How Does Time of Day Affect Conversions and Lead Generation?

April 21, 2009

One of my sites generated our first lead in a new category late last night.  One of my partners sent an email saying:

“Who shops for _______ at 12:16am???”

So I got to thinking…  12:16am is late, and the product here is sort of random.  My inclination is that if you are shopping for this product at 12:16 am you are not just casually browsing.  You are looking to take some action.  That is the perfect site visitor.  So I wrote a longer response:

<< begin response >>

Consumer traffic is totally like that man.  People have to work during the day, so they oftentimes are only able to do their personal shopping at night.

In fact I find that people do lots of “shopping” and “browsing” during the day, but lots of “buying” at night.  I once saw someone make a huge mistake… they had a B2B site and put their PPC campaigns on pause on evenings and weekends, figuring that people weren’t at work then and therefore wouldn’t be buying.  They were “sorta right”.  Most of the traffic was during that time, so even though their ads only ran like 40% of the total hours in the week they still got 80% of the traffic potential, and thus only saved 20% of their total cost by turning the ads off weeknights and weekends.

But the mistake was this…

The 20% of the people who were looking late at night and on the weekends were BUYERS.  They were the decision makers who were busy with phone calls and meetings during “normal business hours”.

C-level executives don’t usually work the normal 9 to 5.  The same may be true for other “decision makers”.  Even so, most of their day during those hours is committed to communicating with staff, clients, etc.  They do their shopping when other people are watching sitcoms.  These were the type of people our (then new) client wanted to reach, and they were totally missing their best leads just to save 20%.  We stopped the day-parting in AdWords, re-allocated the budget so they still spent the same amount but did so evenly during the entire week and the quality of the leads improved.

With B2C sites, I’ve seen many instances where people will browse during the day but not take action b/c they are at work and don’t want to have to answer their phone (if its a lead generation site and they are requesting a callback) or don’t want to have someone see them entering in their credit card info, etc.  As such, they do some research during the day and then once they have learned a bit and narrowed things down they might do a search from their home PC that night and actually buy or fill out a form, etc.  Sometimes they re-visit the same sites they found during the day, sometimes not.  If they do another search, that search might be more specific based on what they learned during their daytime browsing.

The moral of the story is to think about who your target customer is, and what their day looks like.  Why do they shop?  When do they shop?  How do they shop?  Just b/c its B2B doesn’t mean its M-F and/or 9-5.

<< end response >>

What do you think?

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One Response to “How Does Time of Day Affect Conversions and Lead Generation?”


  1. Jon,
    Exactly. Most of the time I will have someone research a product or service for me and then email me the results. I look them over at night and you are correct the buying decision happens then.

    I think another side to it would be Small Business vs Big Business. Most of the time Big Business will have a purchasing department which will handle the purchasing during the normal M-F/9-5, but most Small Businesses don’t necessarily have a purchasing department.

    Just my two cents.


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