Best days and times to send an email campaign

email campaign timing (3)

“When is the best day and time to send an email?” has been a common marketer’s question ever since Gary Thuerk sent out the first email marketing blast in 1978.

Knowing when to send a campaign is tricky. Like all good marketing, it depends on your audience. I know, that answer isn’t very helpful.

To give you a starting point for determining the best day/time to send an email, based on our data, I looked at over 22,000 campaigns sent to 1,217,123,149 (yes, that’s billion!) email addresses. Let’s get to it.

Best days to send email

Opinions on best send day vary. Some people tend to avoid sending on the weekends because they think people don’t open emails on their days off, while others say Monday because it’s the first day back to work. Here’s what the data said.

Across the board, weekday sending had a higher open rate, click rate, and revenue per recipient than the weekend.

Open rate Click rate Revenue per recipient
Weekday 19.19% 2.61% $0.27
Weekend 17.15% 2.16% $0.14

And why is this? A simple answer is that people don’t like to think about work during the weekend — and checking their email might give them work flashbacks.

email campaign timing

First, let’s take a look at open rates.

Open rate performance by day:
1. Tuesday at 19.82%
2. Wednesday at 19.49%
3. Monday at 18.80%
4. Friday at 18.80%
5. Thursday at 18.62%

There isn’t a wide variance between the second and fifth place dates, which is why I stated earlier these results are a starting place and the best options for you depends on your audience. So as we always say, TEST and test again to find the optimal choice for your specific needs.

Given that there’s only a small variance in open rate results, you can easily move on to the big business goal – revenue. Which days make you the most money?

email campaign timing (2)

In order of performance, the main money making email send days are:
1. Thursday: 33.5% higher than the average revenue per recipient (RPR)
2. Monday: 20% higher than the average RPR
3. Wednesday: 18% higher than the average RPR

Comparison of these two sets of results is interesting:
1. Tuesday yielded the highest open rates, but some of the lowest revenue;
2. Thursday produced the highest revenue per recipient, but the lowest open rates;
3. Monday produced the second highest RPR, and the second lowest open rates!

It might be that people aren’t ready to buy earlier in the week, waiting until later in the week to pull the trigger on a purchase.

Based on these two charts, you can optimize dates by following the RPR results:

  1. Plan your baseline first send on Thursday,
  2. Chart your returns, and then
  3. Test the other days until you understand your audience’s reaction, and finally,
  4. Optimize for the best results.

Let’s move on to optimal send times.

Best times to send email

There has been a lot of talk about email campaign timing. Some say that sending early in the morning or late at night works best, because that’s the first and last thing you do when you wake up or go to bed. Others believe that lunchtime is the best time, because it’s in the middle of the workday and people tend to check their email after breaking for lunch.

To analyze the best time of day to send, I began by breaking our dataset into AM vs. PM.

Open rate Click rate Revenue per recipient
AM 18.07% 2.36% $0.21
PM 19.31% 2.62% $0.27

According to the data, sending in the afternoon yields better results across the board, but not by much. So let’s dig a little deeper.

To do this, I did an hour-by-hour comparison. Here are the four best times to send throughout the day:

12:00 AM

Emails that were scheduled to send at midnight received a 7% higher open rate and a whopping 66% higher revenue per recipient than the average. Why? Because 57% of people begin their day by reading their email, which means if you send during really late, that’s the first thing you’re going to read in the morning.

1:00 PM

Sending after lunch will help you capture the attention of those people looking for a post-lunch distraction. This time drove a high revenue per recipient — 62% higher than the average.

4:00 PM

This is the time of the day where people are starting to shift out of “work mode” and might be looking for distractions. Sends at 4 pm drove a revenue per recipient 61% higher than the average.

6:00 PM

Catching people on their commute home will help you get above average open rates, click rates, and revenue per recipient. This send time yielded our highest open rate (22%) and highest click-through rate (3.14%.)

While late-morning send times were the most popular in general, the afternoon proved to be the highest performing times. Like many people, my most productive time of the day is late morning, right after I’ve downed my coffee and settled in. Sending email at this time might deter people from reading your email and purchasing from your store.

If you send an email when people are concentrating on other activities (work, eating, etc.), and they check their email later in the day, the email you sent hours ago will be towards the bottom of their inbox. If you send later in the day, your email will be at the top and the first thing they check after lunch or on their commute home.

Stick to the times when people are looking to take a break or are on their commute home. This will ensure you’re giving them time to read, click, and purchase from your store.

In conclusion

To recap, the best days and times to send are Thursday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in the early/late afternoon and midnight.

That doesn’t mean that this will work for every ecommerce store. Campaign timing depends on when your specific target audience opens their emails. When in doubt test, test, and test some more.

Start with sending on weekday afternoons. If you’re not seeing results, begin testing different days and times.

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3 comments

  • Awesome! Thanks Phil….

  • Paul,

    Did you guys see any significant variance based on shopping category?

    Google Trends teaches us that people search more health related terms (e.g., vitamins) on Tuesdays. So I’m curious if this correlated to more spending in this category on Tuesdays.

    Thanks,

    • Hi Eric,

      We didn’t look based on shopping category but that’s a great idea for a follow-up post.

      Thanks!
      Phil

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