How to schedule emails to increase open rates: tips & tricks

Profile photo of author Tiffany Regaudie
Email marketing
June 11, 2024
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It’s no secret that email marketing is a high-ROI marketing channel.

According to Klaviyo’s 2023 marketing mix report, 76.86% of businesses say email is among their top 3 ROI generators.

At the same time, there’s no denying people’s inboxes are overflowing. It can be tough to stand out when you’re competing with work emails, personal emails, and other brand emails in the same place.

There’s a lot out there about how to optimize email copy and email design, but there’s one thing people don’t talk about enough: timing and scheduling.

Knowing when and how to send your emails can make a big difference in your engagement rates. Here, we go over a few tips on email timing, plus how to schedule and test your email send times for optimal open and click rates.

Email timing: tips to consider

Email send times can be absolute—for example, a campaign you send at 9 a.m. on Thursday. But they can also be relative to a customer’s journey. Here are some tips for timing your emails to that journey:

Timing based on event

Marketing is at its best when it’s highlighting a moment that’s relevant to someone’s life. While much of that relevance can be expressed through content, timing also plays a role.

Map out your customer lifecycle—what are some key moments that pop up? Moments like:

  • Birthdays and anniversaries (B2C)
  • Work promotion or change in title (B2B)
  • Enough points or purchases to qualify for VIP program (B2C)
  • Post-sales call follow-up (B2B)
  • Post-purchase follow-up (B2C)

Timing your emails based on key events is about taking a macro view of your customer journey and being present with a meaningful message when important moments happen.

Timing based on product characteristics

If you sell a breakfast item, message your customers in the morning while breakfast is on their mind. If you sell sleepwear, send your promotional messages in the evening a couple hours before bedtime.

If you make products for busy professionals, it may help to hit their inbox on Sunday afternoons while they’re prepping for the week. If your products are for college students, a late-night email may not be off the table.

Aligning your email send time with your product can help increase engagement from your customer base.

Timing based on next steps

What do you want your audience to do as a next step, after they read your email? If whatever comes next can be done in 2 minutes, it might be okay to send that email at a slightly busier time of day.

But if what you’re asking requires some investment, you may want to time your email for when you know the person on the other end has time to commit.

Timing based on time zone

Tailor a of the above advice to time zone. When you have a large enough audience, it’s safe to assume they’re not all in the same one.

Your marketing platform should make it easy to schedule emails based on each recipient’s time zone, rather than requiring you to use strict, catch-all timing.

Email campaign scheduling: how to get started

When you send an email campaign in Klaviyo, you have the choice to either “Send now” or “Schedule.”

Image shows the email scheduling dashboard in the back end of Klaviyo. Options include to either schedule by choosing a future date and time to send, or send now/immediately. Dropdown menus offer options for type, date, time, and timezone.

When you choose “Schedule”, you can schedule your email under 3 options:

Fixed send time
1

This option is for when you want all recipients to receive the email around the same time. Note that when you choose this option, send times may be slightly slower during peak times (e.g., on the hour, on the half hour), but you can select off-peak hours for faster send times by typing in a minute value rather than selecting a 15-minute interval.

(This is also an opportunity to stand out from the competition—by sending at :43 instead of :45, for example, your email won’t appear in inboxes at the same time as everyone else’s.)

Gradual send over several hours
2

This option breaks up your send into batches, sending to a certain percentage of recipients each hour until the message is sent to everyone. (Note that you can’t use this strategy if you’re A/B testing your campaign because doing so would introduce too many variables into the test.)

Smart Send Time
3

Smart Send Time is a Klaviyo AI tool that determines the ideal send time for your audience for optimal results (more on this later).

When you’re scheduling an email, make sure you’re sending to people who were added to your list/segment between the time you scheduled the email and when it actually sends. Same goes for people who were removed. (The consent status of people in your list and/or segment should ideally be explicit consent, indicated in Klaviyo by a green checkmark next to the word “Subscribed.”)

To make sure you’re sending to the most up-to-date list, Klaviyo has a checkbox marked as “Determine recipients at send time option is checked,” which takes a new snapshot of your target list or segment right before the scheduled campaign sends.

Lastly, Klaviyo also allows you to determine the time zone—the recipient’s local time zone, or a specific time zone determined by you.

Email automations: how to think through timing

Unlike email campaigns, which you can send in real time or schedule for a future time, automated flows send automatically after a recipient engages in some kind of behavior (or lack thereof, after a set amount of time).

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when thinking through timing your email flows according to the customer journey:

Welcome series

Send that first welcome email immediately after someone signs up for your service. Don’t delay—they might lose interest or forget they signed up in the first place.

If your welcome automation is a series, try to leave at least a day between emails so subscribers don’t get overwhelmed, but finish your series within a week.

Important note: Make sure to turn off Smart Sending for the first message in a welcome flow—otherwise, the message will automatically skip anyone who has already received an email in the past 16 hours.

Browse abandonment flows

If you’re trying to incentivize a new subscriber to make their first purchase but you don’t want to overwhelm them, set up a trigger that sends the browse abandonment email only after they view the product a certain number of times.

To try to re-engage a one-time purchaser, time your browse abandonment sends based on how recently they placed an order from you.

For example, if someone just bought an item from you yesterday, they most likely don’t want to receive an email that says, “Hey, did you forget something?” Instead, set up your browse abandonment automation to exclude subscribers who’ve made a purchase within the last 30 days.

On the other hand, if someone hasn’t made a purchase from you in months but browsed this morning, send that email within a few hours, and consider offering them a discount or free shipping to entice them back to the product page.

Abandoned cart flows

Send the first abandoned cart reminder 2-4 hours after abandonment. If the shopper doesn’t engage with that email, follow up with a discount code in 24 hours.

Win-back flows

Send a win-back email as soon as a customer goes inactive. Most brands consider customers to be inactive after 3-6 months, but if your purchase cycle is longer—if you sell coats or mattresses, for example—you’ll need to determine how many months constitute “inactivity.”

3 SMS and email automation case studies: action-based flows to boost revenue
Read a round-up of 3 success stories from Klaviyo customers who use creative iterations of foundational email automations.

Want to find the best email send times? Leave it to Klaviyo AI

If you have an email list of 12K subscribers or more, Klaviyo’s Smart Send Time feature can help you maximize your open and click rates and better understand your customers.

Smart Send Time is a form of send time optimization—a type of AI that uses machine learning to determine the best time to send email campaigns based on audience behavior. It improves engagement rates by personalizing the timing of a message to individual activity patterns, rather than relying on broad, one-size-fits-all assumptions about when people are most likely to open and engage with emails.

When you can pinpoint the best send time for each recipient, you’re increasing the chances that people will engage with your emails and take the next steps you want them to.

Image shows Smart Send Time reporting dashboard in the back end of Klaviyo. Based on tracking open rate per hour, the test has determined 10 p.m. to be the optimal send time for this email campaign.

A lot of marketing platforms boast send time optimization capabilities, but Klaviyo’s model is different. Instead of determining your business’s send time through hidden formulas, Klaviyo uses a robust testing framework to gather data about your customers to figure out when they’re most likely to open your emails. For transparency, your results are always available to you.

Learn how to run and analyze Smart Send Time tests in Klaviyo.

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Tiffany Regaudie
Tiffany Regaudie
Tiffany is a writer and content consultant who specializes in marketing, health, and the attention economy. Before devoting herself to freelance writing full-time, she led content teams at various startups and nonprofits in Toronto, Canada.