You’re not a master of marketing emails until you understand the best time to send messages to your subscribers. You can have the greatest subject line, terrific content, a compelling call-to-action and none of it will matter if you’re careless with timing.
Fortunately, developing a plan around send times for marketing emails isn’t rocket science. In general, most senders are probably steering clear of the worst things you can do (more on that later). Still, the more you know the better off your chances of not missing the mark.
So, to help provide some more clarity, here are a few tips to help dictate the timing of your marketing emails:
In general, early afternoon in the middle of the week (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) is good timing for marketing emails. But, as is the case with just about everything in marketing, you must consider your target audience before settling on the timing of your marketing emails.
If middle-aged parents are your primary customers, drop into their inbox in the early afternoon. That’s potentially when they’ll have a break from work, but before they’ll be tied up with the kids in the evening.
If you have customers across many time zones, be aware of it. Some email platforms have tools that will account for time zone differences automatically. If you don’t have that option, it’s probably worth segmenting your customers to account for time differences. A few hours can make a big difference.
Smart sending is another useful tool some email platforms provide. This protects you from over-saturating your customers by delaying or preventing the sending of an email if a certain amount of time hasn’t passed from the previous send. It’s wise to wait at least 15 hours between campaign emails. Smart sending helps keep that in line.
What Absolutely NOT To Do
Unless you have great reason to do so, don’t send anything in the middle of the night or early morning. That goes against what’s ideal for just about any target audience.
Monday morning is also not the best timing. People are busy and overloaded while catching up from the weekend and getting started for the week ahead.
Weekends typically aren’t great times for engagement, either. People are focused on leisure time or catching up housework, not the inbox.
A deeper level of thinking around the timing of marketing emails comes when you enter the automation process. (If you’re not already using automation, you need to be.)
The welcome email series is the first stage of automation. As far as timing, you must be sending the initial welcome email immediately. That’s not a suggestion, it’s an expectation. The welcome series should include as many as four more emails ranging from explaining your brand to incentivizing the first purchase. Here’s an example:
- Day 1: Immediately after signing up, a subscriber should be sent an email containing a brief personalized message illustrating the company vision. Explain why shopping with your brand is a special experience. Don’t be too pushy. Research suggests just 2 percent of consumers are ready to make a purchase when first being introduced to a brand.
- Day 2: One day after signing up, a subscriber should receive an email featuring your most popular products. You should provide detailed and compelling product descriptions along with the best imagery you have available.
- Day 3: Two days after signing up, send a third email providing social proof. This should be a sampling of customer reviews and testimonials to further build trust and encourage shopping with your store. If you’ve been featured in publications, include that information as well.
- Day 5: If there have been no purchases after three welcome emails, it’s time to incentivize. Send another email with a time-sensitive offer for first-time buyers. For example: “Complete your first order in the next 24 hours and receive 10% off the purchase.”
Abandoned Cart Emails
Abandoned carts are a common reality in e-commerce. These events don’t have to be all bad, though. A good portion of that otherwise lost revenue can be recovered.
As is the case with the welcome emails, these should be sent in a series. here’s an example:
- Day 1: Three hours after a cart has been abandoned, send an email letting the customer know. This is simply informing them they’ve left something behind. It should be worded in a way that shows you are bringing value to the customer by providing such notice.
- Day 2: One day after the abandoned cart, an email providing a discount and/or other incentive to buy should at least be considered. Give them something more than just a reminder. If not a discount, maybe use customer reviews on the specific product.
- Day 3: The final abandoned cart email should certainly have a discount included. This is the point where any incentive you deem reasonable should be used to close the purchase.
One pro tip: avoid sending emails that direct to the “/cart” for a subscriber. If they are using multiple devices in the shopping process, this could complicate things. Instead, send them to the product page.
Also, product view emails are another important part of the automation process that should follow the same sending time guidelines as abandoned cart emails.
Never, ever stop testing what you’re doing with all steps of marketing emails. That includes timing. What you initially think is the perfect time to send might not be, or what works for another business may not work for yours. So, adjust and figure out what works.
How Engine Mail Can Help
Engine Mail was built by e-commerce veterans with more than two decades in online retail. The aim is to provide an email automation product that is easy to use and superior to anything you’ll find elsewhere. That includes providing the best tools for the optimal times to send emails.