When to Send: Email Marketing Myths Debunked

Tami Urban, Marketing Strategist

Author Bio

Tami brings years of hands-on experience driving revenue for her clients as an email marketing strategist. This experience includes working with hundreds of B2B and B2C clients in a range of industries. She guides her clients to see success in their email and social marketing efforts as well as working with her clients on split testing, creative optimization, segmentation, engagement and overall best practices. For fun, you can find Tami cooking, enjoying a good bottle of wine, or checking out a show at the local theater.

To be successful email marketers, we tend to depend on some tried-and-true strategies when it comes to creating and sending email campaigns. Create a catchy subject line, keep the CTA above the fold, make sure the design responds for mobile devices. But these days, some of the most classic email marketing best practices, particularly those around send time, are no longer the strict rules they once were.

Myth 1: Only Send During Daylight Hours

Understanding your subscribers is the single most import thing you can do to be successful at email marketing. It can even trump what has always been considered as the “best sending time.” For example, if your subscriber base is largely Millennials, it’s safe to ignore the assumption that you shouldn’t send an email at night. As we all know, this always connected segment of the population tends to be active online at all hours.

Rules around traditional send times are also being ignored as users’ habits change. The standard mid-week, mid-day send still makes perfect sense for desktop users who are opening emails at work. But mobile users, on the other hand, tend to be pretty active even late in the evening. With the adoption of mobile devices and the way they’ve reshaped our behavior, the idea of only sending during the traditional workday hours is becoming more antiquated and outdated. Think about your audience. If you see more subscribers opening via mobile, consider being more flexible with when you send.

While you now have more freedom in adjusting send times, don’t forget to consider the time zone of your target demographic. You’ll still want to customize and optimize your send times based on where your recipients live.

Myth 2: Avoid Sending on Mondays, Fridays and Weekends

While this has historically been a great best practice to abide by, it may not be so cut and dried for email marketers anymore. Who are your subscribers? What are you advertising? Are you promoting exciting things to do over the weekend or products to support active lifestyles? If so, Fridays and weekends don’t have to be off-limits.

And if Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays have always been the popular choices for sending out a successful email campaign, your competitors likely heard this same sage advice, which means you’ll face a ton of competition on those “recommended” days. If you don’t want your email to get lost in the shuffle, sending on “off” days might help you stand out. Heck, even though Mondays, Fridays and weekends have generally not been recommended, who’s to say they won’t work for you?

Testing Considerations and Ideas

Before you throw caution to the wind and start mixing up your sending schedule, it’s best to take stock of your audience and their preferences and see where you’ve been effective up to this point. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you already have a regular sending cadence? Understand where your opportunities lie by outlining your current schedule and what subscribers currently expect from you.
  2. What days and times have been most successful for you in the past?
  3. When do your subscribers tend to sign up? Do they subscribe during the weekend at 6pm? Then why have you been sending to them on Tuesdays at 7am?
  4. Where are they located? Can you segment your subscribers by time zone and test based on that?
  5. Do they view your messages on mobile or desktop? Can you target based on device?
  6. Do you have access to send time optimization tools? Many ESPs have access to such tools, which help you target subscribers based on when each subscriber has historically opened your messages.

It’s likely that after reading this post, you may now have more questions than answers. That’s not a bad thing. If you search online for “best sending times,” you’ll also get at least 50 different opinions on what days and times work best.

Industry standards and best practices are great. They exist for a reason and give us a solid framework to start planning our own strategy and develop a successful program. But when it comes down to it, it’s really up to you to know your audience and deliver your messages in a way that works best for them. Happy sending!