We’ve heard it our whole lives: timing is everything, perfect timing, wait your turn, stay in step! (I was a band kid). Figuring out the right timing for a thing is something that we ought to be really used to by now, but it’s very often not the easiest thing to predict!
The seemingly eternal question even follows you to work, and for some much more so than others. How often and when are two perpetual questions in email marketing, and that’s what we’re going to take a look at today. We dove into the question of frequency last week, and this week we’ll tackle days and times that will get you the best bang for your buck. Hang out with us for a little bit and you may just find it worth your… time. 🙂
Time of Day
We all have our routines, and checking our email has worked its way into almost every part of our daily routine. A recent study by Good Technology found that 50% of Americans routinely check their emails before they get out of bed in the morning, and 68% of Americans check work emails before 8am. 
Just because we’ve become tethered to our smartphones more than is debatably healthy doesn’t mean we’re going to be receptive to offers when we roll out of bed at 6 in the morning, though. Fortunately, there are clear general patterns in responsiveness that can help guide us. In general terms:
- Less than 2% of emails sent between 10pm and 6am are opened in that time frame, leaving them at the bottom of the stack and less visible when email is eventually checked.   
- Email open rates climb steadily from 6am to noon(ish) and are at their peak from 9am to noon. This holds true outside the US as well.  
- Open rates fall around lunchtime, and then climb again from about 1pm to 4pm, after which they drop off steadily.  
General patterns are general, however. Depending on what kind of offers you’re making, you may just buck the trend. In fact, you probably do. For example, research from Kissmetrics indicates that:
- Email marketing for consumer goods such as retail, restaurants, live events, etc fare best from 6-10am.
- Email marketing in general fares poorly between 10am and noon. This is particularly interesting because while that time frame falls during peak hours for overall email opens, it’s not marketing emails that are receiving that attention.
- Email marketing related to property and financial services fare best between 3-5pm.
- Holiday promotionals and, oddly enough, business to business (B2B) marketing fare best from 5-7pm (just to confirm that those numbers on B2B aren’t odd outliers:).
- Consumer goods also do well at the end of the day, between 7pm-10pm. About a quarter of emails classified as consumer goods are opened during this period.
Day of the Week
Like sending times, there are clear patterns of email responsiveness for different days of the week as well. Also like sending time patterns, there are some general tendencies and some more specific tendencies. Let’s look first at the general:
- The majority of data shows that weekdays are better visibility days than weekends. (there are exceptions to this which we’ll talk about below).    
- Tuesday has the highest rate of opens and click throughs and Monday has the lowest (of weekdays). This is possibly due to Monday being a generally overwhelming day for many as we re-find our stride for the week. By Tuesday we’re rolling again.   
- Friday is the second best for opens and click throughs, followed by Wednesday and Thursday.   
In less general terms, the best day of the week to send is somewhat influenced by what it is you’re offering. For example:
- While business and finance material perform poorly on the weekends, material related to ecommerce, the arts, retail, and hobbies do ok in comparison.  
- Some studies indicate that consumer marketing can actually fare the same or better on the weekend than through the week.  
- While open rates are lower on the weekend, so are send rates. 
The takeaway here would be that business and finance related materials do best on weekdays, but Monday is bad because, well, Monday. Send them out on Tuesday and they’ll be tended to by Friday. For consumer goods related marketing, it’s hard to ignore the data for higher responsiveness during the week, but you shouldn’t automatically exclude weekends from consideration. Depending on your audience and your offer, Saturday or Sunday may be your sweet spot. Learn your audience for best results!
Ultimately, teasing your answer out of all this data comes down to this question: What are you offering, and who are you offering it to? Google Analytics has a host of different ways you can visualise when the people you are offering to visit your website. Great CRMs like MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, and Constant Contact will calculate optimal time range suggestions for you.
You can use the data presented here to get a good general sense of the best time to send based on what you are offering, and tailor that to your own audience using data from your CRM and Google Analytics. Using this data and those tools, you ought to be able to make a very good educated guess on where to begin, and make adjustments from there. Good luck and feel free to leave questions and suggestions of your own in the comments below!