September 8, 2017

Best Time to Send an Email: User Data Study by Industry

Reading time about 11 min

One of the biggest questions that many email marketers often find themselves asking is, “when is the best time to send my email campaign?”

If you ask this question to three different marketers, you will probably get 3 different answers. Unfortunately, that’s not very helpful when you’re looking to boost engagement after creating your own email marketing campaigns.

Here at Sendinblue, we wanted to figure out what our own answer should be to this question. Thankfully, we had tons of user data just waiting to be analyzed!

Specifically, we broke things down based on these six types of businesses:

Business Type Best Day to Send an Email Campaign Best Time to Send an Email Campaign
Ecommerce Wednesday 10:00 AM
Software/SaaS Wednesday 2:00 – 3:00 PM
Marketing Services Wednesday 4:00 PM
Offline Retail/Hospitality Thursday 8:00 – 10:00 AM
Professional Services (B2B) Tuesday 8:00 – 10:00 AM
NGOs (Nonprofits) Tuesday or Wednesday 3:00 – 4:00 PM
Overall Tuesday or Wednesday 10:00 AM or 3:00 PM

Here is a deeper look at some of the insights we gained after looking at email engagement for our users:

Overview: Best time to send email campaigns

With any good analysis — it’s good to start with an overview of the entire data.

Here are the performance indicators that we looked at in the study:

  1. % Open Volume: This is a measure of the percentage of the overall volume of opens for emails sent during a specific period. For example, 20 percent “open volume” for Tuesday means that 20 percent of the overall weekly volume of email opens came from emails sent on Tuesday
  2. % Click Volume: This is a measure of the percentage of the overall volume of clicks for emails sent during a specific period. For example, 8 percent “click volume” for Thursday means that 8 percent of the overall weekly volume of email clicks came from emails sent on Thursday
  3. Open Rate: This is normal measure that takes the amount of emails that were opened divided by the total amount of emails that were sent
  4. Click Rate:This measures the amount of emails that received clicks divided by the total amount of emails that were sent

Overall email engagement by day of the week

Unsurprisingly, weekdays tended to have the most engagement, comprising over 85% of the total weekly volume of opens and nearly 95% of the weekly clicks.

In terms of click volume, Tuesday and Wednesday saw the largest amount of engagement. These days also had a correspondingly high volume of opens as well.

This makes sense if you think about it. Tuesday is the day people finally start feeling refreshed after their spending all weekend staying up late and listening to the new Taylor Swift single on repeat (just me?).

You can see that as the week goes on, people continue to open emails, but the volume of clicks trails off significantly. This is interesting, and is likely indicative of the fatigue brought on by the work week.

Overall email engagement by time of day

As we broke down the results even further to the hour, we found some very interesting email engagement trends.

It turns out there were effectively two “best times” to send an email campaign on a given day. The peaks exist at 10:00 AM for both open and clicks for the morning, and 3:00 PM and 4:00 PM for opens and clicks respectively in the afternoon.

Intuitively, these numbers make a lot of sense:

  • 10:00 AM is the perfect time for email recipients to get to work, get some actual work done, and then inevitably get sucked into the black hole that is their email inbox.
  • 3:00 and 4:00 PM is likely when people are checking their emails again after lunch or towards the end of the day before they leave.

You’ll also notice that click volume remains high through 6:00 PM (and even 7:00 PM to a lesser extent).

This is likely due to recipients checking their personal emails once they get home from work, or on their commute home if they take the bus or train (No emailing and driving folks!).

Although these graphs provide some pretty great insights, they don’t give us the whole picture.

In our study, we found that the timing of email engagement also depends on the type of business. This is because certain businesses will have content or conversion goals that are more likely to be done at different times during the week or even different times of day.

To show you what I mean, let’s take a closer look at the different business types:

Email campaign timing by Business Type

In our analysis, we tried to group together industries that trended with the overall open volume on one side, and those that trended further away on the other side.

This made it easier to visualize the results and understand email engagement behavior a bit better.

Best Day of the Week

Looking at the days of the week gave us some pretty interesting insights into customer behavior for the various business types we looked at.

Here is what we found:

Businesses that were closest to the overall trend:

The verdict:
Best day to send your email campaign: Tuesday or Wednesday

Ecommerce, SaaS companies, and NGOs were the closest in following the overall trend that we looked at in the first section of this article.

All three of these industries have spikes for the open volume on Tuesday and Thursday. But, if you look at the click volume graph below, you’ll see that the largest amount of clicks by far takes place on Wednesday.

We definitely didn’t expect to see such a difference between the open and click trends. But, it just goes to show you that opens don’t always equate to more meaningful engagement.

