So you’ve got emails that you want to send out. It looks beautiful, you’ve cracked the code to get engaging subject lines, and your content is pitch perfect. But what time is the best for your business to send them?
Well, there's no real definitive answer. We know, it's very frustrating—it would take a lot off our shoulders too! But it does give you the opportunity to get to know your audience even better.
Understanding Your Audience
As with all content you’re creating, your first and foremost need is to understand where your audience are coming from. Who is your content directed towards? How do you want them to react? When are they going to be in the best place to acknowledge your email fully?
Though the general basics can go a long way towards setting a good benchmark, your audience may appreciate a slightly fine-tuned time.
Campaign personas—not just audience personas, but more specific to your subject—can solidify an appropriate time for your campaign. The more specific your campaign audience, the more effectively this will work.
Create a comprehensive profile of the type of person who is going to receive your email. What does their day look like? When are they scrolling through their inbox? They may have distractions at certain times: are they picking up kids, or on a commute home?
This is also more industry-dependent than you might expect. Because of this, it’s not easy for any content marketer to provide you with a certain answer. There are plenty of surveys undertaken that provide industry-specific data, if you have not already discovered this as a business. SendInBlue has some comparatively recent statistics for select industries, and Pure360 has a wider range of industries analysed.
Being Awake > Being Unconscious
Who would've thought? But, really, don’t email just before people go to bed. People want to settle down for the night, and won’t check.
We’re not saying to write off the sleep routine, however. Sending an email at 5-6am, before most of the world has woken up, will help secure your place at the top of the pile when your audience scroll through their emails in the morning—especially if they’re business owners or decision makers, the people who rely on emails the most. If you’re competing with other emails and sending emails from 10pm-4am, it’s likely you won’t end on top, which is the important factor. Just make your your content is engaging enough to get the attention of someone half-asleep!
Mornings > Afternoons
For the rest of the world, the mornings are your best bet, from around 7-9am. Email engagement also typically finds a spike around 1pm, as people are either returning to their office after lunch and getting ready to focus again, or they’re easing themselves off as they start their lunch break. This does drop off after 1pm, however. People also appreciate having their down time in the afternoon—or, focusing on their work for the day. For this reason, the afternoons typically suffer a much lower rate of email engagement.
This is the case even on weekends. People have more time to scroll and digest their emails on Saturday and Sunday mornings, but will be busy throughout the day. But be cautious about weekends, because…
Weekdays > Weekends
Saturdays particularly suffer from a lower open rate, as people are more energised about the weekends and are therefore a bit busier. On Sundays, when people are thinking about the week ahead, they may be taking a couple of steps to prepare themselves. However, weekdays significantly outshine the weekends in open rates and are a safe bet for sending emails. According to MailChimp, there’s no real difference between the days except for Thursday, which receives on average a slightly higher open rate.
Test & Measure
By now, this goes without saying—your marketing is as only as good as the research it’s based on. Testing & measuring is vital for you to keep up to date with your audience.
They don’t just need to react to your emails: you need to react to their engagement.
Which metrics are you prioritising: clickthrough rates, open rates, reducing unsubscribes? These may not be impacted at the same time, so keep an eye on your goals and experiment to see what time works best.
If Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It?
If you can take cues off your previous results, then by all means aim for the best times you’ve sent emails out before.
If you want to mix it up next time, a different time might actually help. As long as you can back up your suggestions, of course, with data and/or context.
Catching your audience off guard might be the nudge they need to open your email.
This should be tested & measured to see if it is effective. Otherwise you are likely to miss out on opportunities you could’ve otherwise gained. But remember that one mistake won’t condemn your whole campaign.
What works for you won’t be what works for everyone else, as it’s dependent on your industry, and who you are emailing. But putting in the effort to test and measure can provide real results.
The best marketing doesn’t happen on a wing and a prayer, but with people who care: about perfecting the right strategy for a business, and about delivering it to the right people.
If you want to learn more about email marketing, feel free to check out our blog.