When is the best time to send an email? It’s one of the most popular questions we hear when we meet people at conferences or talk with our customers.
It’s a great question! Your subscribers have busy lives and the last thing you want is to send them a newsletter while they’re preoccupied with work, or dreaming about their weekend plans.
Ideally, you want people to have the time and mental space to read your newsletter. You want to choose the sending times that will give you the best email engagement.
Is there a time when your subscribers are perfectly primed and ready to receive your email? And if this ‘perfect time’ does exist, wouldn’t everyone be sending their newsletters at exactly the same time? That would defeat the whole purpose.
Before we get too philosophical, let’s get back to the facts (aka the data). We’ll cover:
The conventional approach to email timing
What our 2021 data shows about email timing
Other factors which influence email timing
Best email marketing tools for email sending
We want to help you figure out this million-dollar question!
We analyzed over 2.5 million email campaigns sent with MailerLite in 2021, and here’s what we found this year:
Which day of the week is everyone sending their campaigns?
Email marketers favor Tuesday (closely followed by Thursday) for sending out their campaigns
Which day of the week generates the most opens?
Wednesday is the weekday with the highest open rate, closely followed by Monday
What time of day generates the most opens?
Regardless of weekdays, most email opens occur between 10AM-12PM, with another peak between 5-6PM (in the subscriber’s time zone)
But as you’ll read in the article, it’s important to know your subscribers and base your sending times on their preferences. And when in doubt, test and learn!
As a starting point, put yourself in the shoes of your subscribers. Think about their daily routines, habits and mindsets. You might not have all the data yet, but you probably know your target audience pretty well. When would they be most likely to engage with your email campaigns?
Often, their week plays out something like this:
Email marketers generally agree that Monday is the wrong time to send a newsletter. People are busy adjusting back to their workweek. Business emails will inevitably be prioritized over promotional emails. Because of the emphasis on catching up with work, many say that Monday is one of the worst times to send your newsletter (although our 2021 data suggests it can still generate surprisingly high open rates). 🤷
Most email marketers believe that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are good days. In the middle of the week, your email subscribers are settled into their work routine and consistently checking their inboxes.
On Friday, everyone is daydreaming about the weekend and rushing to finish work so that they can go offline. However, we have found that Friday afternoons can be a good time, especially right after lunch. People are usually winding down for the weekend and are less likely to start new tasks, giving them more time to check their inboxes.
This is a tricky one. Although there are always exceptions, some cultures, such as in France and Italy, will rarely check their mailboxes outside of working hours. But in other cultures, such as the United States, Sunday evenings can be an ideal time, as Americans tend to prepare for the work week the evening before.
Also, people generally receive fewer emails over the weekend, so it could be easier to capture their attention. As a rule, it’s best to test different sending times for your target audience, to find out what generates the highest open and click rates.
By logically going through the days of the week, you can make some educated guesses about when to send your email. But we’ve taken it a step further and dug up our 2021 stats compiled from over 2.5 million campaigns.
We love crunching the numbers, and we’re big believers in analyzing data from a human perspective. We’ve looked at over 2.5 million MailerLite campaigns to find insights that we paired with our own, real-world experience to see if there is, in fact, an ideal sending window.
What is the best day of the week to send emails? Let’s compare these two graphs showing sending rates and email open rates throughout the week.
Ta da! The data shows that most newsletters tend to be sent out on weekdays. Tuesday and Thursday are the most popular days for email marketers to send out their campaigns, while Saturday and Sunday bring up the rear as the least popular (awww, bless them 💔).
But how does this correlate with average open rates for each weekday? Let’s take a look below.
Reassuringly, open rates are fairly consistent across the week. The most favorable options would be Wednesday (29.73% opens) and Monday (29.64% opens).
On the other hand, bear in mind that far fewer emails are sent at weekends, so this could be an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. However, Saturday is also the worst day for open rates, and email marketers generally agree that weekends are the worst time to send out a campaign—so the decision is yours! It might be a goldmine, or it might be a hard pass.
If in doubt, test different sending days and compare your campaign reports (more on that later).
Let’s take a look at each weekday to get an idea of which times have the highest open rates. Overall, most opens take place between 10AM-12PM (based on the subscriber’s time zone).
Many industry experts have hailed these times as a prime sending window, as your subscribers have settled into their day, but are not yet too focused on their daily tasks to ignore their inboxes. The data also shows higher open rates around 5-6PM.
According to the data, 10AM is the peak time when people open their emails on a Monday—and there’s also a nice little boost between 5-7PM, as well. In mid-afternoon, open rates drop a little, perhaps as people shake off the “Monday blues” and get on with their workday tasks.
Again, email opens peak at 10AM, and then they remain fairly consistent throughout the afternoon, before tailing off from 6PM onwards. This may be due to subscribers settling into a rhythm for the week, routinely checking their emails and then signing off at the end of the day.
And (surprise, surprise), 10AM takes the gold medal again! Wednesday’s open rates follow a fairly similar pattern to Tuesday, with a sharper decline after 6PM in the evening as people switch off from their devices, start their commute home and spend time with their loved ones.
As always, 10AM is still the prime time for open rates, but interestingly, on Thursdays there is also a smaller peak between 1-3PM. This might be due to people taking their lunch breaks and looking for a distraction as they approach the end of the working week.
On Fridays, open rates are consistently high from 10-11AM, with another spike around 2PM. This can be an interesting day to send a newsletter because you’re catching people just before they head out for the weekend, when they might be most inclined to buy something, or try a new experience.
Saturday open rates are pretty similar to weekdays, with a spike at 10AM and a steady decline throughout the afternoon, as people switch off to enjoy their weekend.
