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When Do People Open Their Emails?

 In Email Marketing, Optimization

Instead of talking about exotic advanced features, I thought it’s time to get down to some of the basic questions we typically get from our email clients.  Today, let’s review questions about the shelf life of an email, and also, when is it best to send your email?

Graph representing unique open rates over 12 months

The above graph is a compilation of data from ~10 Billion emails sent in a 12 month period in batches of >5K. It represents unique open rates from the time of send.

What Important Lessons Can We Learn From These Open Rates?

  1. 27% of all opens take place within 2 hours of sends.  This means that if an email is sent too early or too late in reference to top engagement times you may not have optimal results.
  2. 45% of all opens occur within 6 hours of send. This is an important indicator to consider in timing the sending of your email. Many clients send their email from 2-4 AM to make sure their emails are in the inbox by the start of the business day.
  3. 83% of opens take place within the first 48 hours. This also means that 17% open after two days. Keep in mind that this graph represents the 1st open by the reader. The 2nd and 3rd open as well as the actual engagement (click to web site) may take place days later.

The type of product or service you sell, and whether the email is promotional or educational will have a lot to do with the overall shelf life of the email. A B2B educational email that provides valuable information may see re-engagement weeks after it was sent.

As expected, a promotional email will typically have a shorter life that can be measured in days. In some instances though, if the product is not a consumable and is costly, you may see opens, clicks, and purchases weeks after the initial send.

When do People Open Their Emails?

Reading EmailsThe best open rates typically take place during the early working hours when people come in to work or start their day and scan their inbox (8- 10AM) or later in the day (2-5PM). Lunch times and early evening have lower open rates. As you would expect, weekdays have better engagement than weekends and the busiest email marketing days are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

When to Send an Email?

send an emailTo time it right the best tactic is to send emails while people are most likely to engage. If you have a national or global data base you need to stagger the emails sends in time-zone waves rather than treat everyone the same. If you don’t want to go through this effort the safest method is to send early AM so that email does not sit in the inbox for too long before being seen. At the same time, those are the busiest hours for emails so some take the contrarian approach and send their emails in the afternoon to avoid the morning clutter.

Forget the Above and Test for Yourself!

All these statistics and tips make for a great general understanding but DON’T take them as gospel. Your lists may behave differently. You must test different send times and different days and review your results and learn from them. Review your data over time and conduct numerous A/B tests before you conclude the best methods for your list. Please read this article on How to Test For Best Results.

Give us a holler if you need some help figuring all this out.

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