The Best Time to Send Your Newsletter: The Latest Email Marketing Research

By Lisa Hirst Carnes | December 2021

email-timing

Email marketing has long been one of the most effective ways to stay in touch with your customers, constituents,  community, and prospects. Sending out a newsletter has many benefits, such as building your authority, informing your followers about your latest offers, and sending people to your website, videos, and social media pages. However, email marketing has gotten very competitive. It's a challenge to get subscribers to open your messages, much less take action. One important factor that greatly affects your open rates and conversions is when you send your messages.

Why is Timing So Important?

One of the biggest advantages of email over other, older forms of communication such as postal mail and phone calls is that you can send a message at any time, and let recipients read the message at their convenience. Why, then, should it matter when you send a message? If you're sending an email to a friend or family member, it doesn't matter much when you send it, unless it's about a pressing matter, in which case you'd probably call or text. With business emails, however, it's a different story. There are a few reasons why timing is so crucial.

  • Most of your subscribers get lots of business and promotional emails. If you send your newsletter when they aren't logged on, your message can get overlooked among hundreds of others. 
  • If you want recipients to take action on your messages, it's best to reach them when they're alert and in an active mode rather than, say, watching TV at night.
  • At certain times, such as Monday mornings, people's inboxes tend to be flooded, making it less likely that they'll open your newsletter.
  • Some offers are time-sensitive. If you're promoting a sale or event, you want to give people time to respond, but not so far in advance that it seems distant.
  • Timing may affect deliverability. There's always the chance that business or marketing emails will end up in spam folders. Email service providers use many factors to determine which messages are legitimate and which are spam, including the sender's reputation, which includes open rates and engagement. If your open rates are too low, there's a greater risk of messages being labeled as spam. This can set off a vicious cycle that lowers your open rates even more. 

How to Determine the Best Time to Send Your Newsletter

When planning your email schedule, you have to realize that there's no one perfect time that's right for everyone. On the other hand, data suggests that certain times are better than others. Here are some guidelines to follow.

Who Is Your Audience?

When calculating the right schedule, consider the demographics and habits of your audience. For example:

  • Do they work a traditional 9-5 schedule? 
  • Are they entrepreneurs who may work less predictable hours?
  • What time zone are they in? If you have subscribers in many locations, you'll have to factor in their time zones when sending them emails. 
  • Are they millennials, or members of Generation Z? Depending on whether they are students, employed or self-employed, they may wake up and stay up later than older people. Additionally, younger users are more likely to open an email on mobile devices, so they're less tethered to traditional work hours. 
  • Are they older adults or retirees? People in this group are less likely to have traditional hours but may go to bed early. 
  • What devices do they tend to use? People are generally more active on desktops and laptops earlier in the day. However, if a large portion of your subscribers opens their email on mobile phones, they are likely active well into the evening. 

How Often Do You Publish Your Newsletter?

The number of messages you send is another factor to consider when planning your mailing schedule. If you send your newsletter weekly or less (such as bi-weekly or monthly), you have leeway in choosing the day. If you send it twice or more per week, you may need to send it over the weekend as well as during the workweek. It may be advisable to alter the frequency of your mailings based on your results. For example, if you send a newsletter twice per week and find that one of the mailings gets more than double the open rate, you may decide to scrap the second mailing and fit everything into a single mailing. 

What Does the Research Reveal?

With the caveat that you have to do your own research, it's still worthwhile to pay attention to what existing data says about open rates. 

  • More emails are opened during the day than at night. According to HubSpot, the top open rates are 10 AM, 1 PM, and 6 PM. 
  • Weekdays are generally better than weekends for sending messages.
  • The middle of the week -Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday- are the best days, as Monday mornings are chaotic for many people, while on Friday they are getting ready for the weekend. 

Despite this, there's also evidence that days of the week are less important for open rates and conversions than they used to be. According to Statista, open rates are fairly similar, between 17% and 18% every day of the week. This may be due to more people working remotely as well as the increased use of mobile devices. 

You always need to consider your own industry and audience when devising your mailing schedule. Depending on what kind of content you're creating, you may need to break traditional rules on timing. For example, if your newsletter is about outdoor and leisure activities, weekends may be a good time to reach people who are ready to plan an adventure. On a similar note, if your newsletter is about entertainment events, subscribers may welcome receiving it on Friday night as they make weekend plans. 

Test Your Results

There are no universal principles for scheduling your emails that work all the time. You have a unique product and your own set of customers. Furthermore, things change and the data takes a little time to catch up. That's why it's essential to constantly test your results, including open rates, click-throughs, and conversions. There's no substitute for compiling your own data. 

Use A/B testing to isolate variables. A/B or split testing simply means testing two variables. For example, you might send your newsletter out one week on Wednesday and Friday the following week, to compare results. You may also want to test other variables, such as different call-to-action buttons, or subject lines. It's best to test one variable at a time. If you try to test multiple factors, it's harder to interpret your results. For example, if you change a CTA button and send your newsletter out on a different day, you won't know if differing results are due to the CTA button or the timing. 

Testing is something you should be doing on a regular basis. If the results of a single test are inconclusive, repeat it. Keep testing different variables. Remember that external factors can change your results. For example, when many people had to stay home in 2020, traditional advice on when to send emails became less relevant. Since conditions are always changing, you need to run tests continually. 

Identify the Best Times to Send Your Newsletter

When it comes to email marketing, many factors determine your results. You need compelling subject lines, informative content, strong calls-to-action, and a professional layout. However, the timing of your messages is another crucial element that you can't afford to overlook. Study the research, keep your target audience in mind, experiment with different schedules, and determine what schedule works best for you. 

Need help with email marketing or any aspect of marketing? ArcStone offers storytelling, SEO, SEM, hosting, beautiful WordPress sites, and more for thoughtful brands and nonprofits. To learn more, contact us.

Topics: Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing Services