by Jared Kimball
Ever ask the question, “When is the best time of day to send email?”
It’s a good question to ask, but there’s no simple answer. The truth is, it depends.
There are many factors to consider when sending emails, but I’m going to keep things simple: below I’ve listed five crucial things to keep in mind when sending email.
Leverage the power of immediacy
Looking for more email marketing tips? Download our free e-book: Email Marketing for the Rest of Us
At Infusionsoft when someone registers for a demo of our software, we average a 53.9 percent open rate on the immediate email follow-up.
In addition to that we generate on average a 3 percent “reply rate” (how many people hit the reply button and personally write us an email), which is not too bad considering they just accessed a demo of our software.
This kind of email not only tends to get great open rates, but it also sets the stage for other correspondence. So make it amazing.
Here’s an example to help inspire you with creating amazing immediate follow-up emails. Jenna Soard makes an amazing first impression with her initial follow-up email.
This email is beautiful and stands out from the mundane stuff everyone else on the internet sends.
Hour by hour breakdown on the best time to send email
The optimum time for you to send email depends a lot on your market.
For example, restaurant owners probably would benefit from sending emails later in the afternoon around 3pm or 5pm to get on the radar of people who want to go dine out for dinner, while a summer camp business might have a better chance of reaching parents during their lunch time breaks, later at night after the kids are in bed or on the weekends.
Every business is different, which is why you need to gather data, test, repeat.
For all of my fellow data nerds, below is a nice little chart that shows an hour-by-hour breakdown of our email open rates, click through rates (CTR) and click to open (CTO) rates.
Pretty sweet, huh?
Now that we’ve geeked out a little bit, let’s break down exactly what this chart means in an easy to understand way.
The highlights from the data:
- The majority of email we send is from 6 a.m. MST through 5 p.m. MST. This makes sense because there’s a ton of marketing and sales activities taking place during those hours.
- We tend to get our highest open rates (green bars) from emails sent between 6 a.m.–11 a.m.
- 8 a.m.–11 a.m. have high open rates, but much lower click-to-open (gray line) ratios. People open up the emails, but don’t click as often.
- The 1 p.m. hour stood out to us more than any other single hour block. It by far has one of the highest open to click-through ratios.
- More people seem to click emails (orange bars) between 7 p.m.–4 a.m. than any other block of hours. These are the Golden Hours (explained below).
Day of the week? Our research might surprise you
Some businesses benefit from sending emails on weekdays while others get more engagement on weekends.
At Infusionsoft we target specific countries around the globe to ensure we send emails on optimal days and at optimal times.
For example, we try to schedule our emails to Australia to go out Sunday evenings through Wednesday evenings, because Australia is a day ahead of our time here in Phoenix, Arizona. This way, we can be sure they receive emails from us during their normal business hours.
Looking at the chart above you can clearly see that we send the majority of our emails earlier in the week.
The things that stood out to us after analyzing this sample set of data is:
- Thursday seems to be the day that people open and click on emails more than any other day of the week. Maybe that’s a day to test out for sending more emails?
- We don’t send very much email on the weekends, but when we do the CTO percentage is through the roof. After analyzing the data on these days it seems that the weekends act as email catch up days for small business owners.
- We noticed that people tend to open and click through emails as the week progresses. Our theory is that most businesses tackle the most difficult tasks Monday to Wednesday and as the week progresses more time opens up to catch up on email.
Small businesses get busy during the week, which means the weekend seems like an optimal time to catch up on emails that were flagged to read at a more convenient time.
Knowing when to send and how to get more emails opened
Once you have a better understanding of when to send your emails, you next have to figure out how to get people actually to open them.
Use tactics in subject lines based on the time of day or day of week you send your emails.
Here are a few example phrases you could put in your email subject lines:
- Good Afternoon John
- “My 2 a.m. rant …”
- I thought today (Saturday) would be a good day to …
The possibilities are endless. If you’re looking for battle tested, easy-to-apply email subject line formulas that work like a charm then check out this post to help you get started and to give you more in-depth to training on how to write great subject lines.
Focus on the golden hours
The golden hours refer to when people are most likely to be in a researching or buying mindset. Most people are busy during the day putting out fires in their businesses, handling work-related tasks, or dealing with family matters. Probably, they aren’t in a state of mind conducive to buying. However, it’s a different story outside that time frame.
Our data and other studies show that people usually enter the researching, educating and buying mindsets later in the evenings and on weekends. These are the golden hours.
Here’s an example scenario:
Your prospect gets your email in the morning and you pique their interest with an engaging subject line. When they start to read the email they think to themselves, “This is what I want to know, but I don’t have time to really focus on this right now. I’ll read it later tonight.”
After the kiddos are in bed and the chaos of the day has settled down your potential customer looks at their email’s again, and they remember (because they flagged it) they wanted to really focus on your email when they had more time.
Your potential customer has just entered the golden hours. During these hours they are focused on learning more about your product or services, they are evaluating if it’s a good fit for them, and they’re even looking for a reason to justify why they should buy from you. This makes the golden hours the best time to send an email blast to your list.
How to take advantage of the golden hours
If you can get a fresh email in their inbox during the golden hours, you’ll up your chances that they’ll consider your product or service, and maybe even buy.
Send out a “Last Chance” type of email like this one from Chandler Bolt:
- Send critical educational/Call-to-action (CTA) emails that need more time to read and review like this one from Jason Hanson:
- Send in-depth video training emails like this one from SixthDivision.com:
So...when is the best time to send emails?
To wrap things up (and if you scanned all the way to the bottom of this post) here are the critical things to keep in mind when sending emails:
- Test everything: You never know when and what your market or subscribers will respond to.
- Always send an immediate follow-up email: These get the highest open rates than any other email you will send so make it really really good.
- Thursday afternoons at 1 p.m.: These have the highest CTR of any other email we send throughout the week. Your own research may find that your clients have a different peak CTR (refer to item No. 1 on this list).
- Write great subject lines: No matter when you send an email if your subject line stinks then you won’t get the engagement you desire.
- Focus on the golden hours: Weekends and any time between 8 p.m.–4 a.m. are the golden hours where people tend to take more time to get educated, watch videos, click on emails and even buy products or services.
Jared Kimball openly shares his strategies and techniques for email marketing on his site MarketerLife.com. If you’re interested in how to increase your email open rates – go here to get a free guide that shows you three critical areas that will dramatically improve your email open rates. He's also a demand gen strategist at Infusionsoft.