When’s the Best Time to Send Email to Your List?

When’s the Best Time to Send Email to Your List?

Reader Comments (145)

  1. Right now, I’ve just started making my list and sending out RSS-to-Email posts via MailChimp.

    At the moment, I’m sending them out just over an hour after it goes live on my blog, but I’ll consider trying later times.

    • Thanks for your comment! My point was that it makes sense to send your e-mails whenever you have them ready, so I think sending them out an hour after your post goes live sound fine!

    • I also believe in sending emails the moment my post goes live but some advance emails before it goes live as well just so they know what they will be looking forward to.

      I believe in consistency – just being able to send emails on a regular basis. Regular may mean different to different people. Different time zones are to be considered as well.

  2. Not to mention those who have international audiences (different timezones), gotta dig deep in your analytics to nail that particular variable down.

  3. Excellent article. Many people check emails with their mobile phones and they have their phones with them all the time. If there are fewer emails being sent out over weekends, then there’s a very good chance that yours will be opened.

    • Yes, that’s what I thought…people are bored, checking their email in the weekends, and there’s not as much there for them to see…which means yours will stand out more.

    • I think bringing up the mobile-aspects of email is important. Most of those hard and fast rules seem to have been around a while β€” in other words, since before smart phones and their instant email delivery became the norm. And, of course, depending on your demographic your customers may be more or less likely to own smart phones; they may also be more or less likely to be the type to check work email on the weekends (in a B2B situation β€” think CEO vs. Intro level employee).

      I guess my point is I’m with you Linda. It’s always worth testing and finding that sweet spot for YOUR readers or customers.

  4. Thanks for writing this Linda. Too many people are slaves to data that might not even apply to them or could have multiple interpretations. I completely agree that it depends on the audience and the email.

  5. Another instance in which knowing your customer is more important than sticking to any hard and fast rules. Having said that I wouldn’t have the nerve to send out an e-mail blast at 11:23 am on Sunday, although with a list of over 2,200 people it was almost guaranteed that there would be some responses.

    An excellent post.

  6. Nice post, Linda. Another complicating factor is when people on your mailing list are in different parts of the world. It’s hard to find a “best time” when people are 12 hours apart!

  7. You know Linda, I’ve tested weekend mailings. Saturdays were okay, but they never outperformed my weekly mailings. However, I do know several great marketers that swear by Saturday mornings. Every market is different. My market consists more of independent professionals so they might have time to read email during a weekday.

    But one thing your post demonstrates is the importance of trying out new things and testing to see if they work for you and your audience. Great post.

    • INteresting! My audience consists of independent professionals, but I think a lot of them have day jobs during the week and write on the side as they build up their business…so they probably have more time on the weekend.

  8. It’s funny, because a couple of years ago, I would totally have agreed with a Tuesday 10:13ish kind of timing for newsletter submits out of fear that people would either not read it or only read the headlines on their smartphones. Today, the late afternoon submit (Copenhagen time) of the Copyblogger newsmail fits so well with my metro ride at home where I read it on the phone, so please don’t change that πŸ™‚

  9. I always send out mails to my mailinglist between midnight and 4am (that’s right: in the morning!) and whatever day of the week. As David pointed out, we have people from all over the world, living in different timezones and for now I really see no reason to sent emails during different hours.

    And very true indeed at ‘If the recipient is not available right when you send it, the email will be sitting there waiting for them when they are ready’: we often see an explosion of ‘opens’ and ‘clicks’ during specific hours. But after 2 or 3 days, we consistently have an open rate of over 50% and a click rate of 25%.

    Personally I think that as long as the email is relevant and interesting to your subscribers (which they will see with an informative subject line), emails will be opened no matter what time you sent them.

  10. I will go even deeper and say that not only is the email important, but writing that catchy title in the subject line is just as important. Sending the email is the easiest part, getting them to open it is a job in itself. If you can achieve interest in the subject line and continue to catch their eye in the body, you have the necessary ingredients for a sale.

