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The Last Word on the Best Day/Time to Send an E-Mail

In a blog post, Jeffrey Rohrs at Exact Target offers up the last word on a debate that has fascinated the e-mail marketing industry from the beginning: when is the best time and day to maximize open rates? The answer has varied, depending on the industry sending the market messages (If the campaign is B2B, the morning is an optimal time as most deskbound workers usually start their day by going through their e-mail in-boxes, according to B2B Marketing Magazine) to the research organization looking at the question (MarketingSherpa says Monday).

Marketers, though, would like a definitive answer once and for all, especially as the debate has extended to Twitter.  Rohrs' theory? There is no universal best day/time to send. That said, senders may discover - but only through analyzing their own performance data - that certain windows perform better than others. "The only way to know what the best date and time for you to send an e-mail is to test your email campaigns," he says.

A Moving Target

Exact Target has found the optimal day/time to be a moving target. Monday may be seen as the best day by many firms but Exact Target has found it consistently ranks 5th or 6th in the terms of open rates, Rohrs says, citing data from the company's 2004 Markeitng Response Rate Study. A study in 2005 found that Friday was the best day to send email to get a high open rate. Another problem with officially proclaiming the optimal date/time to send e-mail, he adds, is that spammers immediately dive into those windows. It is one reason why Exact Target has not updated its own research.

Some Guidelines

Still for marketers seeking more specifics - spammers notwithstanding - Gather recently developed some guidelines.  It said, noting numerous studies that have been conducted over the years, that mail sent on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays has the best chance of being opened. But each day offers a unique window:

On Monday, after a long weekend, many e-mail users make it a priority to organize their inboxes. Send e-mail late in the morning, as by this point they have gotten the chance to check their inbox.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday are all an optimal days to send as by now people have organized their work week and have a little extra time for their inbox.  Towards the end of the week, though, the recipient may hold off on any immediate calls to action as he/she wraps up the work week and readies for the weekend.

By Thursday, Gather recommends keeping the message friendlier and less aggressive.

Friday is a good day to send as less mail in general is sent. However it is the end of the week and people are in a rush to leave the office. If you are going to send a message, do it early in the day.

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