The Best Time to Send Email Campaigns
The most comprehensive guide out there today to finding the best time to send email campaigns. Over 20 email marketing experts share their findings through comprehensive testing.
Defining the BEST Time to Send Email Campaigns…
Do you know when the best time to send email is? As a marketer, you need to be an expert on all things marketing. Yet many times, that’s easier said than done. The phrase ‘it depends’ comes into play more often than not because things change quickly in marketing; consumers change their behavior, marketing budgets increase/decrease, and goals or objectives fluctuate. In fact, there’s only one constant: marketing is a moving target…always.
This is especially true for one of the more popular questions marketers hear, “When is the best time to send email campaigns to receive the best possible response?” And, you may have heard numerous answers before, along with the popular, “There is really no one right answer.”
Well now, there’s at least one place to find the answer! Citing over 20 marketing experts and research, as well as adding in our own marketing expertise, this blog article may just be the most comprehensive guide out there today to finding the best time to send email. After reading the informative (and even interesting) information that we compiled for you, you can credit yourself as an expert in defining the ONE right answer for YOUR organization- not only now, but two weeks from now, a year from now, and so on. Enjoy!
Drum roll please…and the winner is Tuesday…or is it Thursday? Heck, it could even be Saturday or Sunday. The truth is, there are so many contradictory resources out there, yet each have valid and useful points. Many are backed by extensive data based on send results to numerous clients and verticals; others use business logic. I’m sure you’re heard it or read from some marketer somewhere…it goes kind of like this…
“Monday is not the best time to send email because people are beginning their work week and are inundated with emails and planning. You can scratch Friday too because, by noon, people start shifting their focus to their weekend plans. And just forget about Saturday; it's the only day of the week without a workday on the back end so most folks are not paying too much attention to their email.”
Though there may (or may not) be some truth to this logic, our ultimate goal here is to focus on real results derived from research and statistics from numerous noteworthy email experts. In determining the best day to send email, we broke the information down by evaluating different factors that come into play each day of the week, along with email marketer categories (B2B vs. B2C) and even the type of devices emails are rendered on (desktop, table, mobile phone, etc.). Here’s what we found…
The BEST Day(s) to Send Email
Mondays: Are they made for email marketing?
You won’t hear too many email marketing experts dishing out advice about how Mondays are a great day to send your email campaigns, that is, unless they read Experian’s email marketing benchmark study. This study concluded that emails sent on Mondays had the highest ROI (yet Friday had the better click through rate).
Lumped into email marketing are email surveys. Mondays look promising for those of you who need feedback from your customers and prospects, since it was named the best day to send out email surveys. SurveyMonkey analyzed 100,000 surveys, sent Monday through Friday, to figure out the impact of the day they were sent verses the response rate. The conclusion – Mondays were the best day to send email surveys. On average, surveys sent out on Mondays received 10%** more responses than average.
Tuesdays & Thursdays: Rumored to be the best days to send email campaigns.
We are clumping these two days together because we heard rumors they were the best days to send out email campaigns.
MailChimp wanted to do a little research around this data and possibly confirm what people were hearing (and reading). According to their research, Tuesdays and Thursdays are the highest volume send days for email. Though this doesn’t confirm these days to be the best send days, but it does tell us that a bunch of other marketers must have heard those same rumors and wanted to hop on the ‘best email send day’ train. But wait…doesn’t higher send volumes mean more competition in your recipients’ email boxes? This may be true, but nonetheless, Tuesday emailings had the highest open and click-through rates. At least that’s what Get Response concluded after analyzing over 300 million messages to determine the top days for open and click through rates. Thursday wasn’t too far behind! I guess there is some truth to those rumors after all.
Wednesday: A day with no big impact on winning the best day to send email.
In most cases, Wednesday dominated the middle ground – being neither the best day to send nor the worst to send. However, Harland Clarke Digital results drew a different different conclusion. To learn how today's on-the-go recipient engage with email marketing messages, Harland Clarke Digital analyzed over 1 billion campaigns (yeah – that is A LOT of email) sent over a course of 11 months. Out of this staggering number of campaigns, almost 27% were sent on Wednesday. Wednesday sends also had open rates of 20.6%, which included renders on both desktop and mobile devices.
Friday: Does this day make the cut for the best day to send email?