  11. Linda, I think the demographic of the subcribers on your list makes a big difference. For example:

    One of my clients sends emails out to real estate agents alerting them of a nearby home buyer looking for an agent. This is a service the agents subscribe to (DOI). Typically, several hundred agents get alerted. You’d think that because client leads being the lifeblood of real estate that they would promptly respond? I was shocked to see that only 1%-2% of agents always respond within minutes or at most a few hours, regardless of the time or day. What’s astounding is the vast majority who open the email 2, 3 even 4-5 days after it was sent?!?

    Does anyone else have similar anecdotes about unresponsive lists? I’ve already checked all the technical issues, split-test subject lines to optimize open rates, and there is zero deception in any communication. It’s all on the up & up.

    All of my other clients are having great success with their email campaigns and communications, and my experience is similar to what you’re saying in this post that there really isn’t a “best” time to send emails.

    • I look forward to hearing if anyone here has advice about unresponsive lists. But I’m glad your experience upholds my conclusion that it doesn’t matter when you send emails!

    • Have you tried a consistent preface in the subject such as “Home Buyer Needs You – City/Area” or “[HBNY] – City/Area” for example? My thought is you need to “train” them to look immediately by always using the same preface in the subject and if they missed the boat before, they will look faster next time. Just a thought. Are they a less tech savvy group who don’t use cell phones much? I wouldn’t think so, but that might explain it, since they aren’t at their desks all day and may only get to check email once in awhile, if they are out showing homes, etc. Maybe texting based service would be better? πŸ™‚

      • Yes, tried split-testing all kinds of subject lines. Funny you should mention SMS messaging… that’s exactly what I’m about to start testing.

  12. With the right subject line, I don’t think it matters that much. If I am busy, for the right subject, I will stop what I’m doing OR set a flag to come back to it. When I log in first thing in the morning, there is more competition for my attention, so I’ll go through all of my unread emails and either flag or delete. Irrelevant or poor subject line won’t make the cut. In the middle of my day, it needs to be interesting, too. More likely to be read or skimmed, but needs to be relevant to get clicked.

    In my business, I have found that Tuesday mornings are the best for us, but more because it makes our demand the rest of the week more manageable and have an actual weekend with less stress/work. We get a surge of opens/clicks on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, then a drop-off, and then another surge on the weekends, when those who check their emails more on the weekend open it. I feel confident that any day would basically give us the same results, except maybe Sundays, but I’ve never bothered to test it. I like having the consistency, instead. People know we will email them on Tuesdays and look for it, now.

    Good luck, everyone!

  13. Thanks for the post Linda. For the past 2 years we have been sending our Sunday Night Email at 8:15 PM ET to a list of 10,000. Our audience is a tight niche in the financial services community – B2B – and we know that many /most are gearing up mentally for the week ahead at that time. We find that we get a great open rate on Sunday night and a carry-over open rate to first thing Monday morning. Also we have noticed a seasonality to the open rate i.e. Summer and Sunday night open rates are quite different than January.

  14. I think the key here is testing to find the best time for your audience. I run multiple email marketing campaigns for my own business as well as my day job. It took me 8 months of testing to figure out the best time to send newsletter type emails out to each audience only to discover that announcement or specials emails perform best at a very different time. Now I’m starting to see some variance due to seasonality. Every demographic is different and most demographics actually change throughout the year. You have to enjoy testing and data analytics to put in the time to optimize it all. I have yet to find a “best time” that matches all of my lists.

  15. I send out my emails either on a Saturday or Sunday morning around 7:30. It seems to work better with open rates and click thrus more effectively than if I were to send the email during the week around 3 pm. I also send eblasts for my clients at the same time with great results. Thanks for the article!

  16. Great advice! This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, because I’m getting ready to launch my core business product this week. But as you mentioned in the article, I, too, have found that the time really doesn’t matter as long as the content is great. I was blown away not only by the number of people who opened my initial email about my product, but also how many jumped on the interest list to grab a Beta spot!

  17. A great reminder not to always listen to what “they” say. I suspect a lot of the conventional wisdom about when to send is based on tests done when email marketing was first getting popular in the late 90s/early 2000s — before the prevalence of smartphones. A lot of people tended to have access to their personal and their work email only when they were sitting at a desk. It’s a whole new world now!

