It would be a lie to claim that ‘delivery time’ is a highly influential factor in email open rates. Compared to heavyweights like subject lines, sender identities, and list health, there’s very little contest.
However, once you’ve addressed these fundamentals, delivery time can help get your message seen by that last few percent of willing subscribers. And since it takes no more effort to schedule broadcasts at the right time, it makes sense to optimize delivery time, too.
If your emails are hitting inboxes in the middle of the night—chances are they’ll be buried under a ton of others by the time your supporter wakes up. Ideally, you want your message as close to the top of the inbox when your supporter chooses to look. In other words, you’re aiming to send your broadcast just before your supporter is likely to read it. This is what gives you the advantage. Simple, huh? If only.
Lists that have geo-dispersed audiences are at a disadvantage here. If your supporters are scattered across numerous time zones, it will be near impossible to schedule broadcasts at a times when everyone’s likely to be looking. If this is your list, invest in subject line optimization!
However, if your subscribers tend to be concentrated in or near the same time zone, then you can more easily play to their schedule.
Studies indicate that email consumption patterns vary significantly between weekdays and weekends. Generally speaking, more people have time to open emails during the week, with 11am being the optimum open time for a U.S. audience. Weekends attract sightly fewer opens and skew open times towards Sunday evenings.
This won’t be the same for every audience or every country.
While different studies draw slightly different conclusions, there’s one thing everyone agrees on. The unique makeup of your audience demographic will point closer to your list engagement patterns than any meta analysis ever could. Your ideal delivery time is unique to your list.
The best way to know with certainty when to schedule messages for your audiences is to split test delivery time. Send the same message to random segments of your audience and monitor both open rates and click rates. How does morning compare to afternoon or evening? Mondays to Fridays? Mid-week to weekends?
You might discover a strong preference to open emails during work hours or the evening public transport commute. Perhaps you’ll learn that your audience is equally keen to engage with your emails on weekends.
Whatever patterns you uncover, they won’t be set in stone. If you want delivery time to play a meaningful role in your optimization strategy, test intermittently. You may find that over years, these trends tend to shift.
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