Rethink morning e-mail

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ReachMail infographic
ReachMail infographic

One of the first questions an e-mail marketer must ask is, “What time should I send at?” Every marketer wants to ensure their message is the one that gets opened, the one that a customer or prospect lingers over, reading and clicking through perhaps to purchase or receive further information. 

While morning might seem like the best time to catch someone's attention, an analysis by e-mail service provider ReachMail, shows that kind of thinking is not quite the whole story. After analyzing open rates for a sample of both the b-to-b and b-to-c marketing messages it sends for clients (up to 10 million a day), ReachMail found differing open rates between the weekday and weekend e-mail. The analysis centered on a total of 653,000 opened e-mails.

Open rates peak between 11:30 am and 2 pm during the week, but it trends later for the weekend with peak open times beginning at 11:30 am but not reaching their height until about 4 pm. The analysis aggregates times across US time zones to factor in the three-hour spread from the West to East Coasts.

ReachMail did not track when the e-mails were sent, but rather when they were opened by using visible image tag commonly used in e-mail marketing.

“There are a lot of questions about when to send e-mail so we wanted to look at when people actually open their e-mail,” explained John Murphy, president of ReachMail. “You would think it would spike in the morning, but they're looking at work e-mails in the morning. Once they've cleared out their inbox, they're looking at marketing e-mails in the afternoon.”

Murphy suggests that marketers send their weekday e-mail between 10 am and noon, while they push out weekend e-mail between noon and 3 pm. “We're going to be telling our clients that they should not be so trigger happy to send it first thing in the morning,” he said.

He further suggests to those marketers wedded to a weekday send schedule to test out marketing e-mail on weekends.

“People's engagement rates are up there on the weekend. It's our habit of checking e-mail all the time,” he said. “Try the weekend occasionally to check your open rates, and I'd wager you'd have good open rates.”

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