Since the advent of promotional email blasts marketers have been trying to determine the best time to send emails to their consumer lists. For many years companies would come to thier own conclusions through a combination of pseudo-psychology and advertising history. But now, thanks to MailChimps’ Email Genome Project, you can easily learn if the elusive ideal send time for promotional emails exists and when it is.
Since the Email Genome Project (EGP) stores email information per individual, we are looking at high-level aggregate data to determine some of the best times to send per list and industry. The information they have measured and tracked is fascinating and revealing.
Optimal Send Time: Myth or Reality?
Many years ago when I worked in direct marketing, it was believed that Tuesday at 11am was the best time to send out promotional emails for your industry. As it turns out, that is pretty accurate.
According to data from the EGP’s Send Time Optimization, as far as days of the week go, Tuesday and Thursday faired best with 17% and 18%, respectively.
Although, one day of the week does not stand out significantly from the others- with Monday, Wednesday, and Friday right around 16%- weekends paint a different picture based on industry, as discussed below.
The bottom line is that while content makes a big difference—I often get more excited opening a promotional email from my favorite local pet store than one about entrepreneurial advice—much of that depends on the readers’ mood, where they are checking their email (and on which device), and other random factors occurring that day. Basically, the reader’s life dictates more of the open rate than the actual send time.
In regard to time of day, Mail Chimp’s research reports that 10am (in the recipients’ time zone) is the optimal time, but not by much- this peaks out at 7% implying that there really is not one ideal time for people; it tends to be individual or occupation-focused.
It makes sense that weekends are more popular than weekdays when looking at hobbies and recreational activities and, conversely, that business-related emails are less preferable on weekends.
While weekends are preferred for the likes of hobbies, e-commerce, retail, or the arts, the numbers still only come in at approximately 16-21%.
But, MailChip notes that percentages lower than 50% still imply “that no matter what content is being sent, most lists are comprised of a majority of recipients for whom the optimal send time is during the work week.”
Drilling down more, you can compare optimal times by industry, gender, political affiliation, age group, and occupation. Optimal send time changes based on a myriad of factors, for example while political party has little effect on OST, occupation, and age can make a significant difference.
Comparing 40 year olds to college-aged individuals proved that the 10am OST for forty-somethings shifts to 1pm for students who tend to keep later schedules and sleep in more. When you think about it, this makes perfectly logical sense.
Similarly, 1pm is a preferable time for bartenders, again think late-night schedule, whereas busy lawyers prefer reading emails first thing in the morning and right after lunch.
Overall it is difficult to pinpoint an exact optimal send time. With that said, your safest bet is to stick to weekdays around 10 or 11am. However, since you know your audience and industry best, use that knowledge to tailor your optimal send time accordingly. Make sure you take advantage of tools, such as the EGP, and research what encourages readers to respond to your message.
If you want to expand your social media reach outside of emails, check out the free guide below!