The Best Time to Send an Email – Part 1

This is part 1 of a 3 part series on the best time to send promotional emails.

Email marketing is a war. Every email that you send is sent with a purpose (if it’s not, then why are you sending it?). There is a goal, there is a victory.

And every email that you send is made up of a number of battles. These battles must be won in succession in order to win the war and achieve victory. And the more you know about email going into the war, the better your odds.

One of the big email marketing questions is when to send your email. The answer is not so simple, but here are some tips.

First, picture your customers. Who is getting the email? And when are they most likely to read and take action on an email? The answer might be different if your email is going to working adults and if it’s going to college students.

On average, a person in the US receives 7 promotional emails each day. That means that you’re not the only game in town. You need to stand out in a crowded (more crowded every day) inbox.

So let’s begin to dissect the day…

Early morning is no good. You don’t want your email sitting in their inbox with multiple other unread emails. That’s an inbox that is screaming to be ignored, and emails that are screaming to be deleted. When your email hits their inbox, you want it to be top of the list.

9am is the majority of working Americans arrive at work. Most will look at email immediately, some for the first time. Anything before 9am is a gamble.

It’s important to keep in mind that if your audience is national, time zones will come into play. Anything before 12pm EST is before 9am PST, so the mornings are dangerous all around.

Lunch time is a good time to catch people when they are not busy, and able to focus on your “offer”. The average American worker has a lunch break between noon and 1pm, and this is one of the best times to reach them if your intention is a purchase.

Afternoons can tend to feel a little longer, and drag on until quitting time. The closer it gets to the end of the work day, the more a person might be thinking about the commute, and the evening hours. While an email at the end of the work day may get the right kind of attention, there is also the risk of it getting deleted as a “non-essential interruption”. While I would not necessarily recommend an email at this time, it’s still better than late night and early morning.

After 5pm is another danger zone. Many people check email on their phones, but often will leave anything that comes in after hours until the morning. You don’t want that.

So it sounds like we’ve settled on a target time of 12pm-2pm EST. Picture that as the bullseye or the top of the bell curve, with times most immediately before and after that range being the second best.

Stay tuned the remainder of this week for more on email timing.