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When is the best time of day to send an email?

Examples of testing the best time of day for email broacast

Last week we looked at the ideas on the best day of the week to send an email for different audiences.

This week I review a related issue, asking:  "is there a best time of the day to send an email?" Again, the answer is "yes, definitely", but it depends, so you have to test it. It depends on audience, but I hope these 3 examples show it's worth testing.

Update - September 2011

I spotted a nice, simple infographic to support the stats later in this post. It can help you review the factors that may affect consumer attention during the day. These considerations also apply in B2B and the attention available during the office day - for example we find our newsletter works best around 8-9AM as can tweets/shares - also around lunchtime - although that's called the "Abyss" here - a reminder that rules are made to be broken - and tested.

Talking of testing, I'd also recommend this recent post by Tim Watson that asserts "".

I've been in touch with Tim while writing this post and here is the link to the original case source in the Enewsletter (with previous company branding). He said he wouldn't be surprised if the situation has changed now, since with more mobile use email reading patterns have changed. He went onto say that he recently ran a structured test plan across days and times for a client and found that time of day was not so important for their emails but day of week was.

B2C campaign example

This second test gives a second type of insight. It shows how to run an email test with different broadcast times to review the response. The first deployment at 4AM is clearly ineffectual since most subscribers will be asleep and when they come into work or log-on at home will be working on other activities at 8AM. The 10AM deployment is most effective.

Individualised Email broadcast example

A really sophisticated approach to determining the best time of day is to personalise!  Retailer eBags individually calculated the best time to send the email by looking at the behaviour of each user within the email list, recording the exact time when they signed up to the list. A test they ran found using this broadcast time found that...

  • Click-through rates increasing by 20%.
  • Conversion rates increasing by 65%.
  • Average value per order increasing by 45%.
  • Overall average revenue per recipient increased by 187%.

So the takeaway from these example are that targeting, creative and relevance of the offer may matter much more, but testing may show that you can make your email campaigns more effective through selecting the broadcast time. For further reading, check this on email timing tests from Email Marketing Reports.

By Dave Chaffey

Dave is CEO and co-founder of Smart Insights. He is editor of the 100 templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ Digital Marketing experts. Our resources used by our Expert members in more than 80 countries to Map, Plan and Manage their digital marketing. For my full profile, or to connect on LinkedIn or other social networks, see the About Dave Chaffey profile page on Smart Insights. Dave is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Emarketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing.

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