Best Time To Send Marketing Emails? It’s Not When You Think it Is

Email marketing is a discipline that’s been around for more than two decades, and yet there are still very basic questions that continue to plague marketers. The single question that consistently generates the most debate is also one of the simplest: “What is the best time to send marketing emails?”

Seems like an easy question to answer.  It isn’t, but after only 10 minutes of searching we can find no shortage of opinions:

  • “Your emails may have a greater chance of being seen from 8 am – 10 am or 4 pm – 6 pm. ” [1]
  • “Open rates are highest in the early morning. [2]
  • “Consumer promotion emails are best sent between 7pm and 10pm.” [2]
  • “Emails sent 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. are about 3x more likely to be opened than emails sent at 4 p.m.” [3]
  • “So if you want an email to get read, send it Sunday afternoon or early in the morning.” [3]
  • “What Are the Best Times to Send Email? 10:00 – 10:30 a.m. and 1:00 – 1:30 p.m.” [4]
  • “Subscribers’ top engagement times are 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.- 4 p.m.” [5]
  • “Subscribers are most likely to open email after 12pm, and the most active hours are 2-5pm.” [6]
  • “Response rates were highest at night and early in the morning.” [7]

There is no shortage of data and opinions on the best time and day to send marketing emails. The majority of the research is focused on finding the one best time to send email to every one of your subscribers.

The thing is, they are all right some of the time. Throw enough emails at the wall and something will stick.

GetResponse points out that there are a lot of factors that influence best times to send:

That’s the rule – but it needs a more customized approach. If payday is on Monday, the results might surge. If you’re in the entertainment industry – Friday is when people start planning their weekend and will jump on your weekend offers. Your industry segment and organization type has unique characteristics that might make Thursday the best day. So it’s always worthwhile to test, analyze and compare your campaigns.

So, is there ONE best time and day to send all of your marketing emails?

The problem is we are asking the wrong question.

  • We should not be asking what is the ONE best time to send to EVERYONE (Not everyone likes banana cream pie.)
  • We should be asking when is the BEST time to send to each INDIVIDUAL (Some people want pepperoni pizza, some want vegan curry, some want Cherry Garcia ice cream.)

Every subscriber on every subscriber list will be different. If you treat everyone of your email subscribers in every industry the same then there is no clear, single best time or day to send marketing emails. There are only aggregate better and worse times.

The simple answer is that you let subscribers’ individual behavior over time dictate when they are most proven to open emails- and send at that time.

Data Speaks

Below are the results from several Embarke clients who used Delivery Time Optimization to send marketing emails to their subscribers. Using Time Optimization (versus a control group on the same email send) each client saw a marked lift in open and click rates when each individual subscriber was sent the email at the time they were most likely to engage.

best times to send marketing emails

Actions Trump Theory

Using data intelligence is the best way to answer the question of what day and time is best to send each individual person those marketing email messages. The subscribers actions, attributes, industry and many other variables have a large affect on what time is the best to send marketing emails.

As professional marketers we can too easily over-think customer engagement practices. Instead of racking our collective brains trying to come up with the one true answer about when the customer most wants to engage with our email messages we should let each customer tell us. The data speaks loudly when you ask the right questions.  

Your email subscribers are constantly telling you exactly what time on which day they WANT to engage with your email messages by opening, reading and clicking on them.

The best time to send marketing emails is not when YOU think it is, it’s when your customer thinks it.