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The best time to send your email is…

This is a question we are frequently asked.

“What time of day should I send my email?”

“What day of the week will deliver the most response?”

According to the Adestra and Econsultancy Email Marketing Industry Census 2013, only half of businesses (49%) are currently testing the time and day of their email messages. This could mean that the remaining 51% aren’t testing the effectiveness of different times and days to send their emails, or they have already found a way of working that delivers them the best results.

There have been a few reports released recently about this utopian, perfect time to send your email campaign so that it’s opened by the maximum number of recipients. Testing what works for you, your emails and your recipients really is the best way to find out what works, but here are a few pointers that should help.

MessageFocus Timeline Report over 2 days

When are the most emails sent?

According to data from our email platform MessageFocus, and supporting data from other sources, most emails are sent on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For us in particular, Tuesday at 11am seems to be the busiest time for email sends. Why? Someone, once upon a time, said that this was the best time to send. Or perhaps, we get in on a Monday, create our email campaigns and then by the time they’re ready to go, it’s Tuesday morning. Whatever the reason may be, Tuesdays and Thursdays are the busiest time for email sends, and maybe that’s not the best time to send.

How has mobile affected open rates?

The mobile channel has produced a culture of information on-demand. We can now view our emails as and when they come through on our smart phones. This could be at 11:15pm when we’re waiting for the night bus to head home after the pub, or (most likely) 6:35am when we’re scrolling through our emails as soon as we wake up. Emails can be opened anywhere, and at any time.

The question is though, has this necessarily made us more responsive as an audience? In truth it seems the opposite. We view an email as it arrives on our smartphone, think about it for a second and then move onto the next one. According to our data, recipients are much less likely to click on an email that they receive on their mobile device, than an email that they receive on their desktop device. Why? Time, usability, attention span and the user experience all have a lot to do with this.

Focus on the clicks, not just opens

We’ve said this before, in various blogs, but it’s still an important point to raise. You may find that many of your emails are being opened at 7pm, or 7am. So what? When are people clicking? When are they purchasing? When are they spending the most time on your site?

Focus on the key calls to action and your conversion objectives and optimise your send times according to those. Don’t get blinded by high open rates at certain times of the day.

Don’t pigeon hole your contacts

Just because I opened your weekly digest email at 6:35am today, does not mean that’s when I prefer to receive and read your email. The truth is, not everyone will follow a routine and you might put your contacts in the wrong pigeon hole. Sending your email at the same time each week, may work really well for your weekly newsletter, but may not work for lead generation emails.

Ask the yourself the same questions; When are people clicking? When are they purchasing? When are they spending the most time on your site?

Don’t forget about the context

An email you sent at 11am on Tuesday may deliver you a really high open and click rate, but you may also have written a killer subject line, or had an exclusive and highly popular report available.

That’s why it’s really important to carry out a structured and controlled test, otherwise your results will be unreliable.

An ideal time to send your emails may not exist, however certain times and days could deliver you better results and the only way to find out is to test what works for you, and your audience.

This post also appears on the SIIA Digital Discourse blog.

Adestra are a co-host of the SIIA Digital Content & Media Summit, taking place from 23-25 September at One Wimpole Street, London.

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