Mike Duquet, a conversion optimization specialist, says he’s always asked the same question at every email conference he attends: What’s the best time to send an email? His answer? There really is no best time to send an email message.
Helpful, right? Fortunately, there are still some things to consider when determining your best time.
1. Think about newsletters and triggered emails separately
Triggered emails and newsletters are different and that affects the optimal send times. A triggered email is 'triggered' by something the customer does (e.g., abandons a shopping cart) or something which changes on your store (e.g., a product comes back in stock). Hence urgency is helpful in some cases (e.g., send the abandoned cart email 2 hours after the event) but not others, e.g., a back in stock email at midnight when your inventory system updates may not be that useful to anyone.
Newsletters, however should be sent based on the time they are most likely to be opened by each user.
2. Optimize based on open patterns for most emails
Different audiences respond differently (duh). Sending a message out at the same time will yield different open rates, depending on where people live. For example, when it’s 6am in San Francisco, it’s 9am in New York City— so while your west coast subscriber might be just waking up, your Manhattanite could be checking their email at work.
You should factor in mobile and iPad opens. According to recent mobile marketing surveys, more than 60% of e-mails are now opened on a mobile device rather than a desktop. So, if you want an urban professional to open your email on their cell phone, send it during a time when they’re likely to be commuting (on a train or bus), instead of when they’re more likely to be actually working.
The patterns vary for iPad users, too. Since iPad users more frequently use their devices at home, it’s probably smarter to send an iPad-optimized email around 7pm then say, around 3pm in the afternoon.
Don't forget days of the week. Previously, marketers thought that Thursdays and Fridays were the best days to send emails, because they assumed people were more likely to purchase things closer to the weekend. While that may have been true in the past, given today’s instant digital, it’s no longer the case. Even as the 9-5 workweek grows increasingly obsolete, studies show that emails sent over the weekend averaged over 10% high click through rates. It’s probably that these emails face less competition than those sent during the week.
Sounds complicated? You could set up multiple email lists or try and segment your customers based on time zone and device. What happens if your users have multiple devices or commute/work at odd hours? We recommend working with a platform which offers Send Time Optimization which tracks when your customers open their emails and sends future emails just before that time. This does all the hard work for you. We've found revenue per email jumps by about 20% from this neat feature alone. Want to find out more? Get in touch.
Send Time Optimization works great for newsletters, welcome series, back in stock emails, post purchase series, anniversary emails and any other long drip campaign you might be sending.
3. Use a set schedule for user triggered events
Send Time Optimization works great for most emails but not all. Abandoned cart and window shopping emails are good examples. In those cases a well thought out timeline based on an event (e.g., when the customer abandons the cart) works best.
Although these are general guidelines we recommend testing for your audience and testing each email sequence separately. We've found optimizing send time to be a really helpful lever for improvement which most brands ignore.