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Email Marketing: When & How Often to Hit Send by Megan Totka

Email marketing timingDespite the rise of social media and mobile technology, permission-based email lists are still the reigning champion of online marketing strategies. A recent study from ExactTarget showed that a staggering 77% of consumers prefer email for receiving permission-based marketing over other channels In fact, we’ve been calling email “the forgotten social network” for several years now.

Of course, you need the right strategies to make email marketing work for you. Your email marketing campaigns should have compelling subject lines, a professional and aesthetically appealing design, and great content to help you overcome Gmail’s tabbed inbox interface.

What’s missing from this list?


Why Timing Counts in Email Marketing

In order to be effective, your marketing emails need to be opened and read. Your catchy headlines and fantastic content will be wasted if your emails get lost in the shuffle. There are a lot of reasons people delete emails unread, or open them without actually reading the content and subsequently forget about them. Many of these reasons are related to timing.

The trick is to send out your emails at the best time of the day, on the best day of the week, and at the right intervals to get as many people as possible to open them.

How Often? Finding Your Email Marketing Interval

The best send frequency for email marketing messages has long been a subject of debate. If you look, you can find evidence that less is more, more is more, and every range in between is the “right” one, too. So how do you decide?

Fortunately, there are a few basic rules to apply here. We know that if you send email too often (say, every day), your customers will get either bored or annoyed, and start deleting your messages unread—or unsubscribe. And if you don’t send often enough (say, quarterly or bi-annually), your customers will forget who you are and what you do. In effect, you’re starting at the beginning of the conversion funnel every time.

The right interval really depends on your business, your customers’ expectations, and the type of content you send. If you use email lists to send out information-packed newsletters with lots of articles and resources, monthly is a good interval—it takes time to put all that information together, and quality is more important. If you’ve got a list for new subscribers that you’re using to send a series of building content, you might want to get those out close together—say three times a week.

In general, once a week or once every two weeks is a good interval. That way you’re not burying your subscribers in emails, but your messages are arriving often enough that they’ll remember you.

When to Send: Best Days and Times for Marketing Emails

Knowing which days of the week and times of the day more people open emails can give your email marketing campaigns a boost. Recent research from MarketingSherpa asked email marketers to let them know which days of the week gave them the best results. According to the findings:

  • Weekdays are more effective than weekends
  • Tuesdays had the highest effectiveness, with 26% saying their campaigns performed best on that day
  • Wednesdays are a close second at 23%, while Thursdays at 18% beat out Mondays at 15%, and double the effectiveness of Fridays at 9%
  • Sundays are the worst, with 42% saying they’re least effective. Saturday is right behind Sunday at 39% least effective.

As for the time of day, earlier seems to be better. Emails sent between midnight and 3 a.m.—so they’re waiting in your subscribers’ inboxes when they first check their email—are most effective, according to the latest Email Marketing Metrics Report from MailerMailer.

Of course, the best way to find your own most effective days and times is to analyze the results from your email marketing campaigns with send timing in mind. Find out when your highest open rates are, and adjust your mailing schedule accordingly.

Interested in learning more about the future of marketing in a multiscreen world? Register to receive a special report Tim produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

And, if all that’s not enough, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

About the Author:
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Image credit: Image courtesy of William Warby.

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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