Dear email marketing expert, when’s the best time to send my emails? Don’t ask me.

March 27, 2017 | by Tom Oakley, Marketing Technology Professional & Protocol Member

It’ll come as no surprise that one of the most common questions in email marketing is; “What day and time should I be sending my emails?”. Let’s be honest, we’ve all Googled it. I think the last time I checked some best-practice expert’s extensive research concluded that I’ve got to be sending on a Tuesday or Thursday morning or early afternoon if I want the best metrics. Job done? Not quite.

I’m a millennial which means you can be sure I love Googling stuff, and I really do. But when it comes to this, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer since email marketing covers the full spectrum of audiences, be it B2B or B2C in any industry of your choice and each buyer profile has their own routine and habits when it comes to managing their email. So the answer will inevitably be different in each case.

I’ll cut to the chase; you need to do your own research. Look back at your most successful sends in the past and see on what days and times they were sent, or better still, A/B test your next few campaigns by blasting samples of your data the email at different times and then choosing the best time based on your results. It’s the only way you can be sure the answer is right for you.

To give a good example from my own experience, when A/B testing a lead generation campaign audience of C-Level contacts in specific industry segments, it concluded weekend sends were best performing in the early morning for the EMEA and Americas regions, and the same time on a Tuesday in APAC.

Whilst unconventional according to so-called ‘best practice’, the weekend send actually makes logical sense. These are very senior people who never really switch-off from work and they most-certainly don’t work a conventional nine-to-five, five-day week, meaning breaking through the clutter as they first flick through their inbox on a Saturday morning could be the crucial factor in either catching their eye or missing the opportunity completely. By 11am on a Tuesday morning, the reality is most C-Levels will be embroiled in meetings for the day as their inbox fills up too quickly for our marketing email to get the time of day to read, let alone get a sales pitch booked in their diary (despite that ever-so-quirky “The drinks are on me” subject line). It looks like culture has an impact too, with less attendance to work email in APAC at the weekend. We could speculate as to the reasons, but it doesn’t really matter, only that the data doesn’t lie.

When testing, there’s three things to remember:

  1. Test regularly: things change and no finding is gospel. That’s why you should keep trying to disprove yourself. Convincing key stakeholders that we should be sending important emails out on a Sunday is difficult enough without basing it on a small bit of research a couple of years ago!
  2. You’re (probably) targeting multiple audiences: my example above was only for C-Levels, yet some of the same campaigns are targeted at different segments of less senior B2B professionals. It’ll be no surprise that the most effective time to send will therefore differ given each persona’s differing working habits.
  3. Consider your email’s call-to-action: how you want the recipient to react will influence what’s deemed to be the most effective time to send. A purely informational piece, something newsworthy will more-than-likely achieve a maximum open rate at a different time to the engagement required for a webinar or event invitation where clickthrough and registration is the metric that matters.

 

Sorry I haven’t been able to give you the simple answer or present the extensive research you’re looking for, it simply doesn’t exist. Instead I’ll leave you with this thought, next time you receive a marketing email in your inbox, check the date and time.

What’s the betting there’ll be a flurry on Tuesdays and Thursdays?

 

Tom Oakley
Spring 2017

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