  18. Linda, first let me say your book, The Renegade Writer, helped me launch my freelance writing business. Thank you so much for such great writer insights.
    I think the key is more about whether you’ve developed a responsive list that is eager to hear from you whenever you send a message out. Your response from such a small list at an “awkward” time is a great indication of this. There are some lists I’m on that it doesn’t matter what time the person emails, I’ll check out what they’re saying (although I should be better disciplined about checking my email!)
    I’m starting to work on that premise – build my relationship with my list over worrying as much about open times and clickthrough times.

    • Sarah, thanks for your kind words…I am SO glad The Renegade Writer helped you. The book recently went out of print but Diana and I plan to revise it and release it as an ebook.

      Yes, so true…if you have great content (and, as someone else mentioned here, a great subject line), your emails WILL get opened.

  19. Actually I never schedule my emails; neither do I prepare to send them on any day of the week. Whenever I have something valuable to send, I just write the mail and click send. That’s it. And so far its going good. And my open rates are consistent (irrespective of whether the emails are sent on Sundays or Thursdays.

  20. I just stick to 9-12am, Monday and Friday, that’s when I add stuff to the follow-up sequence.

    Tends to get about 30% opens and some replies. I haven’t offered a product yet.

  21. Great post, Linda! It’s nice to see that going against the “this is email marketing law” grain was successful. I know that timing is helpful, but it’s not the only factor. Sometimes a great headline will mean the difference between the trash can and a sale, regardless of time.

    Excellent things for us all to think about! πŸ™‚

  22. Thanks for your comments — it’s always useful to hear what others are doing.
    I use MailChimp to send out announcements for my fused glass. I usually work on the emails in the evening and send them out right away. I know that, if an event is for the coming weekend, I need to get the message out no later than Wednesday, since many of the addresses I have are work addresses.

  23. I struggled with this as well. Since I’m trying to cover Twitter Chats made throughout the week, I couldn’t really pick a day I should send them, since odds were that particular day would never see coverage. I ended up picking Saturday because it seemed to have the least going on, and #blogchat was the day before.

    I still wonder about just making it Sunday and trying to include those chats though.

  24. Personally, you’re better off sending me an email when I’m _not_ at my computer. I certainly don’t think everyone is like me, but here’s how my process works…

    If I’m at my computer and an email arrives one of two things usually happens: 1) I’ll take notice that the message just came in, but continue whatever I’m working on; or 2) I’ll stop whatever I’m doing to open the message and take a quick look. Both of these tend to be bad for the sender.

    When I stop what I’m doing to look at a message that’s not immediately important/relevant to me, I usually close the message and it gets marked as read. In most cases I’ll never get back to reading the message and it eventually gets trashed. Yes, I “opened” the message, but only skimmed it for importance/relevance and did nothing more with it.

    Other messages that arrive but don’t get opened tend to seem familiar when I do finally get around to reading email (since I saw the subject/sender pop up when the message arrived), and they are often trashed without being opened (unless they have good subject lines or it’s a sender that’s relevant to me).

    But when I sit down to go through all my email that arrived while I was offline, I usually go through each message in order and have more time to read them, since I’m reading email and not distracted by doing other work on the computer. So those messages that have queued up have a better chance of being opened and read. So you should email me at night, so the message is waiting for me first thing in the morning when I’m checking my email. That’s just how I deal with email.

    And on a different note… Last week I sat through a webinar that Facebook put on and they said engagement on their site is highest between 9-10pm, and also high between 8-10am (based on the user’s timezone). So if you want messages delivered when someone is sitting at their computer (or mobile device), it seems like those times would be best, based on the timezone of the recipient. (But I think the delivery or sending time for messages doesn’t matter as much as relevant content and good subject lines and sender description.)

  25. Hi Linda!

    After you told me about your success doing weekend emails, I started trying it out. I know a decent portion of my readers are still working a day job and dreaming about quitting for freelance writing, so it made sense to me that they read things like my newsletters on the weekend.

    Don’t know if I’ve had as strong a response as you, and I do feel like it’s a sad commentary on our 24/7 culture, but it definitely does appear that many people do pick up emails on weekends. And if everyone else is marketing all week, you might stand out by sending one on Sunday.

