You put a lot of effort into planning and designing your marketing emails, so the last thing you want is to send them when no one’s around to read them. While it’s not the end-all-be-all of email marketing, the time and day of the week when you send emails does have an effect on open and clickthrough rates, as well as purchase behavior. That’s why it’s an important factor to consider when you’re getting started with an email strategy.

The Gold Standard of Email Send Times

Since we’re sending so many marketing emails these days, a lot of research has been done around when the best time to send them is. The general rule of thumb is that mid-day in the middle of the week is the optimal time.

According to MailChimp’s analysis, the best open and clickthrough rates come between 9-11am and 1-3pm with 2 in the afternoon being the peak. And it’s best to avoid weekends, Mondays, and Fridays.

Rethinking the Norm

Here’s the thing about a general rule of thumb: it doesn’t take into account varying demographics and the nature of emails specific to you and your audience. And since the common thought is to send on Wednesday at 2pm, there’s a lot of competition there. The last thing you want is for your email to get lost in the flood of 2pm sends.

The Best Time for Your Audience

The optimal time for you to send emails is highly dependent on your audience — their ages, occupations, timezones, etc. — and the devices they use to check email. That’s why we’re gonna talk through how to determine the best time for your emails to be sent.

Don’t Be Afraid to Divert From the Norm

It can be scary to turn your back on what seems like common sense, but there’s a lot of data out there to dispute the norm, too. Experian’s 2012 study found that open rates neared 22% between 8pm and midnight, and they were even as high as 17.6% from midnight to 4am. What’s more, emails sent during these times had the highest clickthrough rates all day, and revenue per email peaked in the 8pm to midnight group.

Let’s not forget the differences based on what devices are used. Research has found that just over half of all emails are opened on a mobile device. And according to an ExactTarget 2014 report, activity on mobile is highest between 9pm and midnight. With all this data supporting you, it’s more than worthwhile to disregard the popular thought, and determine the best send times for your unique audience.

Get to Know Your Audience

The first step to optimizing your email schedule is to get to know the demographics and lifestyles of your target audience. Some key factors to note include age, occupation, and location (A.K.A. timezone).

Age is a big indicator for the mobile usage you can expect, and occupation can tell you when they’re awake and during what hours they’re at work. Knowing the predominant timezones within your audience is pretty straightforward — if they’re all checking email at 2pm Eastern time, you don’t want to be sending at 2pm Pacific.

You also want to look into their mobile versus desktop usage specifically. Even if they’re young and mobile-savvy, you still need to determine how your emails are being read.

An easy to way to get this information is to simply ask for it on the opt-in form subscribers fill out. For back data, many email clients like MailChimp show you information regarding where your emails are being opened and on what devices. You can also consider sending out a brief survey to your list.

Know What You Bring to the Table

Another important aspect of finding the best time to send is what you’re sending. What value does your email provide?

For example, if your email includes tips to help people in their professions, most won’t be interested outside of working hours. If you’re announcing a flash sale at your brick & mortar location, you’ll want to send it relatively close (60-90 minutes prior) to the time of the sale. For entertainment-related emails — like the a concert venue or small town movie theater — you might find the best metrics happen on Friday afternoon.

Knowing the value you bring to your audience is a natural offshoot to knowing your audience. A quick survey can be a good way to gauge how customers use your product or service and what they expect you to provide.

Timing is Important

I’ve said it from the get-go — timing isn’t everything. A well-timed email won’t make or break your open and click rates or the revenue you gain from it, but optimizing when you send marketing emails can take a mediocre performance to the next level. That means your email strategy becomes more efficient, and you can reap even more revenue from your investment.

Before you hit ‘send,’ take a look at the rest of our Perfect Emails series:

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