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I was wondering how long should I expect the clock circle to run before the email messages are actually being sent.
If you setup your cron job for scheduled.php properly, it should run every 5 minutes. Every 5 minutes, the cron job will check if any campaigns need to be sent. So the 'Preparing' state will last up to 5 minutes (until the next cron job executes the scheduled.php script for sending).