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May 1, 2010
by Eric Leuenberger
When considering how to get the most out of your email campaigns, do not overlook the timing of a send. By timing, I'm speaking of not only days of the week, but actual times during a given day. Is it best to send during the morning, afternoon, or evening? If so, what actual hour/minute is best for the send, to ensure your message hits your customer's inbox at a time when it won't get lost among other emails? Does it matter? Yes, it does. Can you actually determine this magic day/time combination? Yes, you can. Determining the best time to send an email can be accomplished by utilizing the information you gather in your web analytics program. You'll likely have to drill down to find this data, and it will require some level of interpretation, but it can be done. When searching for the best time to send an email, the questions we are looking to answer are:
1) What are the best days to send emails?
2) What is the best time of day to send emails?
Does a "best" day and time really exist?
The answer to this question is: it depends, and it will not be the same for everyone. What works for one person may not work for another. It depends at the very least on your market, your customers, whether you sell B2C (Business to Consumer) or B2B (Business to Business), and even the time of year (which I won't get into in this article.) It goes without saying that if you are targeting B2B type readers, you want to hit them during the work week, rather than on the weekend. With B2C you might get away with a weekend send, depending on your offer, your target and objective. Personally, I find weekends to be slow no matter the market, and try to avoid them for sending marketing emails, but I am not going to leave you with just that as an answer.
There have been many studies conducted and data collected on the best times to send emails, and we can use these findings as a general starting point for our own campaigns. In reality though, the real answer will be found in your own tracking of your sends (you are tracking your emails with some type of analytics, right?) You'll find any number of answers on the Internet to what is the best day/time, but I have compiled my research into a fairly consistent "baseline," reported from not only third party email services like Aweber, Constant Contact and iContact, but also based on market research studies conducted by non-email service providers.
Keep in mind, while reading this, that it is tough to truly nail down a best day and time because each is ever changing. However, after rooting through all this data, I found the following as a reasonable conclusion to start with (I based this on the frequency of mention for various days and times). After conducting my research, I was somewhat surprised to discover that my personal experience fell within the ranges I found to be the most effective times and days. Again, this may not be the case with everyone, but it did prove to me that the baselines I settled on, and that I mention in this article, were at the very least a good starting point for most.
The Survey Says...
According to combined surveys, it looks like the best days/times on average to send emails are:
Best Days on Average
Tuesday and Wednesday continually stick out as better days during the week.
Pros and Cons of Each Day Outlined
Jenn Abecassis wrote a nice article that appeared in 60-Second Marketer which listed the positive and negative aspects of sending email on each day of the week. I summarized her points below, and will let you determine which, if any, sound reasonable for your needs. I think she makes some great arguments for each day that are worth taking into consideration.
Pros: Office work has not filled inboxes yet.
Cons: People are in work mode and won't be focused on non-work tasks.
Best Practice: Send emails late Monday morning, after people have cleaned the weekend spam from their inboxes.
Pros: People have organized their week, and can find personal time for emails.
Cons: Emails poised for a weekend response may be too early.
Best Practice: Use Tuesday for emails that request action during the workweek.
Pros: People are planning their weekends and gearing up for personal time.
Cons: Time during the workweek is running short, and requested action may be pushed back to the following week, or even forgotten.
Best Practice: Focus leisure and weekend notifications during these key weekend planning days.
Pros: Studies indicate fewer total emails sent, compared to the rest of the week, which increases visibility among the myriad of other messages.
Cons: People hurry to leave the office early, and may not take time to view non-work related emails.
Best Practice: Send emails early in the day, to give consumers more time to take action. An unopened email from Friday will sort to the bottom of an inbox on Monday, and is often discarded.
Pros: People check emails on weekends, too, so Saturday and Sunday may have untapped potential.
Cons: A weekend email may seem overly intrusive to some people.
Best Practice: If possible, try to avoid Sundays and focus on Saturdays, which may have a better response rate. Actually, if you are B2C, I would test Sundays. (We used to get great response on Sunday.)
What works for one person may not work for another. Email marketing should be tested and tracked as much as any other portion of your business. Keep these points in mind when determining the best time and day for your own email marketing. The answer isn't the same for everyone.
Understanding your objective and your subscribers will help you focus your efforts to find what works for you. The best way to move forward:
1) Use my guidelines to make an initial educated guess.
2) Test to see whether your guess was right or not.
3) Once you've got the best day nailed down, try experimenting with what time of day works best.
4) Make sure to maintain accurate reports, so you can benchmark your results moving forward.
Remember, it ultimately will come down to testing, testing, and more testing. Don't neglect the fact that you won't know for sure until you thoroughly test and measure your own individual results.
Eric Leuenberger is an ecommerce conversion marketing expert and author of a leading Ecommerce blog at www.TheEcommerceExpert.com.
He coaches store owners, using his online coaching system, www.EcommerceAmplifier.com, teaching them how to increase website sales using his proven six step process. He can be contacted at 1-866-602-2673.
Topic: Web Tech Tips
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