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Why the worst day of the week is the best day to send emails

We often get asked what the best days and times are for sending emails. When it comes down to it, it’s going to depend on your audience. But how do you decide where to begin your tests? Plenty of people have done studies and offer their opinions, but sifting through them takes time. We’ve boiled down the results from several studies, giving you a comprehensive guide to the best strategies for when to send your emails.

Summary: The best time to send email

Day of week: Tuesday for highest average open rates. But it’s not always cut and dry: Actionable emails (like webinar signups) may do better later in the week, but when you send email newsletters or other educational content, earlier is better

Time of day: Afternoon for opens, evening for clicks.

Bonus: Use your highest open rate to determine the best time to send your email. Most opens happen within an hour of sending, so use your data to make this call.

What day of the week should I send my emails?

What day of the week do you dread? If you said Tuesday, you’re not alone. While the idea of “blue Monday” has been mostly debunked, surveys have found that we experience the most professional and emotional stress on Tuesdays. Supposedly, the pleasure of the weekend allows us to coast over into Monday, but on Tuesday “the reality [of work] sets in”.

But Tuesday might be the best time to send email. According to a 2013 census by GetResponse, people send over 17% of all emails on Tuesday, making it the most popular day of the week to send.

Tuesday most popular send email
(source: Experian)

Tuesday’s emails have an overall open rate of about 18%, the highest open rate compared to the other weekdays. Interestingly, Saturday has the highest open rate overall, at 18.3%. But we need to take into account Saturday’s low volume of email. This makes Tuesday the winner for most emails opened, compared to any other day of the week.

Send educational email earlier in the week. Send actionable emails later.

If you’re a marketer trying to decide the best day to send email, or a lesson in an email course, Tuesday is a sensible default. Take advantage of the high open rates earlier in the week to send emails that don’t necessarily need to drive clicks. Share an update, send out a blog post, or educate your readers.

But if you need help driving clicks or want your readers to perform an action like signing up for a webinar or taking a survey, sending later in the week could work in your favor. The highest CTR actually occurs over the weekend. Email volumes are lower over the weekend and people finally have time read their email.

Here’s an extreme example of sending when you wouldn’t expect people to read (like a weekend). We sent out our annual report on New Year’s Eve (a Tuesday). The open rate (41.9%) and click rate (21.5%) were within the range of most other emails we’ve sent. It just goes to show that if you have interesting content, it might not matter as much when you send it.

Want people to open? Send in the afternoon.

The time of day you send your emails can be just as influential on open rates as the day you send them. You might have learned to send your emails in the morning. However, this may not be the best strategy for your newsletter or on-boarding emails.

While most people check their emails in the morning, they’re usually trying to start their day on a productive note. This means anything unnecessary will likely be trashed or archived without being read. While your newsletter is valuable, it can easily fall by the wayside in the face of work-related stress in the morning. This could explain why the highest email open rates are actually in the afternoon and evening.

Afternoon email opens
(source: Experian)

Want people to reply? Send in the evening.

Experian gathered data from a client-wide survey to determine the best time of day to send emails. They found that while the majority of emails are sent between 8:00 AM and 12:00 PM, the highest engagement rates occur between 8:00 PM and 12:00 AM.

Evening email engagement
(source: Experian)

Think about it this way. At work you’re busy with everything you need to finish before leaving. After you get home and make dinner, what time do you finally settle down to check your email before relaxing for the night? That’s when your subscribers are going to be the most willing to read your messages.

Most email opens happen within an hour of arrival, so send when people are reading.

A study by GetResponse has also shown that emails have the best chance of being opened within an hour after they arrive in your inbox. After that, the open rate drops to less than 5% after 4 hours. After 24 hours, that drops to less than 1%. Your best bet is to send emails closest to the time your subscribers are able to read them.

Know your audience to pick the best strategy.

These strategies are a good place to start, but they won’t help you if they don’t serve your audience. Know who you’re writing for. Are your readers busy entrepreneurs who want to check their email over lunch, or small business owners who get home late? Is your content work related? Or is it for leisure time? You should adjust your email timing to better meet your audience’s needs and fit in with their schedules.

The timing of your emails is a critical component of your email lifecycle campaign. But while these strategies might help you get started, every small business is unique. If you take away one thing from this post, let it be this: test to figure out what works best for you. It might take a few months, but you should feel free to play around with the days and times you send your emails to find out what succeeds. Run different campaigns with the same content to see what scheduling works best. Take note of the emails that get the most clicks, then send your subsequent campaigns following the new timeline.