March 20, 2013

Is there really an optimal time to send an email marketing campaign?

Written By Martin Sandhu

Google ‘best time to send an email’ and you’ll be presented with a multitude of different theories about when you should send your email marketing campaign in order to get the best results, whether that’s open or click through rate.

In our ‘always on’ culture it is getting easier and with many people using smartphones and tablets to ‘clear’ their inbox before starting work or on a Sunday afternoon, the range of time at which email marketing is most effective is growing.

Despite that, the short answer is still “it depends”…but that’s really not very useful is it! It will vary from industry to industry and day to day. If we think about it logically, your target audience will play a huge part in what time is best. If you are a b2b business sending emails to work addresses, then there are clearly times which are best – the first hour of business and the last being the most popular times for people to sort through their inboxes. However, as a b2c business, thinking about when and how people will access their personal emails is a key factor, first thing in the morning or lunchtime may be most effective.

Of course, the message of the email will impact on the optimum time to send it. For example, a lunch offer should be sent mid-morning when people are considering where to go in their break, a drinks offer should be sent on a Wednesday or Thursday when weekend plans are being made.

Understanding lifestyle of your audience will effect when an email campaign is most effective, an audience made up primarily of parents are much less likely to open emails between 5pm and 8pm than those without children. Similarly, Friday and Saturday evenings may not be the ideal time to target students or young professionals.

The key is testing, just like split testing on a website, to see what works. Split your email marketing campaigns, try different times and different days and assess which is most effective. All email service providers now give in depth analytics showing who opened emails, which links were clicked on, how often and when, meaning email marketers can easily analyse every campaign and optimise their send times.

There is never going to be one universal time that is best to send an email, your customers are unique to you and only you can find out what works best, but remember you’re never going to find a time which is right for 100% of people!