Mail Timing – What Every Marketer Needs to Know

Mail Timing – What Every Marketer Needs to Know

Mail Timing

Mail Timing

There’s a reason why you don’t get as much marketing mail on Fridays: Research shows it’s the worst day of the week to try and capture people’s attention. So what’s the best day (and time)? Keep reading.

What the research says

While Fridays are widely considered to be a bad day for marketing, there’s less agreement about which day provides the best opportunity. The general consensus: earlier in the week tends to be better.


According to a report from MailerMailer, Mondays are by far the best day to send marketing email. A detailed 2009 analysis of the hundreds of thousands of marketing emails sent through this service showed Monday was the one day more people opened (and took action on) their marketing email.

However, a comprehensive analysis of multiple industry studies (a survey study) by Ecommerce Optimization, exposed Tuesdays and Wednesdays as the best marketing days for most mailers.

The hour your email is delivered is another closely watched success factor. Here again there’s some general consensus among the experts (the beginning, middle or end of the day is best), but no clear winner.

  • Many marketers have found the start of a workday to be the most effective time (8:00 a.m. or 9:00 a.m.). This is when workers are at their desks, but they haven’t become completely swept up in their daily tasks yet.
  • Others swear that a noon delivery time is ideal. That’s when most people feel it’s okay to take a break from work and check their personal inboxes.
  • A smaller contingent of marketers has found great success with a 4:00 p.m. delivery time, arguing this is the time of day when most people have wrapped up their most pressing to-dos and want to reward themselves with a little me-time before the commute home.

Of course, with direct-mail, you’re beholden to the U.S. Postal Service to deliver your mailings, so you can’t pinpoint your delivery times. Here, your best bet is to try and time your marketing effort so it arrives sometime early to mid-week. Keep the following in mind:

  • First class mail is generally delivered locally one to three days after you mail it. A non-local (but still domestic) first-class mailing will generally take two to five days to reach its intended target.
  • Standard mail (formerly known as bulk-rate mail) is processed after all the first-class mail, so it’s less predictable. For local delivery, count on four to eight days for delivery. For a non-local (but still domestic) standard-class mailing, plan on 10 to 14 days for delivery.

A third component to consider is the time of year. July and December tend to be poor months, because most people are either on vacation, swamped with work before/after a vacation, or hosting visits from relatives and family.

Additional planning is required around the holidays – especially Christmas, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter. Mail volumes are usually much heavier at these times. Rather than halt your mailings during the holidays, however, you can simply push up the mail date or, better yet, use the holiday as a theme for your mailing.

How to know for sure

Monitoring what works best for other businesses is smart. But ideally, that information should only be used as a starting point for your own testing efforts. Here’s how:

  • Divide your mailing list into two groups using what’s called an A/B split. Put the first person on your list into group A, the second person on the list into group B, the third person into group A, the fourth person into group B, and so on. (Using an every-other-name selection process such as this ensures both groupings are as similar as possible.)
  • Pick a day (and time, if using email) that’s worked well for other marketers (e.g. Tuesday at noon), and send your marketing effort to group A at that time.
  • Then pick another popular mailing day (but stick with the noon mailing time), and mail the same marketing effort to group B.
  • Comparing the results of those two mailings should show which day is more popular with your particular target audience.
  • When you’re ready to mail again, use the same process to test a new day (or a different time of day). Get the idea? The key is to only change one variable at a time (the mailing, the day or the time). If multiple variables change, you won’t know which one caused the resulting difference.

Once you’ve gathered some baseline marketing results, then you can keep testing and tweaking new efforts to try and make things even better. That’s exactly how the pros transform average marketing efforts into million-dollar success stories.

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