What the Great Dress Debate Can Teach Us about the Best Time to Send Emails

#TheDress has taken the internet world by storm. Unless you have been living under a rock, you must be all too familiar with the ruckus that #TheDress (it made the world go so crazy that it now has a Wikipedia page) has caused. Countless debates and discussions over the internet and social media still haven’t answered the question, what color is the dress? This story perfectly captures how we feel when someone poses the following question:

What is the best time to send emails?

Several marketing gurus have different opinions. There have been numerous debates and discussions on this topic. But till date, we have no concrete answer, just best guesses. They work for some, but for others, they don’t.

So, instead of joining the debate on deciding the best time for emails, we are going to do something different. We are going to share our experiences and opinions. Read on to find out what worked and what didn’t, for Mailee.

What does not work!

  • Sending emails on Saturday and Sunday mornings/afternoons
  • Sending educational emails (blogs, white papers, etc.) on Thursdays, Fridays and weekends
  • Sending actionable emails on Mondays or Tuesdays
  • Sending emails in the wee hours of the day (very late in the night or very early in the morning)
  • Sending emails on holidays and / or the first day of work, after the holidays

In most cases, the above list holds true. However, there are exceptions that defy these norms.

This image compiles data that shows that Mondays and Tuesdays are the worst, and the weekends are the best days to send emails.

Bear in mind that in digital marketing, nothing is absolute and rules are meant to be broken. Lists like these are just something to get you started.

So what works?

Next question is the obvious one. What works? You can scour the internet and find a zillion answers to this question. So, instead of giving the standard run-out-of-the-mill answer, here is what we are going to do. We’ve conducted an analysis of the performance of our emails over the past two years. We’ve charted out the results below.

According to our data, Mondays from 11.00 AM – 12.00 PM and Thursdays from 5.00 PM – 6.00 PM were the best times to send emails.  Econsultancy has compiled an article doing a comparative review of six different cases, titled Optimal Time to Send Emails.  This article gives a greater overview of what times work and what don’t, in general.

How to find out what is the best time to send emails?

First thing that you should do is find out the time (or time range) and day when most of your subscribers open your mails. To make this task easier for you, we are going to list the hours when people are most likely to check their emails:

  • Transit to and fro work (for smartphone addicts only)
  • First hour at work (educational content only)
  • Lunch breaks (not-too-serious educational content)
  • Late afternoon coffee break, especially on Thursdays and Fridays (actionable content)
  • Late evenings, post-dinner and pre-bedtime (actionable content)

Next, find out who reads your emails the most. If there is a specific industry, then you can tailor your email marketing campaigns accordingly.

Again, note that these criteria aren’t rigid. Exceptions exist. The illustrations below best explain this situation.

These images display statistics on how young people tend to be online more often, check their emails early in the morning and how smartphones are gamechangers. In both cases, there is no best time to send emails.

As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. We suggest that you start with what the experts say. However, you should keep on experimenting to find out what works best for you.

The email marketing mantra for success is to test, test, test, and then to test some more.

Word of Advice: Timing Isn’t Everything

Before we conclude, we would like to shed some light on two elements that are crucial to the success of your email marketing campaign. Sending emails at the perfect time won’t amount to anything, if you ignore these elements.

There are two questions you should ask yourself before creating an email campaign:

This image shows the importance of content and knowing the target audience, sending emails at the perfect time won't matter if these elements are overlooked.

So there you have it. The rules, the exceptions, the words of advice … the whole package. All you need to get started and send your email marketing campaigns. What are you waiting for? Do your homework and start sending great emails right away. Give it your best shot and keep learning and improvising from your experiences.

Good luck! If you have your opinions about the best time to send emails based on your experiences, feel free to share it here.

About Bruna Goss

Jornalista, membro da equipe do Mailee.me desde março de 2012. Vive e respira email marketing. Entusiasta do marketing de conteúdo. Fã de Star Trek.