Getting seen and being clicked. Isn’t that what sending an email is all about?
But email campaigning continues to grow exponentially, and more people are studying ways to ensure their email is the one that gets clicked. That’s one reason timing has become an increasingly hot topic over the last 10 years.
One way I know this has become a “thing” is by watching my inbox. But another tell-tale sign is Google search results. I queried “best time to send email ‘2010’” and got about 300 million results. Same phrase for 2017 brought up over a billion results. And 2018 (which isn’t over yet, and which I’m adding another result to right now) came to a bloated, nearly 2 billion suggestions.
So who are the top 10 voices of today’s billions of authors on articles on when to send your email? What does their research say about getting your email seen and clicked? What should you do about it, starting today? And how much does timing REALLY matter?
One: Top 10 Voices on Timing for Email Campaigns
Let’s be clear. I chose the top 10 (non-ad) Google search results for 2018 for this. After all, if they’re smart enough to score at the top of the search engine, so maybe they know something about being seen and heard!
Sleeknote reports that weekends are the worst. If you want to win, try Tuesday or Thursday morning 10:00 to 11:00 AM.
Mailbird suggests you’re doing well to send on a weekday during work hours, but maybe not so great to send over lunch hour.
OptinMonster hesitates to give an answer, citing research that shows varying results for week days versus weekends as well as times of the day.
SEOPresser gives an overview of the research, just as these others, but they’ve also spent time studying their own results. Their decision? Mondays are generally considered to be the worst day you can send your marketing emails or newsletters.
InfusionSoft has also done some sleuthing. Their theory is that most businesses tackle the most difficult tasks Monday to Wednesday and catch up on emails later in the week.
Convince and Convert compiled their research solely as an infographic, for the benefit of those who don’t want to read all those words. But they make sure to tell you right up front: Tuesdays at 10:00 AM.
Agile CRM agrees that the industry averages say 11:00 AM on a Tuesday or Wednesday is the optimal time to send an email.
Sumo highlights what others touched on briefly: best times vary depending on your target audience.
SalesHandy feels Mondays shouldn’t be knocked. Some companies have seen as much as a 45 percent open rate on Mondays. On the other hand, don’t forget that time zones and country cultures vary around the globe.
SendInBlue team compiled the data and found that email engagement is generally best for those sent during mid-morning at 10:00 or mid-afternoon at around 2:00.
Two: The Recap of the Research
Basically everyone reiterated that you have to know your audience. Some audiences’ prime time is the weekend. Some campaigns have been most successful sending at midnight or in the wee morning hours. Some have found evenings after work to be the best. Results differ based on whether you’re selling something to a business or to an individual on a personal level. Results differ based on whether you’re giving information for free or trying to use information as clickbait in order to sell something.
But after those caveats, the consensus is Tuesday through Thursday at 10:00 AM or 2:00 PM, in the time zone in which the recipient lives.
Three: What You Need to Do Today
This is where you make a key decision for your campaign. And it’s probably going to require some work.
- Open a blank spreadsheet.
- Look up your last several (3 to 6) mailings and check when they were sent out.
- Make note of the subject of each email in Column One and the time it was sent in Column Two.
- If those mailings were sent Tuesday through Thursday at 10:00 AM or 2:00 PM, in the time zone where the recipient lives, you have a very simple decision to make:
- Be happy that you’re on track and keep doing what you’ve been doing.
- Decide it’s time for some in-house testing of your email prime time.
If you chose the second option, here’s what you want to do next.
- Find your mailings’ delivery statistics. (In CiviCRM that includes the number and percentage of successful deliveries, the number of opens, link clicks, forwards, replies, bounces, and unsubscribe requests. And any of these items can be drilled into for more detailed information.)
- Add this to additional columns on your spreadsheet.
- If the send times of those campaigns varied, check out whether the stats seem to vary along with the send time.
- Now set up A/B Testing (here’s how in CiviCRM).
- Divide up your list of contacts into segments of a reasonable size. (It’s important to have as few differences among the segments as possible. So don’t choose one segment as people over 50 and one as people in their 20s, or you might get results that reflect age rather than send time.)
- Set a distinct send time for each segment.
- After a few days, track the statistics and see if there’s any significant difference in opens, clicks, etc.
- Retest as often as needed to find your sweet spot.
Four: How Much Does Send Time Matter?
We all know that there is no secret formula. Success is a multi-faceted jewel, cut out by a lot of hard work on many different fronts.
- Knowing your audience.
- Writing quality and compelling copy.
- Catching interest with an engaging subject line.
- Keeping your email streamlined and uncluttered.
- Presenting a clear call to action.
- Making sure the landing page is attractive, uncluttered, and focused.
- Keeping any donation/payment options simple and direct.
- Following up with a thank you.
- Letting donors know the impact of their gifts.