The Latest from the ABM Experts
March 3, 2017
When is the Best Time To Send Emails
Written by Annie McMindes
Tuesdays mornings after 10 a.m.
Three things that put a marketer on edge: One, tagging personas; two, tailoring content to those personas; three, pressing send on an email campaign.
On the surface, email seems pretty straightforward, not least because the people you’re sending to have actually asked to receive your messages. You’re interacting with someone, by invitation, in the relatively intimate setting of your contact’s inbox. All you need to do is create a compelling message and boom – you’re done, right?
Or maybe not.
The cutthroat standard of your customer’s inbox roils with mixed marketing messages asking them to take action, giving them a new resource or pleading with them to respond. It’s congested with scores of attention-seeking previews and competitive subject lines. All the while, the delete response remains merciless.
A typical buyer gets around 100 emails hitting their inbox every day, give or take a couple. But, according to a study from our friends at Tellwise, they only open 23 percent of them. And that enrapturing buyer you’re trying so hard to woo with your hot content is only clicking on a measly 2 percent of the emails that hit their inbox.
Creating a compelling message for your email is only scratching the surface to get noticed in the noxious beast that is the inbox. There are a ton of moving parts in your email strategy. Get one wrong, and you might just jam up the whole apparatus.
Let’s be real
Your subscribers are your most loyal audience. They’ve invited you into their inbox because they want to hear what’s happening in your world. But the most compelling prose and an enticing offer isn’t going to do you a lick of good if you send it at a time that’ll leave it buried under the 99 other emails hitting their desktop today.
So what is the best time to send emails?
With wave after big wave of data crashing into the swash of studies that try to decode the magic send time and finally provide a real answer to when to send, the general consensus is: It depends. Now I realize that answer isn’t particularly helpful, but hang with me here for a minute. Because while the reality is you’re eventually going to have to bite the bullet and A/B test it to hone in on the exact best time to send emails for your list, it’s helpful to have an informed place to start.
What’s the best day to send an email?
Research from our pals at HubSpot analyzed the number of emails that were opened on each day of the week. They saw Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday had the highest volume of opens. Tuesday, in general, came out on top, with 20 percent more opens than average. Monday and Wednesday tied for silver, each logging 18 percent more opens than average.
Another study from MailChimp took a look at the aggregate patterns of more than 4 million users and several billion recipients logged by their internal send time optimization system. Their data shows Thursdays have the highest open rate, with a second peak on Tuesdays. GetResponse and Wordstream also suggest Thursdays, followed by Tuesdays, are the best days to send emails.
But the best time to send emails can shift depending on what type of content you’re sending. The type of content, after all, is usually a good indicator of who your subscribers are, and what their habits might look like.
According to Customer.io and MailChimp, stick with your Tuesday sends for informative emails or educational newsletters. Studies have found we experience the most professional and emotional stress on Tuesdays, when the “reality of work” sets in. And so, people tend to avoid making actionable decisions early in the week.
On the other hand, if your email has an impetus to act, shift your schedule to send on Friday. The weekend is when people finally have enough time to sit down and read their messages. So, they tend to read emails more thoroughly. And, the weekend sees the lowest volume of messages stock into the inbox, so you have less competition.
The general consensus among all the research shows most activity happens during the middle of the week with only minor outliers. Tuesdays and Thursdays are, by far the best days to send. Wednesdays didn’t rank first one a single study, but was mentioned several times. While Friday sends were a surprising addition to an actionable strategy. Personal preference puts Tuesday ahead because it gives recipients more time to share your content during the week before it becomes obsolete into the weekend abyss.
What’s the best time to send emails?
Mid-day, between 10 and noon, is the best time to send emails according to MailChimp’s research. It looks like there’s a peak just after 10 a.m. HubSpot backs this up with research tagging 11 a.m. as the hot time for email opens on every day of the week, except Sunday. Sundays saw a 35 percent higher open rate at 9 p.m. You know, right when people start getting ready for the week ahead.
Smart Insights suggests a later mid-day range, between noon and 4 p.m. for the prime open potential. The sweet spot between lunch and that mid-afternoon lull is the best chance to send if your goal is simply to receive the most opens. This, they say, is because your recipient is receiving a moderately low number of emails and has time to open and read the incoming messages.
If you’re out to get a response, though, send your email when they have time to care. That is, somewhere in the morning before they get to the office or in the evening after the kids are in bed. More specifically, between 6 and 8 a.m. or 8 p.m. and mid-night. If you send your message when they’re receiving the lowest number of messages, they’ll have all the time in the world to read their mail.
Late-morning send times are the most popular in general, with several studies indicating 10 a.m. (or just after) is the ideal send time. I typically find a net positive response in opens and engagement if I send a campaign just after 10 a.m. – say 10:05 a.m.
What’ve we learned?
If you send more than one email out a week, send them on both Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you’re calling for your recipient to take action, be it a response or a buy, send those emails on Friday when they can take the weekend to mull it over.
The best time, in general is mid-day, I favor the 10 a.m. hour, based on the research.
So that’s the advice. Now ignore it.
Okay, don’t completely ignore it. But don’t be led blindly. The research gives you a really great starting point, but you still need to test. Figure out what works in your market, for your recipients.
And think about how people are consuming your message. Traditional best time to send emails” statistics are being thrown to the wind as user habits shift across devices. The standard mid-week, mid-day send makes a ton of sense for desktop users who are opening their emails at work. While mobile users, like me, tend to check email in the weight room after work, in the sauna, after the kids are in bed and as I climb between the sheets myself. In other words, the way people absorb email has changed, and is likely to continue changing. So continued testing will always be needed to optimize when to send your emails.