Is Timing Really Everything?

When is the best time to send marketing emails?

We get the question a lot.  And the answer is both complex and simple because it depends on the preferences and habits of your targets.

Like all elements of a successful email campaign, testing when you send your emails is absolutely critical.  But you’ve got to begin somewhere, right?

There are reports and people making cases for nearly every day of the week and time of day, so knowing where to begin isn’t easy. To help you make sense of it, we’ve reviewed the piles of industry data and studied the results of thousands of email campaigns we’ve executed for our own customers to boil it down to a few solid recommendations (considerations, really) focused on B2C small to medium-sized businesses.

Remember, consumer habits are not static, so testing once is not enough.  Keep an eye on your results and constantly tweak as you go.  The best data you can get your hands on is always your own.

  • Time of Day. According to several studies, early morning email delivery has the lowest open rates. This may be because as we start our workdays, we want to eliminate the “clutter” in our inboxes.  At that time of day, we quickly decide what is least important and readily hit the delete key. Conversely, people are surprising active at night.  According to an Experian benchmark survey, click-thru rates increase later in the evening when we can be more generous with our time and attention. This may also apply to later in the morning, lunchtime or mid-afternoon when we’re ready for a work distraction.
  • Day of Week.  Monday is generally not an ideal day to send your marketing emails.  We tend to be in a hurry to purge our inboxes after a weekend break.  Most studies show sending emails on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday yields the best results.  However, Experian’s survey indicates that because overall email volume is lower on weekends, engagement is relatively high.

Other Considerations:

People are waiting longer to open email.  In the past, we found recipients opened their email within three days.  But with increasing use of social media, the time between when an email is sent and went it’s opened has increased to about five days.  That means, for time-sensitive offers or events, send your email at least five days before the event.  For our customers, we send multiple pre-event emails–beginning about two weeks prior.

Strike when the iron is hot.  Send emails on days your business is open the following day so any leads generated can be followed up on quickly. For example, if you are closed on Saturday, don’t send an email on Friday evening if you can’t follow up on leads until Monday. Leads can go cold during that time.

While the data is exhaustive–and often conflicting–there truly is no substitute for testing.  Remember, too, timing is not, in fact, everything.  Your list, your offer and your message are some of the other moving parts of a successful email machine.   And you (or the expert you choose to run your email campaigns) must be a vigilant monitor of results, then adjust accordingly.