If you are like me, you are constantly plugged into your email client, except when you are sleeping.
This is why it drives me a bit crazy when people or companies send automated email newsletters all at the same time. No one wants to wake up with 50 newsletters in their inbox, and then get another 10 while they are driving home from work.
The time when you could check your email at only the beginning and end of the day on your jewel colored iMac is over. But, alas, some companies still seem to be sticking to that schedule.
Their emails get sent right to my trash because of this.
So I set out to find when the best time to send an email newsletter is, in the most scientific way ever…by signing up for 100 different newsletters and recording all of their send times.
These were newsletters from The New York Times, Buzzfeed, Tim Ferris, and even one about being a good father.
Let’s just say my interests were broad when signing up for newsletters.
This led my inbox to virtually explode over the next month. But I soldiered on. I picked 500 email newsletter for this study and recorded the date and times they were sent at.
What I found is definitely going to surprise you.
Two ways to interpret the data
There are two ways to interpret the data that we collected.
First, the best time to send an email is when no other companies are sending it. And this way of thinking is what I am basing all of my conclusions on.
In this hyper competitive space, why would you want to be just another one in the pack by picking a busy time?
Second, some may argue that the best time to send a newsletter is when all the other companies are sending it.
This could be true because their internal data is telling them something important. But if you think about it from a receiver standpoint, they are probably not going to read all five new email newsletters in their inbox.
Those people are probably going to pick one from the bunch to read, or delete them all like I am prone to doing. And that means it’s not a successful time to send a newsletter.
That is why throughout this article we are going to use the least busy times
So let’s get started!
What are the best times to send an email newsletter?
After scouring through all of the emails that I received, I have narrowed it down to a handful of hour-long blocks.
A few of these blocks have been written about before on sites like CoSchedule, which makes me feel like my findings are pretty valid.
One of the oddest things that I found was that there is a large aversion to sending email newsletters during the workday. I find that extremely interesting because a lot of these dealt with work-related topics. That avoidance presents a great opportunity for you to capitalize on as well!
Before we jump into the results, a quick note: the times in this article are in Central Standard Time. But the findings still apply to your time zone or area.
In past studies, people have found that no matter the time zone, email recipient behavior is still consistent at the same time. Plus, most email automation tools allow you to schedule emails so they are sent for the same times across different time zones.
Also, keep in mind that sending an email at an optimal time is only part of the process. You should also be mindful of following other email marketing best practices.
The best times to send an email newsletter
If you are looking for the perfect time to send an email, I would go for a time that is not very popular. Like a time when no emails are being sent.
I mean, why would you want to increase the competition for your email by sending it at any other time?
That immediately decreases the likelihood that your email is going to be read. And you will see a slip in open rates pretty quickly.
In this study, there were three time blocks where no emails were sent: 11-12 PM, 1-2 PM and 2-3 PM.
Like we said above, these times are the same in all time zones.
So I would say that these are the times with the greatest opportunity for your newsletter to be seen.
And the experts at MailChimp seem to agree with me.
As you can see in the graph below, not a single email was received in the time blocks that have been indicated with stars. Now, which of those three time blocks is truly the best time to send an email?
I think that it is a matter of knowing your customers and running a few tests before you start sending. But one of the best times to send an email, in my opinion, is from 2-3 PM.
This time block is past lunchtime and people are recharged a bit. If they are just coming back from lunch, the first thing they are likely going to do is check their emails.
And boom, your email newsletter is the first thing that they see.
Most emails are read within an hour of receiving them. This means you want to hit someone when they are going to be at their computer. Or if they have been sitting at their desk for a while–that email is going to be a sweet procrastination opportunity.
I know I like taking a mid-afternoon distraction session every once in awhile.
I would recommend shooting your email out in the 2-3 PM CST window. Or even from 1-2 PM CST, but that also could run into a lot of subscribers’ lunch breaks.
Other great times you can try sending an email newsletter
If you have a fear of being the only person to send an email during a certain time block, there are some runner-ups.
These are time blocks that are not the best but are still better than most. This means that your email newsletter may receive a little competition but not very much.
And if your customer research has shown that these times work best, then I would pick them in a heartbeat.
The runner-ups include: 9-10 AM, 10-11 AM, 12-1 PM and 4-5 PM.
Just like before, the runner-ups are shown with a nice little gold star.
As you can see, there continues to be very few email newsletters sent during the workday.
However, these other top time blocks do coincide with daily work rituals like arriving at and leaving the office.
During those times, I can see your email being lost in the shuffle, or deleted the next day in a mass cleaning of their inbox. So use a bit of caution when picking times like that.
Yet, I received only a single email sent during this time period.
It honestly makes no sense to me, but it does present a great opportunity for your newsletter to shine.
There has been enough time for your audience to delete all their stacked up emails from the day before. Talk to their coworkers about Game of Thrones. Get their first coffee break. Feel that first thirst of procrastination.
And then your newsletter shows up at the perfect time.
What is the worst times to send an email newsletter?
Now that I have outlined some of the best times to send an email newsletter, let’s look at some time blocks that you should stay away from.
