The answer is…
Let’s face it…you knew this was coming. There isn’t one. If there was, then you almost assuredly would have heard of it well before reading this blog. Whether or not your email is opened and read depends on several factors, the vast majority of which are entirely outside of your control. Outside of Obi-Wan Kenobi forcing your contacts to open and read your email (pun absolutely intended), there isn’t a magic formula that will automatically save your virtual mail from the virtual trash. Frankly, don’t bother trying to find the answer online. You will only find studies performed on millions of emails that seem to contradict each other! (More on that later). Instead, ask a different question… “How can I improve my email campaigns?”
First, lets familiarize ourselves with a couple common terms and acronyms:
- Open Rate: The number of emails opened divided by the number of emails sent. For example: If you send 100 emails, and 10 are opened, then you Open-Rate is 10%
- Click-Through Rate (CTR): The number of emails that receive clicks, divided by the number of emails sent. For example: if you send 100 emails, and 5 are opened AND clicked through, your CTR is 5%
Looking at the data
Let’s look at a few of the studies conducted and the conclusions they come to. In preparing to write this blog, I reviewed more than seven different articles that tackled this same topic; and when I compare and contrast their data, I still couldn’t pinpoint a day or time that emails have noticeably improved odds of getting a response. Here’s a very high-level overview of a the conclusions drawn from just a few:
- Article #1: https://customer.io/blog/timing-week-day-email-sending-schedule/
- Best Open Rate
- Day(s): Tuesday
- Time: Early Afternoon
- Best CTR
- Later in the week, including weekends
- Unique Takeaway: Upon arriving to work, many contacts start their day by checking email with the specific intention to clean-out their mailboxes. While your email may be seen, there is a higher likelihood for it to be trashed due to this “clean-house” mentality.
- Best Open Rate
- Article #2: https://www.getresponse.com/blog/best-time-to-send-email-infographic
- Best Open Rate
- Day: Friday/later in the week
- Time: 4am
- Best CTR
- Day: Tuesday
- Time: 6am
- Best Open Rate
- Article #3: https://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/email-marketing/best-time-to-send-email-campaigns-by-device
- Key Takeaway: Thanks to mobile devices, nearly 50% of emails are opened after normal business hours
Looking at the data from the articles above, their “best” dates and times were inconsistent…even contradictory. However, none of them are wrong, because each one raised the importance of understanding your target audience. Remember, each of these studies was performed with different target audiences, likely in different regions, different products and solutions, and the emails themselves may have had different goals! This is why it’s virtually impossible to establish a “best” day and time; there are far too many variables to control!
So, what can you do?
Thankfully, there is some good news. While I’m not able to provide a definitive day and time to send your emails, there are some best practices you can start applying to your campaigns right away. While they didn’t agree on when to send your emails, every article was consistent when it came to some other best-practices:
Avoid Monday and Start-of-Day
Think about what you do at the start of your day. After going through your personal morning routine, such as a workout and/or a cup of coffee, you’ll sit down at your computer and likely open up your email. Your intention: to clean it out. Personally, I use the start of my day to “Star” the emails I need to respond to, and trash anything I don’t. Any “Sales” emails in my box are significantly more likely to be trashed during this time. Monday compounds this mentality of “clean first, read later” as I am cleaning my box of a weekend’s worth of emails. If you must send on a Monday, wait until the afternoon, when boxes have been cleaned.
Know your audience
This sounds daunting, but in all actuality, you can learn quite a bit about your contacts relatively quickly.
- Industry: ConstantContact performs regular studies on open-rates based on industry. Their results can be found here. This is a great place to start when researching your target audience.
- Devices: Remember that more and more prospects are using mobile devices to collaborate. If you know someone prefers their phone, ensure that you make your email friendly toward that device.
- KPIs: What is the role of the person you are contacting? Do you know how they are compensated? Focus on that particular KPI in your emails to them.
- Interests: Through social media, such as LinkedIn, you may discover a hobby or interest of your prospect. If you can take advantage of this in your email, you will stand out!
You may not get a response for awhile on your emails. However, by choosing a time and sticking with it, you are indirectly setting the expectation of your emails. Newsletters, bulletins, or updates on a regular schedule an show positive results!
Think about your message
What is the goal of your email? Are you only interested in an open; or are you requesting a particular response from the contact? As you learn more about your target audience, you will get a sense of when they are more likely to simply open your email, and when they will click. Be sure to schedule your campaigns appropriately.
Test, Test, Test!
If you have the ability to analyze Open-Rate and CTR on your emails, be sure to pay particular attention to that data! It can be tempting to simply send all of your emails at once; but consider breaking up your campaign. If you are going to send one-thousand emails, break it down into two or three smaller groups and experiment with sending the same message at different times. This will give you a clearer picture of when your specific prospects will be more likely to engage with you.
Make your email stand out!
This one is kind of a “duh,” but for some reason, so many sellers don’t do it! Standard text-based emails that use the same formula are flooding mailboxes around the globe. Yet despite all of the new tools available, we aren’t evolving! For example, virtually every study performed will tell you that using video in your message will increase the likelihood it is viewed! However, how many video-emails are you getting every day? Almost none? Change is difficult, but it is also an opportunity for you! When you start doing something that nobody else is, you will definitely stand out.
You can’t cheat. Sales is a game, and there isn’t an unbeatable play you can make. You have to play the game against an opponent that is -at the beginning- stronger, faster, and you don’t really have a strategy in mind. That said, you can win, and the rewards will be well worth the struggle. Follow the guidelines above, and you should see a noticeable impact on the success of your emails!