If you are a retailer, Friday has proven to be a lucrative day to hit send your email campaigns. Retention Science derived the data from an analysis of 100 million online transactions, 20 million user profiles and 100 email campaigns. Through their findings, Friday produced a 26% conversion rate— only 2% behind Tuesday, which had the highest conversion rate of all the email send days.
FundsforWriters also has pretty good luck on Fridays and sends their email newsletters on this day by 10 pm. What they have found is that most of their readers have 9-5 jobs and enjoy relaxing with the newsletter on Saturday.
“I settled on this release date after feedback from many readers over the years, and I feel I’ve found a happy balance for all concerned.”
Editor | FundsforWriters
Saturday and Sunday: Are weekend email sends a good option?
“Lookout weekend cause, here I come, because weekends were made for fun…and reading email.”
Okay, maybe we added a few words on to Debbie Deb’s hit song from the 80s’, but we think her lyrics would have been a bit different if she had the data we pulled from KISSmetrics.
According to email statistics gathered by KISSmetrics, open rates are the highest during the weekend, reaching a whopping 44% on Saturday. Click rates surged upward during these days, reaching as high as 10% on Saturday. On the flip side, the weekend also produces the highest bounce rates and abuse reports (both at 0.11%). Some people just don’t like to be bothered on their days off.
Experian’s Quarterly Email Bench Mark Study also concluded Saturday and Sunday were good days to send out email campaigns. Weekend sends yielded the highest open, click, transaction, and revenue rates per email. According to their study, lower volumes of email are also being deployed on the weekend compared to other days of the week.
Email Send Day…Still To Be Determined
“Observe due measure, for right timing is in all things the most important factor.”
Greek poets, "the father of Greek didactic poetry" | 700bc
It’s all about the timing…right? Overwhelming, a high number of experts believe that there is no ‘right day’ to send an email campaign because there are just too many factors that play into the correct timing of sending out an email campaign. Think about it…your company, your industry, and your audience all have unique demands and needs. Pinpointing those needs on the right day can be tricky, so we recommend you test to see what works with the best with your audience.
Going against the grain…
As soon as she has an email ready, author and email marketer Linda Formicelli sends a campaign out to her subscriber list of over 2,000 writers — regardless of the day. Calling BS to traditional email sending business logic, Linda tried a little experiment. On Sunday at 11:23 am, she sent out an email announcing that she was holding a contest to promote her newest e-book. Within 30 minutes, she had 97 opens, 16 clicks, and 8 sales. Within an hour, the numbers had increased to 212 opens, 39 clicks, and 11 sales. By 3:23, she had 484 opens, 93 clicks, and a total of 27 sales. By the time I went to bed early that evening, she had sold 53 e-books. The next day, Monday, she sold 30 more. (source)
Though this may not work for all audiences, it worked for Linda’s. The lesson here – test and see what works for you and what your audience responds to.
Never treat email marketing as a ‘one-size fits all’ effort because it just doesn’t work! Business-to Business (B2B) email marketers use a different set of rules compared to Business-to Consumer (B2C) email marketers, including best email send days. To back this information up we pulled data from the MarketingSherpa 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, which analyzed the results of a survey sent to marketers across multiple industries in B2B and B2C markets. After looking at the breakout data, this is what the benchmark concluded:
- Sunday was the least effective email send day for B2C marketers, but only 23% rated it as least effective, while 55% of B2B and marketers rated Sunday least effective.
- For marketers with both a B2B and B2C audience, Wednesday was tied with Tuesday for most effective email send day.
- Those working for a marketing agency or consultancy rated Wednesday as most effective day to send email campaigns.
- Marketers working in the professional, personal and financial services industries rated Saturday as least effective.
- While 20% of marketers in retail, e-commerce or wholesale distribution rated Sunday as least effective email send day, 40% gave the day a four or five (most effective).
- 60% of software, software as a service or video game marketers rated Sunday as least effective send day.
To determine the role of email in B2B marketing strategies, Pardot conducted an online survey completed by more than 100 anonymous B2B marketers in the United States. It covered topics ranging from email marketing best practices to usage and testing. The ‘best send day’ victor was Tuesday – 44% B2B marketers reported the most opens on this day.
Another idea on B2C email marketing comes from WMG. WMG believes that B2C marketers have greater flexibility around send days and approaches their strategy on consumer logic.
What is the BEST Day To Send Email for Mobile Email Users?
This is NOT information you can ignore!
