You put a lot of effort into your newsletters.
You fret over the right design to use (or whether to design your emails at all). You take your time picking the right headline. If you’re promoting a blog, you might spend hours compiling a “greatest posts” list. If you’re selling an online course, you might stress over every word in the welcome email.
So why would anyone working that hard let something as simple as timing mess everything up?
You don’t have to. Email timing is all about knowing your audience. And while there are some rules of thumb to help guide you with generalized audiences, specifics are better. The more you know about who you’re targeting, where they live, and what they expect when they sign up, the more you’ll master the art of timing.
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Even with that said, it helps to have a foundation of what typically works. What days are best? What hours? Then, the more you learn about your audience, you’ll know when to break these rules as well.
The best days to send emails
You might be sitting on the finest newsletter you’ve ever written. But if you send it out at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night to a demographic of 20-25-year-olds, there’s a good chance it will get ignored.
No matter who your audience is, there are some typical best days to send emails. And it always helps to know them before you ever click “send.”
Send your newsletters on weekdays
Your best bet is to send newsletters out on weekdays. According to a Hubspot report, earlier in the week is better, but weekdays are especially effective. Of these weekdays, Mondays and Wednesdays performed best in the report.
Why? Chances are, your customers are more likely to check their emails when they’re awake, active, and in the middle of a workweek.
The data indicates significant drop-offs on the weekends, when people are more likely to be outside and away from the inbox. According to HubSpot, the closer you can get to weekdays—usually that means Sunday night—the more likely you are to have high opening rates.
Additional data confirms this while adding a subtle point: although the Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday model is a good rule of thumb, data suggests that Tuesdays tend to have higher click-through rates, while Thursdays are good for opening rates. In other words, people are most likely to take action on Tuesdays, and most likely to view an email on Thursdays.
Our takeaway: as a rule of thumb, Mondays through Thursdays work best.
Which days of the month are best?
Despite how the calendar may look, no two weeks are alike. OmniSend found that some weeks are better than other weeks, which should be a consideration for anyone who has to send out seasonal offerings with their newsletters.
OmniSend found that the first two weeks of the month tend to be better than the latter two weeks. Days 1-10 of the month saw opening rates of 18% and CTR (click-through rates) of 5.59%.
Later in the month, averages would drop slightly, with opening rates moving down to 17% and CTR down to 5.24%. The numbers are slight, but they were reflected in the average orders, as well, resulting in a difference of about one-half an order per email.
Later in the month tends to be worse for open rates and orders—particularly, data shows the 25th and 27th of the month as being difficult days.
What can we glean from the data? There are a few universal rules of thumb when looking at email statistics globally:
- The best time of the week is a weekday, especially in the middle of the week. Think of the weekend as the antidote to high opening rates and clicks. That makes any day from Monday through Thursday as close to optimal as you can get it.
- Stick to the beginnings of the month when possible. The beginning of the month is when the monthly budget is fresh, the credit card statements are paid for, and customers are looking for something new.
The best hour (or time of day) to send newsletters
There are some subtle differences in the above data. So is it really possible to pinpoint which hour might be best to send out your newsletters?
You’d be surprised. Many of us work with a traditional nine-to-five schedule, which means that email opening rates tend to “funnel” into specific time periods.
For example, mornings tend to be strong. Data found that the majority (58%) of customers will check their email right away in the morning. Sending your newsletter in the early hours will ensure that the email is ready and waiting to start the day.
OmniSend found this to be the case, arguing that the best hour of the day to send emails was in the morning at 8 a.m. However, they did note that email campaigns sent at 10 a.m. in the morning had great opening rates, even if they suffered in terms of the orders they generated.
Does this mean that you should only send emails at 8 a.m. or 10 a.m.? Or only on certain days?
Keep in mind that emails should also be in line with what customers expect. A newsletter like The Daily Stoic, currently powered by ConvertKit, tends to perform better when it’s already in a customer’s email inbox by morning. Many of its subscribers view it as a daily meditation, akin to the morning cup of coffee.
The same is true for Morning Brew, which promises a quick, digestible format for the morning news. What would happen if the Morning Brew waited until late in the day? By then, its audience may have already seen the news show up in their social feeds and their favorite website.
Don’t send your newsletters until you’ve considered these keys
The above constitute some nice rules of thumb. If you know nothing else about your audience, they make for good ways to time your newsletters without feeling like you’re poking around in the dark.
But keep in mind that even rules of thumb can—and sometimes should—be broken.
Your newsletter may have a unique audience with different expectations. And timing your newsletters to coincide with these expectations is a must.
For offers, prepare your newsletters a few days in advance
Let’s say that you run a highly seasonal business or want to launch an effective campaign for Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. Some data suggests that the day before Thanksgiving is a great time to send out a newsletter that might promote a certain product that’s about to be on sale.
It’s also important to consider how your individual newsletter might appear within an email sequence. If you want someone making a purchase on Black Friday, you wouldn’t send them the first email in that sequence on Black Friday–it would only serve to introduce a product that should have already been introduced by then.
Consider the time zone of your target demographics
Since email is a global business, you don’t only have to think about when to send, but where to send. In other words, think about the time zone of your target demographics.
You may not exclusively target one time zone at all. But in this case, it’s a good idea to target the most population-dense time zone in your audience. In the U.S., the Eastern time zone has the most population, which is why an email sent at 8 a.m. EST may have optimal effects, even if that means it goes out “earlier” in the other U.S. time zones.
You should consider testing multiple sending times. After all, there’s no single answer to “what is the best time to send a newsletter?” It depends on a few factors. It depends on your niche, your audience, the target demographics you keep, and what your newsletter promises. There’s no perfect “rule of thumb” until you get a sense of what times tend to create the best opening rates with your specific audience.
How to pick the best time to send a newsletter
Here are a few key points to keep in mind when you choose the best time for your next letter:
- Remember the context. Let’s say you have a landing page for your newsletter. Email Analytics reports: “A study from the Northridge Group found that 40 percent of millennials wait 60 minutes after emailing to see if they get a response. If they don’t, they try to reach you via an alternative channel.” 74% of people expect a welcome email, too. In this case, sending immediately makes sense, whereas for a newsletter sequence for promoting Black Friday, sending days in advance of the actual event makes more sense.
- Think in terms of building sequences. It’s not a matter of “send an email on Tuesday or Thursday morning.” If you build sequences, you might include a welcome email on top of other planned emails, basing these on when a user signs up rather than any specific time of day.
- Know your audience. Timing is a matter of meeting your audience halfway. For example, the Daily Stoic newsletter built a list of over 250,000—including emails during the weekends—because it promises an inspiring message in every inbox, every day. Other newsletters might find this to be too much, especially if their audience tends to dislike newsletters building up in their mailbox.
Start sending your newsletters at the right time
Are you ready to go beyond rules of thumb when timing your own emails? ConvertKit’s dashboard makes it easier to view all of your relevant data.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Step one: Decide to measure two variables: open rates and click rates. Keep in mind that click rate benchmarks tend to be about 2-5% globally. These are the key variables to measure when looking at newsletter timing.
- Step two: Poke around with the dashboard. ConvertKit lets you sign up for free, so you don’t have to make a commitment to see how the dashboard might look when you start measuring open rates and click rates as your KPI.
- Step three: Send your first newsletters. Start by using the rules of thumb above as a guide, and keep experimenting with newsletter timing until you find what generates the best response.