How to Find the Perfect Timing for Your Email

In a single day in 2017, an estimated 269 billion emails are sent. 269 BILLION and yours is just 1 of them, which means you need to do everything you can to make yours count. Something that often gets overlooked in the email process is timing. It’s fairly standard to A/B test subject lines, content, images, etc., but finding the perfect time to send an email can have just as much of an impact on engagement as the subject line.

The tricky part about finding the right time to send an email to your audience is that it really does depend on YOUR audience. Our natural tendency is to think “what would I want?” but in reality, what you want may be vastly different from what your audience needs.

Time planning requires the discipline to truly think like your customer. To you, 7 PM may sound like a great time to receive an email as you’re winding down from work, scrolling through your phone, and watching Stranger Things 2 with a glass of wine. But if your primary audience demographic is young moms, then sending an email at 7 PM is going to be white noise to them, as they’re in the middle of juggling after-school activities, organizing dinner, and wrestling bedtime, all while maintaining their own sanity.

Before you send any email, force yourself to consider what the message is conveying, why it’s important, and who it’s going to — because that is going to be what provides clarity to determine when to send it.  

  • What – what is my message about and what should the reader take away from it?
  • Why – why does the reader need to know and why should they care?
  • Who – who am I trying to reach?

If you’re stumped on where to even begin, utilize Google Analytics as a starting place. You can analyze the data that Google provides in order to give you an idea of when your audience is most engaged with your website. This will tell you when your audience is actively online, and therefore a reasonable place to start when determining email send times.

Here is how you find that data in Google Analytics:

Within the customization bar of Analytics, select “New Custom Report” to get started.

Select “Sessions” as the metric for the report in order to see traffic based on the dimensions you set. You can change this metric to whatever is applicable to your business. For example, if you are an e-commerce site, then you may want to choose “Conversion Rate” as your metric to see when people are actively purchasing. Next, select “Day of Week Name” as the dimension. Save.

After this report is created, you can create a new report with “Hour” as the dimension. Or you can add a secondary dimension to your current report to see each day broken down by hour, as shown below.

Toggle the chart display to see how sessions by days or hours compare to the site average. Based on our report, we are able to determine that Sunday is a popular day for site traffic.

Google Analytics has an abundance of data that can be sliced and diced to report peak days and times that you can then leverage in your email delivery, making it a resource you can’t afford to ignore.

Once you think you’ve cracked the code of email timing and audience analysis, humble yourself because you’re not there yet. Take that information that you’ve put compiled about your audience and use it in A/B testing. You’ve done the prep work to give yourself the best shot of delivering an email at the optimal time, but you need the data to back it up. Continue testing until you find the sweet spot for your audience and have the numbers to prove it.

Your audience is constantly growing and adapting, and so is your message. Consider the value of each email you deliver and when it will best add value to your audience on that specific day. You’re 1 in 269 billion – make it matter.