As well as nailing the content, getting the timing of your emails right is critical to success. According to email marketing software company Campaign Monitor, 80 per cent of email opens occur within the first 48 hours of an email being sent, so if you don’t get it right, yours will likely get lost in the inbox abyss. But when is the best time to click send?
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer. The reality is that the best email send time for your business very much depends on your industry, your audience and how they spend their day. But don’t click away in frustration just yet. Here is what every beginner needs to know to get it right.
Start with the generalisations
When you’re trying to work out the best time for your business to send emails, it’s pretty hard to work from scratch – luckily you don’t have to. Although research on the subject varies from one source to the next, the following have traditionally performed well and been touted as best practice.
Best days: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
Best times: 10am-2pm
But while this provides a good starting off point, these days and times will not work for all businesses as there are many other variables to consider.
Pay attention to the trends
A change in email consumption patterns is opening up new timeframes. Whilst mid-week, mid-day makes sense for people opening emails on their laptop at work, this is no longer the only scenario.
According to Experian’s 2016 Q1 research, 59 percent of total email opens occurred on mobile devices. This means that people are now increasingly checking their inbox throughout the day, more specifically, as soon as they wake up and before they go to bed, making 6am and 8-12pm key times.
In addition, weekends, which were generally off limits, are demonstrating higher open and click-through rates.
Take your industry into account
Understanding the specifics of your industry can further inform your optimum send time. It only takes a bit of common sense to understand that what might work well for some industries will not work well for others.
While B2B companies might fare better mid-week, mid-day, an entertainment or retail business could experience higher rates in the evenings and at weekends, when people are in that mindset.
Industry also has an impact on the device being used to access emails, and in turn the time. According to research by Knotice, consumer services has the highest percentage of total opens on phones at 42 percent, whilst health care 20.65 percent, consumer products 26.41 percent and associations 24.95 percent have the lowest.
Tailor it to your target audience
Understanding the demographics of your audience, such as their age, gender, occupation, income level etc. is critical to email marketing success. Not only does it enable you to create relevant email content that they are more likely to engage with, but it also gives you insights into their email behaviour.
Here are some stats to consider:
- Percentage by age group who always read emails on mobile first (Adestra):
- 14-18 – 40%
- 19-34 – 29%
- 56-67 – 8%
- The average woman spends 7 more minutes per month on their smartphone checking email than men (UKOM & comScore data)
- Men have the highest conversion rates via mobile during the afternoon, while women convert better in the morning (LiveIntent)
Think about the life of your audience and imagine when they might have a free moment to read or act on your email. Do they have a certain job, family commitments or other habits that might shape when they check them? And don’t forget to segment your audience for best results.
Consider your objective
Giving attention to why you are sending a particular email should also guide your send time. Are you delivering an informative or educational newsletter which requires no action? Or are you hoping for a reply or click-through?
According to an infographic by Smart Insights which uses data from Customer.io and Forbes, if you are looking to increase your open rates, 12pm-4pm on a weekday is a good time. Whereas if you want a response, try 6-8am or 8-12pm – the times with the lowest email volume and when people have time to read them.
In addition, the best recommended days to send an actionable email are Friday, Saturday and Sunday when people again have more time – dependant on your industry and the habits of your audience.
The importance of split-testing
As with anything in marketing, the only way to know for sure when the best time to send emails for your business is to A/B test. Best practice generalisations are a good jumping off point. Try sending an email out on a Tuesday at 10am then another on a Thursday at 2pm? And, depending on your trade, you could try early morning or late at night on an off peak day.
When you get the results, splittesting.com is a useful online tool that allows you to determine whether your open and click-through rates are statistically valid.
Timing isn’t everything
It’s important to remember that bad open and click-through rates may not necessarily be down to timing. Other factors also contribute to the success or failure of an email campaign. Is your subject line and copy strong enough? Are you bombarding people with too many emails? Is your email mobile friendly?
What are your thoughts or experiences?