    Since I’m always offline on Saturdays I’ve haven’t tried programming anything to go that day, as I’m afraid someone will have a question or a link will be bad or something, and then I won’t be around to address the issue.

    But your basic tip is the best one — experiment! Everyone’s business and client base are different, and you never know where your email sweet spot time might be.

    • Hey, Carol! Thanks for your comment. Experimentation is key. Also, I go back and forth between thinking of our 24/7 connectivity as “sad” and being super excited at the possibilities this opens up for everyone…not just marketers. I can work anytime, from anywhere, and create a schedule that works for me…and at the same time, sometimes work leaks over into times where it really shouldn’t be.

  26. Interesting title. Should it have been When’s the best time? πŸ™‚

    Or could it be either?

  27. I’ve found that B2B lead-generating/lead qualifying emails — stuff where the CTA is filling out a form or completing a survey — do *really well* on Friday just after lunch. Surprisingly, amazingly well. I figured it’s because people don’t want to start any new projects at the end of the week. Providing an industry-related survey (maybe with a little swag in return for filling it out) gives our audience justification for taking the time to fill out the form.

    • Oh, good point…Friday afternoons, people are winding down for the day, not starting up any new projects, and need something to do to fill those last few hours before the weekend.

  28. Nice article Linda!
    I’m one of the many Writers and Marketers with ‘Sunday Night Syndrome’. That is, most of our emails are written, checked and sent out in the ‘midnight hour’ on Sunday night/early Monday morning. There are 3 benefits for us doing this: 1) our clients/subscribers get them as soon as they open their emails first thing on Monday morning, at the start of their week. This helps them feel we’ve been working hard for them, over the weekend, and are keen for their business/replies. 2) This works particularly well for new clients, and earns us good ‘brownie-points’, and sometimes means our messages are opened before competitors’ messages!. 3) the ‘Sunday night send-off’ also gets our main work out of the way quickly, so we’re ‘ahead of ourselves’ early for a good start on the dreaded Monday morning. (I love the feeling, when going to bed, that our emails are speeding to world-wide destinations while I’m asleep). As a Writer, I generally do most of my best creative work after a good weekend, when there are no distractions, working late at night. And now that we’re upgrading our new ‘Write2Profit – Blog’ section, we’ll be ‘burning the midnight oil’ for many weeks to come!

  29. I love this post! A few years ago I went to a Constant Contact seminar and the verdict on the best times to send an e-mail was on Tuesday between 11:30-1:30, and then Wednesday from 11:30-1:30. I’ve had some great open rates during those times, but on a couple of other occasions I sent something out on Friday afternoon and had a great response almost immediately. I’m glad to see that others are having great success with their e-mail campaigns, and especially the split testing through the week and an optimized one for the weekends.

  30. Great stuff Linda! And I think you’re right about how much variation there is from the recipients’ point of view.

    In terms of the sender, I find that picking a regular day and time is helpful (particularly for non-urgent things like newsletters) in that it helps establish a routine. Too easy to stop publishing and having a strict deadline (as with exercising!) helps make it happen.
    Thanks for a great article,

    • Good point…I totally don’t have a consistent schedule, but if I e-mailed every week at the same time it would force me to come up with good content and offers. However, if people are really used to your e-mails coming, I wonder if they sometimes skim right over them without opening like I do with some daily newsletters I get?

  31. Sending my emails daily no matter what is the hour. Personally I think that an email isn’t a tweet and it wont get buried by a thousand more in an hour. The email still gets read sooner or later when the person is reading its emails.

    • Yes Liudas, I think like you do. With that said however, I prefer sending my emails at night. This way most people read it in the morning and are more likely to be a little more receptive. Nevertheless, there are those who prefer reading in the afternoon. As I started with, I think like you do. Most emails are at least going to be glanced at no matter when you send them.

  32. I have a substantial list of people interested in Property Investment and I’ve often sent emails on the weekend with good response. People are more mobile to today and reading their emails on their smart phones. I sometimes use a subject line like: sorry disturb you on the weekend, but….

    • Interesting! When I get a subject line like that, it actually irks me a bit like, “Yeah why ARE you disturbing me?” — even if I normally wouldn’t be disturbed. I say go loud and proud with what you have to offer. Why apologize for sending great content no matter what the day?

