When I get asked what’s the best time to send out marketing emails, I often get pulled back to the time when email was something we did only on laptops and desktops. My old ways never left me and I needed to take a step back and rethink my position on this. Marketers often hurriedly rush to decade-old conclusions that Tuesday through Thursday mornings between 0800 and 1000 is the ideal time to reach a user’s mailbox. It’s been common knowledge that users used to read mails in the morning so that they could get on with their day. However, as customers become more mobile, I’ve noticed that emails get opened at any hour, on any device. We’re going to take a look at some trends in the email industry that we’ve grown to know and how they can impact your next email campaign.
Adweek sent out an infographic a couple of months ago that tried to do justice to the Email Marketing Benchmark for open rates. It was based on Experian and it showed that across all industries, users are surprisingly active late at nights. This is primarily because of the mobile and tablet revolution that has changed the way we personally interact with computer devices. Unique open rates averaged from 21% between 2000hrs to 0000hrs and 17% between 0000hrs and 0400hrs. What’s more surprising is that this late night bunch of users are more likely to make a click-through decision. Open rates for these two groups were measured at 4.2% and 3.2% respectively. Adweek also reported that revenue from email campaigns was the highest during the 2000hrs to 0000hrs slot. This shouldn’t come at a surprise since now nearly 54% of all emails are read on mobile devices.
In 2016, a Deloitte Mobile Consumer Survey found that 40% of mobile users check their phones and interact with it within five minutes of waking up each morning. Once their day is over, 30% of email consumers check their devices before going to sleep. Out of which, 50% check their devices between going to sleep and waking up in the morning. With consumers actively using their mobiles out of their standard 9-5 routines, testing your campaign sends outside conventional hours, not only makes sense, but is essential.
When we talk about which day of the week we should send out these emails, emails sent on Mondays have a higher ROI than rest of the week. On the other hand, emails sent on Friday had a higher click-through rate. Ironically, Saturday and Sunday have the lowest volume rates but they boast of the highest CTRs I have ever seen. So even though it may seem that weekends are the right time to send out emails, statistics show that those that open them are more likely to engage with your campaign and eventually click on your call to action.
It has been seen that lesser promotional email campaigns are scheduled for weekends. In turn this has given competitors an opportunistic gateway to take advantage of an empty weekend mailbox. Experian’s email study found that users react and interact with emails more on weekends. The unique open rate for Saturday and Sunday amounts to 17% for both days which bumps it to be the highest percentage of the week. Now, before you get about sending all your emails for the weekend, I’d recommend that you first test out this theory for your own product by segregating a list you have. Split your users based on preferences and batch them into Group A and Group B. Send ‘A’ a set of marketing emails over the weekend and let ‘B’ look at the same email on Tuesday. Do not rely on a single case to give you results. Test it out a couple of weeks and then conjure up an inference.
When I looked a little more closely at the Experian study, I found out that not only did 54% of emails open on mobile devices but this number seems to be on a rise.
When you do try out this theory for yourself, make sure your call to actions are clear and crisp. Don’t forget that CTRs for mobile devices are lower than that of desktops, laptops or tablets. So make sure your email has links that are easy to navigate and use. What people do not realise is that email open rates also depends on the type of device users have. Studies show that tablet users are more likely to click on links inside emails outside of business hours. On the other hand, Desktop users are more likely to open mails during business hours. Use your email analytics software to track which users use what device to open mails and you should have more clarification on how to approach your campaigns. Finally, always remember that if a user isn’t able to read your email, he/she is not going to end up clicking on your CTA. So, make sure your email meets all standards of responsiveness that fits for most devices that your users have.
If you see a dip in your open rates while testing out your user’s preferences, remember that there are other factors that also could be contributing to it’s decline. Here’s a list of things I’ve compiled that can help you with your campaign’s open and click-through rates.
Test to see if your email renders well in multiple browsers along with different clients and service providers. Check out BrowserStack or Litmus to get an idea of how you can achieve this. Remember, optimise for responsiveness.
Review your email list to see how old it has become. Remember that your users are as old as your list. So if you have mature audiences that have grown with time, reach out to them in a segregated list. This plays a very crucial role in understanding what time you should send our your next email campaign.
Rock that subject line with a CTA that’s hard to miss. Your email has one opportunity to shine and your subject line is where all that magic happens.
Watch out for frequency. If you are sending too many emails once too often, slow it down. Play it cool by segmenting your lists so that your users don’t get pissed off.
Read email analytics and segment your users based on their personal preferences. There’s a lot to do here. Group your users based on what they like, don’t like etc. One you are able to group these lists based on educated decisions, you will know which group needs what kind of email and at what time.