Note: This post is part of a special holiday blog series created by our Expert Services Team at SendGrid to provide information on how to prepare and get the most out of your email campaigns this year. 

“When should I send my email?” Surprisingly, this question is rarely asked by the email marketers we work with. However, it is a topic that we always address during our delivery consultations because sending emails at the optimal time positively impacts email engagement in meaningful ways.

There are multiple reasons marketers should care and build a strategy around the time of day they send their email. If you send to your recipients when they are most likely to engage, the message (you worked so hard to create) will be at the top of the recipient’s inbox instead of being 50 messages down—potentially on another screen.

There is also a technical aspect and benefit to optimizing your send times. Well-timed email sending puts less burden on the ISPs’ (Internet Service Providers) system because you aren’t sending all your marketing email at a single time of day. This is especially important on days like Black Friday when you will be competing against hundreds of other messages in the recipient’s inbox.

Following the sun

If you don’t have a sophisticated system that allows you to send to recipients based on an engagement profile, the next best option is to follow the sun. Before you can implement this strategy, you will need to know the general geographic location of your recipient.

Follow the sun campaigns are typically sent to recipients at or around the time that the sun is rising in their geographic location.

Following the sun gives you a higher probability that your message will be at the top of recipients’ inboxes. This will also reduce the burden on the ISP because the campaign will be split into 38 smaller sends based on time zones.

Tips for following the sun

Don’t send at the top of the hour or 15, 30, or 45 minutes past the hour. Why? Most marketers use these times to send their email campaigns because they are easy to set. This practice causes a backup at the ISPs which can cause your emails to be deferred.

Some ISPs have told SendGrid directly that the ideal time for marketers to send their campaigns is during non-peak times like 7, 21, or 36 minutes past the hour. Sending at these non-peak times will increase how fast your messages are delivered.

When it comes to transactional email, which is typically triggered by an action the recipient has taken, send time can be less critical. This is because transactional email is not sent in bulk to hundreds of thousands of recipients at once, it happens organically.

Start preparing before the holidays

As we are quickly approaching Black Friday, now is the perfect time to start testing and perfecting your time-based sending so you can reap the benefits of higher email engagement, and hopefully record conversions on your marketing email this season.

If you have more questions about send time, we have an entire team of email delivery consultants that help customers around the globe optimize their entire email program or fine-tune specific components.

And if you want to take care of your last minute holiday email sending strategies, listen in on our webinar Holiday Sending Hacks.

Kurt specializes in email deliverability and email marketing at SendGrid. His primary goal is to help SendGrid's customers make the most of their email programs. Kurt is on the MAAWG Training Committee, Return Path Certification Program Advisory Board, and EDataSource User Advisory Board. Kurt is a Colorado native and enjoys spending his free time exploring Colorado with his family.