Timing is everything when it comes to email marketing. Sending your messages at the right time can have a huge impact on open and click-through rates. Get the timing wrong, and your hard work is likely to get deleted or ignored.
But when exactly is the best time to hit ‘send’? With consumers receiving 121 emails per day on average, standing out in crowded inboxes is a challenge.
In this article, we’ll explore the science behind email scheduling to help you find the optimal times for your campaigns. Discover what days, times, and seasons garner the most engagement based on industry research. We’ll also provide actionable tips to develop your own winning email marketing strategy.
With the right timing, your messages will land in the sweet spot – ready to be opened, clicked, and acted upon. Let’s dive into unlocking the secrets of successful email campaigns through strategic scheduling.
Understanding Your Audience
Not all subscribers are created equal. The first step in determining ideal send times is gaining deep insight into your audience.
Segmenting Your Email List
Divide your list into different categories to identify trends. Useful ways to split your subscribers include the following:
Segment by age, gender, location, job role, and more. For example, millennial subscribers may be more active on mobile and weekends.
Group subscribers by preferences and past actions like:
- Purchase History – Power shoppers vs one-time buyers
- Email Engagement – Open and click rates
- Website Activity
Create segments based on subscriber choices like
- Email Frequency
- Content Interests
- Communication Channel
Creating Buyer Personas
Go beyond basic demographics to build rounded profiles of your key customer types. Add details on behaviors, motivations, goals, and pain points. Give each persona a name, photo, and background story to humanize them, as shown in the example below.
Analyzing Past Email Engagement
Look at when your various subscriber groups have been most responsive in the past. This can reveal ideal timing. For example, if working mothers open emails early in the morning, that could be your window.
Gaining a clear picture of your audience allows you to tailor email timing and content to their needs for better results. Match the message to the moment.
Factors Influencing Email Timing
Many elements impact when your audience is most likely to open, read, and take action on emails. Consider the following factors as you schedule campaigns:
Time Zone Considerations
Account for time zones when sending to an international or nationwide list. Make sure you are hitting subscriber inboxes during waking business hours. Avoid overnight lulls.
Industry-Specific Timing Trends
Some verticals have established cadences. For example, Monday mornings can be ideal in banking/finance and Friday afternoons typically work for food/beverage. Do research on subscriber behavior norms in your niche.
Type of Email Content
- Promotions and Discounts: Send just before or during buyers’ purchasing windows. For retail, schedule before weekends.
- Educational Content: Helpful info appreciated most during working hours, like sharing a tutorial on Tuesday morning.
- Newsletters: Maintain consistent timing, like the first Monday morning of every month.
Day of the Week
Analyze engagement rates by day. Mondays and Tuesdays tend to garner high open rates industry-wide. Thursdays and Fridays can also perform well.
Special Occasions and Holidays
Time emails around major events, like sending gift ideas before Valentine’s Day. However, avoid sending during holidays when engagement is lower.
Mobile vs. Desktop Users
With over half of emails opened on mobile, make sure timing works for on-the-go subscribers. Prime time is 6-9am or after 5pm when people check phones.
Take these factors into account when crafting your schedule for optimal timing. Test different days/times, and watch response rates to identify the best windows.
Best Days and Times for Email Marketing
When it comes to pinpointing the perfect send time, research and testing are key. Here are some top tips:
- Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings tend to have above average open and click rates across many industries.
- Mondays and Fridays can also perform well, especially later in the day.
- Prime morning email time is 8-10 AM before inbox overload hits.
- For after-work engagement, 5-7 PM is ideal.
- B2B – Tuesday & Thursday 8-10 AM
- Retail – Tuesday 10 AM and Saturday 11 AM
- Nonprofit – #GivingTuesday and end of the year
- Healthcare – Tuesday and Thursday right before lunch
Data-Driven Decision Making
While industry benchmarks provide a useful starting point, analyzing your own audience data will reveal the most precise timing for your business.
- Review email analytics to identify when your subscribers are actually engaging with, opening, and clicking on emails historically.
- A/B test different send times, while keeping other variables the same. See which day/time yields the highest open and click rates.
With a data-driven approach, you can determine the best windows for connecting with your subscribers and maximize the impact of your email campaigns through strategic scheduling.
A/B Testing for Email Timing
A/B testing allows you to pinpoint the optimal send times for your unique audience by trying out different options.
Setting Up A/B Tests
Pick two days/times to test against each other. Send one version of your email at each time, with all other elements like subject line, content and design remaining the same. Send to a representative sample of your list.
Measuring and Analyzing Results
Track open rate, CTR, conversions and other KPIs for each version. Calculate the percentage difference to see which performed better. You may find one far exceeds the other or results are comparable.
Iterative Approach for Continuous Improvement
Use what you learn from each A/B test to refine your approach:
- If there is a clear winner, adopt that as the standard send time.
