Time-sensitive email

What Is Time-Sensitive Email?

Whether you’re sending promotional or transactional email (or both), email senders often don’t think to consider what it means to say email is “time-sensitive,” except to expect that it should arrive without delay. After all, we often think of all email as being time-sensitive. The immediacy of the medium encourages the notion that every email is as timely as any other, and that they all are time-sensitive in the same way.

But the truth is that the optimum timing of email messages can vary significantly, depending upon the type of message. Getting that timing right is increasingly critical in a digital universe full of distractions and crowded with competition. In fact, when it comes to delivering a relevant message, hitting the inbox at just the right time can be as important as optimizing a subject line or tailoring message content.

This means “time-sensitive” is not just a euphemism for “very important!” When we’re talking “time-sensitive email,” we mean any email where delivery at a specific point in time is directly influences the value of the message.

Why Time-Sensitive Email Works

The big advantage of getting email timing right is that it ensures your message reaches the recipient when they are most receptive to its content. Remember the classic “four P’s” of marketing? Product, Price, and Promotion all transfer directly to email content. When we add in receiving email at just the right time, we now have Place, too.

So, by getting timing right, time-sensitive email…

  • Allows you to reach a recipient at the moment when they’re most receptive, especially if data-driven insights from past interactions drive the email.
  • Fosters feelings of timeliness, appropriateness, and relevance—not spam.
  • Creates a sense of urgency that drives response to promotions or pre-event buzz-building.
  • Demonstrates that you are engaged, communicative, and understand your customers’ needs.

Examples of Time-Sensitive Email

Unsurprisingly, many time-sensitive messages are forms of triggered emails. Typical examples include:

  • One obvious example of time-sensitive email are messages sent immediately after a trigger event or another cue, and are anticipated by the recipient. Examples? Welcome and confirmation emails, password resets, security alerts, and the like. The more immediate the delivery, the more likely the message reinforces trust and drives necessary next steps.
  • Conversely, the optimum time for delivery sometimes is offset or delayed from the original action. These emails send after a certain amount of time, ranging from minutes to days, even months and years. Examples include follow-up emails and reminder emails, such as cart abandonment reminders, deadline and past-due notices, or re-subscription promotions to former customers.
  • Date-based emails align with key dates on either the consumer’s calendar, and are sent before or after a date, too. Birthday and anniversary emails, time-based reminders, holiday promotions, and expiring membership or discount alerts are just a few examples.
  • Limited offer emails are a classic promotion that give the recipient a limited time or other constraint (“while supplies last!”) within which to act. Examples can be anything from a flash sale alert to a sweepstakes promotion. For messages like these to work, however, they need to arrive within narrow window that drives urgency but still allows sufficient time for the recipient to take action. It’s also important to use this active judiciously; we’ve all seen examples of marketers who overuse limited-time offers and inure us to time-sensitive messages.
  • Event-based emails are usually relevant only within the finite timeframe of a relevant event. This type of message often is used for sports or entertainment events, webinars or business conferences, and the like. Depending upon the message content, these emails have limited windows to arrive before, during, or after the event. Examples include a session reminder while at a convention, or coupons to the stadium gift shop at a sporting event.
  • A final sort of time-sensitive email isn’t necessarily triggered by a consumer action or fixed calendar dates, but instead respond to external developments that have a limited shelf life once invoked. Reporting breaking news is a classic example. Other examples are regulatory notices like shareholder notifications or employee alerts requiring delivery within a given period.

Take the Next Step with Time-Sensitive Email

I hope you’ve seen why it’s important to plan and implement your email programs to ensure that the timing and cadence of message delivery reflects a strategic and purposeful intent, not simply “whenever it arrives.”

Of course, the asynchronous nature of email and the heterogeneous networks it travels means some factors simply will be out of your control. However, the right strategy, combined with an email delivery service like SparkPost that boasts great deliverability and that has the elasticity to scale on demand, help to ensure that your time-sensitive messages reach the inbox at just the right time.


