The optimal time for you to send out your email marketing campaigns (or blasts) may be much different than what you imagine.

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Instinctually, you may feel that your subscribers are more likely to read emails in the early morning, before their business day starts. But readers rarely behave the way you expect them to (or the way you behave).

So what’s the very best time to send email campaigns?

It turns out that first thing in the morning may not a great time to schedule your emails. So how can you optimize the timing to get the best open rates? By taking advantage of the features that your mail system has built-in for you. And this goes for blogs and most your other email marketing efforts.

Mailchimp has a great tool that recommends the best time for me to send emails based upon subscriber habits combined with their own research. Recently I’ve tested this feature and it turns out that early morning is NOT the best time for me to send out my emails. It’s actually 3:00pm.

Check out the results of my latest test:

Emails sent at 9 am had a 19% open rate
Emails sent at 3 pm had a 24.5% open rate

With the campaign sent at 9am I saw a more distinct drop right away and it stayed pretty flat all day. On the other hand, the email sent at 3pm (both days were Tuesday) had a softer decline, and picked up a number of opens in the morning of the next day. But the real test in the open rate. The 5.5 percent different is a big one. The number of link clicks was higher there, as well.

There’s another twist to this, too. Behavior (open rates, time spent consuming content, engagement, etc.) is also tied directly to the type of device your audience is using at the time your email arrives. There’s some interesting research around this and it suggests that people tend to be on their mobile devices in the early morning while eating breakfast, commuting, waiting on a coffee line, and the like. And during those times they are less likely to open an email that seems to require more attention than just a quick glance. I get emails all the time that I really want to read, but by the time I have a moment, they have moved way down the list, out of my view.

So, the best time to send an email campaign is the time that works for your list. I highly recommend that you use the features and analytics your mail system provides and do some testing of your own.

And, if you can get your emails ready more than 24 hours in advance, some systems (Mailchimp’s Timewarp, for example) will drip them out based upon the individual time zones of your subscribers. So, if it’s 3pm on the east coast where I am, subscribers on the west coast won’t get my emails at noon, but instead, at 3pm their time.

Thanks for reading!

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