  33. Thanks for the great article, Linda. Sometimes we have to remember to get our heads out of the data and try some new things.

    I am one of those who tends to send in the moment and I’ve had some good success with that. I also agree though that test, test, testing is absolutely essential (sometimes it’s just hard to sit on a new email until your “window for sending” comes open though).

    I think I probably read more B2B emails on the weekends and I see better open rates for my website business on the weekends. Most of my clients are industrial/manufacturing B2B companies though and their customers absolutely do not seem to open their emails over the weekend.

    If only we had a magic wand we could wave over each email campaign and have it send at the time that’s just right for each recipient πŸ˜‰

  34. I send out a weekly newsletter to my list. So far, I find I get more responses when I send out my email on Sunday. I’ve changed my delivery day often and I always come back to Sundays. So another testimonial that supports your own results πŸ™‚

    Great post!

  35. I’m continually surprised by the high number of email opens and website traffic we receive on Sunday mornings…it’s almost like they are looking for something to occupy their mind while having access to mobile devices on hand…hmm…

  36. It is obviously important to make sure that you schedule your email to go out when you will be available to give feedback on comments. The comments above were almost as good as the original email!

    • That is actually a great point! As Carol Tice said above, it doesn’t make sense to send on a day where you won’t be around to reply to people who e-mail you back.

  37. I have not the ability to postpone sending out emails when the urge has hit me or there is something new I want to send out. I don’t know the best time other than when I finish something which is not often enough.

  38. It is interesting that Sunday is a good open day. I try not to open emails on the weekend.

    Thanks for the info,

  39. Our company (a small graphic design firm) does our own email marketing. We always figured it was best to send emails out around dinner time, but after some trial and error, we realized lunch time is so much more consistently effective. People often check personal emails at least at lunchtime, if not more. They are more alert, and can always come back to something after work. We use Contactology ( http://www.contactology.com/ ), which is now just as inexpensive as Mail Chimp. I love the customer service, since we do all our own.

  40. Linda, In this Email Insider post I wrote in 2010 – http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/133735/the-last-best-time-to-send-article.html “The Last ‘Best Time to Send?’ Article” I addressed several aspects of this enduring question…. some of which you touched on. But the key points are that 1) For newsletters and the like, everyone opens at a different time, so emails should be sent based on each individual’s past email behavior; 2) Mobile changes everything – people are opening their emails 24/7 because they have a smartphone within a few feet at all times – so all rules are out the window; and 3) Smart marketers are moving to behavior-based automation – where email programs are actually triggered in real time based on each individual’s behavior and interaction with your brand across all touch points. The idea of guessing or testing what is the best time to send is becoming as obsolete as the CD – still being used by some, but most are moving on to a better way.

    • Thanks for your insights! That is really cool. What are some email programs that do this — send based on the recipient’s past behavior? Is this something that’s cost prohibitive to independent professionals and small businesses?

      • Linda, there are only two email solutions (one is the company I work for) that I am aware of that offer the ability to send based on an individual’s past open and click behavior. You are correct, we and the other company are designed for companies needing fairly sophisticated solutions. Regardless of technology solutions, the larger point is everyone opens their emails at different times and so any concept of a “single best time to send” for your list is really the largest compromise.

  41. Certainly something to think about. I have sent out updates to our list at different times, with great success. But I never thought to send out our newsletter during the weekends. It is definitely worth testing. Thanks!

  42. Excellent and interesting post and I never think about it this way and you have provided excellent advice to great affect.

    Thanks for sharing worthy information πŸ™‚

  43. Great post. You’re spot on about knowing your audience, and when they’re likely to be watching/reading. Our visitotrs are online more 6-10am pacific time. That being said, about 23% of them view the site mostly on their smart phones or tablets, which leads me to believe that an even greater percentage of them get their email that way as well.

    Since they aren’t tied to their computer, but use their mobile device for getting ther email, the exact time become less imporatnt. Usders respond to most text message within 10 minutes, and mobile email should have similar stats, although I have not actually seen them yet.