P.S. Want to dig deeper into time-sensitive email? Be sure to check out our “7 Best Practices for Time-Sensitive Email” Guide.

time sensitive email guide banner stopwatch

2017 Email Marketing Tips

Similar to some new year’s resolutions, changing your email habits can yield a positive effect on your brand and your bottom line. We’ve put together 11 tips to help you improve your email end game in 2017. Are you up for the challenge?

  1. Make your CTAs bigger and tappable with a thumb. Given the increase in the number of emails being opened on mobile, you don’t want to lose people because your CTA  buttons are too small.
  2. It’s all about the font! Make sure the body copy is large enough and clear. Recommended font size is 14 point.
  3. Use emojis. Make your subject line stand out in the inbox with the proper use of emojis. (See this post for tips on best practices of using emojis in email)
  4. Personalize the greeting. It seems corny, but people love seeing their name in print and it shows them that you carefully put this email together with them in mind. By adding their first and last name to both the title and the body copy, your message will show you care. Plus, according to Aberdeen, personalized emails improve click-thru rates by 14% and conversions by 10%.
  5. Personalize the offer. You can personalize your emails and offers if your data is accurate. But be careful, nothing is worse than improper personalization.
  6. Proof-read your email. Grammar mistakes in an email are a big turn off no matter the brand.
  7. Re-engage un-opens. Send a follow-up email with a different subject line or the same subject line but at a different time of day. The truth is, you don’t know why they didn’t open it, but experimenting with time of day and subject line are a good start to re-engaging the unengaged.
  8. Use video in your emails. Recent studies show that video email marketing has a 280% higher return than traditional emails.
  9. Avoid spam triggered words in your subject lines such as: free, winner, perfect, good, help, % off, and reminder.
  10. Scrub your list. In July 2017 Canada’s anti-spam law goes into effect. Here’s what you need to know.
  11. Optimize for mobile. With 56% of emails being opened on mobile, mobile-aware or responsive design is a must.

Stay Tuned for the Sparky Awards

Want  to show us your stuff? Stay tuned for the 2017 Sparky Awards where you can submit your best emails for best subject line, best use of the SparkPost API, best email campaign, and best integration of SparkPost with a SparkPost partner. View our 2016 Sparky Award winners.

Weekly Email Marketing News Digest

Numerous studies have cited the important role email plays in driving conversions, and Monetate’s Ecommerce report is the latest piece in the trail of evidence. How do you define success though? We cover that and tips to succeed in email marketing in our latest email marketing news digest!

Email Beats Search, Social as Largest Driver of Conversions for Ecommerce [Study]

When it comes to ecommerce, Monetate’s Ecommerce report shows that email is the biggest driver of conversions, as well as the top referrer for the most average page views.



Monetate’s VP of Marketing, Blair Lyon explains email’s success:

“Email is all about segmentation and personalized messaging. We need to continue to focus on delivering relevant messaging that is appropriate to the individual person, their behavior and time. Matching the email to the context and stage of that customer in their buying process is crucial. It really is all about the right content to the right customer at the right time.”

Back to Basics: Email Marketing Metrics

If you’re new to the world of email marketing, here’s your cheat sheet: a list of email marketing metrics to measure your success.

Classic Engagement Metrics


  • Total Opens
  • Total open rate
  • Unique Opens
  • Unique Open Rate


  • Total Clicks
  • Total Clickthrough rate
  • Unique Clicks
  • Unique Clickthrough Rate
  • Click-to-Open Rate

Conversion Metrics

  • Email Conversions
  • Email Conversion Rate
  • Email Revenue

For detailed definitions, do read the full article!

DailyDelivery – 7 Email Marketing Tips for Financial Advisers

Email’s not only great for e-commerce, it’s great for financial advisers. Here are 7 Tips for financial advisers.

