How to Figure Out Your Optimal Email Send Time
Discover the best time to send emails to your subscribers. Use this knowledge to boost open rates and drive results.
By Olivia Dello Buono March 6, 2017
At its core, email is communication. And communication requires two parts: the sender and receiver.
If the receiver isn’t in the right frame of mind to process your message, you might as well be talking to yourself. Like any form of communication, your emails are going to have more of an impact if you use timing to your advantage.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at how email send times can impact your overall email marketing performance, as well as ways to optimize send times for success.
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The stats don’t lie
A study from the University of Southern California reveals the importance of timing. It shows that if people are going to respond to an email, they’re most likely to do so within two minutes of opening it.
From there, the likelihood of a response starts to dwindle. If someone doesn’t take action within 48 hours, they probably won’t.
That means if you’re not sending emails when people are most ready to respond to your calls to action, you may be missing important opportunities.
With that in mind, let’s talk about when you should be sending emails to make the biggest impact.
The absolute best time to send an email (maybe)
So when exactly is the best time to send an email? It’s 5:16 a.m. EST.
Or at least it is if your name is Seth Godin. Seth sends an email nearly every day at that exact time.
But your name isn’t Seth Godin.
Seth has figured out that early morning is the time to reach his audience. However, what works for Seth might not work for everyone. For example, if you have a call to action that requires someone to make a purchase or sign up for something, you might be better off sending your message after people have had their first cup of coffee.
It’s important to consider what you’re asking people to do, and when they’re most likely to be in the frame of mind to do it.
Test your send times
Because the optimal send time is different for everyone, your best bet is to run a few experiments to find out when your audience is most likely to open your emails.
If you know your target audience, you can probably make an assumption about when you think they’ll be most in the mood to engage with your subject matter. But, of course, you want to test your assumptions.
Deliberately schedule your next few emails at a variety of different times, and on different days. You can easily do this with AWeber’s split testing tool.
What works for one sender may be totally different for another, but here are a few starting points to consider when testing email send times:
- Studies show that Tuesdays may be the best day to send email, according to a meta-analysis by CoSchedule that looked at 14 different studies of email open rates. Thursday was the second-best day, followed by Wednesday.
- The same report states that the best open times are 10 a.m. EST, followed by 8 p.m. to midnight EST, and then 2 p.m. EST. Those are big time ranges, sure, but they also give you parameters for your first few split tests. (For instance, you could send the same email to 33% of your audience at 10 a.m., 33% of your audience at 8 p.m., and 34% of your audience at 2 p.m. Watch the results to see what email had the highest open rates. Then, send your next email message to the entire group at the winning time.)
People of different ages were likely to take action on an email at different times, too, according to the University of South Carolina study. Among people who were likely to respond to an email:
- Younger people replied faster, with teens logging an average email response time of 13 minutes.
- People aged 20 to 35 responded an average of 16 minutes after opening an email.
- Those aged 35 to 50 responded in an average of 24 minutes.
- People 51 and older responded in about 47 minutes.
If you’re targeting a group that takes longer to respond, you may want to test out earlier send times. That way, people will have a chance to take action before the end of the work day, or before they go to bed. If you have a younger target audience, you may find that night time is the right time.
Ready to find your optimal send time?
Email marketing is part art, part science, and part luck. And by split testing new ways to optimize your send times, you can help improve your open rates and achieve greater email success.
Want to split test your emails? Sign up for a FREE 30-day trial with AWeber. Many email marketing platforms limit what you can split test. Take Constant Contact and ConvertKit. They only allow you to split test subject lines. With AWeber, you can split test nearly every aspect of your emails — subject lines, send times, copy, templates, buttons, and more! This gives you the power to optimize your email strategy.
Want to learn about other tweaks and techniques to level up your email game? Check out the Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing.