Send Time Optimization for Email Campaigns

People so often ask “what is the best time to send my email?” the real question should be about how you vary your email to cater to different subscribers.  Retail stores don’t just open at the busiest time-they open at various times to cater for their customers better.  Email should be no different, except if you promise to send an email every Monday at 9am then you should do that to retain trust with your subscribers.

So let’s take a look at this Venn Diagram for number of subscribers who will open based on the time an email campaign is sent:


This shows that 40 subscribers read emails that are sent in the morning, 35 in the afternoon and 30 in the evening.  Hence some would say you should send your emails in the morning!  This is true in that some of the time you should send emails in the morning.  However, you also need to consider sending your emails in the afternoon and evening.  There are 17 subscribers that do not open your email when you only send emails in the morning!

In this example if you sent in a rotation of two emails; a morning and an afternoon send then you would reach 14 subscribers that you didn’t previously by just sending emails in the morning.  That is a 35% uplift in unique subscribers seeing your email marketing program across the two campaigns.

Your average open rate will have gone down as you now have only 35 opens rather than 40 opens for the second email but the key point is you have put yourself in front of 14 subscribers that you otherwise would have ignored due to “send time optimization”.  People who are performing “send time optimization” as it is often described are also too often performing “ignoring many subscribers”.

This trap exists because there is too much focus on open rate for a single campaign rather than open rate across your email marketing program.  It also exists because others are trying to optimize for a one-off event, which your email marketing program is not-it is a continuous stream of events that help your business.

What is more valuable?  Engaging the same people over and over again?  Or engaging different groups of your subscriber base over time?  For some it is the former but for many more email marketing programs it should be the latter.

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