Any veteran email marketer will tell you that this business is centralized on timing more than anything else. You can have your entire emailing game down-packed — from design, copy, primary folder optimization, and even subject line perfection — but if you don’t keep timing in mind, you’ll never achieve the kind of engagement you’re after. By timing, we don’t just mean time of day, either — marketers must make sure that they capitalize their emails by sending them out on the right time of week, month, and year as well. Email marketing is a complex game rich in depth; it must be carried out in precisely the right way, at exactly the right time.
Time of Week, Month, and Year
As we’ve all noticed by now, our moods and behaviors are largely influenced on the day of the week. Look at the Monday Blues, for example, and how it hits the workforce as a whole in full force every week. The same can be said for “Thank God it’s” Fridays. Every day of the week has its own particular vibe, which is itself largely dependent on the month and season it happens to fall into. “If you examine your own behavior, it’s no secret that the day of the week determines our activities, and habits can be completely disrupted by a holiday,” offers Huffington Post contributor George Beall. “As an example, the number of emails in October peaks on Thursday and Friday. However, in November, the highest-trafficked day is almost always Monday, as usage skyrockets on Cyber Monday. While the average is somewhat distorted, because of the activity that day, the statistic stands.”
Time of Day
While it is true that the most optimized emailing days of the week depend largely on the holidays of the month at hand and the season they fall into, traffic in regards to time of day is, for the most part, quite stable, and independent of the month. The best time to send emails is largely considered to be between 11am and 3pm, with the next best time frame being between 7am and 11am. Essentially, email marketing is optimized in the mornings and in the early afternoon. 1pm to 5pm takes third place, particularly when the holidays come around. However, that’s not to say that the prospect of nighttime emails should be ignored entirely. “Needless to say, sending emails during the night isn’t the most popular business practice. Email numbers drop to their lowest between 11pm and 7am EST — but it might be a good idea to experiment with this time period,” muses Beall. “Night owls actually tend to be more likely to look at your email, with an average open rate of 21.7% from 8pm to midnight, and 17.6% between midnight and 4am. Blame it on our round-the-clock work schedule with blurring work-vs-play boundaries, but the advice ‘don’t send email late at night’ is no longer relevant.”
Embrace the Fourth Quarter
Like clockwork, the holidays roll around each and every single year, and they always bring a highly active fourth quarter along with them. “The fourth quarter always dwarfs the others in number of emails sent, and often approaches double the amount of emails sent in the third quarter,” writes Beall. “While it’s not hard to guess that these are due to all of the holiday shopping emails, there’s a piece of good news that many overlook: open rates in the fourth quarter are 6 percent, which is the second highest rate of the year. Your consumers are actually looking at those emails!”