Email Newsletter Open Rates: April 2008

Think you know the best day and time to send your email marketing newsletter?

Ever wonder if your fellow email marketers are all sending at the same time you do?

Convinced your open rate is too low (or amazingly high)?

Some recent statistics pulled from all AWeber users may help you answer these questions:

What Kind of Open Rates Are People Getting?

If you’re sending HTML emails, you probably use your open rate to help gauge your success.

Even though it’s not a perfect measure of whether people are actually opening and reading your emails, it’s useful as a relative measure:

  • If it goes up over a short period of time, more people are probably reading
  • If it falls over a short period of time, it’s almost certain fewer people are reading.

Plus, all other things being equal, it can give you some motivation (if your open rates are lower than other senders’) or satisfaction (if your rates are higher).

So, here goes…

Average Open Rate Last Month: 13.6%

When Is/Was The Best Day To Send?

You’ll often hear (at least, I often hear) that Tuesday is the optimal day to send, because on Monday people are catching up from the weekend, and that on Tuesday morning you’ll have their undivided attention before they jump into their work for the upcoming week.

Do the numbers back up that theory? Let’s see.

The breakdown of open rates by day of the week:

Monday – 13.67%
Tuesday – 13.21%
Wednesday – 14.07%
Thursday – 14.52%
Friday – 13.25%
Saturday – 12.09%
Sunday – 13.26%

Last month, Tuesday was actually the second-worst day to send, at least if you’re measuring by open rates.

(While we’re breaking assumptions, I should point out this, too: the hour of the day that got the best open rate was not 8-9AM, or 9-10AM, but in fact 2-3PM Eastern Time — email newsletters sent during that hour last month enjoyed a 19.1% open rate.)

Does This Mean I Should Switch My Campaigns To Thursdays?

In a word: No.

In both March and February, Thursday newsletters got the 3rd-worst opens vs. the rest of the week.

I hesitated a little to publish these stats, because I’m concerned that people might flock to sending their newsletters at the day or time that happened to get the best results lately.

Please, don’t drastically change your sending times/days just because you see that the average last month, or any month, happened to be higher on a different day or time.

Yes, you might eventually be able to shift your sending schedule, or split test some broadcasts, but if you up and move everything, you may throw off subscribers who are used to hearing from you at the usual time.

Don’t break with your readers’ expectations just to try to follow the latest day of the week stats. You might actually reduce your open rate by doing so.

“It’s So Busy, Nobody Goes There Anymore”

To get at the other reason for not shifting your sending based on these stats, let’s paraphrase Yogi Berra (see above).

If everyone switches their sending schedule to send on say, Thursday, then recipients will start getting a ton of email that day, and start paying less attention to each individual email.

One possible reason for Thursday’s success last month may be that it wasn’t as popular as say, Tuesday or Wednesday for sending email:

Percentage of Newsletters Sent by Day

Monday – 16.0%
Tuesday – 17.7%
Wednesday – 16.9%
Thursday – 16.6%
Friday – 15.2%
Saturday – 8.8%
Sunday – 8.8%

Those higher-volume days mean more emails in readers’ inboxes, which might contribute to reduced open rates. Following that reasoning, some people may look at the low weekend volume (more email newsletters were sent on Tuesdays than on Saturdays and Sundays combined) and see an opportunity to get their audiences’ undivided attention.

My main point in showing these is to point out that our assumptions about what works are often quite wrong, and that you ultimately have to test for yourself to see what best suits your audience.

Some Inspiration… And Some Help

Are you getting better open rates than this?

If so, GREAT! Give yourself a pat on the back…

…but don’t get complacent. Open rates aren’t the be-all, end-all of email metrics. They don’t guarantee that people are reading your emails, only that they have images turned on and that they probably saw your email for at least a moment.

Plus, there’s always room for improvement, right?

Some ideas that can help you raise your open rates:

  • Ask people to add you to their address books. Some email programs will display images from senders who are in the recipient’s contact list.
  • If you are putting pictures in your emails, use the ALT text for those images to pique readers’ interest in what the picture is, so that they enable images. Or, just directly ask readers to turn on images!
  • Add a picture of yourself to your emails, near/next to your signature. People like seeing your smiling face, and if they see it in one of your emails, they may be more likely to turn on images to see it again later.

What statistics/benchmarks would you like to see and/or learn more about?

Share your requests below or email us your suggestions.


  1. Luke

    4/14/2010 12:17 am

    Hi Justin, Do you have the updated latest numbers for reference?

  2. Adwello

    6/14/2010 8:33 am

    Aweber, you have been the best service online for 12 years and with close attention to stats like these it’s no wonder. You make an art form of your science: you stylishly aim to be good at one service – providing the very best in automated email delivery. You have stuck at one task for twelve years and you excel. In my opinion no one else even gets close: you are clearly the market leader!

  3. becky

    12/10/2010 4:44 pm

    I was actually really disappointed with 46% open rate, until I started reading up about ‘open rates’!

    I’m pleased I’m doing so well in only my first newsletter. I guess the key is ‘targeted traffic’ – I’m really targeting specific readers and building a nice relationship with them, giving them time and loads of free help.

    I had 75 sign up in my first month last month since launching the blog, which I was really pleased with too…now just got to rinse lather repeat…btw, I use a monthly email newsletter – I think this is so much better than weekly ‘in your face’ emails.

    And also I let my readers ‘look forward’ to the next newsletter packed with tips, so here’s hoping the next will be as successful…I’m a complete novice, so all of you out there can do same if not better than me here!!

  4. Ankur Jain

    5/5/2011 3:05 pm

    I like this article (though it’s bit old).

    I would love to see such stats for 2011 sorted industry wise. Given the type of reach Aweber has, I’m sure you wouldn’t have problem coming up with such data.

  5. Rod

    7/1/2011 7:06 pm

    I agree with the above commenter, I would like to see the updated stats for 2011, as it would be very interesting to see how it has changed. I’m very curious to know if the order of most popular days has changed at all.