Mobile email will account for 15 to 70% of email opens, depending on your target audience, product and email type (source). More and more email is being read on mobile devices compared desktop email clients – stats say 49% of email is now opened on a mobile device (Litmus –”Email Analytics” – Jan 2014).
Taking this information into consideration, we recommend you have a good idea of what devices your recipients are using, and when they are opening emails. Experts seem to agree that Friday thru Sunday render the most opens for mobile email users.
Below are just a few of stats we found…
- 32% read email on their smartphone during the weekend.
31% sometimes reads their mobile email on weekends.
Apsis “The email Barometer, Email on mobile devices” (2013)
Mobile email usage varies with the day of the week. With more than average number of opens on Friday, the mobile email is most often used in the weekend.
Return Path “The future of mobile messaging” (2011)
- Friday-Sunday accounted for the highest mobile device render rates.
Another interesting stat we found:
Special offers (27%), vouchers (21%) and real-time tracking (21%) are most preferred email types to receive on mobile. Newsletters are the fifth most preferred type with 12% of respondents saying they like to view that email type on their mobile the most.
Edialog “The future of mobile messaging” (2011)
Did you get all of that? We hope so because there will be a quiz at the end of this article…just kidding! On a more serious note, we know there’s a lot of information to take in on send days alone, but also believe that knowledge brings success. By proving you with real data provided by notable marketers, you have the basis or forming an educated strategy around your send days.
Now let’s pop another puzzle piece in and get to the nitty-gritty on send times…
We won’t tease you with a drumroll this time around as you may have now realized it’s not one simple answer for everyone, but there is a lot of great research we can use to our advantage.
Read on for the worst and the best time to send email. Although this may not be a historical novel, we intend to pack as much email marketing wisdom into your head as humanly possible.
Timing Is Everything
Let the good times roll with the best time to send email…
The trick here is knowing the best time to send in relation to when people are most likely to open and click through your email. Because we can track that activity, we have some golden research nuggets for you to take in…
Early Morning Send Times
According to KISSmetrics, click rates are highest in the early morning – at 6am in fact. Uggg…we haven’t even had our morning coffee yet! This said, bounce rates are also at their highest during this time.
Mid-Morning Email Send Times (10am-12pm)
Although some of the experts assume people are not opening emails during this time because they’re focusing on work, MailerMailer found the best email open rate to be 10am. The open rate climbed rapidly after about 4am, reaching a maximum of 7% at 10am. After this peak, it declined steadily throughout the rest of the day.
Late Afternoon Email Send Times (3pm-5 pm)
You’ve experienced it – that afternoon slump where you start thinking more about your personal situation than job related duties. Well KISSmetrics claims this is the reason property and financial services promotions are most opened during this timeframe.
MailChimp found the most email activity happening overall from 2-5pm in the afternoon and for a research team that sends 200-300 million emails every day, they have a lot of data to back up any claims of the best time to send email.
Evening Send Times (5pm- 7pm)
Holiday and B2B promotions are most opened from 5-7pm while some recipients are working late. KISSmetrics shares some notable stats around this theory:
- 17.9% of all emails classified as “Holiday Promotions” were opened in these two hours.
- 26.4% of recipients opened B2B promotions as well.
Pure360 (mostly focused on the B2C world) analyzed 660,000 emails sent by 34 companies and the research highly contradicted what a lot of marketers held true for years: that recipients are far more likely to open emails in their own time rather than at work, which disputes the media’s stereotype of employees who take advantage of work-based email and internet for personal use. Almost half (48%) of all marketing emails were opened outside of office hours.
Late-Night Send Times (7pm-10pm)
According to MailerMailer, messages scheduled for delivery early evening led to better email open rates:
- Open rates reached their height of 15.1% for message scheduled for 8pm and 11pm.
Is Midnight the Best Time to Send Email?
Thank goodness for those email marketing programs that can schedule emails in advance, because research is showing midnight is where it’s at! That is…until word gets out! Now while a few experts referred to this time frame as the ‘abyss’ or ‘the black hole’ of email marketing, recent studies show a different side to the story…
- With the lowest percent of email volume, Experian researchers found that sending emails from midnight to 4:00AM has the highest response rates in all areas.