  44. I send a daily dose of garden news at Dirtdujour.com believing that gardeners in particular will want to read their email with a cup of coffee first thing in the morning before they head out to dig. Still, a good portion of my email list goes to what looks like work destinations.

    Biggest click through days? Free-something-Friday when I give away a garden book or garden gadget.

  45. I couldn’t agree more. Knowing your audience and testing is the best way to ensure you’re reaching them. Regardless, sometimes you just need to get the message out.

  46. Great post Linda.

    I agree with Jeff Kear – timing depends on your audience.
    If I’m sending out emails to people using their work email, I’m not going to send things after hours.
    I still think that sending a B2B email on a Friday night have my message sitting under a huge pile in their inbox come Monday morning. When they open it they’ll be busy, stressed, and not give it a chance.

  47. I am about to send out a couple enewsletters…I have heard different times across different sources via the web.

    In the past I have tried to stay away from Mondays (anyone who has a job is swamped with emails alone). Fridays aren’t good because people take off work or leave early, which leaves Tuesday thru Thursday. Each day emails seem to still take part of the morning, so I have been sending them around the noon hour to 2 PM with mixed results, but definitely better than after-hour emails.

  48. This is really helpful. Have you seen any patterns for nonprofits? We’re a land trust and send out a monthly e-news to our membership and other interested folks. I think the majority of people have them sent to their personal emails, but we also have lots of agency and foundation folks who use their work emails. I haven’t played with weekend sends much, but I may now! Any suggestions?

  49. Excellent post and tons of good comments (although I will confess I haven’t read ALL of them). I’m so glad you made the point about “one size does not fit all.” I’ve been telling people that for years. It’s so silly to follow someone else’s advice when their target market and needs can be so different from yours.

    One of the things that really mucks up the “schedule” of when to send is that there are so many people who live with their smartphones these days that timing is irrelevant. I know for me, I read most mail on my phone these days and if there is something I want to take a closer look at, I’ll leave it in my mailbox until I can get to my computer.

  50. I totally agree, through robust test and experience that the generic right time does not exist. The B.S. call out is very valid.

    I wrote a blog post here based on actual real campaign data

    In some cases send time can make a difference, may be 5 to 10% on open/click. But then usually down to the nearest few hours. I recently tested some brand emails and found the time when nobody sends is fine and the time when many send isn’t the best (for the brand in the test).

    So in Summary, at most use any best time advice as something to test. Or you could just go with what seems best if your list is to small to test (under circa 8,000). Probably put your effort into improving stuff other than timing.

  51. Good article – I always send my newsletter out on the same day, which is the last Friday of the month, but may try something new to see whether I get more reads.

  52. Thanks for including me in this article. I think it’s a delicate balance of continually testing to see what works with segmentation, and keeping it consistent so people start expecting it. The audience continues to involve with every sign up so you need to try to find out what works with those people. But at the same time, you need to be very consistent for your loyal audience.

    In the end, however, if you’re consistently offering something of value, people will open it just for that reason, regardless of the time it’s sent.

  53. I send my e-newsletters out as soon as their written compliance checked and approved.
    Perhaps because most of the readers know me personally the time I send them out has no effect on the number of opens or number of clicks etc. The quality of the content however does!

  54. Excellent post! I completely concur with you. Though part of it seems to be pointing fingers at me. You know, ‘you! I am talking to you.’ All in all… nice one.

  55. I switched to Sunday morning emails a while ago and it resulted not just in better open rates, but more replies and feedback.

    I’m in a b2b niche – but hubspot’s analysis a while ago showed that most business people (especially business owners) use the same email address for work and home purposes – so the email address they check at weekends is the one they’ll have subscribed with.

    People also tend to have a bit more time at the weekend to relax and read a longer, content rich email – which is the type I send.



  56. I’m late to this party but the article, to state the obvious, was a hit given the awesome comments and responses. Definitely a model of successful blog writing! Nice job and glad I read it!

  57. Great article. I think you’re right on. I have been almost paralyzed in fear because I want to make sure when I send my first newsletter that people open it and read it. I always thought the timing had to be right. It makes so much sense that you can’t really predict when people will check their emails, especially when you can view it on your phone. I see now that the real key is having an awesome subject line which I can do, no problem


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