A question for American businesses: How far ahead are your customers in London and Paris? Answer: Not so far, at least for a few weeks. This coming weekend marks the beginning of the Daylight Saving Time silly season in which America “springs forward” a full two weeks before Europe goes over to DST. That means “Bonjour!” will be a little earlier for a while and London will only be 4 hours ahead (all next week and the week after, March 13-27). After that, London goes back to being 5 hours ahead, so to speak. Things will stay in sync until October 30 when the U.K. and E.U. fall back an hour, one week before the U.S.
But does it matter? Obviously, the answer depends on how much business you do in/with Europe and whether you are a business-to-consumer or business-to-business company. A lot of Monetate’s clients are primarily B2C companies and quite a few get more than 20% of their business from consumers who are outside America.
Some of our clients also use country-based and time-based merchandising promotions. For example, Tafford Uniforms sometimes runs “night-owl” promotions offering discounts on medical scrubs to nurses working the night shift. This relies on a technology/strategy called dayparting. You can see how that works in this screenshot of the Monetate dashboard:
Dayparting is very simple to set up. You just select the hours of the day and days of the week in which you want your targeted messaging to display (in the screenshot above the selection was made for a promotion to run during the week at lunchtime).
The actual display of the campaign to site visitors can be based on “your” time or consumer time, that is local time at the location of the website visitor, something which Monetate will determine for you, based on our geo-targeting technology. In practice that means–for example in the night owl scenario–you can show the offer between 1AM and 5AM local time in New York, then Chicago, Denver, and Los Angeles. It also means you don’t have to worry about the changes in time difference around DST because Monetate will always make sure your website shows the right message to the right person at the right time.
If you are a B2B company your website is probably not going to be affected by this temporary time shift, although you might see a shift in traffic patterns if you are tracking analytics and conversion data by time of day. But you do need to watch out for virtual communication gaps. Ironically, the more that you do international business online or over the phone from your home country, the more you need an awareness of time in other countries.
Consider your EMEA salespeople on the ground in London or Liverpool setting up face-to-face meetings with local prospects. Your people are going to know–or jolly well should know–what time it is where they are. However, if you are making sales calls into Europe from America by phone, you need to do that whole “What time is it over there?” mental calculation accurately, otherwise you could miss your connection.
Speaking of time, I have to dash now. Someone in the Philadelphia office just Yammered: “How do you say ‘Early bird special on flat rate shipping’ in French?” Sounds like a client is setting up a new geo-targeting campaign. Let me leave you with my three favorite sites for time-related data:
The World Time Server Meeting Planner is the place to go if you want to check time differences for future dates. Of course, you can request a Monetate demo at any time, DST or no DST.