Why You Should Send Your Next Promotional Email at Midnight


When a politician changes their position on a policy question, we call them a flip flopper. And we don’t trust them.

But changing your position on an issue based on new evidence is a sign of progress and wisdom. And not just for politicians, for all the rest of us.

For a long time, when it came to email marketing, I was a firm believer in wanting to land in an empty inbox. I believed, and still do to a large extent, than one of the best ways to stand out and grab attention is to avoid the crowded inbox completely.

This led me to guide you all to send on days – and during times of day – that may not be as common for other companies to send their promotional emails. The idea was that if you avoided the “busy times”, you could show up at the top of your prospect’s inbox, the lone unread email waiting to be opened and read.

And when I got some advice that suggested I send emails in the middle of the night instead, I brushed it off for exactly the same reason…at first.

I thought, if I send an email in the middle of the night, it will show up in the flood of new unread emails all screaming for attention when people check their inbox in the morning. As one of many, my email is less likely to be read or carefully considered – more likely to be deleted in a sweeping purge of unwanted pre-caffeine stress.

But when I saw proof of another company who had made this strategy work, I decided the time had come to test it for myself. And lo and behold-

The Midnight Send

I took a popular promotional email and sent 50% of the list at the normal time, which was 11am on Tuesday. The other 50%, the test group, I sent at midnight the night before.

And when I checked the results a few days later, here is what they looked like.

  • Control Group: 23.4% opened, 4.2% clicked.
  • Test Group: 36.7% opened, 7.7% clicked.

That’s a whopping 57% improvement in opens and 83% more clicks. And it was no fluke. I tested it again the following week and got similar results.

The Theory

The hypothesis was this – for some subset of consumers, the morning is when we are most likely to check our emails. And so by ensuring that your email is waiting in the inbox first thing in the morning, you are ensuring it gets the attention that it would not get at any other time of day, when people are too busy to check email with any regularity.

By sending overnight, you are adapting to your customer’s behavior, rather than trying to get them to adjust to yours.

So my message to all the email marketers out there is simple. If you have not done so to this point, test your next promotional email at midnight and see whether or not you see a similar lift in performance.