Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools for businesses. The low monthly fees charged by email service providers make email the perfect tool for lead development, selling, and brand awareness. But to work, you need to determine the best time to send your email campaigns. Your emails need to reach your subscribers’ inboxes at the time they will be most likely to see and open your mailings.
Why does timing matter for email marketing?
While it’s tempting to hit send as soon as you have a campaign ready, it’s important to schedule your emails to reach recipients when they will have maximum impact.
Even though your emails may be relevant and chock-full of value for your subscribers, if you send out your emails at the wrong time of day or week, it could mean that many people aren’t seeing them.
Most people get over 100 emails a day. The emails that show up at the top of the inbox are those that have the most recent timestamp. Your subscribers are most likely to see and engage with emails at the top of their inbox. If you send out an email campaign at 5 pm, and your subscribers don’t look at their mail until the following day, your email will be buried under dozens of other emails and may never be seen or opened.
That’s why scheduling your email for optimal viewing is crucial for email marketing success. Here are some suggestions for choosing the best time to send email marketing campaigns and what times to avoid.
What is the best day of the week to send emails?
Countless studies have been published on when people check their email most often and least often. For example, emails scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays tend to get more clicks than any other day of the week, while Saturdays and Mondays usually get the worst open rates, according to some studies.
Yet, Ask the Builder, a popular home improvement site, gets more opens and customer engagement for its newsletters when they send them on weekends.
“I’ve tested this for years,” says the site’s CEO, Tim Carter. “For my audience, I discovered Sunday morning has the highest open rate. I queue it up to send at 5 am, and people open it moments later in Europe and the East Coast USA. My open rate is just under 48%. I don’t think it’s an accident that my high open rate correlates to the busiest online shopping day, which is normally Sunday.”
So, the best day to send emails ultimately depends on your audience.
What is the best time of day to send marketing campaigns?
As for the time of day, some studies show that sending your emails around 8 am, 1 pm, and 5 pm results in the highest open rates. The reasoning behind these times is simple: people tend to check their emails before work, during their meal break, and right after work.
However, just because one or more studies say those times are best to send out email doesn’t mean they are the best time to send your email campaigns.
For instance, I’ve been sending email marketing campaigns to small business audiences for more than 20 years, and whenever I’ve tested, I’ve found that I get the best results when I schedule email to go out between 10 am and 11 am. The perfect time of the day for your emails relies heavily on your target audience.
Understand your audience to get your timing right
When your audience checks their inbox depends significantly on various factors, including demographics. A younger audience is less likely to open emails early in the morning, especially on weekends when they may sleep late, and senior subscribers may be less likely to check their emails late at night. If your audience targets senior citizens, you can assume that many of them are retired, which means they probably won’t be checking email early in the morning, either. But they’d be more likely than someone who is employed to open consumer-focused emails during working hours. Thus, mid-morning could be a good time to send seniors email about your gentle exercise Tai Chi classes or the garden kneeler bench you have on sale this month.
What device someone uses to read your emails matters, too. Mobile device users may check their email all day long because their phones are always with them. But they may look for certain types of emails at different times of the day. Thus, first thing in the morning might be a good time to send a last-minute reminder to people who have signed up to attend your 10 am webinar. And 4:30 pm might be a good time to send out email about visiting your station for the lowest gas prices in town.
The location of your subscribers matters as far as timing is concerned, too. If you serve the entire country or run an international business, you need to segment your email list by time zone. If you’re based in Florida, and you send an email to someone in Los Angeles at 8 am your time, they’ll be getting it at 5 am their time when they’re likely to be asleep.
How to determine the best time to schedule email campaigns
Even if you take all of the above into account, it can still be tough to nail down the perfect time to send your emails. To determine if your timing is off, look at the statistics your email provider makes available. Note the time that most people opened the email or clicked through on a link.
A better approach is to test the best days and times of day to send your mailings with A/B testing. You can do this by sending two versions of the same email to two different groups of subscribers at two different times on the same day. Doing so will allow you to compare the open rates of these two emails to determine which time was the best to send your emails. Of course, you’ll need to ensure that the two different groups of subscribers belong to the same demographics and live in the same location for the results to be valid. Once you have a clear winner for that test, try using the same test to determine the best day of the week to send.
Get your timing right to increase your email open rates
Your email marketing campaign’s success relies heavily on your ability to send your emails at the right time. Knowing your target audience will go a long way toward getting your timing right. But even if you can’t hit the nail on the head with your exact target audience, using general best practices for scheduling your email will still result in higher open rates. For example, send your emails during regular business hours for the location of your target audience and use analytics tools to determine when people are engaging with your content. If you do not see the results you want, try A/B testing to see if a different time would be more successful.