Traditional advice for timing of email launches

The question of what day and time to send an email campaign is a conversation that marketers have been having since the late 1990s. Back then, the optimal time to launch a business-to-business (B2B) email was overnight on Monday, actually in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.  In that way, the email would be waiting in the employee’s inbox first thing on Tuesday when she sat down at her desktop computer.
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“Best time” to send an email campaign has shifted

As email expanded, workers’ in-boxes overflowed, and laptops became more prevalent. The advice shifted away from the 2 am Tuesday email blast. Now the beginning of the work day (8 or 9 am) is widely seen as the worst time to send email. Instead, Tuesday morning from 10 am to 2 pm is purported to be an optimal time for enhancing email open rates.

Going mobile with midnight connections

But it’s more complicated than that.
About 54% of emails are now opened on mobile devices. A 2016 Deloitte research study showed that 40% of people reach for their phones 5 minutes before bed and 5 minutes after waking up. (Guilty!) No one would dispute that mobility, similar to the shift from desktops to laptops, is impacting our campaigns.
As far back as 2012, an Experian benchmarking study across all industries showed that open rates were highest from 8 pm to midnight (21.4% unique opens) and midnight to 4 am (17.6% unique opens). The greatest revenue per email was also generated at the end of the day, after 8 pm.

General recommendations for sending a marketing email

Coschedule reviewed 10 email studies in 2016 and concluded that the following days were optimal for sending email campaigns that achieved high open rates: Tuesday, Thursday, and Wednesday (in that order). They suggested the following times (in descending order):

  • 10 am (or 11 am)
  • 8 pm – midnight
  • 2 pm
  • 6 am

Social Media Today recently posted this infographic about the best time to send an email for 6 different industries.

Know your audience

Know your audience. As a B2B marketer, would you want to be “that guy” who interrupts your customers’ personal time? Make sure the time you’re scheduling is least disruptive and most convenient for your audience.
Is your email B2B? If so, who is your target audience? Are you trying to reach construction contractors or outside sales reps who may be out of the office midday? Similarly, physicians and nurses may not check email until evening. By contrast, a retailer selling electronics may check email in the morning or after 10 pm.

Define success

Are you looking at open rates? Click to open-rates? The sum of the two? Clicks to a landing page? Form submissions?  Is your email transactional? At 6 am, someone may open your email, but is she likely to make a purchase?

Other factors affecting the success of your email blast

Keep in mind that it’s hard to control all factors and isolate time and day for email success. Different subject lines, segmentation of your list, list sources, email preview, personalization, frequency, holidays, time zones and the sender can shift open rates. Be sure to take these factors into consideration when choosing the day and time you’ll send your marketing emails.

Testing, testing

The guidance in this blog can be used to schedule your email campaigns, but the best advice is to experiment and to see what is most successful for you.

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