People often ask me, “When’s the best time to send out email to make sure it gets opened?” Obviously no question which gets asked with such frequency can have a simple answer, but I’m happy to give it a shot.
Traditionally, it has been suggested that Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon are the sweetspot to ensure that your email is opened. At the very least, others suggest hitting targets just after the morning rush or soon after lunch.
But actually, this is a bit of a myth. If there really was a single best time to hit audiences, everyone would be sending out mail, inundating inboxes and making this the worst possible time. In fact spammers, who you could argue pay attention to the stats at least as much as ‘proper’ marketers, would also take advantage of this and the spam would further put readers off. These stand out as average highs, not indicators of human behaviour.
Having said all this, there are factors worth bearing in mind when considering when to distribute your email.
Things to Bear in Mind
First up, concentrate on your demographic – who are you distributing to and what are the patterns of their behaviour? Without a doubt, this is key as occupation can be the biggest influence on opening habits and expectations.
The next consideration to be addressed is the nature of your promotion. Ultimately, the call to action, perhaps referenced in your subject line, will play a big part in the likelihood of opening and the hit rate of the message. Let’s look at some examples.
First up, one client of ours is in the business of hair and beauty products. In this case, they often found a burst of activity on Monday mornings. This immediately stood out as an oddity so the account manager quickly investigated the logic.
The answer was simple! Those ordering on Monday mornings were people who had split up with the boyfriend or had a terrible weekend and were preparing for the next Friday
For contrast, if the email had been from FHM, reading it on a Monday morning would likely get you disciplined if you were caught by your employer. On the other hand, opening it on a Friday after you’ve been to the pub with the boss may be a more likely and acceptable possibility.
Above all, content is important. For the hair and beauty business, weekends presented a quiet time for sales. With this in mind, they’d hit customers with promotions offering buy one get one free if the order was placed that Saturday. Again this is an example of how content can dictate the best opening time.
The biggest mistake can be to stick with a distribution time even though you know you aren’t getting many positive hits. It’s always worth experimenting with different options and segmenting your audience in line with their engagement levels. In this way, the different opening habits become another way of understanding your audience better if harnessed correctly.
Anyone who has been using email marketing for a while also has access to a great reservoir of information which they may not be considering. Namely the historical reports provided by their Email Service Provider.
Often these will reveal discrepancies and other factors to bear in mind. We’ve all had a plan to distribute something Tuesday morning only to have it slip to Wednesday. Has this had an impact on the pickup?
All these considerations can come together and help you work out the perfect time to send email marketing. Not because it’s when they open everyone else’s or because it’s most common in the law of averages but based on the specific habits of your audience.
As with many marketing efforts, it comes down to a little patience, a willingness to experiment and an understanding of who you’re trying to reach.