Timing is an important part of effective email marketing. The days and times you send emails will impact your open and click-through rates, which (in turn), affect your conversions. Learning best times to send emails to your customers will have a dramatic impact on your success with email marketing.
About 25 percent of emails are opened in the first hour and then the chance of a subscriber reading an email an hour after receiving it falls to just 50 percent. The longer an email sits unread in an inbox, the less likely a subscriber is to read it.
Essentially, it’s best to schedule your emails so they arrive right as your subscribers are ready to read them. This is how you get the most value out of your promotional and lifecycle emails.The days and times you send emails will impact your open and click-through rates, which (in turn), affect your conversions. Click To Tweet
So when is the best time to send emails to your subscribers?
Email marketers struggle with that question all the time. It’s one of the first questions retailers ask when they start to take eCommerce email marketing seriously.
Unfortunately, there’s no simple and straightforward answer. Every customer and campaign is different. What’s effective for one brand may not apply to you at all.
What does the data say?
When MailChimp studied emails sent through their platform, they discovered the most optimal time to send an email (in terms of open rate and click-through rate) is mid-week. Thursday is best, followed by Tuesday, and Wednesday. The weekend is the worst time to send.
The same MailChimp study determined that the best time of the day to send an email is mid-morning – 8 AM to 10 AM.
HubSpot’s results were similar. According to their research, the best time to send is 11 AM…
…and the best day to send is Tuesday.
CoSchedule combined information from a list of studies and learned that those results were similar across the email marketing industry. The best days to send are Tuesdays and Thursdays and the best times are late morning around 10 AM (though there’s some value to sending later in the evening).
Sendinblue found similar results.
The only strong consistency across all the available data is that the weekend is a bad time to send anything. On Saturday and Sunday, most people are off work and have plans, so they aren’t constantly connected to their inboxes.
Keep in mind, however, that while Tuesday and Thursday perform the best, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday aren’t too far behind. If there’s something unique about your brand that makes Monday a better day to send your emails, don’t be afraid to send that day.
Can you trust the data?
In short: no. As you can see, the data is all over the place. The truth is, audiences vary widely across categories and geography.
So all that data is really just a starting point. You can’t rely on other people’s numbers to maximize your conversions—you have to figure out when your audience wants to read your messages.
That’s because the make up of your audience has a huge effect on your results. What do your shoppers do for work and hobbies? When do they wake up and go to sleep? When are they most likely to check their email? When do they have downtime during the day?
If you sell items for fishing lovers who tend to wake up early, an earlier email send might catch them right as they check their email. If you sell products for stay-at-home parents, they might check their messages right after dropping the kids off at school.You can’t rely on other people’s numbers to maximize your conversions. Click To Tweet
For instance, WordStream discovered that their audience doesn’t consume emails at traditional times. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are their worst days to send emails, even though those are great days for pretty much everyone else. They also learned that their audience is more receptive earlier in the morning than most people.
Optinmonster’s results were unique too. Their audience shows no preference for a day of the week.
The only nearly universal rule is that weekends are bad for sending eCommerce emails. That doesn’t mean you should never send a weekend email or test them out, but if you’re looking for a starting point, don’t make it Saturday or Sunday.
Determine the best time for your brand
Okay, so the data isn’t really all that worthwhile. But don’t despair: finding out when to send emails to your audience is a straightforward process of experimentation.
So the most effective way to determine the best time to send emails for your eCommerce brand is to run your own experiments. You have to start somewhere, but where?
One way to determine the best sending times is to ask your customers. Add some questions to your list for when you conduct customer interviews, especially “When do you usually check your email?” Add this data to your buyer personas. In general, though, trust your gut.
You should already be having regular conversations with your customers (via support, by talking to your customers about what they want, etc.), so you probably have a good idea of who they are. When do you think that type of person is most likely to be receptive to a marketing email? Take an educated guess, test it out, and iterate from there.An effective way to determine the best time to send emails for your eCommerce brand is to run your own experiments. Click To Tweet
Basically, start by sending the same email to portions of your list at different times to see which one performs best. As you learn what your subscribers prefer, you can repeat that experiment over and over until you zero-in on the best times to send emails.
Generally, it’s best to have about 1,000 people on your email list before running experiments. If your list is too small, outliers can swing your data in one direction or another. But once you have about 1,000 people on your list, you can safely assume what you learn is a reality. As your list grows, so will the confidence in your results.
For your first experiment, test days of the week.
- Send an email to 50 percent of your list on Monday and then send to the other 50 percent on Tuesday. Keep all the other variables the same – your content, subject lines, segmentation, the time of the day, etc. You only want to compare day versus day.
- Make sure to track your open rates, click-through rates, and conversion (sales) rate for each email.
- Conduct this same experiment each time you send an email until you’ve measured each day of the week. For validity and confidence, you might want to do it all a second time so you have plenty of data to compare.
Once you know which day works best, it’s time to determine the best time of the day to send emails.
Generally, the best time to send emails is usually around 10 AM or 11 AM, but again: it’s smart not to rely on other people’s data. You’d never know if your audience has an unusual preference unless you collect your own data.
Run experiments for different times of the day just like you did for days of the week. Naturally, you can exclude the times of the day when most people sleep.
Start with the most common sending times – 10 AM, 8 PM, 2 PM, and 6 AM – before checking less popular times. If your customer research has revealed other times to test, start with those. Again, keep all of the other variables the same.
It won’t be long before you start to detect a pattern.When you consider the best time to send emails, always think about your audience. Click To Tweet
Benchmark and document your results
It would be great if you could run your experiments over a few weeks, determine the best days and times to send your messages, and then send at those times exclusively forever. Maximum value, right?
Unfortunately, audiences can change, just like your business. Technology, trends, or products could adjust or disrupt your market’s behavior and preferences.
So it’s important to validate your knowledge regularly. Re-run your email timing tests at least a few times a year, by sending a portion of your emails outside of your normal sending window. If they underperform, you know your existing times are still effective.
You can always re-send your campaigns during effective hours to the people who didn’t open your emails the first time, so it’s not like validation exercises need to cost you anything.
Of course, these tests will give you the best time for sending scheduled emails. But what about automated emails, like abandoned shopping cart recovery mails or post-purchase follow ups? Those emails are sent automatically, based on factors where you can’t control the timing, such as when a user abandons a shopping cart.
The good news is that because automated lifecycle emails are generally triggered by user behavior, you can count on the user being active at around the time of the trigger.
So for example, if you want to send a welcome email series triggered by a user signing up for your email list or purchasing your product, you know they were active on their computer or mobile device at the time of the trigger. By paying attention to when you schedule, you can be reasonably sure that emails in your campaign are sent around the same time on subsequent days.
Draw your own conclusions
Generally, the best times to send to your list are mid-week, late morning. Also, it’s best to avoid the weekends.
Don’t forget to adjust your email marketing tool to send emails according to your recipients’ time zones. That way they receive your emails when you intend them to.
But this is just a guide. You should send emails at the times when your customers are most receptive. That means you’ll need to run experiments, collect data, and draw your own conclusions.You should send emails at the times when your customers are most receptive. Click To Tweet
There are countless ways to tweak and improve email campaigns, so don’t settle for generalities. If you want to maximize the value of your email marketing program, you have to figure out what works for you.