The best time to send email campaigns

The timing of your emails has an enormous impact on your open rates; however it could be a mistake to rely solely on generalised data without considering the many exceptions to the rules as well as the impact of mobile devices on email marketing.

Test, test and test again. It’s the number one rule of marketing and it’s the only way to get to determine the best time to send email campaigns. That said, general analysis and averages can provide you with a reasonable starting point to begin testing and refining.

Best time to send email campaigns – what do we know?

The time you send your emails is critical as one thing we do know for sure is that most opens occur within a few hours of sending. As a result, emails sent in the ‘graveyard’ hours (10pm – 9am) sit unread for too long and are quickly overlooked when the early morning traffic arrives.

Turning to general data once again, the period between 12 noon and 3pm is most likely to yield the highest open rates. If you know very little about your list or have limited data from past campaigns to work with, consider setting your campaigns to send at 12 noon on Tuesday and use this as your benchmark for future testing.

Different times work better for different reasons

Tuesday may not be the best day for your business but it’s probably a good start and there are many factors that can provide you with ideas to test to find the right day and time.

  • Business customers respond to email differently to retail customers
  • Your email message and what you’re actually aiming to achieve can have an effect on the ideal time and day to send
  • Different industries show different results
  • The kind of device your customer is using can have an effect on the best time to send emails (and vice versa).

B2B email campaigns vs B2C email campaigns

Sending a campaign to business consumers on a weekend would usually be diabolical. On the other hand, sending a B2C campaign for retail or entertainment over the weekend could make sense. 55% of B2B marketers say Sunday is the worst day for email marketing compared to just 23% of B2C marketers.

When do people want to hear from you?

The type of message you’re sending and the action you want your readers to take can also help to determine the best days and times to have your email delivered.

UK based email marketing platform, Pure360, has drilled down further into the best and worst times of day to send emails.  Here’s a summary of their findings:

  • 10pm – 9am
Most emails go into the ether, not generally an ideal time to send.
  • 9am – 10am
Beginning of the working day can be ideal on a range of subjects.
  • 10am – Noon
Most people are focused on work during this time, ignoring their inboxes.
  • Noon – 2pm
People are browsing their inbox while eating their lunch.
  • 2pm – 3pm
It’s back to work over this period so marketing in the inbox is generally ignored. Interestingly, financial services emails can be the exception.
  • 3pm – 5pm
If your email offers an escape from working life… financial freedom, investment or career moves, this is the time to send it.
  • 5pm – 7pm
People are most receptive to emails about holidays or sea change during this period. It’s also an excellent time for B2B emails.
  • 7pm – 10pm
Now is the time many consumer emails are opened. Promotions and offers for clothing, gyms and special interests can work well here.

As you can see, there’s an element of common sense in these findings and they could be as good a place as any to start your testing. But test you must!

Mobile changes the email marketing game

As we reported recently, the impact of mobile devices on email marketing is already significant, with a dramatic increase in the number of people who are opening (and clicking) their emails on a mobile device. Now, more than 52% of all opens and clicks are on a mobile device. So determining the optimal sending time becomes a little more difficult to determine. It may also be driven in part by the time of day your clients are most likely to be using mobile devices and how favourable that could be for your response.

That means if your customers check their mail on a mobile device and yours isn’t optimised, it will most likely be trashed or simply forgotten about. Beyond that, insights into timing your email campaigns and opportunities to take advantage of the mobile-ness of your client can come from answering some simple questions like:

  • How many of your clients are using smartphones and tablets to check their email?
  • At what times of day are they most likely to be using them?
  • Would it be opportune or detrimental for your emails to be read on a mobile device?
  • Given more people are choosing to use mobile devices for email, how can you make it opportune?

Boost your chances of success with email marketing

Email marketing is still one of the most effective forms of digital marketing. And because it’s easily measured and tested, there is enormous potential for marketers to develop highly effective campaigns over time.

Here are some tips to help you improve email open rates:

  • Analyse your own list data with a view to spotting clear patterns in opens, clicks, bounces etc.
  • Consider your industry, customer and message type to narrow down sensible distribution times for your campaigns
  • Consider ways you can make mobile work for you and how your email content and call to action could actually take advantage of mobile features
  • Optimise your emails for mobile devices
  • Ensure your website is responsive and functions beautifully on a mobile device
  • Start split testing your campaigns at various times and days to pinpoint your better times
  • Test, test and test again.

iFactory specialises in digital strategy, email marketing and responsive design that’s just as effective on a smartphone, tablet or PC. Our talented team of strategists, designers and developers can help you generate results from digital and carve out a competitive advantage in your marketplace.

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