- According to MailerMailer, email messages scheduled for delivery between early evening and early morning led to better open rate
- Open rates peaked at 20.4% for messages scheduled for 12am
- Click rates responded similarly to open rates – the highest click rate occurred for messages scheduled for 12am (6.7%)
As we all know, there can’t be good times without the bad. The good news? You can keep your lunch hour…
Lunch Time (Noon Hour)
Although Mail Chimp found most opens after 12pm, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should send your email at noon. This may be one of the worst times to send email.
According to Pure360, people are unlikely to open marketing emails during their lunch, choosing instead to spend time on news and magazine alerts or get out of the office for a bite to eat.
Early Afternoon (1pm-3pm)
Marketers tend to stay away from this time frame for the reason that people are in the ‘work zone’, focusing on work but some respond to emails offers relating to financial services.
- Both H1 and H2 experienced their lowest open rates, of 5.5% and 7.9% respectively, for messages scheduled for 12pm.
- H1 experienced its lowest click rate of 1.1% for messages scheduled for delivery at noon, while H2 bottomed out at 1.2% for messages scheduled for 10am and 11am.
Marching to the Beat of Your Own Drum
Some marketers may be saying by now ‘to heck with it – I’ll send when I want!’ To this point, Haley Marketing evaluated the email campaign send times of 50 of their clients and email open rates were really all over the board. (source)
Does the Early Bird Gets the Worm? Sometimes!
The research shows midnight and/or very early in the morning are untapped email marketing goldmines…and it makes sense. So…is this the best time to send email? By sending in the middle of the night or super-duper early in the AM, you’re at the top of the inbox when people get into the office, bright eyed and ready to take on the day (or read your entire email and even click through to learn more)! Now, there are a few variables to this finding, but while the traffic stays slow during the quiet hours, you may just benefit.
Once you do find a time that works best for your audience, a number of experts recommend staying consistent with that so recipients know when to expect your email and can plan accordingly.
Don’t forget to take time zones into effect. This may mean segmenting your list to avoid those bad times we listed above.
As we mentioned earlier, one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to email marketing, but we do have some practical advice to help you differentiate the best time to send email between marketing to business and marketing to consumers.
SmartFocus Digital (now Emailvision) found that AM is a better email send time and definitely superior to PM for the B2B audience they researched.
“The AM vs. PM send test ran over six issues of Gauge. Recipients were split into A and B halves, each getting the same newsletter but one half at around 10.30am and the other half at around 3.30pm.”
Now for the consumers, the post work peak is the best time to send email. Pure360 finds that from 5-6pm, over a quarter of marketing messages sent are opened– which is 9% above average.
Mobile Users Obsess Over Email – Does this Effect the Best Email Send Time?
How often do you check your email on your mobile device? I would recommend counting the times for one day; it could surprise you. As a society, we are obsessed with being ‘in the know’ at all times and at all costs – this includes checking (and re-checking our email.
In fact, MailChimp reports 77% of their mobile use research participants reported checking their email “everywhere” or “obsessively.” These readers have notifications set to alert them when an email arrives.
If you think about it, the increased use of mobile devices really makes a marketer’s job easier. It no longer matters if your audience is at their desk between 8-5pm during a work day- you can reach them anywhere and at any time. This makes it a little trickier to pinpoint a certain time of day, but the data we’ve provided so far may just be on the money…
To support our claim of sending late at night or early in the morning, 72% of the research participants read their emails in bed. Most people use their phones as an alarm clock, so the common morning action is to turn off the alarm and hit the email icon. Talk about a ‘wakeup call!’
This same study from Mailchimp also found the top four locations mobile users check their email…
- On public transportation
- Out to eat/at a bar/coffee shop
- Waiting in line
- At desk
A Whole Other Ball of Wax for the Best Time to Send Email…the Weekend Enigma
If after reading the first section of this article, you may want to dally in sending during the weekend and you may be asking ‘what time is best for a Saturday or Sunday send?’
Well unfortunately, most of the data reported is based on people sitting at their computers during the workday, so there aren’t many studies that pinpoint a great time during the weekends.
One study did show that people are getting ready for the work week on Sunday evenings, so sending after dinner time on Sunday may be the best time to send email during the weekend.
5 Step Guide To Finding The Best Time/Day To Send Your Emails
Up to this point we have made minor recommendations based on what other email marketing experts have found, combined with a bit of our own marketing expertise. Now it’s your turn to find out what works best for you and your company. Sorry to say, but this going to take some work on your part. The good news is, your efforts won’t go unnoticed and should positively impact your open, click through and conversion rates. And don’t worry – we’ll guide you down this path step-by-step.
