A question that clients often ask is, when is the best time to send an email?
The long and short of it, is that there is no perfect single time to broadcast an email marketing campaign.
According to Campaign Monitor, there are 293.6 billion emails sent and received each day. Email marketing is used 24/7/365, so by my maths, that’s, well… A LOT.
Therefore, we get very full inboxes, and don’t always have enough time to read them.
MailChimp studies show that 23% of emails are opened in the first 60 minutes, and so, timing is pretty important. You want to get subscribers to open your emails over the blur of the other 76 unread messages. Consequently, you want to be at the top of the inbox when your consumers are online.
What are the trends?
Historically there have been various theories about when is best to send an email.
Mondays have never been great, as our inboxes are already full of a weekend’s worth of emails. There’s little point in emailing an offer early on a Monday, even if it is the best ever, because it will sit there under other promotional emails that will most likely get binned without being read.
Midweek has always been popular, so that’s Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday.
And weekends aren’t ideal either, because (pre-pandemic) we’d all be out running errands and having fun.
The thing is though it really depends on your individual consumer.
If you’re in the wellbeing industry, for example, a Sunday night email might be perfect to catch your customer. They may have had a heavy weekend and in the right mindset to reset and buy back into their health regime.
Whereas for B2B, Sunday is a no no.
For that reason, there could never be one perfect time to suit every sender, industry, and every recipient. In order to find the optimal time for your business to email marketing messages to its customer database, you’ll have to do some testing.
Testing for the optimal time to email
Some email marketing platforms offer an optimal time option to broadcast.
These tools send a campaign over a period of time based on engagement of previous campaigns. So if that recipient typically opens an email on a Tuesday lunchtime, the platform will learn this behaviour and send to them at the best time for them to read it.
In absence of these tools however, we can do some simple groundwork ourselves.
1. Think about your audience
Typically if your database reflects your ideal consumer, you will have a pretty good idea of that person. You know who they are, where they are, what they typically look like, and how they behave. You can therefore build up personas, with tailored messaging that is more relevant to them. Knowing your customer’s behaviour will give you a good idea of how they may respond to your marketing messages.
This goes back to the point of tailoring your message to the consumer, and sending when you think they will most likely read it.
In short, the more data you have on your customers, the better, because you can segment your messages. This means therefore that they can be sent at the right time with the right messages to achieve the highest engagement.
2. Think about their day and when they’re most likely to read their emails
Use analytics data to tell you when your customers are online. For example, if you’ve grown your social following in line with your business, there will be cross over. Your social media customers will look and act like your database.
Review your Facebook or Instagram analytics to see their demographics, and when your social content gets most engagement. You can see the time of day that they interact with content, and on which devices. The chances are that’s when they might read their emails too.
Also look at your website analytics to see trends in traffic at different times of the day.
If you can dig deeper, look at conversions by time of day. For example, if there is more browsing happening early in the day, but checkout happens later, you can tailor your messages to reflect this. Warm up new leads with some consideration marketing in earlier emails, but offer conversion content when they are most likely to check out.
3. Do an A/B test
Split your data in half. Send one email on one day, and the remainder on a different day. If the message is the same and it’s purely a 50:50 test, you may find a pattern of which day resonates better with the reader.
You could even go onto test future messages on different days of the week or at different times, but try not to include too many variables. Too many splits can be inconclusive as the sample becomes too small. Also, if one offer is stronger than another, engagement could simply be down to that rather than when it was read.
A simple A/B test is not overly scientific, but it may help to offer marginal improvements if you carry it out over time. Nonetheless, by conducting a few simple tests, you can start to build up a better picture of your customer. Most importantly, you can work out when they’re most likely to interact with your marketing messages, and get closer to that holy grail of when is best to send a marketing email.
If you’re unsure how to use email marketing as part of your overall marketing strategy, or just not sure where to begin, get in touch, I’d love to help.