B2B Marketing Zone

What’s the Best Time to Send an Email to Your List?

What’s the Best Time to Send an Email to Your List?

What’s the Best Time to Send an Email to Your List?

“What’s the best time to send an email?” It’s a question email marketing experts get a lot. And while they’d love to rattle off a definitive best time to send, they can’t.

Because it doesn’t exist.

If your email marketing expert could point to just one definitive study of when is the best time and day to send an email, trust me, they would.

But there are an awful lot of studies that have been done about which day and time is the best. Trouble is, they all say different things.

One popular blog recently did a roundup of email marketing studies, picking 10 different analyses of when was the best time and day to send.

Because most of the 10 studies suggested a different time or day. There is sort of a consensus that Tuesdays, Thursdays, and possibly Wednesdays are a good time to send, but that’s only if you look at many studies, using each one as a data point.

Graphic showing results from 10 studies on best time to send an email

So problem solved, right? Send on, um, Tuesdays, right?

Not really. I hate to tell you this, but 10 data points does not make for a statistically valid conclusion. And I can easily trot out another bunch of studies that would further skew those conclusions.

There are more answers to which day of the week is best to send on … than there are days of the week.

Remember how that data above generally showed that weekdays are best? Well, here’s Dan Zarrella’s research. It shows that weekends are best:

Graphic that shows weekends are best time to send an email

And here are more examples of how these results are spread all over the map (and the week):

  • SEOPressor found that, although there are high open- and click-through rates on Saturdays and Sundays, their research left them confident in saying , “… overall, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are likely the most successful days for sending your email out to subscribers.”
  • Soundest analyzed roughly 791 million emails earlier this year. They found that the best day for opens was Wednesday, and the best day for clicks was Sunday. But Thursday came in second for both opens and clicks. (To their credit, SEOPressor and Soundest both recommend testing which day is best to send for yourself.)
  • Eventbrite found that Wednesday was the best day to send for US event marketers. In the UK, it was Tuesday. But when they broke their data down by category, it was all over the map, as you can see below.
Graphic showing the best time to send an email by category

So is there a trend of when to send? Yes. It seems to be Tuesdays. Sort of.

So should you just send your emails out on Tuesdays?

No!

Here’s why: Your company probably did not participate in any of those studies. Those studies are all well and good, but those other companies’ results are not yours.

That’s hardly the only problem here, too. These studies also determine “the best” day to send based on clicks and opens. That’s a nice starter way to measure success with your emails, but what matters is sales ― revenue generated. None of these studies track that.

And here’s yet another problem: Even if your company was included in those email studies, it would be a generalization. Even if you did your own tests and determined which day was best for your list, that would still be a major missed opportunity.

Know why?

Because all those studies and tests treat all the list’s subscribers as if they were the same.

And, as you know very well …

All subscribers are not the same.

Your subscribers don’t all have the same priorities, the same reading habits, the same device habits. Heck, if you’re doing your job as an email marketer, your subscribers should not even be getting the same message all the time. You should be segmenting your subscribers based on their interests and what you have to say to them.

You can, could, and even should be personalizing the emails they get ― and not just with their names, either. You could be using dynamic content to serve up the pieces of content they’re most likely to enjoy.

This isn’t advanced stuff anymore, either. Most consumers, including B2B buyers, expect some level of personalization.

But hold on ― we’re not done yet.

The way those subscribers react to your emails isn’t based on only their interests, either. How they respond depends on where they are in the world ― what time zone they’re in. One subscriber’s 9 am on the East Coast is another’s 6 am on the West Coast. That affects how likely they are to open your emails.

To really be cutting-edge now, you need to be sending your subscribers emails when they’re most likely to open them. And that magic time is different for each subscriber.

Graphic showing Act-On’s interface for how to set your emails to go out when they’re most likely to be opened by each subscriber

But that personalized timing is hardly the final frontier. Even if you could do the perfect email marketing study of when it would be best to send to your personal list, you’d still be missing out. And missing out big time.

What we need now to succeed in this marketplace goes way beyond basic personalization and segmentation. We need to be able to personalize each customer’s email messaging based on everything listed below:

  • when they’re most likely to open;
  • what content format they’re most likely to respond to;
  • which buyer persona they fit into;
  • what their past buyer behavior or content consumption was;
  • where they are in the buyer’s journey;
  • who their primary sales contact is, or who their primary customer service contact is;
  • what their last sales or customer service contact was; and
  • if they’re more likely to respond to a message via a channel other than email (like via social media, or postal mail, or even a wacky old-school phone call).

The list could go on … but I think you get the idea.

So let’s take this to the next level.

Because even if you modeled an ideal buyer’s journey based on all of those parameters, you still wouldn’t have an ideal system.

Because every buyer is different.

Every subscriber is different ― and every buyer’s journey is different, too.

The paths your buyers are taking through their journeys to become customers are varied. Think of those journeys more like a crazy web (or maybe even a neural net) than as a tidy, well-defined path through a park.

Graphic showing that every buyer journey is different

In fact, if you really wanted to build the perfect messaging system, you’d have to take all the data from every single subscriber and every interaction all your subscribers had had, then use computers to build models based in part on that behavior and in part on whatever criteria you set.

Then you’d have to use machine learning (a type of artificial intelligence) to set the whole thing up so the computer could make educated guesses for what to send each individual subscriber every time, drawing from what the computer would know about all past subscribers’ behavior, and about each particular subscriber’s behavior.

That’d be a heck of a thing, right?

We thought so.

And we thought it would be so cool, and such a game-changer, that we invested in making it.

And it works!

Adaptive Journeys lets you send that level of sophisticated messaging to your subscribers. It includes:

Adaptive segmentation

Segmentation may not personalize for each individual subscriber, but it makes sense when you want to send an email to everyone in a particular group. The algorithm that runs Adaptive Journeys can suggest the best ways to segment your list, based on data or behavior.

Adaptive forms

Forms are critical micro-conversions along the buyer’s journey. Our system auto-magically optimizes them based on past answers and behavior.

Adaptive sending

The algorithm predicts the ideal time to send a message ― not to your entire list, but to each individual subscriber.

Adaptive scoring

Get ready to bring your lead scoring into the 21st century. Adaptive scoring lets you automate your scoring based on a matrix of parameters.

Adaptive channels

We aren’t limited to just email. Messages can also be sent via custom web page, mobile, or via social media.

So the next time somebody asks you the best day to send an email to their subscribers, you can respond: “To which subscriber, for which type of message? Oh yeah ― and are you sure email would be the best channel for that?”

Adaptive Journeys can help them find the answers to these questions.

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About

Nathan is a senior content strategist. copywriter, podcaster and video guy at Act-On Software; past director of SearchFest, owner of Content Hack, and co-founder of Trailhead Beer in PDX.