Easy Personalization Tip of the Week: Personalize by Time

Here is part five in our series:“Easy Personalization Tip of the Week”. If you find these tips useful, we’d love to hear from you!

The personal nature of time

All that really belongs to us is time; even one who has nothing else has that.” – Baltasar Gracian

While time stands still for no one, it is spent differently by each of us.

For example, I cherish my mornings. An avid early riser, I’m typically out of bed and reaching for my teacup by 5:30 AM. I scan through my emails by the light of a flickering street lamp, sip some oolong, and gradually assemble my interact-with-others face.

For the stay-at-home parents I know, mornings have a fundamentally different flavor. They involve frantic lunch prep and herding unruly children. After a flurry of activity, there is a 9:00 AM moment of calm, well-earned after the first bell rings.

And for friends who are office-bound parents, calm exists in the slender first 5 minutes of wakefulness, when emails are checked surreptitiously in bed, before the whirlwind competitive showering commences.

As a marketer trying to reach your audiences, have you thought about personalizing by the element of time? If you would like to reach the segments represented above and others like them, sending emails at targeted times serves as a powerful and easy-to-implement differentiator.

Track, experiment, optimize

Time is the wisest counselor of all.” – Pericles

When I wake up in the early mornings, my inbox is choked with triggered emails. The brands that send these emails to me end up fading into the collective din. There is nothing differentiated about the experiences they are creating for me.


Sample screenshot from my inbox, captured at 7:36 AM


The first step in overcoming the status quo is to track your current state. By looking at email interaction data and site traffic, you can create a graph that shows how emails are contributing to serges in site traffic. If you are like many brands, some of your emails are breaking through the noise and you have a morning bump as the result of your triggered sends. This is your baseline.

Now, create some rough segments (start perhaps with stay-at-home parents and working singles) and start experimenting with different morning send times for each. Email providers like Gmail list recent emails at the top, so you ideally want to send emails around the time when people are viewing their inboxes. Try 5:00, 6:00, 7:00, 7:30, and 8:30 AM sends. You will begin to discern the ideal send time for various segments, and unlock temporal personalization for your campaigns.

Create additional surges

You can create something that is pure genius, but you have to get your timing right.” – Lang Leav

For a more advanced use case, try reaching targeted groups with custom offers and messaging at specific times in the day. For example, when I was running the store at Zulily, our merchandising team put together a ‘naughty’ collection. This was a bundle of indulgent products that we thought a select group of our female shoppers would love ‒ high heels, lingerie, chocolates, red lipstick.

Rather than promoting these decadent choices during the day when most women are thinking practically and checking items off premeditated lists, we sent them out in emails around 9:00 PM. The women we targeted were finally unwinding from long and often stressful days. We invited them to treat themselves to indulgences.

This properly timed campaign was so successful, we were able to drive an additional, secondary surge in our site traffic and eCommerce revenue. Had we sent offers for lingerie during a mom’s busy dash to avoid another tardy slip for her child, her likelihood of clicking would be slim to none.

What campaigns and products, if marketed at precisely the right times, would interest your customers? How can your brand use temporal personalization to easily increase engagement, conversions, and revenue?


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