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When’s the Best Time to Send That Marketing Email?

November 28th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

If you’re like many small businesses—and especially retailers this time of year—sending out emails is a huge part of your marketing strategy. But how can you ensure your emails get opened, and clicked on, among the deluge of messages swamping recipients’ inboxes? Email marketing provider GetResponse analyzed some 21 million U.S. email marketing messages and has some useful advice about the best—and worst—times to send emails. Here’s what they found:

Retailers’ newsletters and emails are far more likely to be opened in the first hour after delivery than at any time afterwards. In the second hour, results drop by half; in the third hour, they drop by another 30 percent; and in 5 hours they dwindle by 90 percent.

Open and click rates vary widely depending on the time of day. Recipients’ top engagement times are 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Ideally, you want your email to land in the inbox one hour before these times for maximum attention and results. Sending newsletters during readers’ top engagement times can increase your average open rates and click-through rates by 6 p.m.

However, the study also found that messages sent in the afternoons and evenings were the most likely to be opened or clicked. Although morning is a top engagement time, it’s also the time when most emails are sent, so your email could be more likely to get lost.

There are other factors to keep in mind:

  • Time zones. Use time zone segmentation so an email you want to hit inboxes at 9 a.m. arrives at the appropriate time for the recipient’s time zone.
  • Know your recipients’ routines. For instance, if you send an email to a busy mom at 3 p.m. when she’s picking up the kids from school, it’s likely to sit in the in-box until homework, dinner, bathtime and bedtime are over….several hours later.
  • Know what your competitors are doing. Learn from big companies in your industry by watching when they send their emails and testing similar timing.
  • Track results. What works for the competition might not work for you—or you might want to try something “counterintuitive.” You need to assess your open and click-through rates and test different times to see what works for your business.

Image by Flickr user julianlimjl (Creative Commons)

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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