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Email marketing remains to be one of the most profitable marketing mediums today. In a 2018 study conducted by DMA (Direct Marketing Association), it was found that for every $1 a business spends on email marketing, can yield up to $32 in profit. That is a massive return on investment of 3200%! However, this is only true if done right and a big part of that lies in knowing the best time to send emails.
Timing is more critical than most people realise when it comes to email marketing. Emails can mostly go unread if sent out at the incorrect time, but schedule it right and open rates can skyrocket boosting your marketing campaign’s profitability.
So when is the best time to be sending emails?
Wouldn’t it be nice if someone can tell you when to send emails with maximum effectiveness? Unfortunately, there is no definite answer to the question mentioned above. However, what we can do is reference some marketing studies that aim to shed some light on the matter.
As you will soon realise, these studies do not always agree with one another. Nevertheless, they offer invaluable insights and can be used as a jump-off point for how to schedule emails for optimal results.
1. MailChimp Study
MailChimp (a marketing automation platform and email marketing service provider) did a study in 2014 which aimed to provide Insight from MailChimp’s Send Time Optimisation System. They used an algorithm that measured their subscribers’ engagement levels and pulled data from millions of email addresses in a bid to determine the best time to send emails.
The study came up with the following conclusions:
2. Experian Quarterly Email Benchmark Report
Experian (a consumer credit reporting company) also conducted a similar study in Q4 2013 for their Quarterly email benchmark report that took into account the best days of the week as well as the best times of the day for email deployment.
As you can see from the graph above, Experian’s results were radically different from that of MailChimp’s:
According to Experian, Sunday is the best day for sending emails with the highest revenue per email ($0.13). They also found that the best time of the day for sending emails was either early in the day (12:00 am to 3:59 am) or late at night (8:00 pm to 11:59 pm) which makes sense as a lot of people tend to check their emails before going to bed.
3. GetResponse study
GetResponse (an email marketing software for small businesses) conducted their study in 2013 on the Best day to send Email. They came up with the following results:
4. Hubspot Study
Hubspot (an Inbound Marketing and Sales Software Company) conducted a study in 2015 on the “Best Times to Get Your Business Email Opened” and drew results that mostly coincided with that of GetResponse.
As you can see from their graph above, the results are consistent with most of the other studies in this article.
5. Wordstream Study
Wordstream (a search marketing company) conducted a more recent study on “The Very Best Time to Send Email Newsletters” which they published on their blog. The study yielded the following results:
So how can your business make sense of all these data?
The studies mentioned in this article are but a few notable examples; you can bet that there a lot more out there! As you have probably realised, the results of these studies do differ from one another although they mostly agree on one thing — the best days to be sending emails are on weekdays. While there is no consensus as to what specific day of the week, there is also not a huge difference over the weekdays. What is noticeable though is the drop in click and open rates over the weekends.
Another consensus that we can draw from the studies mentioned above is that most people tend to read their emails in the morning on weekdays.
However, what about Experian’s Email Benchmark Report which found that weekends yielded the highest revenue per email? Well, that is one of the outliers; not all email list behave the same way. If you take the time to experiment, then you might find that your best time to send emails might be very different.
So how do you figure out the best time to be sending emails to your list?
It won’t be easy, but now that you know what works for many email marketers, you have a good idea of where to begin. For one thing, you can start by sending your emails in the morning every day for several weeks (9:00 am on Tuesdays for example). Once you have a decent amount of data, you can then review your CTR and open rates for the given period.
An excellent average open rate is approximately 20.81% although this varies by industry and the size of your business. You can check MailChimp’s Email Marketing Benchmarks for updated stats on the average open rates for your for various niches/industries.
You can then slowly work on improving your send times by experimenting with different time slots. Do not change any variables — e.g. send the same email when split testing across multiple time slots.
How do you know which day and time to split test?
This is something that you will have to figure out yourself. What do you generally know about the people on your list and their connection with your business? How do you imagine their typical day is like and what is their profession? These details indeed matter as it affects how and when they are likely to read your emails.
For instance, a business like SkillShare that teaches people new skills while holding down a full-time job might fare better when sending emails to people over the weekends or later at night during weekdays when most people get off from work. On the other hand, a digital marketing agency that helps businesses optimise their leads and get more traffic will probably get better results sending emails on weekdays during regular office hours.
The challenge lies in understanding when the people on your list are most likely to read your emails. If you have followers on Facebook, then you can check out the Facebook Fan Page Analytics tool for valuable insights specifically under “Top Day/Time for Engagement”.
The Key Takeaway
In conclusion, businesses need to have a good idea of who their subscribers are to zero in on the best time to be sending emails. You can save time (and much trouble) by taking into account what generally works for most people according to the studies mentioned above. Put yourself on your subscribers’ shoes and try to imagine what their typical day is like. Only then can you find the best time to be sending out your emails with the most optimal returns on your time and investment.