If you’re anything like me, you care a lot about your email marketing analytics. You’ve probably wondered: what’s the best time of day to send my emails? Or what’s the best day of the week? Minute of the hour? Maybe that’s too granular, but the reason it matters is simple: you want to get more people to open your email so they can click on your CTAs and you can eventually convert them into a lead.
There are countless articles across the Internet that track others’ emails to draw their own conclusions. However, they take samples from non-marketing emails, B2C emails and industries that are irrelevant to your business. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re sending B2B marketing emails for the digital marketing industry. I have relevant, real-world experience I’d like to share with you after sending hundreds of B2B emails to thousands of digital marketing recipients.
Before I begin, I’d like to address that there are a number of variables that affect your open rates, such as the subject line, sender and preview. And there are a number of factors that influence your click-through rates, including concise content, effective CTAs and more. These variables make it difficult for anyone to scientifically determine the optimal time to send. However, there is business value in determining which times work best for your company to send B2B marketing emails.
We analyzed three unique campaigns that Vendasta is continually running: a webinar invite, a weekly newsletter for partners and a weekly newsletter for prospects.
Every week, Vendasta invites its partners and their salespeople to a sales webinar. Since late 2014, we’ve sent 71 invites. To determine what times works best, we’ve tried sending these emails on different days of the week. We even got pretty creative by taking a stab at the weekend.
Vendasta also sends a weekly newsletter to its partners. Dubbed “the Product Insider,” this email provides partners with an inside look at new and upcoming product releases, webinars, events and blogs. Since the beginning of 2015, we’ve sent a total of 61 Product Insider emails.
And last but not least, Vendasta sends a different variation of our weekly newsletter to our prospects. This email focuses on downloadable content and clear CTAs, while removing partner-specific aspects such as sales webinars. This variation is particularly noteworthy because it’s sent to recipients that aren’t currently partners of Vendasta’s, meaning they’re less reliant on these communications week-to-week. Since the start of 2015, we’ve sent 61 of these emails.
For each email, we monitor a variety of email analytics, including open, click-to-open (CTO), click-through (CTR), read/skim and bounce rates. For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on the open and CTO rates. Using various formulas, we built a table that included the open and CTO rates for each day of the week along with the time of day.
Combining the analytics for the three aforementioned email campaigns, here are the results.
Email analytics by day of week:
Email analytics by time of day:
What is the best day of the week to send B2B marketing emails?
Six days of the week (Saturday being the outlier) saw an above-average open rate (the average open rate for the marketing and advertising industry was 18.22% as of May 3, 2016, according to MailChimp). Mondays and Tuesdays were the most successful days, while the remaining weekdays sat right around the industry average for open rates. The lone email on Saturday bombed for the open rate, but did quite well for the click-to-open rate, while the lone email on Sunday hugged the industry average for the open rate.What is the best day of the week to send B2B marketing emails?
In the total sample of 193 unique marketing emails, two days particularly stand out.
The average open rate for emails delivered on Mondays was 4.70% higher than the industry average. Oddly enough, most articles suggest that you don’t send emails on Monday because people are so busy starting their week that they don’t have time to open their email. But as I’ll explain later on, you should be cognizant of the time of day more so than the day of the week.
“The average open rate for emails delivered on Mondays was 4.70% higher than the industry average.” - Tweet This Stat
The other day that stands out is Tuesday. The average open rate for emails delivered on Tuesday was 3.39% higher than the industry average. This result is fairly consistent with other articles you may find online.
Aside from these two days, we found that there was virtually no correlation between the day of week and open rates.
So what should you do? As I mentioned, we found that Monday works best for us, but you need to determine which day works best for you.
- Identify the needs and behaviour of your target audience. Do they absolutely need to know about something at the start of the week? Which timezone do they live in?
- Experiment with different days of the week. Test out new days and see how it goes.
- Don’t be afraid to fail. Treat every email as a learning experience.
- Keep track of your email analytics. Once you start seeing patterns, you can make more informed decisions. If your marketing automation provider doesn’t provide analytics by time of day or day of week, you might find this spreadsheet highly valuable. It’ll automatically calculate your average open and CTO rates for specific days or times. All you have to do is enter your subject line, day of week, time of day, open rate and CTO rate.
- Once you find certain days are working for you, start sending on those days more often.
But don’t stop there! Once you understand the day of the week that works best for you, you should also determine the time of day that works best for you.
What is the best time of the day to send B2B marketing emails?
Out of the 14 different time ranges we monitored, only one was below the industry average: 8:00-8:59am, with an 11.32% average. Mind you, we only sent one email so other factors may have contributed to this brutal rate.
In the total sample of 193 unique marketing emails, the evening had the greatest open rates. The morning averaged 19.56%, afternoon (12-5PM) averaged 21.33% and evening (5PM onwards) averaged 22.92%. In terms of CTO rates, the morning average 6.97%, the afternoon averaged 6.50% and the evening averaged 7.33%.
In the graph below, you can actually see a slight positive correlation between time of day and open rates, while you’ll notice little-to-no correlation between time of day and CTO rates.
Surprisingly, open rates for emails sent between 7-8PM CDT were 5.72% greater than the industry average. Equally as surprising, the next best time range was 6-7PM CDT, which saw an open rate 5.14% higher than the industry average.
“Open rates for emails sent between 7-8PM CDT were 5.72% greater than the industry average.” - Tweet This Stat
Funny enough, the majority of our partners are in the Eastern timezone, so they’re actually receiving their emails even later! But why would the evening be so successful?
Here’s my theory. Most people send marketing emails during the day because that’s when they’re working, and that’s also the time most articles suggest to send marketing emails. But remember, your recipients are also working, and they may be too busy—or simply too impatient—to open marketing emails.
In the evening, you’re at home. You make supper, watch TV, spend time with the kids, scroll through Facebook and check your email. While you’re checking your personal email, you may as well check your work email, right? So in your downtime, when things are finally a little less hectic, you get the chance to catch up and potentially get ahead. Hence, higher open rates.
So what should you do? The key takeaway is: don’t always follow convention. Here’s what you should try:
- Again, the best time to send B2B marketing emails depends on the needs and behaviour of your target audience. Which timezone does your target audience live in? What job position do your recipients hold? Are retail sales managers going to check their email at 3pm on a Saturday? Probably not.
- Try sending emails at different times throughout the day, except mornings—according to our data, and others’, mornings are likely to give you poor open rates.
- Seriously, take a little risk and try seemingly-wacky times, like 7pm. It’s a good chance for you to learn what time is best for your business. Don’t worry, in most cases, you won’t severely harm your rates. Even if you do, figure out what you did wrong and then don’t do it again!
- I can’t stress it enough: monitor your email analytics! It only takes a few minutes every week. Consider tracking open rates, CTO rates and click-through rates.
- Once you find which times of day work best for your business, start sending at that specific time more often.
“The best time to send B2B marketing emails depends on the needs and behaviour of your target audience.” - Tweet This
As you can tell, time can have major implications on open and CTO rates, and it is a valuable factor to be aware of. Your business and target audience are unique. Identify the time that works best for your company and you’ll be on your way to more opens and click-throughs. When you combine a trustworthy time with an effective subject line, your email analytics will flourish.
Stay tuned—in the coming weeks, I’ll explain several other factors you should optimize for every marketing email.
Do you find a specific time works best for your company? Please share your experience in the comments section below!