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Article first published August 2011, updated April 2019

If the results of our unscientific pop quiz are anything to go by, there are more answers to the question, “When is the best time to send an email campaign?” than there are hours in the day.

When we last posted on this topic, we cited two studies that showed an email sent on Monday is more likely to get opened, and anytime between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. is the best time of the day to send.

Is there really a “best time” to send an email campaign?

Emailvision has published new research suggesting that campaign send time isn’t as important as many of us think. In their words:

“Whilst email open and click activity varies by 10% during the day, it doesn’t automatically follow that campaign performance will be sensitive to exact time of send.”

Emailvision argues that an email’s position in the inbox is relatively unimportant. A campaign can have an equally good chance of being open and read, regardless of whether it’s at the top of the inbox or 10  messages in.

They believe there are much stronger factors at work when it comes to determining an email’s success, such as:

  • Subject line and “from” name
  • Content relevance
  • Previous experience of your emails
  • Brand loyalty and engagement

And we tend to agree. The folks at Email Marketing Reports back up the idea that send time is negligible in their post, ‘Insights on the worst day to send.’

In a study that compared metrics from email that went out at the ‘very worst’ time (New Year’s Day) with results from previous campaigns, they found an open rate variance of merely “2.7 percentage points, or 6.6%.”

These rates are minimal, and far less damaging than sending an email with an inconspicuous call to action, for example.

How to find the best time to send to your audience

While there have been studies to find the general best time to send email campaigns, exact times are going to depend entirely on the particular audience of your brand.

For instance, while Monday may be the best time for open rates for the general public, your brand might be targeted toward a specific demographic for whom Thursday is the best time to send.

This added element of ambiguity may seem frustrating, but there are ways to pinpoint the exact times to contact your audience for the best results.

One of those methods is quite simple: research. What you’ll want to look for are the times in which the target demographic of your brand is most likely to open emails.

For example, marketers and advertisers are most likely to open emails on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. However, for educators, Monday at 3:00 p.m. is the ideal time.

Another way to discover the behavior of your audience is simply through time. After sending out emails for a while, your analytics should show you what kinds of people are interacting with your emails at what time.

You can also do some A/B testing to figure out which times are working best. All you need to do is send out the same email at different times to two separate groups. Based on their reactions, you can get a good idea of your audience’s behavior.

Once you figure out the best times to reach your audience, you can then optimize your automation to fit that timeslot.

Wrap up

To run a successful email marketing campaign, you can’t merely focus on the content of your emails. Though that is certainly important, there are many different variables that go into a campaign with high engagement rates.

One of the most significant variables is timing. Sending out a great email campaign won’t mean much if no one is around to read it.

While there are times of the week and day that have higher email activity than others, relying on this broad information will only take you so far.

Instead, you should focus on the behavior of your particular audience. Your audience has its own quirks and behavioral patterns that depend on a number of factors.

Therefore, when it comes to the best time to send an email to get a response, there’s no universal answer. Using your own analytics and research is the only way to make sure you get the best results.

If you found this blog helpful, you may enjoy our examples for your autoresponder email template.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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