdays, lunch and after dinner times are the periods we intuitively think will bring the highest peaks in visits/conversions, it can vary considerably based on your industry and behaviour of your audience.

The chart below shows that for an entertainment website, the traffic peak occurs on Thursday, i.e. the day where new movies come out in theatres in New Zealand. However, the days with the highest conversion rate are Monday and Tuesday.

The following chart shows that traffic is relatively steady from 9a.m. to 10p.m., with a slight peak during late afternoon while the best conversion rates occur at lunch time:

To create these charts, use ‘custom reports’ in Google Analytics to cross ‘Day of week’ and ‘Hour of Day’ dimensions with visits, revenue, conversion rate or any other metrics that you identified as your goal (can be the number of pages per visit, the time on site, etc). You also may want to apply this report to a specific visitor segment (new visitors don’t behave the same than your regular customers) or a specific traffic source (organic, paid, Facebook, eDMs, etc). For it to be statistically significant, you may need to take a long period of time (at least one month).

Once you have this data, you can go a little further to obtain a nice visualisation of the best converting times:

To create this kind of visualisation, just gather your data for each hour of each day of the week and use the ‘Conditional Formatting’ function in Excel.
This analysis will provide you actionable insights on when and how effectively target the right people while optimising your budget. Here are some questions that can be answered with these reports:

  • When should I have a 100% impression share on Google Adwords?
  • What is the best day/time to send my newsletter?
  • Do our TV ads trigger visits to our website?
  • Real-Time Traffic

    As its name suggests, the Real-time Analytics feature shows the number of active visitors, where they came from and what they are viewing IN REAL-TIME. This is quite amazing to see. To enhance the real time traffic reports even further I would like to see Google would be to provide a real-time heatmaps tracking.

    With this Real-Time reports, you can directly see impact of your marketing messages displayed right now on TV, radio, eDMs, Press releases and of course Social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc).

    Ultimately, analysing your best converting periods will allow you to benchmark and tune your marketing campaigns to reach your goals effectively and make the most of your marketing budgets.

    Tip: Keep in mind the time zone you have set up for your Google Analytics profile when analysing your traffic, otherwise combining international visitors with local traffic, may skew your findings…