Email Marketing Timing: When is the optimal time to send your next marketing email?


Do you know the optimal time to send your next marketing email?

Should you send it on a weekday or during the weekend? Will a morning send perform higher than a send in the evening?

Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, will share our email timing discoveries in our next free Web clinic – “Email Timing Tested: How one of the largest banks in the world determined the best time to send an email.”

First, we wanted to hear from you …


Segment your audience

We market to more than five very distinct industries – think Food Service vs. Healthcare/Hospitals. Through testing and tracking, and studying open times, we’ve learned to treat each of these very differently.

Within the Food Service industry, there are a variety of segments – quick serve, fast casual, upscale, etc. With the fast casual group, Saturday mornings are proving to be an effective time to send emails.

– (Genevieve) Viv Smith, Marketing Manager, Superior Uniform Group


No “one size fits all” approach

That said, in the luxury market that I communicate with, we’ve found that catching our clients very early in the day yields better results. This tends to reach them before the masses are clambering for their time and attention.

It’s important to note, however, that this applies to broader deployments, rather than personal communication during relationship sales efforts. In that sort of outreach, they will make the time as able if they are already substantively engaged, albeit in shorter/action-oriented exchanges.

But above all, content is key for these individuals. But that’s a whole other discussion!

– Christa Johnson, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Small Business Administration


Know your market

This is such a brutally broad topic, but I guess that would explain the reason for its relevance 30 years later. It all comes down to the same root principals you can apply to any other marketing deliverable: Know your market.

One of my previous companies catered to college students and administrators. Our email communications avoided the heck out of Monday and Friday because

  1. Monday is sifting day (when emails that aren’t essential get trashed before they get opened), and
  2. on Friday nobody does any real thinking about their work at a college (yeah, I know that’s not a measurable stat, but it’s a stereotype that exists for a reason).

That left us with Tuesday through Thursday. After a lot of A/B testing, we found that most of our emails were opened and given more than a few seconds of attention on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. We didn’t spend thousands to research it — we used logic, a little bit of stereotype, and trial and error to find what worked.

Now, in my current industry, the targets are all over the place, and it’s darn-near impossible to nail down one perfect time. I still avoid Mondays and Fridays, and based on the income levels of most potential targets, I assume they’re working full time. I shoot for morning blasts between 7-10 when folks haven’t hit their lunch-envy crash, or their post-lunch daze at work yet. Stats are still all over the place, but they still open more email in the morning mid-week than they do in the afternoons, or on Monday/Friday.

Basically, the principal of understanding who you’re emailing, where they’re going to be in their days, and how they interact at certain times is how you can come up with the best time. In short, put yourself in your customers’ shoes and A/B the crap out of them.

Nick Wheeler, Digital Marketing and Social Media Specialist, Prudential Verani Realty


Subject line most important

Mid-afternoons (~2:30 – 3 pm) performed the best with B2B audiences. Runners-up were mid-mornings (10:30 – 11:30) and early am (before 9), in that order.

We send emails Monday through Thursday. No single day performs consistently better than the others.

Having said that, what made the biggest difference in open rates was the email’s subject line.

– Arun Sinha, president, Access Communications


Morning time

I would state that email marketing works best for us during the morning time due to probably working their email inbox from the previous day / nights messages during the week day.

–Jeffrey Nadrich, owner and operator, Law Offices of Nadrich & Cohen


Open rates can vary by 6-7% based on time of day

One of the biggest questions email marketers I work with often have is:

What’s the best TIME OF DAY and DAY OF THE WEEK to send my emails?

Here is the simple (but very effective) solution we use to solve this question …

First, because every market is different, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. In some markets, email subscribers tend to consume email content M-F during their lunch hour …  In other markets, subscribers read email first thing in the morning.

But, if the name of the game is to MAXIMIZE email open rates and clickthrough rates, sending at the OPTIMAL time of day (and day of week) can have a significant impact.

So, What IS the best TIME OF DAY and DAY OF THE WEEK to send your emails?

In my agency and consulting practice, here’s how we answer this question (and how you can do the same): By split testing.

Here’s what I mean:

If split-testing is a science, then there’s usually an “academic” way of doing things – and the more 80/20 – friendly “pracademic” way of doing things.

Here’s the 80/20 “pracademic” method we use to determine the BEST time of day and day of week to send emails in every market we’re involved in:

Step 1: Upload a broadcast email into your email service provider, and set up a four-way split test to your list. (ESPs like AWeber make this easy to do.)

Step 2: Keep the subject lines and email body copy identical across each variant.

Step 3: Send each split-tested broadcast (all the same email) at different times of the day on the same day. We typically start with a Wednesday, and choose 6:00 AM EST / 12:00 PM EST / 5:00 PM EST / 10:00 PM EST.

Step 4: Track the open rates (and clickthrough rates) for each variant.

Step 5: Whichever variant produces the best Open Rate % / CTR % gives you a good indication on the best time of day to send emails in that particular market.

I’ve found in some markets open rates can vary as much as 6-7%, simply based on WHAT TIME OF DAY the email hits a person’s inbox.

Now, as far as figuring out the best DAY of the WEEK? You follow the same process.

This time you control the “time of day” variable by sending the same broadcast email with the same subject line, at the same time of day (based on your first experiment) at four different days during the week.

We typically send on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

Once you’ve run these two experiments, you’ll likely walk away with one of – if not THE – optimal “time of day” and “day of week” combination to send your emails for YOUR market (and more importantly, you’re making the decision intelligently, based on actual, quantifiable data).

Ryan Levesque, president, LTP Marketing LLC


Related Resources:

Email Summit: Testing timing and format elements in follow-up email

Infographic: Email open rates by time of day

Behavior-based Email Send Times Lift Opens, CTRs and Referrals: Test and results

Email Relevance: 8 tactics for leveraging timing, segmentation and content

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  1. Daisy Bellamy says

    Excellent information. Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

  2. Email Marketing says

    Good Info to target our email marketing timings. We have to concentrate on to whom we send and what is our target segment based on that we can plan the timings to get more leads

  3. Rebecca Wey says

    Great article. I have had the same discussions with many of my clients before, and optimal time does vary between business types. Monday is definitely a no-no for most marketing messages in my opinion.

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