Fit your content around your reader’s schedules, not your own.
Raise your hand if this is NOT the first article you’ve read in hopes of finding the very best time to send the almighty email. Raise your other hand if you still are not certain what time of day or day of the week you should send the email you have worked so hard on. It’s ok, you can put your hands down now. You probably look a little silly with both hands raised.
The point is, you’re not alone. As you can’t see the other marketing pros with their hands raised proudly, consider this – Econsultancy recently announced nearly half of all brands are testing for the best time to deliver their email campaigns. Nearly half!
What does this tell you? It tells me that there is no specific time that works for every brand; instead, consider your reader’s schedule, behaviors and attitudes toward the messaging and timeliness of the offering.
A Case of the Mondays
According to marketing tradition, Tuesday through Thursday has the highest volume of email sends for the week, but do emails sent on those days get the highest open and click rates?
Vero, an Australia-based software provider, recently reported that Sunday and Monday have the highest percentage of open rates and the lowest volume of sent emails out of all other days. Would your emails stand out more if you deliver on Sunday and Monday? Perhaps, but are your readers going to convert on a Monday when they’re just getting back into the work week groove or on Sunday when their mind is still relaxing on the lake? It all comes down to testing your audience to find the perfect message and send time for maximum conversions.
Content bell curve
When deciding what message complements each day of the week, we typically follow the content bell curve. We start light on Monday, easing our readers into the week, followed by deeper content in the middle, ending with lighter content leading to the weekend.
It’s 5 o’clock somewhere
The only way to optimize email send time is to get to know your audience. Your readers may prefer sales-based emails at the start of the week but would rather see deals on local happy hours when the work week comes to an end.
The specific industry or even the department the email is sent from can contribute to the effectiveness of the campaign. Use your A/B testing knowledge to examine how your audience responds to your message throughout the week to tailor future emails to deliver more effectively. If your readers are not willing to read your in-depth content messages earlier in the week, the unsubscribe rate could increase; yet if your readers are ready for rich media, and you send a fluffy piece of content, you could be missing out on an opportunity.
Sleigh bells ring, are you sending?
Fact: Parkas don’t sell well in Phoenix in June. When you start to think about timing, make sure to consider the time of year or the seasonal changes your readers are encountering. Cold weather or ultra-hot temperatures passing through could push your readers indoors and onto their electronic devices. When it happens, will you be ready to send?
Break away from the conventional cookie-cutter routine
Tradition (and statistics) will tell you that the most common time of day to send emails is between the hours of 8 AM – 12 PM. But is that necessarily the best time to send your email? We’ve found success in the early morning when sending offer-based emails (supported by the high volume percentage line on the graph above). Our goal is to catch our readers when they are fresh and at their desks, but we know by choosing this time period we are entering a battle for our readers’ attention when their inboxes are the most bloated. It’s a good thing we know the best practices to writing a subject line, right? We’ve also noticed when we change our message to a content-driven or informative tone of voice, our open rates are considerably higher right before our readers go to lunch or within the last hour of their workday.
Some brands have ventured to the second most popular time period, between the hours of 4 AM – 8 AM, to catch readers as they wake, but what’s most shocking is that the highest percentage of email opens happen between 8 PM – 12 AM. We live in a world where multitasking is the norm. In fact, the Discovery Channel recently reported 82% of viewers watching TV are also using their mobile device. It makes sense that some brands decide to target readers during this time period when the volume is low and readers have time to check email as they’re settling in for the evening.
Consider your readers’ schedule, and then craft your email to maximize the impact of your campaign. No matter what time of day you send, the key is to deliver your message when your audience is most willing to read it and take action.
60 Minutes or Less
Remember the old pizza delivery motto – delivered in 30 minutes or it’s free? Well, when it comes to email send time optimization, the concept still applies. The timeliness of the message not only transcends industries and demographics, but it is very likely the determining factor in conversion rates.
The recent U.S. Email Response Survey gathered by Get Response, reported almost a quarter of all email opens occur within the first hour after delivery, so your email should be relevant and prompt.
If you know when your readers will be looking for your products, you can anticipate their purchasing demands and plan your email campaigns accordingly. I have a soft spot for pizza, and forgive me if this comes off a bit too strong on the pepperoni front, but the example fits perfectly. Just as you should never grocery shop on an empty stomach, you should never market food to customers on their full stomach. If your brand is in the business of slinging pizzas, the ideal time of the day to send your email campaign is before they eat dinner. Late afternoon would be the ideal send time to ensure your signature Chicago-style pie is on the top of your customers’ minds as they think of dinner options, fully aware of offers like free delivery or a 20% discount.
There is always a perfect window of time to send emails; you just have to find what works best for your brand.
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About the Author
Alex Navarro is a California-native who currently lives in Dallas, Texas with his fantastic wife. In the past, he’s been responsible for creating, developing and executing national brand awareness campaigns and has enjoyed developing personalized marketing and promotional plans. Alex studied advertising and marketing at Pepperdine University and has enjoyed working in the field ever since. He also loves meeting new people – connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.