Best Send Times?

If you’re a veteran of the email marketing biz, you may be a wee bit tired of some questions that come up over and over again. I know I’m always being asked when the best time to send emails is.

The reason this question keeps coming up is probably due to the insatiable desire to load as many magic bullets in one’s online marketing gun as possible. Online marketers are like NASCAR teams, always looking for that one tweak to give them an edge.

Recently my company decided to study this question. We analyzed 21 million messages sent from U.S. accounts in the 1st quarter of 2012 to determine top open and click-through times.

The right inbox at the right time

A key finding: getting that email into subscribers’ inboxes during their most receptive times can increase average open rates and CTRs by 6%.

According to our research, the top engagement times are between 8 and 10 in the morning and from 3 to 4 in the afternoon.

23.63% of emails are opened within one hour of delivery. The longer an email sits there without being seen, the less chance it has of being opened. 24 hours later, an email is attractive as a day-old donut, with open rates falling close to zero.

Emails sent in the morning and early afternoon do better, with a 10.61% open ratio and up to a 2.38% click-through-rate. Not surprisingly, mornings are busy times, with 40% of email being sent between 6 in the morning and noon. You may want to try afternoons to avoid the noise.

I don’t think too many jaws are dropping right now, but we’re not that average, are we? The response to this infographic has been “off the charts” (sorry, couldn’t resist), attracting attention from dozens of blogs, thousands of Facebook likers, and hundreds who have retweeted t. All this indicates -- to me at least -- that time of send is still a big question among marketers looking for any advantage they can get to engage subscribers.

It depends

What’s right for you? Test and find out. This kind of data is helpful, but everyone’s list is a little or a lot different, and that’s why so often the answer to any question such as send times is: “It depends.”

Tags: email
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3 comments about "Best Send Times?".
  1. Andrew McIver from Responsys , November 7, 2012 at 6:48 p.m.
    You may as well be chasing a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. If a ‘best send time’ really does exist, it won’t last long, as sends will soon be concentrated around this period and messages will be lost to customers in the ensuing inbox noise, rendering the ‘best send time’ useless.
  2. Pete Austin from Triggered Messaging , November 8, 2012 at 6:50 a.m.
    The best send time for most types of emails is "quickly". This is true whether you are sending e.g. a welcome email, or a purchase confirmation, or a cart abandonment recovery reminder. If you send these in real-time, within minutes, you get a *much* better engagement (more than the 6% mentioned in this article) compared to waiting until the next day. The time of day doesn't much matter - if your customer is working in the middle of the night, mail them then!
  3. Chad White from Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud , November 9, 2012 at 2:22 p.m.
    The real takeaway here is not that emails should be sent between 8am and 10am and 3pm and 4pm, it's that there is an advantage to getting in the inbox at a time when a subscriber is more likely to interact with it. While there may be a 2 or 3 key windows during the day when this is generally more likely, it's more promising to personalize send times based on individual behavior. That said, many marketers have business or logistical constraints that make this discussion rather academic--in much the same way that "best day of the week to send" is an academic discussion.