Do you run an online business or market your products on the web? Then you’ve likely come across numerous tactics that are believed to help your reach your goals — launching on a Tuesday, sending e-mails when people are actually sitting at their computer, and responding to people’s inbound questions within 5 minutes of them contacting you.

Of course, not all tactics are created equal, and as more companies market online, tactics that once worked have now become moments when everyone tries to reach their audience.

Related to this, many of our customers ask, “When should I be sending my e-mails to customers?” When you send an e-mail, you want it to stand out from the crowd, and to arrive at a time when your customer is most likely to read it. This should be when they are attentive and at their inbox, but not overwhelmed with too much e-mail — work or personal.

All of this is fine in theory, but when do you send the thing?!

While the answer often depends on the specific business and goal of the e-mail, we recently signed up to a large amount of consumer-focused newsletters to see exactly when they send information to subscribers. We subscribed to everything: news alerts, magazines, daily facts, and lots of ecommerce lists. We wanted to see when emails get sent, and whether there are certain trends most e-mailers follow. We noticed a few…

Trend #1: The magic hours of 12pm-4pm

On a daily basis, 41% of e-mails get sent between 12 pm and 4 pm Eastern, as illustrated in the chart above. This should come as no surprise: companies likely want to reach you when you’re bored, near a computer, and looking for a distraction – sending you an e-mail at work provides just that. Doing so after 12 pm Eastern means the e-mail will cover the entire North American continent during business hours.

You’ll also notice a 6 am upswing in the chart, which is likely all the newsletters that want to be in your inbox by the time you wake up.

Trend #2: Send on Mondays and Tuesdays

When else are you likely to want a distraction? Early in the week, when you’re reminiscing the weekend and plotting an escape from the cubicle, of course! Most companies must believe this happens on Mondays and Tuesdays, as 39% of e-mails are sent on these days. Even more surprising is that in aggregate, marketers view Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, as similar to Saturdays and Sundays — e-mails come quite consistently throughout this period.

Focus on Personalization and Opportunities

What’s most interesting about this analysis is just how consistent e-mail newsletters are in aggregate. Everyone likes to get e-mails early in the week and to get a nice distraction, but there’s a good chance your e-mails will get lost in the noise. So why not send them an e-mail on a Wednesday? Or better yet, learn more about the people subscribing and send them e-mails at the times that work best for them — late night for night owls, and 9 am for those with office jobs on the East Coast.

In this sense, remember two key principles:

  1. Know the context of your readers. Send them e-mails at certain times of the day and week that will fit when they are likely to buy a product or read the e-mail.
  2. Personalize the time you sent e-mails. Send your readers e-mails at times they are personally likely to open and read them. This means tracking their reading habits over time and e-mailing them when they historically prefer to open e-mails.

Unfortunately, not many e-mail tools currently allow for this level of personalization, but we’re always keen to help. Contact us to learn more about how we automate such personalization.