She's had great success sending pitches at strange hours, such as 11:23 a.m. on a Sunday, Formacelli asserted. While you can't argue with her personal experience about what works for her, new quantitative evidence shows that Formacelli's good results from sending marketing e-mails at any old hour may be a relatively isolated event.
E-mail marketing firm GetResponse recently combed through a whopping 21 million messages to trawl for patterns that can help business owners better time their e-mails. What they found is that there's a definite pattern to when an e-mail is most likely to be opened--but it's not a simple one.
One of the most important conclusions is that sending newsletters during readers' top engagement times of 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. can increase their average open rates and CTR by 6%.
However, optimizing e-mail timing takes more than awareness of top engagement times. As our research points out, it’s a combination of many factors, including knowledge of time zone differences, your subscribers' daily routines and the practices of other marketers.
GetResponse also found that "e-mails have the best results within the 1st hour after delivery. This is when 23.63% of all e-mails are opened. But 24 hours after delivery, the average open rate is close to zero." So what does this all boil down to?
Timing generally matters as the longer a message sits in someone's in-box the less likely the person is to read it, and the time a message hangs around isn't entirely due to a recipient's lack of interest. In-box clutter also apparently plays a role. "Almost 40% of all messages are sent between 6 a.m. and noon. This can result in in-box clutter, and significantly decrease results for these e-mails." According to GetResponse the takeaways therefore are:
If your recipients are occupied with other activities, they won't be able to engage while it’s still fresh, and your message will be crowded out by more recent messages.
To optimize the engagement rates for your message, you should schedule it to hit the inbox no later than 1 hour before the top open times, when its chances of getting noticed are the highest.
If your e-mailings go to worldwide lists, make sure you use solutions that optimize delivery times in different time zones.
JESSICA STILLMAN is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist. @EntryLevelRebel