Infographic: Email open rates by time of day
MarketingSherpa has been covering email marketing for a long time. And, while we’re always interested in the latest tactics, marketers still must never overlook the basics.
For example, email timing. Searching through the MarketingSherpa Article Archive, I found this blog post from 2003, which refers to a case study where time of day helped a marketer garner open rates higher than 70%.
When is the best time to send an email?
This topic is definitely the “Email Marketing 101” question about which any marketer breaking into major email campaigns still wants information.
To take a more quantitative dive into the question of timing email, GetResponse Email Marketing decided to go into its substantial dataset for some research.
This involved analyzing 21 million messages sent from U.S. email accounts during the first quarter of 2012 to determine the top result for the following metrics:
- Open time
- Click-through time
- Recipients’ top engagement time
To provide a little more context on this infographic and GetResponse’s research, I had a few questions for Hanna Andrzejewska, Communication and Marketing Specialist at GetResponse.
MarketingSherpa: What was the impetus behind this research?
Hanna Andrzejewska: We wanted to check if timing actually matters, what might be the factors that shape recipients inbox habits, and if they actually affect engagement metrics. Additionally, we wanted to identify and describe the key elements of optimizing those metrics in relation to timing.
MS: Were any of the results surprising? Did anything really stand out from this research?
HA: Four things:
- The really important finding was that all messages, no matter what time they were scheduled for, get most opens within the first hour from delivery (up to 23%).
- This means that if a message is sent too early (or too late) to top engagement times, it will miss the chance of reaching its maximum results. It simply cannot wait in the inbox for too long.
- The research confirmed that the subscribers are most engaged with their inbox content during the working hours: Scanning emails is the first thing they do when they start work — 8-10 a.m. Then, their inbox activity goes down, with the lowest results around lunch, and goes up again shortly before leaving work — 3-4 p.m.
- An interesting thing is that the average click rate also increases around 8 p.m., which might mean that this is the time when recipients read through their messages with more attention.
MS: Given these general practices, what can an email marketer do to optimize the timing of their specific campaigns? Are there steps they can take, or methods of testing their email database to refine the best time to send email?
HA: One, schedule your message delivery to match the top engagement times so that [it] doesn’t wait in the mailbox for more than one hour.
Two, aiming at the afternoon upsurge will let you avoid the morning clutter (more marketers schedule their messages to land in inboxes between 6-12 p.m.).
MS: What is your key takeaway from this research?
HA: It’s that timing matters a lot and that you can identify the patterns for your subscribers’ inbox behavior quite easily, so careful scheduling should be a part of the email marketing routine of every marketer.
Additionally, marketers who send out globally should use time-zone based segmentation to maximize their messages results exactly for the same reasons – if a message waits too long in the inbox, its chances of being open decrease rapidly with every hour, and after 24 hours, [its chances] are close to zero.
Testing best practices
We hope you find this analysis helpful. Of course, as with any aggregate data or best practices, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you that MarketingSherpa suggests you test what timing works best for your scheduled and triggered email sends.
Best Time To Send Email [INFOGRAPHIC] (blog post on infographics from GetResponse)