Email Marketing: Knowing When to Send is Half the Battle

Email Marketing: Knowing When to Send is Half the Battle

Date Posted: 11/1/14
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Email marketing isn’t just business; it’s personal. Knowing your audience is essential for a successful email marketing campaign, and that includes knowing when they’re most likely to open their emails. Using analytics, you can identify the best days and times to send in order to generate email campaigns that are personal and impactful.

It’s the responsibility of email marketers to provide relevant content to subscribers when and where they are looking for it. You don’t want your messages sitting in limbo while you wait for subscribers to clean out their mailboxes – reducing the likelihood of them being read, let alone acted upon. Industry benchmarks tell us that sending between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, will yield the best results, but if everyone is doing that, doesn’t that increase competition during those times? There’s more to it than that.

Determine the Best Days and Times to Send

So, you have the relevant and timely content. Check. Now, how do you determine when your subscribers want to receive your emails and when they’ll be most likely to engage with them? Using high-level behavioral data, you can determine when a target audience is most likely to engage with digital marketing campaigns. You might consider asking each of your subscribers this information on the subscription form, but behavioral trends change over time and can be influenced by many other factors – not to mention the additional friction this would create on a subscription form.

We recommend using the results from your website analytics provider, such as Google Analytics. Look at sessions and transactions for direct traffic, organic search and paid search. This data will tell you when people are actually looking for you and when they’re most likely to convert. You’ll likely find three spikes in activity daily – in the morning, afternoon and evening. Depending on the type of content you’re promoting, any of these time frames could be effective. Ideally, we’re looking for the single times and days yielding the highest number of sessions and transactions.


Once you’ve compiled this data, we recommend deploying your email marketing campaigns roughly one hour before the selected performance peak. Always use A/B testing across different times to validate results, and review site trends at least quarterly, making refinements where necessary. Each day of the week may have its own unique best performance times. Use these times to schedule your email marketing cadence accordingly.

Additional Considerations for Further Segmentation Refinement

While day and time are certainly significant factors in determining email marketing success, there are a few other segments worth analyzing that may lend themselves to higher conversion rates:

  • Geolocation: Knowing the geolocation of your consumers allows you to automatically deliver relevant content based on their location, such as country, region, city, zip code and IP address. Time differences come into play here as well – when it’s 6 p.m. in the U.S., it’s only 6 a.m. in China. If you’re sending out a time-sensitive campaign globally, you’ll need to know where they’re located.
  • Device: Ensuring your emails have a responsive design across all devices will certainly impact the engagement of your consumers. Don’t believe us? According to Movable Ink’s Q1 2014 US Consumer Device Preference Report, 66% of emails were opened on either a smartphone or tablet.
  • Gender: Men and women have different email opening habits. According to astudy conducted by SimpleRelevance, men are likely to open emails throughout the day, while women tend to check during limited windows of time. Men also check more frequently in the early morning (4 a.m. until 9 a.m.), while women check more frequently in the late morning to evening (10 a.m. until 9 p.m.).
  • Seasonality: Understanding seasonal trends is essential to winning over your consumers. Depending on your industry, there are several factors that may contribute to seasonality, such as holidays, weather and sports seasons. Timing your emails to coincide with these trends will maximize your results.

If done right, email marketing campaigns have the potential to appeal to users in a way few marketing channels can – on a personal level. Other types of campaigns, such as print, radio and television, are typically generated in a “one-size-fits-all” format. Email marketing allows you to communicate directly with your consumer in a personalized way, using the user’s name and purchase history. Take advantage of this marketing approach by sending your emails when it matters most, and watch your conversions grow.