When Is the Best Time to Send Your Brand Emails?

Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst

Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst

Author Bio

Greg Zakowicz is a senior commerce marketing analyst at Oracle + Bronto. With more than 10 years of experience in email, mobile and social media marketing, Zakowicz knows the retail industry and its challenges, staying on top of the latest trends by leveraging deep insight into the marketing spectrum. His subject matter expertise stems from his experience in providing commerce marketers — including numerous Internet Retailer Top 1000 clients — with in-depth analysis of their marketing programs, recommendations for improvement, best practice support and implementation guidance and execution.

Zakowicz is a frequent webinar speaker and presenter at ecommerce events, such as Fashion Digital New York, SIA Snow Show and ROI Revolution Summit. He has been published by top retail and marketing publications, including Power Retail and Inside Retail, and is a regular contributor to Bronto’s Commerce Marketing blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @WhatsGregDoing.

When is the best time to send emails? This question has been around as long as email marketing itself. If you do a quick search, you’ll find tons of different studies pointing to a variety of answers, leaving retailers just as confused as before.

The common result: Brands are flooding consumer inboxes with emails at seemingly random times throughout the day. This oversaturation, especially when combined with a lack of relevant content, can quickly lead customers to unsubscribe or let unread promotions sink to the bottom of their inbox – never to be opened.

Let’s explore some of the nuances of the “best” email send times, debunk a few common myths and review why you should be looking beyond the email open.

The Best Time of Day

Identifying the best time to send depends greatly on the products you sell and the makeup of your audience. For example, millennials and Gen Zers are digitally-native consumers. They have their mobile devices with them at all hours of the day and use them all the time. Assuming they’re only opening their emails somewhere around the 10 a.m. lull at work is a very misguided and antiquated notion. Sure, it might be true for some, but it’s not likely for both generational cohorts. While millennials may be working, Gen Z consumers may be at school or just hanging out with their friends.

The same principle holds true for evening sends. Does your target audience interact late in the evenings? For younger cohorts, the answer may be yes, but for baby boomers, it may be less likely. For me, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. is a marketing black hole. During that time, I’m eating dinner, playing with my children and getting them ready for bed. Sending me an email at 6 p.m. is a wasted effort. But for households without children, it might be the perfect send time.

Another thing to consider when sending an email is the dreaded time zone issue. Even though you may want to reach your west coast customers at 10 a.m., remember that means the same email will reach your east coast fan base at 1 p.m. Always be sure to factor this into the equation, especially for particular messages. If you run a “lunchtime” flash sale and send the email just before noon west coast time, your message may miss the mark for those in other time zones who are already well into the afternoon.

So what can you do? Use the tools available to you to have the best chance for success. Send time optimization tools, such as the one Bronto offers, allow you to send your emails at specific times to individual users based on their own actions. For example, for me, the system would know I have a tendency to open emails in the morning hours and again in the evenings. Based on this historical data, it can then determine the time I am most likely to open the email and send it accordingly.

The Best Day of the Week

A very popular school of thought has been that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were the best days to send, and weekends should be avoided. More on this in a moment. But this is another rule that has since gone by the wayside. Brands are sending more now than ever before, so focusing on one singular send day for your emails is not an option for most. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t find the optimal days for your customers.

As I mentioned with determining the best email send times, when trying to find the ideal day, look at the products you sell, as well as your audience and their social lifestyle. Sure, some brands or products may not have much success on the weekends, but others may find weekends are the best days. I have worked with companies on both ends of this spectrum. It’s all about understanding how your product appeals to your consumers and knowing how to engage with them.

Now, for those pesky weekends. Times have changed. People now have access to their email in their pocket 24/7. Are we really supposed to believe they don’t check it or shop on the weekends? Does Amazon not sell products on the weekend? Of course people shop on the weekends! And with the ease and ability to shop whenever you want, there’s almost no reason to avoid sending on those days.

One more note: This shopping convenience has also given rise to the, let’s say, “tipsy” shopping phenomena. This tendency to shop while feeling a little loose likely accelerates on Friday and Saturday nights. Based on your target audience, these days of the week may actually be quite powerful.

The Next Step

If you want to determine the best day and best time to send emails, testing and tools are critical. Use them to understand your audience. Using data analytics is a must. Take time to review your previous send data. Organize your email open and click-through results by the time and day when your brand emails were sent. But remember: If you’ve typically been sending on a particular day of the week, your data will be skewed and show the best open rate comes from that day.

Begin by looking at time of opens. You should see a relatively consistent pattern here, but try to look for patterns. For example, when sending an email, the majority of your opens will happen closest to the send time and decline accordingly. But if you routinely send emails at 9 a.m. but your opens spike at 1 p.m., this should tell you something.

Once you’ve determined your general baseline, formulate a testing plan for both send times and days of the week, but preferably not at the same time. Focus on one before the other. You can then optimize as you go along.

Be sure to use the send time optimization tools your commerce marketing platform provide. This can help you maximize the effectiveness of your email send times.

Go Beyond the Open

While I’ve focused on the best days and times to send emails, the open rate is only a piece of the bigger email marketing puzzle. Of course, you want as many people to see the emails as possible, but if they don’t result in conversions, what good are they doing? Finding the balance between improving open rates and conversion rates is critical. If you find your open rates increasing but conversions lagging, something is missing.

We know that consumers today are predominately checking their email on their mobile devices. Are your emails mobile-friendly? If not, you not only lose the potential sale, but the consumer may stop opening your emails altogether, knowing the experience will be lacking.

Is the content of your emails relevant, helpful and engaging? Sending batch-and-blast messages is not meant to engage individuals. If you do send batch-and-blast messages, incorporate individual and engaging elements in them, such as intuitive, subscriber-specific product recommendations or user-generated content. If you’re sending an email about preparing for the snowstorm in the northeast to those who live in Miami, don’t expect strong conversions from that segment, even if they all open your email.

Final Thoughts

Connecting the right time to the best day to the right content will help you create a more consumer-friendly customer experience. Your goal is to refine your marketing programs, create unique customer journeys and ultimately earn more revenue.

Need help? We’re here. At Bronto, our in-house team offers award-winning service and support across the globe. Our copywriting, design, coding and campaign development services can help your brand increase email opens, conversions and overall profit.

Email campaigns serve as a bridge between brands and consumers. When done correctly, they allow you to effectively communicate and interact with your customers. So don’t waste the opportunity. Adapt to the changing consumer behavior and look beyond the outdated “myths” to find the send time that’s right for you.

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