But, there are several logical explanations for why you might see stronger engagement from these businesses closer to the beginning of the week:

  • Ecommerce:  People want to get their shopping done early in the week so that it gets delivered in time for the weekend. Some might also just be looking for a distraction at work because they’re still wishing it was the weekend.
  • SaaS: SaaS companies mostly send newsletters with content related to their product’s functionality. Since readers most likely use these tools for work, it makes sense that they would want to read related content during the week.
  • NGOs: NGOs and nonprofits are usually driven by a cause. This means that their audiences have high motivation already, so that post-weekend refreshed feeling might just be that extra kick that people need to read about their cause.

Businesses that were further from the overall trend:

The verdict:
Best day to send you email campaign: B2B – Monday or Tuesday, Marketing Services – Wednesday, Offline Retail – Thursday

Marketing services (agencies), offline retail businesses, and other B2B companies had more unique engagement patterns than the business types we looked at above.

The most interesting of these three is probably B2B. As you can see, there is a surge of opens at the beginning of the week, with the highest amount of opens on Monday and Tuesday. The engagement drops very sharply after that.

For offline retail, opens were fairly even throughout the week. The volume gradually increases day to day, with the most amount of emails opened on Thursday and Friday.

Marketing services saw its opens peak midweek on Wednesday, with well-below average numbers on Monday and Tuesday. For click engagement, we saw the same pattern of sticking much closer to the observed trend overall, which was definitely unexpected.

Most surprising was the click distribution for B2B, which almost traced the overall trend line. This was a stark contrast from the unique distribution of open volume over the week.

Although these deviations from the overall trend seem strange, we thought of a few reasons why the differences might make sense:

  • Marketing services: Out of the three industries that were far from the overall figures, this business type was still the closest. It’s likely that these emails simply follow a similar pattern to the SaaS companies — people want to read content that is relevant to their job during the week.
  • Offline Retail: The pattern of opens for offline retail likely corresponds to the recipient’s intent. Most people wait to go shopping until the weekend, so they might be waiting until the end of the week to read them.
  • B2B: Client companies usually rely on there B2B service providers. That means that emails from these B2B companies will likely be read throughout the week, with a high volume on Monday and Tuesday resulting from the buildup of emails from the previous week and weekend (Am I the only one who struggles to get real work done on Monday mornings?).

Best Hour of the Day

Looking at the hourly data gave us some pretty good insights into the best timing for email campaigns.

We actually ended up seeing slightly more uniformity across industries, as well as between opens and clicks, in our study on hours in the day versus our look at the days of the week.

Businesses that were closer to the overall trend:

The verdict:
Best time to send an email: Either 9:00 – 10:00 in the morning, or around 2:00 in the afternoon. If you’re a SaaS company, the afternoon looks to have more engagement potential.

As you might recall from above, the overall trend for hourly engagement resulted in a bimodal distribution: one peak in the morning at 10:00, and one in the afternoon at 3:00.

SaaS, offline retail, and B2B businesses all followed a relatively similar trend.  All three showed about 75% of the open volume taking place during business hours and 2 maxima located in the morning and early afternoon. But, B2B and offline retail had spikes that occurred slightly earlier than the overall peak (10:00 AM), both at around 8:00 AM.

Clicks also followed a similar trend to the overall distribution, with one major exception: SaaS.

As you can clearly see in the graph, SaaS has a major spike at 2:00 PM, accounting for about 20% of the total daily click volume. It’s hard to say what caused this specifically, but it could likely be due to the workflow of recipients throughout the day, and the fact that they might have more time in the afternoon to look through emails.

Businesses that were further from the overall trend:

The verdict:
Best time to send an email: Sometime in the late afternoon between 4:00 and 6:00.

Although ecommerce, marketing services, and NGOs all had figures that were far from the overall engagement distribution, they still followed a similar pattern of peaks and valleys. These businesses just had more extreme numbers.

Marketing services had the most unique trend, with low levels of engagement in the morning building up to a single peak at 4:00 in the afternoon.It also had a significant lift later in the evening.

Clicks were a different story. All three of these businesses had a single maximum that spiked in the late afternoon from 4:00 – 6:00 PM. This was quite a difference from the smoother bimodal distribution of the overall click volume.


So what have we learned?

  • The optimal time to send an email will depend on what type of business you have
  • Over 85% of opened marketing emails were sent on weekdays
  • Over 90% of marketing emails that received clicks were sent on weekdays
  • In general, it’s better to send email campaigns in the middle of the week between Tuesday and Thursday
  • Email engagement is generally best for emails sent during mid-morning at 10:00 or mid-afternoon at around 2:00

Now that you’ve seen the data, it’s time for you to start optimizing your campaigns!

Remember though, you should still be tracking the results of your own campaigns to make sure that you are doing your best to continuously optimize your campaign engagement.

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Happy Sending!

Sendinblue Team

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