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What is the best time of day to send email marketing campaigns in 2024?

  Gregg Blanchard     January 17, 2024    

This is a great question and one that I've heard dozens of times during my marketing career. Sometimes when people ask this question what they're really asking is "what time of day will I get the best open rate" or "what time of day will I get the best revenue per email" which are also good questions, but it's important to keep in mind three simple things when asking questions like this.

First, your audience is totally unique. There is likely no other business in the world with the same combination of potential customers in your email database. They're spread across a unique combination of timezones, they each have different daily habits, at they each have a unique relationship with your brand. Yes, there are trends when we look at aggregated data around sending times and email campaigns, but don't forget that those metrics are not based on your emails to your audience about your products.

Second, your competitive landscape is unique. This can be a different idea for some, but Black Friday / Cyber Monday is a good illustration of what I mean. On that spending holiday we marketers understand that almost everyone is competing with us. And so what do we do? We start earlier in the month. We get emails out early in the day. We may send multiple campaigns a day. We position our emails against everyone else with our strategy. Your competitors have a unique strategy just like the days of BFCM have a unique cadence.

Third, your goals are unique. Which brings up the simple idea that what time of day you send emails depends on what you're trying to do. Are you trying to catch people during lunch break to play a game? Are you hoping to get them to think about you as they start the day? Do you want them to buy something within a few minutes of opening? All of these will demand a unique strategy when it comes to when you send your emails.

What that intro, let's look at some send time email stats at a few different levels to see what we find.

Time of Day Email Stats for 2024

To try to isolate both the timezone of the sender as well as the timezone of the recipient, I created a segment of brands that are based in the United States with audiences that are heavily skewed toward living in the United States. For example, I've included a franchise that only has locations in the U.S. and does not ship internationally so not only is their audience primarily going to be local, but the marketers sending the emails would have reason to primarily send to that local audience.

So, with this audience I looked at about 10,000 campaigns sent over a 2-month period ending in the second week of January 2024. The times below are in Eastern Standard Time (EST).

chart showing email campaigns sent by time of day by us businesses

As we look closer at this chart, we can see a few key moments worth calling out.

First, the early morning hours. While there is a tiny sliver of data for every hour of the day, 7am EST is when we see the first visible uptick. From there the number of email campaigns sent each hour only increases until it peaks with the group of email campaigns sent between 11:00am and 11:59am EST.

Second, the mid-day plateau. After that, the number of campaigns stays high for the next three hours ending just before 3pm EST.

Third, the afternoon dip. Maybe concerned about people checking out in the afternoon, commuting home from work, or picking up kids for school, the next couple hours see a noticeable dip in the number of email campaigns sent.

Fourth, the pre-evening spike. After that lull we see another little spike between 5:00pm and 6:59pm EST when email volume ramps up a bit. Still only close to the number of emails sent during the mid-day plateau, but higher than the afternoon dip.

Fifth, the evening ramp down. From there, the number of email campaigns sent each hour slowly drops until there are hardly enough to make a visible bar for our chart around the 12:00-12:59am hour.

That's what it looks like for everyone, but let's not forget what we started with: you and your unique business and audience and goals.

So let's look at a few examples to show what we mean.

Hour of Day Variations by Industry

We'll start this process of drilling into the data by first looking at a few industries to see variations.

Ski Resorts

First, let's look at a segment of a handful of U.S. ski resorts spread across the country. Here's what their time of day email sending patterns look like during the last couple months leading into the first few weeks of 2024.

hour of day send times for u.s. ski resorts

Ski resorts, famous for getting up early to check snow conditions and relay that information to their customers, see a pretty solid number of email campaigns going out at the 7am EST hour. Their operating hours are typically 9-4, so once resorts in all timezones are open there's a really sharp mid-day lull. Once resorts are closed, resort email volume goes to zero by a 7pm EST.

Online Retail

Next let's look at ~50 online retail brands and how many emails they sent during each hour across the last 60 days or so from BFCM until early 2024.

send volume for online retail brands by time of day

In this case, the overnight hours are slow and we do see an afternoon dip, but the spike at 10am is not only unique to this segments, it's huge. This number of emails sent during the 10:00-10:59am EST hour for these online retail brands is almost double that of the next closest hour and more than five times more than the hour preceding it.

Presidential Candidates

Finally, let's look at email campaigns send by the current group of U.S. presidential candidates over the last couple of months heading into 2024.

send volume for presidential candidates by time of day

For this group, there are two clear spikes in the morning and evening, but they differ in both timing and volume from the other groups we've looked at. And see those emails going out at 1am EST, 3am EST, etc.? Remember, these are U.S. candidates sending to U.S. voters!

In other words, every industry is different and it's important to understand the nuance of your specific market as you plan your send time strategy.

Individual Brands Time of Day

To get to the point I'll show you the email send time stats for a single brand for the first part of 2024 (and the last couple weeks of last year).

send volume for one brand by time of day

Well, that's a shape we haven't seen yet. They only sent email campaigns within a clump of 3 hours! But let's look at the 30 days before that as well for this exact same brand.

send volume for one brand by time of day for last month

The shape looks sorta the same and it's still a clump of 3 hours, but notice something? It's shifted an hour earlier! And what about the 30 days before that?

send volume for one brand by time of day previous month

Are you starting to follow what we're getting at? Everyone is different. Every sender, every audience, ever goal.

If you were competing against this brand and want to beat them to the inbox on key days and at key moments, you need to look at their hour of day send time patterns, not everyones. The aggregate can be interesting, but the only place you'll see the real strategic email opportunities is when you drill into to small groups of the exact brands you care about.

That's why we built SendView, to make this process easier for every marketer who wants to send their emails at the right time for their unique situation.