We are frequently asked three questions regarding email best practices:
- What is the best time to send my emails?
- What day of the week is best to send emails?
- What time of day works best to send emails?
And we would venture to guess we’re not the first article you clicked on trying to find the real answers to these questions.
“Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m.”
“Thursday afternoons after 2:30.”
“Anything but Monday morning.”
There have been numerous industry articles that try to address this. And I’m sure you’ve read most of them already, with each one giving you a different day and time to send. We all would like the magic answer to these questions.
And you’re in luck because we’re going to give it to you.
The real answer to both is: It depends.
That's an unsatisfying answer to any question but in the case of finding the best time to send out your email campaigns, it’s the truth.
And here’s why: You’re asking the wrong question.
When it comes to the best time to send emails, there is no generic best time to send.
No two brands are exactly the same—and nor are any two lists of email addresses for that matter.
Every company has a unique email marketing automation strategy (or should).
So, what is the right question?
What is the best time to send emails to my audience?
Sure, there are studies and compiled articles of reports:
An infographic highlights Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday as the best days to send emails. They also report that the best times to send emails are 6 AM, 10 AM, 2 PM, and 8 PM. This was all compiled using over a dozen different email studies, and they recommend A/B testing to see what works for your audience (so do we.)
An older report uses a myriad of data to suggest that Tuesday is the best day to send emails, though there are caveats. (Aren’t there always when it comes to email timing?) They also suggest that the afternoon is best for open rates and the evening is best for click rates.
However, what works great for one group may be a terrible disappointment for another.
The Radicati Group estimates the number of email users worldwide is 2.6 billion, and the number of emails sent per day is around 205 billion.
That’s nearly 2.4 million emails sent every second.
Litmus says, on average, 54% of emails are opened on a mobile device, making email accessible anywhere at any time.
Here’s another way to explain this:
Sending an email isn’t like sending a Tweet that will get scrolled past in seconds.
An email will always be around in your subscriber’s inbox.
If your audience needs information on Monday morning to plan for the week, that’s when you want to email them.
Source: Really Good Emails
If they’re wildly busy from first thing in the morning until 3:00 p.m., late afternoon is a better choice.
If your audience stays up late to get work done after everyone’s asleep, the evening is the best choice for sending out emails.
Make your initial decision based on your knowledge of your audience.
So how do you figure that out? It’s time to play Sherlock Holmes.
Finding the right time to send emails to your audience
If you’re like me and you need a visual to remember something, think of it like you are an email marketing detective.
Congratulations! You’ve just been moved from your desk job shuffling papers to an active field agent. It’s time to get to work.
As a bright-eyed gumshoe, your first job is to scope out your suspects, or should I say your audience.
They are a slippery group of individuals who will need extensive scoping if you’re going to catch them in the act of opening your email.
How will you catch them? With A/B testing.
With A/B split testing, you send out two separate email campaigns (email A and email B) to two separate groups of recipients (group 1 and group 2) with different subject lines, different placement of your call to action, or whatever information you are interested in testing.
Don’t try to test too many things at once–this might skew your results. Instead, think of this as a long-run game.
Based on those results, the “winning” email—the one that performed the best—will be sent to the rest of your recipients.
Next, compare your emails and results to build a file on your audience.
Over time you will learn what the best day to send your email is, what subject lines boost open rates, and if your click-through rates improve by sending your email at a certain time.
As you continue to test and compare, you will gain a unique view into your audience. You might find you enjoy this aspect of email marketing–the very technical, tedious side of it.
A/B split testing is an extremely effective tool for any email marketing detective that wants to thoroughly research their audience.
Sure, it’s not an instant answer, but over time you will build a priceless knowledge base about the email habits of your recipients. That knowledge base will help you send emails at the right time, to the right groups, when it matters most.
Using the information you have to send at the right time
Common sense goes a long way in life, and the same can be said when it comes to finding the best time to send emails.
You have a ton of customer and prospect data at your fingertips: Look at your Google Analytics account and see when your search, direct and PPC traffic visits your site.
That could be a good indication of when to send.
And what if you’re a national or international brand with subscribers in different time zones?
This way you can avoid 4:00 a.m. flash sale or sales cut-off time emails to subscribers. Those types of mistakes are embarrassing and don’t look well on your company. Use email segmentation effectively to prevent this kind of mishap.
Be careful about seasonal shifts
If you’re planning to ramp up communications before a major holiday or peak season for your product, that increase shouldn’t be too dramatic.
In the months of October through December, retailers saw favorable results when they increased their weekly marketing emails from two to three.
The least successful retailers had jumped from one to 10 weekly emails, on average, eliciting complaints and poor engagement. Some retailers even send daily emails throughout the year, effectively throwing anything at the wall that will stick.
Unhappy customers aren’t the only negative outcome of a big spike in email communication.
If you send too many emails, you run the risk of triggering a spam filter or becoming blacklisted, which could cause long-lasting harm to your sender reputation.
But at the end of the day, as we said before, the timing of when you send emails doesn’t matter as much as optimizing your calls-to-action or your subject lines.
Your subscribers will receive your emails in their inboxes and get to them when they get to them.
Source: Really Good Emails
And if you’ve done your homework testing and optimizing your campaigns, you’ll see the fruits of your labor in higher engagement, more sales, and happier subscribers.
To summarize all of that info, here’s a quick overview of what we covered here:
Use A/B testing to find the right time to send to your audience.
Send emails to different segments based on your A/B testing results.
Be careful about seasonal shifts: ramp up cautiously to avoid spam triggers.
We hope this post helps put the “What’s the best time to send emails?” question to bed.
And we hope it helps you put your mind at ease.