All the emails I’ve sent from my Gmail account plotted with the date the email was sent on the y-axis and the time of day the email was sent on the x-axis
Last night, I asked myself an interesting question: “Do I tend to send emails at the “right” time of the day?” In other words, through trial and error, have I learned to send emails at certain times of the day when I know they are more likely to be read (and responded to)?
To answer this question, I created the above graph in R that plots every email I’ve sent through my Gmail account, sorted by the day and time of day I sent an email.
It turns out, my emailing patterns do not accurately reflects what current marketing research tells us are the best ways to reach email subscribers — at all.
In fact, here’s what current marketing research tells us about the optimal time to send emails.
First of all, is it really that important to send emails at the “right” time?
- MailChimp found that about 2% of emails get opened around 4AM while about 7% get opened around 4PM.
Image via MailChimp
- A study by GetResponse looked at 21 million email messages and found that sending newsletters between 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. can increase open and click-through rates by 6%.
- In addition, GetResponse also found that about 24% of all email opens occur within the first hour of delivery, while only 5% occur four hours after delivery (and less than 1% occur a day after delivery).
- Considering that email opens are time-sensitive it seems pretty clear that sending emails at the “right” time is important.
So then when should I be sending emails?
- Because email marketing differs by industry and company size, let’s start with some baseline email marketing statistics across different industries and different company sizes.
- As the previous section probably illustrated, the best times to send emails are in the morning and in the early afternoon.
- However, an Experian white paper found that the most unique opens, most unique clicks, highest transaction rate, highest revenue per email, and average order all occurred between 8PM and midnight.
Image via Experian
- Also, only 2% of all daily email volume is sent between 8PM and midnight, so if you find you’ve been suffering from a lot of competition from customers, sending emails later in the evening might not be such a terrible strategy.
- More emails are opened during the mid-week, but more emails are also sent during the mid-week (with the highest volume on Tuesdays and Thursdays).
Image via MailChimp
Not very many emails are sent on weekends.
Image from GetResponse.
- Emails sent during the weekend tend to have lower open and click-through rates.
- Tuesdays have the highest open rates while Fridays have the highest click-through rates.
Image from GetResponse.
- From a marketing research standpoint, it’s quite clear that there my emailing patterns are definitely not efficient or optimal.
- Generally speaking, sending emails in the morning or the early afternoon tend to have the most success.
- In fact, Fridays may be one of the best days to send emails as volume tends to be lower on Fridays compared to other weekdays, yet Friday has the highest click-through rate, and a relatively high open rate.
- However, it might not be such a bad idea to send emails at night either.
- Dave Chaffey at Smart Insights does a very good job summing up the pros and cons of sending emails on each day of the week based on his own experience and also the marketing data covered in this post.
- Saturday – Well this is the lowest volume day of the week, so you have the least competition!
- Sunday – I don’t understand why this is so high compared to Saturday – it does tend to be higher in web analytics than Saturday though.
- Monday – Relatively high, but often everyone is busy and the web analytics show volume is low. It makes sense in some markets like financial services where a decision is maybe made at the weekend and acted on on Monday.
- Tuesday – Traditionally the most popular day of the week for visits to a B2B site.
- Wednesday – Looks like an OK option since relatively low volume
- Thursday – Volume creeping up again as consumer mailers look to reach people before payday and the weekend
- Friday – Again a high volume since email may be read in work on Friday and at home over the weekend also – high competition though! FWIW We send our enewsletter on Friday since business folk may be winding down at the end of the week, although just as likely they’re chasing deadlines. We find readers browse it on the weekend.
How would you be able to reproduce your own personal email graph?
- I was inspired by this great blog post by Stephen Wolfram where he created a graph of the emails he has sent since 1990
This is what a third of a million emails looks like
- If you do want to do this in R, I recommend using the edeR function, which can essentially pull all the necessary email information you need.