Step 1: Get to Know Your Audience
It’s time to put yourself in the shoes of your customers and think about who they really are and what their email reading habits are. A few questions to ask yourself about your customers and prospects:
What does their typical daily routine look like?
(Do they work from 8-5? Are they college students with different sleep patterns? You get the point here…)
- When do they usually buy?
- When would they likely have time to read an email about your product or service
55.6% of girls age 17-24 check their email constantly (on their phone) Hercampus – “Ultimate college life survey” (2013)
Step 2: Look Back – Anaylze Your Past Email Send Results
Sometimes if you’re lost, you can retrace your steps to find out where you should be. A big part of this is just looking back. In email marketing, this correlates to revisiting and analyzing past send reports. The information contained in these reports can help you because you can uncover a lot of useful data that can help you determine what send days and times were the most successful. Going back about 6 months should be sufficient. What your looking for here is any patterns that emerge. Specifically, certain send times associated with a higher response and click through rates.
Maybe you're a newbie to email marketing and don’t have any statistical data to pull from. In that case, you may want to use some of the recommendations outlined in this ebook as a starting point and go from there.
Step 3: Know Their Device – Mobile Email Users Vs. Desktop Email Users
I know we threw some mobile email stats at you previously, but did you know that 61% of consumers now read at least some of their emails on a mobile device? More alarming, 48% of marketers don’t know what percentage of their emails are read via a mobile device and 22% have no mobile email marketing strategy at all (source).
So where do you stand? Do you have a firm grasp on what are the top devices rendering your email campaigns? If so, are you using that information to your advantage? Knowing this data will help you figure out the a good strategy on sending to your mobile email users.
Step 4: Consider Your Message – B2B Vs. B2C
Your message can change the course of your send day and times. If your message is focused around a business product or solution, you may want to keep your send days and times within the average business work week. On the other hand, if your promoting dating services or recreational activities, you may opt late night and weekend sends.
Step 5: TEST, TEST, TEST (and test some more)
If there is one step to hammer on the hardest, it would be this one. If we could stand up on a mountaintop and scream “TEST YOUR EMAIL CAMPAIGNS!” – we would. Try A/B split testing and send the same campaign out on various days and times. Then analyze the results of multiple campaign sends. Doing a comparative analysis will give you the most conclusive data about what day and times are the most advantageous for your email marketing strategy.
Disclaimer: People are unpredictable, and after you think you have nailed the most effective day/time to send, it could change. Therefore you should continue to test (there’s that word again) and analyze the results.
Sometimes having confidence in what you know and what you don’t know can make all the difference in becoming a successful email marketer. We hope the knowledge you’ve gained by reading this article will give you the confidence needed to try and try again.
Even though we don’t have one right or one wrong answer, the research reported to date gives us marketers a good idea of where to start; whether that’s going against the grain and ignoring all the ‘rules’ or staying consistent each and every time you send an email. Just don’t forget to measure your results. This goes with our suggestion of testing, but even to a greater extent. You should be commended for your efforts so make sure to measure all your email marketing attempts.
Pinpointe Tools For Email Marketing Success
We have truly hammered home the importance of testing and analyzing the effectiveness of your email campaigns to determine the best time to send your email campaigns. Pinpointe has powerful email campaign tracking and reporting tools that make it easy to view and mine data so you can best refine your email campaign send strategy. For each email marketing campaign sent, Pinpointe reports exactly how many people opened their email, how many unsubscribed, which links they clicked, the email forwarding statistics and more. Combine the send day and time statistics with the email campaign statistics overview report and reap the benefits of knowledge! Along with the start/end date and time, you get an overview summary of each campaign and consequent information like the email subject (with a link to the actual message), which contact list or segment was used, number of messages delivered and the sender. ‘Unique and Total Opens’ are also displayed in pie chart form and can be clicked on for a detailed listing of each open. Simply click on any pie chart segment and get a detailed drill-down list of all contacts that apply to the pie segment. Click on any tab to see the drill-down campaign statistics and hard/soft bounce details.
Pinpointe wants to see you succeed, so we are giving you the tools to make it happen.
Get started with Pinpointe today and determine the best send time (and day) for email your campaigns. And if you need any help along the way…we've got you covered.