When is the Best Time to Send an Email?

When is the best time to send email? The short answer to that question is easy: when your audience wants them.

But what’s more important to consider is, when are they most likely to open your email and take action? Only you can answer that. You need to consider context, audience, and other data to determine the perfect sending schedule for your email list.

Best practices in email marketing and other areas, are there for a reason. They’ve proven to have worked across-the-board for a variety of industries.

Over four years ago, MailChimp published a study analyzing the best time to send email and it’s still heavily referred to across the web. In the study, they performed analyses on ‘send time optimization’ that support commonly held beliefs, like sending email early on a Tuesday morning.

But that was nearly four years ago! I don’t even need to explain how much email marketing has changed since then. And surely, with more of the population reading emails on the go and on their phone, ​the best time to send email ​must have changed!

That’s why we’re taking another look at all the commonly held best practices. When it comes to the best time to send emails to your list, this is what will be important to consider in 2018.

When is the Best Time to Send ​Email?

You’re getting all your content and data together for your email autoresponder sequence. You’ve nailed the subject line and are pleased with the new setup. The only thing left is to decide exactly what time to send emails to make this email campaign more successful than the last.

Obviously, you need to get it out in the morning, say between 9:30 and 11:30 AM, on any day between Tuesday and Thursday… Right? Well that shouldn’t be your immediate – or only – plan.

The best way to accurately find the ​best time to send email to your list is to run tests. We’ve dug up some of the most recent data from two massive email marketing studies, and here’s what they said.

What is the Best Day to Send Email?

In 2016, CoSchedule analyzed ten email case studies from companies such as HubSpot and MailChimp, to find out what they had to say about the best time to send email. Their study found across the board, “hands down” Tuesday was the best day to send email.

best day to send email

A more recent study from GetResponse involved analyzing more than two billion emails between July and September 2017, across 126 countries and 19 industries. And still, Tuesday is the best day to send email.

best day to send email

One important note to consider, is that the best day to send email depends on how your target audience behaves. When do they have time to read and act on your marketing messages? Could it vary, or be the same through the week?

If you’re sending B2B or other business related marketing emails, then weekdays are best for email campaigns. You’ll receive higher open and click-through rates, which will reassure you all your hard work is being appreciated by at least a few potential customers!

However, if your product or campaign is related to recreational activities such as shopping or hobbies, then the weekend works better. And, because there tend to be fewer emails sent over the weekend, clogging the recipients’ inboxes up, they’re more likely to be opened and clicked on.

If you want to see for yourself if Tuesday is your best day to send an email, all you need to do is run an A/B test. Along with measuring the open and click rates, monitor the conversions to see where you can improve.

When is the Best Time of Day to Send Email?

While you’re better off getting more clicks and opens by sending your emails later in the day, mid-morning and mid-afternoon, their study also found an interesting shift in behavior.  Their previous analysis found that most email opens were around the time people start heading home from work, this year’s study shows more are opening their emails as they return from lunch.

When it came to the best time of day to send emails, the same GetResponse study found that there was a spike in both clicks and opens at 5 AM, when only 2% of all emails were sent!

best time of day to send email

​NOTE: The big takeaway ​when it came to time zones ​is to choose the one that covers the majority of your audience (if you’re unable to first segment your email list based on geography). If you’re in the States, that’s likely Eastern Time as that time zone covers 50% of the population. If you’re a local business, the best time of day to send an email is in your time zone.

Looking at CoSchedule’s mildly outdated, but incredibly comprehensive study on the best time to send emails, the results were a bit different. The ten email case studies they analyzed found varying results, but based on all that data, here’s how they suggest prioritizing selecting the best time of day to send email:

  • ​Several studies that they analyzed reported the most popular time to send emails “in general” was between 10 and 11 AM.
  • ​Similar to GetResponse, they found sending emails later in the day is a good bet, specifically 2 PM. CoSchedule’s reasoning? People are checking out of work mode or looking for distractions, and this is something similar in the world of social media marketing and the best time to share.
best email send times coschedule

Considering both of the studies, in many instances, late afternoon or early evening email campaigns performed best. Possibly, because the recipients are less busy and have time to read your carefully constructed subject heading and realize it contains potentially interesting, useful and relevant information for them.

However, no matter what you think the reasoning behind why there’s a spike in open and clicks mid-morning or mid-afternoon, it’s something you should test for yourself! After all, no two email lists are alike.

Don’t Forget, Every Audience is Different

If you’ve noticed a dip on your email open rates, email timing might be the first place you want to test and optimize. That way you can determine the best time to send an email to your audience.

There can be other factors that are contributing to poor open and click-through rates in your email marketing:

How old is your email list? When is the last time you cleaned your email list?

Are you sending emails too frequently? Use email list segmentation to ensure you’re not overwhelming your lists with unwanted email messages.

How’s your email subject line? Is it optimized to get the most clicks? Be sure you know the dos and don’ts of email subject lines when sending emails to your audience.

Test the Best Time to Send Emails to Your Email List

Think about it from the consumer’s perspective your perspective – not as a marketer – but as a business or consumer. When do you prefer to browse your emails and open up business-related information versus consumer-related messages?

email marketing gifs

For consumer emails, weekend mornings are probably a time when you’re more inclined to open up sales, coupons, and special offer emails for your favorite stores – or for items you’re interested in.

When it comes to work-related campaigns, maybe you open up one or two emails you’ve mentally logged as interesting, on your way home from work. Or, how about sometime during the evening, when you’re mentally planning (come on, we all do it!) for the next day at work?

If you find that you behave that way, then chances are you’re not alone. At the very least, it’s worth making a change to the timing of your email campaigns and monitor the analytics those campaigns.

​Think about it from the consumer’s perspective your perspective – not as a marketer – but as a business or consumer. When do you prefer to browse your #emails and open up business-related information versus consumer-related messages?

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Your audience segments and demographics play a huge role in your distribution preferences and the best time to send emails. So while personal views are always a great place to start with ideas, for the best results and finding the best time to send an email, try using a checklist:

  • ​What message are you trying to convey?
  • ​Who is your target audience?
  • ​Is the information you’re sharing time sensitive?
  • ​How and when is your target audience likely to take action?

Then with the above in mind, the easiest way to test any email campaign will be to simply split your list in half. You send one business-as-usual, ‘control’ group a campaign during the normal day and time you always do. And you alter different variables for the second group.

All of the email marketing services can help you create A/B tests based on different days and times. You can select a ‘winning’ variable and their system will automatically track results to identify which group won. Rinse and repeat a few times over the next few weeks and you’ll find that sweet spot in no time.

If Your Email Timing Ain’t Broken, Then Don’t Fix it!

Of course, if your email campaign is a regularly anticipated message that your audience expects and devours as soon as it’s delivered, then you don’t necessarily need to play around with your timings!

There’s a right time for experimentation with the best time to send email and to improve performance. But there’s also a right time to just let things be. Best practices in email marketing won’t always mean the best for your business or industry.

Given that email volumes are rising, and open rates are falling, it seems that for some of you, at least, this might be a good time to try something new. Be it the day, time or CTA wording, if there’s room for improvement, give it a try and shake-up that email campaign delivery schedule!

As you can see there is no right answer to the best time to send an email. Start experimenting with different tactics and see what works with your readers. 

Have you found the best time of day to send emails to your audience? Let's keep up the conversation and share how in the comments.

Caitlin
 

Caitlin is an Austin-based digital marketer and writer with a passion for content. She is the newest member of the Performance Marketer team and brings years of marketing experience, as well as the best recommendations for where to go for lunch.

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