- Test that time against a new option to see if you can improve further.
- If results are close between the two, test again with a larger sample or different times.
- Always be testing and optimizing timing as your audience habits evolve.
With regular A/B testing, you can keep your finger on the pulse of subscriber behavior patterns and respond with ideal timing.
Considerations for International Audiences
Email marketing takes extra planning when sending to subscribers in other countries.
Localizing Content and Timing
Avoid a one-size-fits-all global approach. Adapt email content and cadence for each market. Make sure timing aligns with local working hours and practices.
Translate emails or send localized versions in different languages. This helps engagement, as subscribers are more likely to open emails in their native tongue.
International Holidays and Cultural Events
Be aware of major holidays specific to a country that can impact engagement, like Chinese New Year or Ramadan. However, also use seasonal moments as opportunities to connect.
While coordinating email timing across borders is complex, the payoff is worth it. Show subscribers you appreciate their culture and context, and you will strengthen relationships for the long term.
Automating Email Timing
Today’s email marketing platforms make scheduling and optimizing campaigns easier than ever.
Email Marketing Platforms
Solutions like MailChimp, Constant Contact, AWeber, and ConvertKit have robust features for planning and automating email timing. This includes establishing send schedules, setting up sequences, and A/B testing.
Drip Campaigns and Marketing Automation
Drip campaigns automatically stagger your emails instead of blasting out full campaigns at once. Automated welcome series, lead nurturing, and cart abandonment messages can be configured to deploy at optimal timing.
Personalized Send Times
Advanced personalization uses factors like subscriber attributes and past behavior to program the ideal send times for each contact individually.
Automation takes time consuming manual scheduling off your plate so you can focus on creating killer content. Programmed timing tailored to your subscribers can elevate engagement.
Subject Lines and Preheaders
Your subject line preview text have a big influence on open rates.
Role in Open Rates
Strong or personalized subject lines can improve open rates as much as 50% by compelling the subscriber to take action. On mobile, they are even more crucial in getting emails opened.
Consistency with Timing
Make sure subject lines and preheaders align with the timing of your email. For example, wish subscribers a good morning if sending at 8am.
Try different subject line and preheader options in A/B tests to identify what resonates most with your audience at certain times. Test length, emojis, urgency, personalization, questions and more.
Keep these elements top of mind as part of crafting emails that connect at just the right moment. Subject line relevance can make or break whether your perfectly timed message gets opened.
Seasonal Campaigns and Timing
Email timing should align with seasonal shopping trends and annual events.
Preparing for Seasonal Peaks
Ramp up email volume around major holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when engagement is highest. Have contingency plans for handling increased loads and traffic.
Timing Strategies for Different Seasons
- Winter: Send early December for holiday shopping, January for New Year resolutions.
- Spring: Capitalize on spring cleaning in late March/April.
- Summer: Schedule around Memorial Day and July 4th travel seasons.
- Fall: Back to school and Halloween related emails work late August through October.
Post-Holiday and Off-Season Campaigns
Keep messaging going after seasonal moments end. January is a prime time for fitness apparel and equipment offers. Send Valentine’s Day follow-ups in late February.
Blending promotional emails with evergreen content year-round keeps you top of mind even during slower periods. Email timing aligned with seasonal trends boosts relevance.
Tracking and Analytics
Robust email analytics equip you to refine timing and other optimizations over time.
Key Metrics to Monitor
Look beyond open and click rates to how timing impacts bottom line results:
- Bounces and unsubscribes
- Conversion rates
- Revenue attributed to emails
- Engagement by subscriber segment
Tools for Email Analytics
Platforms like MailChimp and Constant Contact provide built-in reporting. For deeper analysis, tap into Google Analytics or dedicated software like Mailshake.
Adjusting Strategies Based on Data
Let data guide your timing decisions. If Monday newsletters see a lower CTR, test moving to Fridays. When winter campaigns underperform, rethink your Q4 approach.
With continuous assessment of email performance over days, weeks, months, and seasons, you can learn what works – and what doesn’t. Tweak your timing until you find email marketing success.
The Role of Mobile Devices
With email reading shifting to mobile, optimizing for smartphones and tablets is key for engagement.
Mobile-Friendly Email Design
Ensure emails render well on small screens. Use responsive templates, large fonts, and minimal scrolling. Make call-to-action buttons tap-friendly.
Mobile Usage Patterns
Peak mobile email times are early morning and early evening when people check phones. Weekends also see heavy usage. Schedule emails accordingly.
Responsive Design for Different Devices
Test how emails appear across interfaces. Ensure proper formatting whether viewed on an iPhone, Android device, laptop, or desktop.
As mobile usage continues to rise, timing email delivery around subscriber behavior on devices can unlock improved open and click-through rates. Meet subscribers where they are – in the palm of their hands.