Email marketing
When Should I Send My Emails?

By: Michael Kinstlinger, AMA Volunteer

Of all of the components that constitute an email send – Subject Line, Super Subject Line, from address, CTA, segmenting, etc the one that seems to get the least amount of attention compared to its importance is time of send. Given that people usually have a limited amount of time to engage with marketing emails, delivering your emails when people are the most likely to engage is a really critical step. After all, your competition isn’t really other industry segments that send emails, but rather EVERY OTHER EMAIL IN THAT INBOX.

Problem is – it’s hard to gage when a particular person is going to read emails. The Harvard Business Review found that people check email 15 times per day.* Given how people usually engage with email, if an email looks interesting, it’s generally opened within 2 hours of it being received.

So, how do you determine when is the best time to hit the send button?

The first thing you should try is a time of day/week test. If your list can support it, divide your list so that it can be sent a few days over a week and at different times over those days. Maybe 21 segments sent from M-F each 3 hours apart or some variation thereof.  I know that sounds strenuous, but it can really help you learn more about your audience and when your message best resonates with them.

You’ll notice that in the first paragraph, I mentioned people engaging with your email and not people opening it. There is a difference. Now with Apple MPP, an open really isn’t an open anymore and even before that, the act of opening an email might just be a glance. What you really need to concentrate on is how people are likely to engage with the kind of email you’re sending. If your email asks people to fill out a form or do some planning, that’s not likely to happen over breakfast or during their commute.
Conversely, lots of emails serve just to inform people or remind them that something is available – a daily coffee special, a new podcast download or a sale at a vendor. That brand of email can be digested quickly.

If at all possible, you want to try to send an email when people are most likely to take action. Here’s an example. A few years ago, we were sending emails for a consumer food product that people use at mealtime. We wondered – when are people likely to buy this product? For some it was on their way home from work, others were when they do their weekly or bulk shopping. Narrowing it down to those two scenarios helped us craft the kind of message to send and helped inform us when to send it.

One of the great advantages email marketing offers is its flexibility and scalability. Do some brainstorming about how and when people engage with your emails and see what you come up with. It might surprise you.


Michael Kinstlinger is a Senior Email Campaign manager at havascx.  He enjoys the intersection of data, creativity and analytics inherent in each email.