These are the times that you are going to be fighting 20 or more other newsletters to get views. Or when your reader is going to choose to mass-delete newsletters because their inbox is overflowing.
Either way, these are the times that your newsletter will not have a great chance of being seen.
The absolute worst time to send an email newsletter
After careful calculations and some complex counting we were able to find the worst time to send an email newsletter.
The worst time period has over 10% of all the emails sent in this study.
Companies must think it is the perfect time to send an email.
Or a thought leader wrote an article touting this as the best time and it became oversaturated quickly.
Whatever the cause I would avoid this time period like the plague.
If you have read the graphs above you saw that 6-7 PM got the most emails of any period.
Also the 9-10 PM chunk of time did not fare very well.
But the 6-7 PM was still the worst of the bunch. By a long shot.
I mean, it makes sense why companies would send their weekly newsletters during this period. People are home from their jobs and starting to relax. They are pretty receptive to getting an email newsletter about their favorite hobby or activity.
But again, you are fighting with a ton of other emails for their attention. Or you might even catch them at a bad time and lose a subscriber quickly.
I know I have rage-unsubscribed from a few newsletters when they have hit me up at dinner or the gym.
So I would recommend never sending an email blast from 6-7PM.
Or you are gonna have a bad time.
Other times to avoid sending an email newsletter
There are a few other times during which I would recommend not sending your newsletter out.
Actually, we can pretty much say do not send your email out past a certain time based on the data.
Almost anytime between 9PM and 2AM should be avoided based on my findings. Out of all the emails I received, almost 40% of them were sent in this time block.
You are going to be fighting a ton of other newsletter for attention. I am guessing the people who are up at that hour don’t want to read your newsletter at that moment.
Those who are asleep see it the next day and delete it during their morning inbox purge.
And all your hard work on the newsletter goes ignored. Your original ideas, your time scrolling through dozens of email newsletter templates to choose the best one, your fantastic design and, of course, your quality content. It all goes to waste!
Do not let your great content be wasted because you chose a poor time to send an email.
Another questionable time to send an email, in my opinion, is between 8-9 AM. This time period may have received the most emails in our study but I still think it is a bad idea.
This is when your audiences is either getting ready for work, driving to work or just sat down at their desks.
Your newsletter is going to be passed over as they go to respond to the piles of emails and work chats they get each morning.
Take my advice and do not send an email newsletter at any of the times mentioned above.
Is there a best day to send an email?
After looking at all the time blocks, I began to wonder if there was a best day to send an email as well. Because sending it at the right time is only half the battle.
I took a look at the data and found the worst day to send an email pretty easily.
Exactly 25% of all the emails were sent on a Thursday, with no other days really coming close. And it is well above the 70 or so emails I received per day on average.
I think we can all conclude that Thursday is the worst day, and Tuesday is a close second.
This is probably caused by some thought leaders pushing Tuesday and Thursday as the best days to send a newsletter.
Another bad day to send your email is on a Monday, and experts agree. People are going to be purging their inbox on Mondays. Especially Monday mornings!
You do not want to get caught up in a sleepy deleting spree.
The same can almost be said about Fridays too. People just want to make it to the weekend, meaning your newsletter may be passed over or quickly deleted.
I would also avoid those days and pick a safe day like Wednesday. Or even Saturday, based on the data we collected.
By sending your email on a low competition day, your content is going to stick out like a beacon.
Like on Wednesday.
It is the middle of the week, people are getting a little antsy for the weekend and your newsletter pops up in their inbox. This is the first email newsletter that they have seen. It’s the little distraction they have been looking for all day.
They are going to read it. I mean, I would.
In our own newsletter tests we have seen Wednesday perform exceptionally well, sometimes double the open rate of other days.
Or go with Saturdays. Your audience will actually have some uninterrupted time to read your content on the weekend.
And for what it’s worth, we have also seen Saturday as a very successful day to send our own newsletter.
But approach Sundays with a bit of caution, unless you know your audience extremely well . Even though Sunday received the least amount of emails, I would not pick that day.
It is traditionally known as a day of rest which could cause your audience to get angry or delete it immediately.
You also run the risk of it being lumped into the Monday morning mass-delete.
So stick to Wednesday or Saturday and you will see success.
Now that we made it to the end of this study, I need to go unsubscribe to 100 or so newsletters. My inbox is a mess.
But it was all worth it because, I was able to get some interesting findings. These findings will hopefully keep you from sending an email newsletter at the wrong time.
- Send emails during these three time blocks: 11-12 PM, 1-2 PM and 2-3 PM.
- Try a few other time blocks, like between 9 and 11 AM.
- Hit up people throughout the work day, if it is related to their job.
- Do not send newsletters at peak work movement hours, like 8 AM and 5 PM.
- Avoid sending emails during the night or early morning.
- The worst day to send a newsletter is Thursday.
- Mondays and Fridays are not much better than Thursday.
- The best days to send newsletters are Wednesdays and Saturdays.
And finally, test all of these findings with your audience first. These should be used a starting points for your newsletters, not absolutes. You can also use email services and tools like Prime Time Messaging that find the perfect time for reaching out to your audience and optimize the delivery of your message accordingly.