Email send times are utterly testable

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Brett recently trained a group of unusually switched-on local government professionals who send out mass email (electronic direct mail or eDM).

Some send their mass email to get bums on seats at the local arts centre, others to keep traders updated, others to communicate (or not) to library members. You get the idea.

“What time do you send your emails?” Brett asked.

Half answered: “Whenever they are ready to go.”

Yikes! Nope – there should always be some hypothesis behind a send time.

Others in the group had a more reasoned send time:

“Our email is about what readers do in their personal time so we thought that lunch time or evenings was a good send time. It gives people a chance to get to work in the morning, get settled in, then at lunch time they might check their personal emails. Similarly we thought that after dinner was a good time to send emails.”


When was the last time you waited to get home or break for lunch before reading ‘personal’ emails?


We don’t live in a demarcated world. People are online, available – and very distractable – all their waking hours and that especially includes work hours. Be the distraction!

Whatever time you choose, start with a hypothesis; then test it. That’s what we’ve been doing.  Check your email stats, change one thing next time and note any differences in open rate. Speed this process up by dividing your database into segments and trying different times for different segments.

Note: whatever time you send your email, you will see a spike in opens for the hour or so afterwards. That’s because new emails are hard to ignore. Emails are more likely to be opened when they are “fresh” no matter what the time.

what's the best time to send emails

Don’t let the spike fool you.

One email that the local government group sends is distributed at 4pm – not a time we’d recommend. However there was an undeniable peak of opens during 4pm to 5pm. This can lead people to think that this was the best time to send this particular email to this particular audience.

We beg to differ. Indeed you can see a spike the morning after the email was sent – at just around office opening hours time. If the initial send was at office opening time, the spike we daresay would have been higher than the 4pm spike. We may be wrong but regardless the send time needs to be tested.

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