Timing isn’t the single-most important factor to an email marketing campaign, but it’s certainly a game changer if you do it right, and a waste of a good email if you do it wrong. So when are the best email sending times? We can help you answer this question at a high level, and figure out what works for your audience.
i. Best Practice
The term “best practice” doesn’t necessarily mean to practice a certain way of doing things exclusively, because there are always exceptions to the rule. Whether you’re just starting off, or revamping your email marketing campaigns, the following general email send time tips are broadly recognized by the email marketing experts.
Optimal send time is midweek at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are email marketers’ preferred days to send email campaigns. The traditional approach of sending out email campaigns midweek and midday is backed up by data citing better open and click rates. General consensus recommends sending emails between 1-3 p.m. as a reliable option.
Caveat: Your competitors are likely aware of this best practice as well, so you could be facing more opposition by always going with the suggested days and times.
Don’t send on nights and weekends. Kind of a no-brainer, but you want people to be awake and alert (not brunching or binge-watching Netflix, whatever their scene) when you send them an email.
Caveat: User habits are rapidly changing across devices. Sending during the weekday makes perfect sense for desktop users who are opening emails at work. Mobile users are gradually becoming more prevalent, and tend to be pretty active even late in the evening and on weekends.
Avoid sending out email blasts on Mondays and Fridays. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes – do you like a full inbox on Mondays? Neither do they, and your email is more likely to be deleted if sent on a Monday. By Friday, most people are mentally checking out of anything non-essential throughout the day, and your email probably doesn’t make their list of priorities before the weekend.
Caveat: Remember what we said about competition being high midweek? Testing out on Monday or Friday could be a way to get your email campaign to stand out. Going against the grain might be what works for your business.
Send out event emails 3-5 days prior. Don’t wait until the last minute if you’re promoting an event via email. While over 20% of emails are opened within an hour after being sent, there are some recipients who may wait a day or two to open it.
Caveat: For event-oriented email, you should consider sending multiple emails over a period of time prior to the event to give yourself the best chance of high attendance.
II. Your Business is unique and so is your email list
Know your audience personas. All of the best practices and caveats provided should be analyzed based on your unique audience. Before you send an email, you need to understand your buyer personas to achieve email marketing campaign success. Here are some questions to ask yourself about your personas, and how some characteristics might amend the accepted “best email sending times” general advice:
- Are you targeting a certain age group? The tech-savvy millennial crowd, for example, might break the midweek/midday rule, and be more prone to read emails at night on their mobile device.
- What is your industry? Friday is not generally recommended for email campaigns, but it might be the right choice if you’re in the entertainment industry since this is the day people are making their weekend plans.
- Are you sending to different time zones? West coasters might get your email at 5 a.m. instead of your intended 8 a.m. if you don’t segment your lists and customize email send times.
III. Test Test Test
We confess: while there are best practices, there is no single “best day and time” to send an email. It all depends on who you are trying to reach! To ascertain your company’s own best practices, start by working the midweek/midday rule and see how you perform. Then really narrow down your optimal send day/time by running A/B tests to compare open and click rates (which show an average 22% increase in engagement using this method). Continue until you find the sweet spot, and your email marketing will become a winning marketing metric.
Here’s what we hope you’ve learned: there are proven days and times to send your emails, but the broad data can’t always predict your distinctive audience’s preferences. Pick and choose best practices based on what you know about your audience, and test until you discover what no article can tell you: <this type of email> to <this audience> will get optimal results when sent on <this day> at <this time>.