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It’s all in the timing

May 25, 2009

When planning an email campaign it’s easy to get caught up in the creative elements and give little thought to one of the most important, but often overlooked, aspects of a successful campaign – timing. In this article we look at why timing is so important and offer some tips from the Extravision team to help you time your campaign for maximum effect...

Getting the timing right is one of the fundamental elements of a successful email campaign. Crafting an interesting message with an attractive call to action and targeting the right person is crucial, but is work that could come to no avail if the email is never opened in the first place. With email you rarely get a second chance – most people will open and read an email when it is received, or not at all.

Bombarding your customers with multiple emails in the hope of increasing you chances will only make you seem like a spammer. The best way to optimise the chances of your message being read is to use customer intelligence and some basic email marketing rules to ensure your message hits when your customer is likely to be most receptive. 

Successful email marketing really is all in the timing..know your market

Gauging the optimum time to send your email will be driven by your target market and its buying patterns – leisure/retail offers are best sent when the recipient is likely to be reading personal email, in the evenings or at weekends.

Business orientated campaigns should be delivered within office hours. Even within these broad constraints there are optimal times –b2b emails are better sent on a Thursday afternoon than a Friday for example. If your email is promoting sales on an e-commerce site the easiest way to choose the prime time is to examine web sales statistics and to make the emails coincide with the sales peaks. Your customers are more likely to be online in a buying frame of mind, and a ‘co-incidentally’ timed email just could trigger a sale. 

Testing, testing

As we say so often in these articles, the best way to ensure you are getting it right, and not just guessing, is to test your theses. Use your customer and market knowledge to guess the best time to send an email, and then test. Comparing open rates and click throughs from a small control group will allow you to choose the most effective times. 


If you are sending an email newsletter or regular update, consistency is the trick to ensuring your email gets read. Your aim is to make reading your email a habit with readers, this is easier to achieve if they know exactly when to expect it.

Overnight scheduling may seem the best option but remember that your message will be competing with many others downloaded first thing in a morning. Afternoon (after 2pm but before 4pm) or late morning deliveries can often be more effective – readers may even schedule their tea break around reading it! 


This probably goes without saying but avoid sending emails around holiday periods, including bank holidays. Your customers are likely to be away or to be de-mob happy and less inclined to read emails with due care and attention. Of course holidays such as Christmas may offer a special opportunity to communicate with customers, see this month’s article on Christmas Marketing for more information.

How often?

There’s a fine line between keeping customers and prospects up to date on a regular basis and being perceived as a spammer. In our experience monthly emails can be effective, but only if you have something new and relevant to say every month. One trick is to vary the types of communication you send during a campaign to mask frequency – e.g. combine direct mails with telemarketing with email as the core thread in the campaign stream. 


Timing is just one part of running a successful campaign. Although it won’t rescue a poorly written or badly targeted campaign it can certainly improve results ensuring you achieve optimal response rates. Remember that your customers are probably as busy as you, using a little customer knowledge and some good old fashioned common sense it is possible to send your message when their inbox is clear and they have the few moments needed to make that all important click through.

If you would like any further information, please email [email protected] or call 0161 817 2929

Posted by Jenni Malley

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