How to Avoid Fail Mail

How to Avoid Fail Mail

When Isaac Newton wrote “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” email marketing had not yet been invented. Many marketing teams have experimented with trial and error on their email campaigns and missed the mark. So here are some general guidelines that—when appropriately applied—can bring more reliable outcomes for your business.

Anyone who has ever engaged in email marketing will tell you that knowing your audience is critical. Sure, it’s easiest to send an email when you’re done composing it, but what about the all-important results? There becomes an impulse to psychoanalyze your email database. What are they thinking at 9:01 a.m. on a Monday? When are they least annoyed?

Fortunately, several of the bulk email tools that fancy themselves to be ‘client relationship management engines’ are able to use their wealth of historical information to generate rules of thumb about email habits. recently analyzed 21 million emails sent during 2012 to test the hypothesis that when you send is just as important as what you send. They discovered the following tidbits:

  1. Count on most of the attention up front. 23.63% of all emails are opened within the first hour of being received and that number drops off abruptly as the hours go by.
  2. For businesspeople, eight and three are key. If you want to target those with a full-time job, sending during one of the two best engagement hours, 8-9 a.m. or 3-4 p.m., can increase your average email open rate and click-through rate by 6%.
  3. Target early afternoon to avoid getting lost. Nearly 40% of all messages are sent between 6 a.m. and noon, causing clogged email inboxes and prompting subscribers to delete quickly if it doesn’t stand out. Comparatively, emails sent after lunch are seen promptly and clicked more often.

A comprehensive infographic of the findings is available below.

Email marketing tips from

As you can see, staying aware of the latest research will pay dividends in your email marketing efforts. Applying lessons learned from research will help you organize more strategic campaigns in the future. We recommend that you pay attention to the demographics that are unique to your industry and apply that knowledge to your benefit. For example, an email to region-specific contacts will have different results than an international database due to varying time zones and open times. For another comparison, you’re likely to have different scheduling needs for an email promoting a new product to teens compared to an email promoting that same product to senior citizens to purchase for their grandchildren.

Isaac Newton taught us that being able to predict the results of our actions would help us make sense of our pursuits. Get scientific about how to reach your intended target and you will succeed at email marketing. Knowing your odds and your audience will help to mitigate bounces, unsubscribes, deletes and the other causes of fail mail.

For other email marketing tips, check out more suggestions from Marketing Matters.


Eric Lachs is the Marketing and Public Relations Manager at Marketing Matters (, a communications and design firm specializing in technology, consumer and custom electronics, audio-video and related industries.

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