Yet again, 10AM wins the day, with an even sharper decline in afternoon open rates, compared to Saturday.
Our data shows that while open rates are consistent across all weekdays, Wednesdays and Mondays are leading the pack. But regardless of which day you choose to send your newsletter, 10AM appears to be a favorable sending time for maximum open rates.
These stats also show the worst time to send an email is anywhere between 9PM-9AM, when subscribers are winding down for the evening, sleeping and then rushing to get ready for the new day.
No matter when you send your newsletter, the best practice is to keep it consistent. We are all creatures of habit, and we subconsciously crave consistency. By maintaining a regular email cadence, you build trust and anticipation. Your audience will expect to receive your content during a designated time.
For example, I always look forward to Seth Godin’s email, which comes into my inbox daily. Paul Jarvis’s thoughts always come in on Sundays, and on Fridays, there’s an email from Tim Ferris. Not only do I love these newsletters, but there’s a Pavlovian response to regularly receiving these emails that brings me joy.
Many email marketers send out email blasts in the minutes of the hour (00:15, 00:30, 00:45). It might be worth following the “sun tactics hack” instead, which is where you send your emails during the quiet minutes (00:07, 00:38, 00:42). This reduces the risk of your email being delayed due to a high number of emails crowding the servers at the same time.
Finding the best day and time from the data isn’t the only variable you need to consider. Look at your campaign holistically, as other factors may influence your sending time, including:
Your marketing goals
Your target audience
Think about what you want your audience to do when they get the email. Read it? Click through? Make a purchase?
Here are 3 types of goals that will inform your sending times.
Do you want your subscribers’ full attention when they click through for a longer experience? Consider sending your newsletters either on Friday afternoons, in the evenings, or even on the weekend. It’s easier to capture attention when fewer or no emails are sent.
If you are happy with your readers quickly scanning your newsletter just to keep your brand at the top of their minds, you can send it anytime during the weekday. Your subscribers will view it, and then quickly move on with their day. This is the time when people read emails methodically throughout the day, but only react to the important ones.
If you want to remind your audience about an event or a webinar, send a follow-up email a day before the event, and then resend it an hour before the event to make sure they remember it.
Different types of emails are better sent at certain times of day. The most obvious example is a news and media email. If something newsworthy happens, make sure you send it as soon as possible.
Newsletters promoting B2B services or products perform better during working hours when your subscribers are in their work mindset. On the other hand, a travel agency or an author can capture more attention if they send emails after work hours or on the weekend. Some pizza companies send their promotions and coupons at 4:15PM, just around the time that their subscribers will be starting to think about their evening meal!
Think about the type of message you are sending and time it accordingly.
Did you know that the ‘best time to send an email’ data is based mostly on desktop users? Check which type of device your subscribers use to open your newsletters. Mobile users tend to be more active late in the evening and during weekends.
Or perhaps your primary audience is not a 9-5 business person, but rather a remote worker, a stay-at-home parent, or retired. Use this to your advantage by understanding their email habits and sending them newsletters at a time of day that works best for them.
Once you’ve analyzed your data and determined the key times to send your newsletters, take advantage of email marketing’s best sending features. They’ll make your life a whole lot easier!
Most email opens will happen within an hour of arrival. If your message is very important, use auto-resend to re-engage your subscribers without lifting a finger. With this feature, your email will resend automatically to everyone who didn’t open it the first time.
You can add a personalized message to the second email to let people know it’s important. When resending unopened email campaigns, the goal is to make everyone feel as if the second email was designed especially for them.
With MailerLite, you can check your ‘opens by location’ to understand where your subscribers are based. When you deliver emails by time zone, you can save your subscribers from receiving an email at 3AM. Each reader will receive the newsletter at the same time in their own time zone. Just bear in mind that some location and opens tracking may now be affected by Apple Privacy Protection.
Sometimes, you can use automation triggers to send emails at the perfect time. Instead of trying to work out the best time to send a newsletter to your entire email list, link triggers send individual emails based on each subscriber's action.
When a reader clicks on a link in your email campaign, they can trigger another email that matches the topic they are interested in at that very moment. This takes out the guesswork and lets the subscriber's behavior dictate a good time to send your message.
Send time isn’t the only factor that influences email open and click rates. Your email subject line, sender address and email content can also be major players. Fortunately, you can test out these 3 things to find out which one generates the most engagement.
A/B testing is where you create 2 versions of the same email (e.g. with different subject lines), and then you send them to a sample of your audience. The version which generates the highest opens or clicks* will be declared the “winner”, and get sent to the rest of your email list.
*Since the Apple Mail Privacy Protection feature was released on 20 September 2021, we recommend A/B testing by click rates rather than open rates.
When all's said and done, sending time is a minor detail in the broader email marketing strategy. Your audience will open and read emails because of the content and value that you provide them with. It’s no good sending your email newsletter at the perfect time if it doesn’t match up with other email marketing benchmarks.
So if a deadline is coming up, and you’re not happy with your email, wait until it’s ready. It’s better to deliver a quality experience, rather than sacrificing it for the sake of a specific date and time. When your readers are looking out for your newsletters with excitement, the timing becomes less relevant.
To wrap up, here are your main email sending time takeaways:
Put yourself in your target audience’s shoes, and think about what their daily habits and routines will look like.
Send your newsletter on weekdays if you want higher open and click rates, and on weekends if you want your audience’s undivided attention.
Think about your marketing goals, your messaging and your target audience before choosing a specific day and time.
Make use of email marketing tools to fine-tune your sending, such as auto re-sends and link triggers.
Remember: high-quality newsletters are more important than perfect timing.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in September 2020. It has been updated with new insights from our 2021 data.