As marketing professionals, we are constantly looking for ways to increase engagement with our content. In the past, we’ve talked about the importance of CTAs, copy, graphics, and even frequency. One of the more controversial topics in the field however is timing, that is, what day(s) and time(s) result in higher open rates.
What Does Research Say?
There has been a great deal of research on the subject of email timing. Some look at which days of the week have the highest engagement, while others attempt to nail down the “golden hour” when open rates are highest. In many cases, researchers have found definitive correlations between open rates and these factors. So what’s the problem? Many of the results are contradictory.
Day of the Week
Conventional wisdom has long held that email marketing is significantly more effective during the workweek.
According to a study by Get Response, the most popular day of the week to send emails is Tuesday. It also had the highest open rate of any day of the week. The study also demonstrated that emails were rarely sent on the weekends – those that were opened at a significantly lower rate than others. Overall, the best days of the week to send emails were Tuesday and Friday, according to the study; fewer emails were sent on Friday overall, but it had the highest CTR of any day of the week.
So that’s it, right? Tuesday and Friday seem like they should be the best days to send marketing emails.
Unfortunately, much of this data is either inconclusive or, in some cases, utterly contradictory. For example, a MailChimp study found similarly high open rates for Tuesday, but ranked Friday as the 3rd worst day to send a marketing email. Several others have supported the idea that Tuesday-Thursday are the best days overall. However, one study suggests that Saturday and Sunday provide higher open rates – potentially due to reduced inbox competition on these days.
Time of Day
Studies examining optimal time-of-day for email sends have been relatively contradictory as well. Overall, independent studies have suggested that open rates are highest at approximately 10AM. However, there is a great deal more to unpack here. To start, more emails than ever are being opened on mobile devices. With that, many people start checking emails when they first wake up from the comfort of their beds. But the question remains whether or not this trend is significant enough to impact optimal send times.
It is generally agreed upon that open rates peak in the morning, then decrease steadily in the afternoon and through the evening. However, the controversy regarding the early morning still remains. But why? The answer is somewhat complicated, but it boils down to one key reason – audiences are not homogenous.
Audiences are not a homogenous group
Depending on who your target audience is, your open rates could vary significantly from these rules of thumb. For example, a secondary MailChimp study found that profession impacted open rates. While open rates for lawyers peaked around 9 AM, open rates for bartenders peaked at around noon. Similarly, open rates among college students peak several hours later than those of retirees. In other words, while general open rates may tend to be higher between 8-10AM on average, numerous other factors influence these numbers.
Takeaway Point: General Numbers Should Serve as a Starting Point
Generalized figures about day and time are a great help for ball-parking optimal send times. But the truth is, the only way to determine what works is testing it for yourself. For instance, if you’re an online retailer that sells specialty coffee beans, it makes more sense to send emails earlier in the morning. In the end, email remarketing is a culmination of different factors and there each business has its own recipe for success.
Optimizing open rates via day/time requires a combination of three things
- Do your research
- Know your audience
- Test, test, and test again
By keeping these three things in mind, your email campaign can reach, engage, and convert customers with greater efficacy.