When deciding which day of the week and which time to send marketing emails, many marketers may look to external data in search of best practices. After all, using data to guide marketing efforts is inarguably a good idea, and major email providers including HubSpot, MailChimp and Campaign Monitor have released analyses which establish best practices for email send times. But is this really the right approach? Let’s dig a bit deeper.
An analysis conducted by CoSchedule of 10 recent email-timing studies compared and summarized those studies’ results. According to CoSchedule’s analysis, “late-morning send times were the most popular in general,” with sources often noting 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. as the best times. CoSchedule found that Tuesday was “hands down the #1 best day to send emails according to the majority of the data from these studies.”
Is it really that clear-cut? A closer analysis finds discrepancies that cast the reliability of these best practices into doubt. The Hubspot report, which analyzed more than 20 million emails, for example, found Tuesday to be the best day to send emails, while a MailChimp report that analyzed “several billion” emails found Thursday to be the best day. Further clouding the issue, the open-rate differences between the best and worst days were only 2 or 3 percentage points in many of these studies, and only 1 percentage point in some cases.
The problem with analyzing millions or billions of emails is that the results are highly generalized, and as a result, don’t offer insight into best practices for particular industries. For example, the MailChimp report found that while most emails it analyzed overwhelmingly had the highest open rates on weekdays, some of its subscribers (including those serving the retail and hobbies industries) experienced higher open rates during the weekends.
What these discrepancies point to is the unfortunate truth that looking at the open rates and send times of other companies doesn’t actually reveal much. The best days and times for sending emails depends on a variety of factors—many of them impossible to see or control – including the varying schedules of your audience members and the competition you may be facing from within their inboxes on any given day.
What large analyses like those cited above also fail to take into account is to what degree these numbers are driven by the quality of the content and how well it was promoted through subject lines. It doesn’t matter if you send an email on the best supposed day and at the best supposed time if readers aren’t interested in what you have to say.
Because of this, marketers looking to maximize their open rates may be better served by looking at their own data. Doing so may get them closer to identifying any industry-specific best practices that are lost when averaged into analyses of millions of emails across industries.
Most email providers these days offer plenty of tools with which you can explore the true drivers of your open rates, whether they be influenced by timing, content or perhaps something else. An analysis of best-performing emails may reveal certain subject-line keywords that draw clicks. You can then experiment with these keywords (and variations of these keywords) using A/B testing and other tools to zero-in on what works best for your particular audience.
Or you may discover that factors outside of your control, such as current events or even the weather are having a large impact. The bottom line is that you won’t know how your own audience is likely to behave in the future unless you look at how they’ve behaved in the past. Make a habit of continually tracking and analyzing your own open rates, and you’ll be one step closer.
3 Aspens Media provides email marketing consulting and support. Give us a call at 970-581-1752 or email [email protected] to learn more.