best time to send emails

by Brittany Ferrara, Conversation Enablement Coach, Speaker & Founder at Communications Edge Inc.

When is the best time to send sales emails?

Question: When is the best time to send sales prospecting emails?

Answer: It depends. That might seem unhelpful, but it really does depend.

The good news: There is a way to automatically know the best time to send sales messages---based on your statistically proven most effective time.

You’ve got to test and study. While this sounds like a lot of work it may not be when using a tool to monitor messages you’re sending---revealing when they are most likely to be opened.

I’ll get to that in a moment.

Avoid "email triage times"

“In my experience, around 80% of emails are read on mobile devices yet 80% of replies are sent from a laptop/desktop,” says demand generation expert, David Kirkdorffer

“I've seen this pattern born out empirically over and over again by looking at data from mailing systems I've used. If you want a reply (or a registration), you want to avoid ‘email curation’ from a mobile phone.”

Mr. Kirkdorffer says we all use our mobile devices to "triage" email when we are away from our desk. For example, aat breakfast, commuting, at lunch and such. 

“On the one hand, we delete what is unnecessary/noise/junk; on the other hand, vital email we answer immediately. That leaves a broad swath of email we ‘leave till a better time.’”

His advice: Avoid sending email when it is likely to be first seen during an ‘email triage moment.’

Bottom line, the answer to this question is: “it depends.” As much as people agree (“Well, there is no one-size-fits-all here”), they always seek to find a general guide.

It’s only natural. We’re human. We seek the path of least resistance. But when it comes to prospecting new business using email, the question of “when is best?” is not a very practical one. 

Unhelpful email sending research

Most email research focusing on the best time to send email isn’t relevant to a sales outreach (prospecting) context.

Example: A large body of research tells us sending emails on certain days of the week and at specific times of the day influences open and response rates. 

“However, a major part of the research considers the best delivery time for email newsletters,” says Cathy Patalas of email solution provider  

Marketing software tool, Coschedule, published a summary of research data. They concluded the best time is: 6 a.m. sometimes, 10 a.m. sometimes, 2 p.m. sometimes and 8 p.m to Midnight other times. Pretty handy. (not!)

Further, I’ve concluded there’s just too much bias. Any research available on this subject is underwritten by businesses maintaining financial interest in the research outcomes.

The question-asking methodology used in this research is also biased. 

Researchers often design questions to facilitate specific (preferred) answers. “Researchers” aim questions at groups of respondents predisposed to answering a particular way. 

Bottom line: Most email research that focuses on the best time to send email isn’t relevant to a sales outreach (prospecting) context. The best time to send an email newsletter is, at best, loosely relevant to a sales context. 

Ms. Patalas went as far as studying research across four publishers. Her conclusion?

“Depending on the (given) study, there are some differences in specifying the optimal time for email delivery.”  

Which brings us right back to: it depends!

How to decide: Weigh the factors

What are you selling? To whom? How are they inclined to use email? Answers to these questions will help you understand optimal sending times for your specific situation.

If you’re selling multi-million dollar outsourced IT service contracts, your target market is vastly different than a seller of tamper evident bag closing solutions. Target buyers are different in just about every way conceivable. 

  • Deal size
  • Time needed to convert to a closed deal
  • Number and authority of decision makers
  • How often & time of day they’re able to check email

Example: Our firm is working with a Fortune 500-sized food services company. Sales reps are calling on large wholesale buyers of food goods. We’re also helping a small, invention-based seller of tamper evident bag closing solutions. 

The difference in email habits and usage patterns of these two distinct buyer groups is significant. 

One buyer group deals in million or even 100 million dollar deals. The other, however, is hovering around, at most, a few thousand dollar deals.

Research required

So what is the best time to send sales emails? “The answer to that question will be different for each of us,” says Ms. Patalas. 

“Because our target group specifies the best day and time for email delivery. And that probably works both for newsletters and cold emails. If we know our recipients well, that is.”

Discovering the answer, Ms. Patalas says, requires having done research before sending; understanding how prospects work, what they value, etc. 

Indeed, Ms. Patalas recommends talking to a representative sample of the client group(s) you’re 

calling on. 

“It takes time to discover the best time to send an email campaign,” says Ms. Patalas who has experience working with 52Challenges, a CRM tool for personal trainers. 

“Before sending our cold emails at 52Challenges, we had some basic knowledge when to send emails (based on general research).” “But we quickly discovered the most replies were sent to us on weekends. On working days, most fitness pros replied to us either early in the morning, or late at night – because that’s when they were checking their emails.” 

“After talking with trainers, we confirmed our assumptions considering their workflow. They wake up early in the morning (for me it was more like in the middle of the night) and start their day earlier than office workers – because personal trainers work with the office workers before the latter get to the office.”

How to discover your best time to send

I urge you to not rely on third party research. Perform your own experiments. 

Why? For example, take the 52Challenges example. 

“We wouldn’t expect someone to reply to us at 5 or 6 in the morning. According to research by KissMetrics, it’s the ‘dead zone.’ But for some personal trainers, not only was it OK to get an email before 6 AM, but also to talk to us on the phone at 7 AM, because they actually started their day 3 hours before 7 AM.”

Here's the process to discovering the best time to send sales prospecting emails to your potential customers. Invest in:

  1. A tech tool like MixMax. Track open rate, response rate and the best time of day "sweet spot" for your specific niche market. Best of all you can segment like mad and automate to allow you to send at your statistically proven best time.
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       2. Experimenting. Invest time finding the best subject line for maximum opens and message provocations for

       3. A mixed cadence. Avoid relying on email alone. Match those message provocations with calls, voicemails
           and social/LinkedIn messages and touches. 

In fact, if you’re managing a team of sellers consider, or to monitor qualitative and quantitative data and find out what voicemail/phone messages are working, why and when (time of day).

But what about the message?

Learning how to determine what the best time of day is for your outreach emails is all well and good, but if you’re sending a weak message--even if it’s at the optimal time--your chances of earning a reply go down. Are you trying to build trust when you should be following a different path for success? 

Your messages might need help, but that’s okay, and if you’re willing to learn to improve them, you’ll start seeing more responses.

Want to have your cold email template critiqued and strengthened by Jeff Molander? Send me a message to be entered into a drawing to win a cold email template review (a $147 value).

Brittany Ferrara gives our customers and internal team everything needed to stay focused, on-task, effective and ultimately successful. She gives us an organizational, marketing & customer support edge. Brittany brings seven years of customer service, administrative assisting and marketing experience to us. She is a successful entrepreneur, having operated her own successful venture, Pro-Assist, LLC for five years before joining our team.

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