Right-on-Time Emails

You’ve done everything right. You’ve crafted an impressive email campaign and scheduled periodic messages to be sent out to your list of prospects. Trouble is, you don’t seem to be making much of an impact. What could be the problem?

It might just be bad timing.

When is the best time to send emails to prospects? There are lots of opinions out there, some of which are just common sense:

  • Don’t send emails over the weekend or on Mondays. Your prospects are already dealing with a stack of weekend email, and you don’t want your best efforts to just fade into the background.
  • Avoid sending emails over major holidays or typical vacation times. Email tends to pile up during these times, so again, don’t let your message get lost in the crowd.
  • Don’t send emails first thing in the morning. Again, you are competing with a slew of early-morning email. What makes you think your message will stand out?
  • Don’t send emails at the end of the day. They might get brushed aside as your prospects knock off work and go home for the day. Then you’re back to square one, and your email must compete with the early-morning deluge the next day.
  • Try to have emails arrive while your prospects are actually at their computer. Lone messages that pop up in cleared-out inboxes during regular working hours tend to get opened and read instantly. This is the kind of placement you want for your message. The times just before lunch or just after lunch are ideal for this strategy.
There are also other, far more scientific ways to tinker with the timing of your emails. A recent article offers up some helpful points on how to analyze the best time to send out emails:
  • Analyze send times and response rates from past campaigns. Try to identify any patterns that emerge, especially with regard to particular send times that seem to have the highest/best response rates. The article suggests going back about six months and graphing your time-of-send against response rate. You can then alter your send times to maximize response rate.
  • Compare opens-per-hour to send times. If you graph this relationship, the standard curve should be smooth and even. Bumps in your own data’s graph might indicate special patterns or anomalies.
  • Try segmenting your lists by time-of-open. There is no single send-time that will be optimal for ALL of your prospects; there are going to be different ideal send-times for different segments. Segment your list by time-of-open (e.g., Opened between 10AM and 1PM vs. Opened between 1PM and 3PM), and you’ll be surprised how easy it will be to determine the best send-time for each grouping.