The Taoist Approach to Email Timing

I’ve heard lots of folk obsess about when to send emails to your list.

And I’ve read entire chapters in books dedicated to this topic.

Some folks say it’s best to send them in the mornings. Lots of readers check their email first thing, so you want to be at the top of the list.

Similar reasoning goes into lunchtime emails, commute-home emails and evening emails.

Then they turn around and pretend they’ve said something useful, instead of ‘almost any time, really’.

So… great. Send your emails whenever, I guess.

But it gets worse than that.

When should your emails circle the globe?

I once almost signed up for a marketing course. This little anecdote isn’t why I decided against it – a few things didn’t work out – but it’s funnier if I say it is.

Anyway, the sales letter for this training said these two things, with full sincerity.

“We provide this elite training online to students in over 50 countries around the world.”

And:

“We have our weekly FAQs at 2:00pm, which is a convenient way to break up your afternoon.”

Sigh…

You know, sometimes it’s frustrating living in Australia. Whenever a movie or project launches ‘next Spring” we have to wonder, so they mean Autumn? And when something arrives ‘on the 10th’, it’s really the 11th for us.

Minor inconveniences, sure.

But this sort of stuff really takes the pie.

The meetings are at 2pm? Great. Whose 2pm? They didn’t even include a time zone with that…

As it turned out, that oh-so convenient ‘afternoon meeting’ was 4am my time. Yeesh.

So many marketers brag about knowing their prospects inside and out… yet forget they live in different time zones.

This comes back to your emails. Maybe you decide you want to catch the morning vibes with a 6am email. Whose 6am, though? Because it’s always early morning, late afternoon and the dead of night somewhere.

No time is the right time

But maybe you run a local business, so all your readers are in one time zone. What then, huh?

There’s a sensible yet paradoxical philosophy in Taoism. Hints of it show up in other religions – definitely Buddhism too.

The Taoists say it like this:

No Way is the Way.

Translation:

If someone shows you ‘the Way’ (to enlightenment, say), then it isn’t the Way. The Way can’t be shown or codified. You have to find it for yourself. There’s only so far dogma and gurus and teaching can take you.

The answer can never come from without.

So if you hear an answer, it isn’t the right one.

Similarly, no time can be the right time. Let’s say someone discovers that, sure enough, 6am is the perfect time to send an email. Within a month, everyone blasts their lists then, drowning each other out.

Meanwhile, the email that arrives 12 hours ‘late’ stands out.

So don’t sweat it. Send them whenever you want.

Besides…

I doubt it matters much anyway. Folks read emails that are interesting, persuasive and informative, not those that arrive at just the right time.

Focus on getting your writing down, rather than chasing a minor-if-anything boost from timing.

“But, wait, timing does matter for me!”

Then again, some of you will need to focus on your schedule.

If you announce lunchtime flash sales for your restaurant, you probably want to send them at 11am or noon, not evening.

Lighter emails might land better on Wednesdays (from folks looking for a mid-week break), Fridays (just because) or the weekend.

Business emails probably want to go out during business hours. Maybe. Who knows?

If your business has a niche relationship to time, I invite you to figure it out for yourself. Don’t ask your readers – they’ll probably tell you to email less simply because they hate spam. Test it. Experiment with different times and see what leads to sales.

But for most businesses, the timing doesn’t matter so much.

The point, which I’ve spent over 600 words making, is this isn’t worth thinking about too hard. It’s small potatoes. Get your offer and your message right, and everything else falls into place.

I’ve only written an article about this because so many folks wonder about it. So wonder no more.

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