  1. Past relationships with the recipients of your email matters a lot
  2. Content is essential for the success of email campaigns
  3. Provide subscribers with special treatment
  4. Insert an image next to the signature
  5. Be careful about timing
  6. Use a clear call to action
  7. Do not send repeat emails

I’m going to add another tip to this list: Tip 8 – All these tips work for professionals in other industries as well!

The 5 Hottest Trends in Email Marketing

Mike Veilleux from Dyn talks about the 5 Hottest Trends in Email Marketing that will help marketers reach the full potential of their email campaign.

  • Focus on user engagement
  • Transactional email is a possible revenue source
  • Security and brand protection are essential
  • Email is often filtered; hence treat recipients the way you want to be treated
  • Real-time information is providing a basis for focused, unique email

The Impact of Contests on Email Leads [Infographic]

Landing pages running %500 giveaway contests generate 700% more email subscribers than those that don’t.


Want to learn more about high volume sending for conversions? Watch the Six Secrets of Successful Sending webinar to find out how to make your email work better for you.

6 Secrets of Successful Sending

Weekly Email Marketing News Digest

Devastating news for bloggers and journalists this week – Google is shutting down Google Reader. If you’re like me and your livelihood depends on perusing Google Reader’s news feed, you’re probably scrambling to find a replacement (aside from whining incessantly and sobbing uncontrollably on the floor). Here’s a useful read of alternative resources from LifeHacker, Google Reader Is Shutting Down; Here Are the Best Alternatives.

Moving on to email marketing news, we’ve collated a slew of articles with actionable tips for marketers to begin optimizing content and using tactics that could see an immediate improvement in ROI. Enjoy!

Case Study: 30 Percent Increase in Email List Growth

The above-the-fold camp may be taking a bit of a hit these days, but here’s an important thought: “Just because people can scroll doesn’t mean that they will”. Just by moving the email sign-up above the fold, a business saw a 30% increase in email list growth.

Email CTA Below-The-Fold


Email CTA Above-The-Fold


Why Nobody Is Talking About Your Email Content… and How to Change That

The problem is that it screams me, me and ME! Here are 7 reasons why email marketing campaigns fail:

1. They’re all about you.
2. They’re not helpful.
3. They’re not timely.
4. They’re not entertaining.
5. You don’t ask questions.
6. You don’t involve your readers.
7. You don’t tell your readers to share.

What will kill email?

Digital marketing guru, Christopher Penn argues that email will likely never die – unlike social networks with rapid birth-death cycles. IMAP, POP3 and SMTP are all open standard protocols so it’s easy for anyone to buy and set up a standards-compliant mail server. Not so for social media, where business models are based on exclusive ownership.

Most Emails Deployed in the Morning – But Best Results Seen in the Evening

I start off my mornings scrolling through a slew of marketing emails. If I see something interesting, I flag some for follow-up in the evening when I have some time to register, sign-up or purchase. Apparently, that’s possibly a behavior that is reflective of the average email consumer.

A study shows that a 40% majority of emails are sent between 8am to 11.59am, but the 16.1% unique open rate, 2.4% unique click rate and 0.13% transaction rate were the lowest among the tested time periods.

Between 8pm and 11.59pm, the 21.7% unique open rate, 4.2% unique click rate, 0.34% transaction rate, $0.48 revenue per email and $246 average order value were significantly higher than the other tested time periods. Days with the lowest email volumes such as Saturday and Sunday had the best response rate at a unique open rate of 17.8% and unique click rate of 2.9%.


3 ways to apply image psychology to your next email

Here’s a different way to approach email design – through the lens of neuroscience.

1. Use images of people in email campaigns that evoke emotions you want subscribers to have.


How it works: A part of the brain is wired to solely to process images of faces.

2. Use images of people creatively to support your call to action.


How it works: Our brains are naturally programmed to pay attention to people.

3. Use provocative images that support people’s survival instinct.


How it works: A part of the brain known as “the primitive brain” pays attention to food, danger or sex – things that ensure the survival of the species.