I’ll not keep you in suspense until the end of the article to answer the question of what day of the week is best for an organization to begin its election. The answer is, it depends. And the thing it depends on most is your own organization and anything specific to it.
In a previous article, What is an Average Voter Turnout, I wrote that while some basic math can easily determine an average voter turnout, it’s nearly impossible to determine an average voter turnout figure that has any real meaning. “Average” in the context of ElectionsOnline’s clients means sampling voter participation rates for organizations as small as a few dozen voters in a community group, to professional membership associations with tens of thousands of voters spread throughout the world. The variances between such groups are so stark as to make any average between them meaningless as a point of reference.
By the same token, it’s equally difficult to sample results of clients’ elections and determine in a meaningful way that any one day of the week is better than any other for beginning your election. Perhaps your election coincides with an annual meeting. In that case, obviously the start and end of the voting window will be dictated by the meeting dates. Perhaps your organization follows a communication strategy that results in your voters being conditioned to expect certain types of communications—those that require answering a call to action—to come on a certain day. If so, beginning your election on that day, since voters are likely to be invited to vote via some form of communication from you about the election, may be in your best interest.
One thing we can do is take a cue from marketers. An election can be thought of as a marketing campaign, and like any marketing campaign, the ultimate goal is to make a conversion. In election speak, conversion means getting a voter to vote. Marketers understand there is no one-size-fits-all formula for marketing everything under the sun. The thing being marketed, and the audience it’s being marketed to, both influence how the campaign is approached. Using previous marketing campaigns as your guide, you are likely to best understand your voters and which day of the week they are most receptive to answering calls to action. For general pointers, try searching “best day of week to send email” to your favorite search engine for further insight and ideas.
What you’ll find is that Monday is generally not the best day of the week when sending communications to a professional association. Being professionals, Mondays are when your voters are ruthlessly clearing out their email inbox after the weekend and focusing on immediate professional obligations. Fridays may be when that same audience is getting an early start on the weekend, so Tuesday through Thursday would seem to be best. On the other hand, Tuesday through Thursday is when a lot of marketers are also sending their email, so you run the risk of an election-related email having to compete with, or get lost in the minutiae of, all those others emails. I have actually seen clients send emails announcing the start of an election on the weekends. While admittedly there could be an occasion where that’s appropriate, I admit to raising an eyebrow when I see it.
Conduct your own research. ElectionsOnline’s software permits you to see the number of votes cast each day throughout an election on the results page specifically to help you measure the effectiveness of efforts aimed at encouraging voting. Keep track of the days on which you sent email related to the election, whether sent by ElectionsOnline or using your own email service. You’ll see spikes in ballots cast for those days on which emails were sent, and over time you may well observe that your voters respond particularly well on certain days of the week and not so well on others. And if you discover one day of the week is particularly good for beginning an election, it should also be on that same day that any email reminders to voters who’ve not voted are sent.
It can take a lot of data before trends begin to emerge, so don’t expect one year’s worth of data to reveal a great deal. However, by tracking such things over a span of three or more years—and particularly if that data’s taken into consideration along with conversions from other types of campaigns—you may very well begin to gather enough intelligence to know with research which day of the week is best for beginning your elections.