What is the best time to send email newsletters? Just like “how often should I send emails?”, this is one of marketing’s seemingly eternal questions.
Over the years, there has been a huge amount of research on the best time to send email newsletters. A kind of consensus has emerged.
But will what gets the best results at the cross-sector, multinational levels – taking in millions of emails and hundreds of thousands of recipients – work for YOUR business?
In this blog, we’ll look the conventional wisdom, why it might not be right for you and what you can do to discover the best send times for your newsletters.
Click on one of the links below to jump ahead:
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1. Best Time to Send Email Newsletters: The Conventional Wisdom
Over the last ten years, there have been hundreds of studies on this topic.
The overwhelming majority of them have found that for the best combination of open rates and clickthrough rates TUESDAY AND THURSDAY are the best days of the week.
CoSchedule has produced this useful study of studies, combining many of the best-known surveys.
Some sources give it to Thursday, but a narrow majority argue that Tuesday is best. Wednesday is a distant third. The remaining four days of the week are generally advised against:
- On Mondays, people are often in meetings or planning out their weeks. They also tend to sift through their inboxes much more quickly because of the extra messages received over the weekend.
- On Fridays, many people are less engaged with their work and are winding down for the weekend.
- Saturdays and Sundays show much lower open rates than weekdays, as people take a break from their emails.
So far, so good.
What about the best time of the day?
Again, there’s quite a strong consensus on the best time to send email newsletters.
👉 KEY FACTS 👈
23% of emails are opened within 60 minutes of being received, but some people only check their emails once a day. A lot of productivity experts warn against over-checking! You can only really measure your open or click rates for a given send once that message’s “half-life” has elapsed, which could be as long as two days.
Bearing that in mind, multiple studies have identified 9 am – 11 am and 1 pm – 3 pm as the optimum times for opens and clicks.
Newer studies tend to include a number of other time slots as well. These reflect the massive increase in mobile email use over the last few years.
- Mobile accounts for 55% of all email opens worldwide. In 2012, it was just 29%.
- Mobile inboxes are checked three times more often than desktop inboxes
For that reason, new good response periods have been identified:
- 6 am-8 am: 40% of people check their mobile email within 5 minutes of getting up
- 5 pm-7 pm: Commuters going home on crowded trains frequently check their email
- 8 pm-12 midnight: A large chunk of the population also browse their messages in the evening, with 30% checking in the final 5 minutes before they go to bed
So this would lead you to think that the best time to send email newsletters is “more or less any time that people are awake”, right?
But then, a marketing benchmark study from Experian has found that unique open rates between midnight and 4 am can get as high as 17.6% 😱.
2. Why Conventional Wisdom is Often Wrong
Mobile email use has challenged the email marketing sector’s established rules by bringing its own norms into play:
- Studies have found that 70% or more of emails that are not optimized for mobile but are opened on mobile devices are deleted within 3 seconds. Doesn’t matter when you send them!
- Failure to optimize for device type can also push up unsubscribe rates as higher 15%.
- For subscribers under 35, the mobile use proportions are even higher than the average
But the rise of mobile email use is just one of the reasons why the conventional wisdom on the best time to send email newsletters is becoming less relevant.
Another big issue is this:
EVERYBODY IN EMAIL MARKETING HAS HEARD THESE DAYS AND TIMES BEFORE!
There are literally thousands of articles online telling people to send on Tuesdays or Thursdays, between 9 and 11 am or between 1 and 3 pm.
If everyone is sending at these “best” times, all of a sudden, they’re no longer the best times at all!
Because if you have several email newsletters drop into your inbox in quick succession, you’re less likely to pay attention to or read any one of them.
A writer for Venngage signed up for hundreds of email newsletters at once and found the following patterns:
At the so-called “best” times, the competition for attention from other newsletters is, in fact, the greatest.
The same applies to days of the week.
A lot of voices make the case for weekend mailouts (and cite high clickthrough rates in compensation for lower open rates). There’s less competition and people have more time to read their emails.
It’s hard to find anyone making the case for Mondays and Fridays though 😉.
There’s one more big reason why conventional wisdom should not be taken too seriously.
Send time is only one factor in an email’s success – and it’s rarely the most important one.
The following factors are much more likely to affect your open and clickthrough rates:
Optimize them first 🤩!
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3. How to Find Your Own Best Time to Send Email Newsletters
The fact of the matter is that the best time to send email newsletters depends on your business and your audience.
So consider the following:
If you are servicing a business audience, you will get a better response rate during the working day or immediately before and after it than at other times (ie when people on their way to or from work, but still in a working frame of mind).
If you are targeting owner-operators or senior executives, who are more likely to work into the evenings or on weekends than others, you might be able to take advantage of the quieter periods.
Conversely, send B2C emails during leisure times or just beforehand. These pizza companies send out coupons in the late afternoon, just as people start thinking about eating:
The pizza example illustrates the importance of drawing up a detailed picture of what your typical subscriber is likely to be doing throughout the day and tailoring your messaging to hit the most receptive spots:
- Lunchtime is usually thought of as a bad time for emails. But maybe you can catch subscribers with a short, mobile-centric offer while they’re queuing at the counter?
- Do all your subscribers live in the same TIME ZONE as you? Is a confusion of send time and “receive time” skewing your results?
👉 A simple offer or a complex one?
Busy, popular periods for emailing may be good for simple requests that readers can easily say “yes” or “no” to. If you can rely on a good click rate, then it makes sense to optimize your opens.
On the other hand, if your offer needs time and attention to digest and consider, then pick a quieter time when the pressure is off.
Nobody is going to remortgage their house in their 11 am coffee break!
If thinking about your audience and your products suggest the best time to send email newsletters to you, that’s great! Start sending them then.
If not, it probably makes sense to start at the recommended days and times: Tuesday and/or Thursday, between 9 am and 11 am or 1 pm and 3 pm.
But don’t stop there. That’s just your benchmark!
You will only find the best time to send email newsletters for your business by testing different days and times out and comparing results.
- Carry out a SPLIT TEST by dividing your list into two groups.
- Send your email newsletter to the “control group” at the benchmark time.
- Send it to the other half (the “test group”) at another day or time.
- Record the respective open rates, click rates, conversion rates, etc 48 hours after sending.
- Repeat over a number of weeks, splitting the list into different groups each time
- At the end of the period, check which day and time have the best results. If a test shows consistently and significantly better results than the benchmark, change that to your new benchmark
- Keep testing!
So that’s our guide to finding the best time to send email newsletters. Good luck identifying what works for you!
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