Is Sunday the New Tuesday for Email Marketing?

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Posted: August 5, 2010 | Email Marketing, Testing

There have always been “rules” around what day you should send email marketing messages . I’ve heard numerous timing strategies that all make logical arguments for their method.  One rule I’ve been hearing a lot lately is “Never email on Fridays. Always email on Tuesday nights.” The theory behind the rule of thumb makes sense: email too early in the week and people are too busy with their actual work to open or focus on your message. Email end of the week and your message will get buried in a barrage of messages everyone has to dig out of come Monday morning.

But I’d like to question that theory. I know that I personally do not wait for Monday morning to receive a flood of emails when I get into the office. I’ll admit it, I check work email on Sundays and I enjoy it. I’m not a workaholic and it is not expected by my team or my boss. I enjoy unplugging on the weekends mentally from work so I can come back on Monday refreshed.

But for me, it’s also a time to catch up on newsletters, lower priority messages, and feeds without the distraction of, well, work.  I am absolutely more open to reading marketing messages in this quieter, more relaxed setting. An AOL survey in 2008 found that 62% of people check work email on the weekends. As reported on MarketingVox, the Pew Research Center for Internet and American Life project found that half of workers reported checking work email from home and two thirds do work related research from home. A casual survey of colleagues and friends confirm that I’m not alone in this.

So is Sunday the new Tuesday? Maybe. Maybe not. In the end, the best way to find out is to A/B test on content and timing, review performance stats, iterate, and repeat. Review email marketing best practices. See what works for you. Find the optimum time for your newsletters; it may differ greatly from your alerts or your lead nurturing messages.

To reach the Sunday work email reader, you still want to avoid sending your email message on Friday.  But why not schedule it for a Sunday morning release so your message will be at the top of their inbox, sitting there like a Sunday newspaper on their front steps just waiting to be opened? Perhaps your key target might be guilty of indulging in some Sunday work email, just like me.

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  • Sally Lowery

    I don’t think we can ever say that there is a “high” performing day across all industries and verticals. It really takes testing, learning your own prospect engagement, and sending relevant content that will determine what day really is the best day of the week. I agree that testing and review is necessary to determine.

  • Sally Lowery

    I don’t think we can ever say that there is a “high” performing day across all industries and verticals. It really takes testing, learning your own prospect engagement, and sending relevant content that will determine what day really is the best day of the week. I agree that testing and review is necessary to determine.

  • http://www.ckpcreative.com Craig

    As is almost always the case in marketing: test and measure. Different days probably work better or worse for different demographics, so split your list and run A/B tests to see which day delivers the highest open rates.

    As for the inbox: Why not begin your subject line with something relevant in brackets like:

    [Summer 2010] The Newsletter You Want

    This can be a subtle device for helping your email stand out, and for getting to the top of the list if the recipient sorts by subject line.

  • http://www.ckpcreative.com Craig

    As is almost always the case in marketing: test and measure. Different days probably work better or worse for different demographics, so split your list and run A/B tests to see which day delivers the highest open rates.

    As for the inbox: Why not begin your subject line with something relevant in brackets like:

    [Summer 2010] The Newsletter You Want

    This can be a subtle device for helping your email stand out, and for getting to the top of the list if the recipient sorts by subject line.

  • http://www.lexiconn.com/blog/ Rob Mangiafico

    Interesting question Caroline. I think Sunday morning could be a boost for some B2B companies. It may even work well for certain B2C businesses.

    Doing some A/B testing over a long enough period (like a few months) would definitely be needed to see what works best. The problem is people often do 1 A/B test and try to derive answers from it. Too small a sample is essentially worthless, and sometimes can be downright dangerous.

    And I, like you, will often read more marketing material on a Sunday as opposed to a busy workday. :)

  • http://www.lexiconn.com/blog/ Rob Mangiafico

    Interesting question Caroline. I think Sunday morning could be a boost for some B2B companies. It may even work well for certain B2C businesses.

    Doing some A/B testing over a long enough period (like a few months) would definitely be needed to see what works best. The problem is people often do 1 A/B test and try to derive answers from it. Too small a sample is essentially worthless, and sometimes can be downright dangerous.

    And I, like you, will often read more marketing material on a Sunday as opposed to a busy workday. :)

  • http://www.hightouchweb.com Kim Kolb

    Caroline, I think you are right on the money. I am like you. I may or may not get on my computer, but if I do, I see nothing wrong with reading and cleaning up my emails. I like to start Monday’s off ahead and not behind. We even take our laptops on vacations… I always hated coming back from vacation to hundreds of emails at my corporate job. Now that I own my own company I don’t feel like I am missing out on my vacation.. On the contrary, the more I know I am in control and that all my clients are happy, I am happy. Then I come back from vacation and never skip a beat. Let’s face it, it doesn’t take that long to quickly look through you emails to find anything that could be “earth shattering”. Great post. I am going to try the Sunday morning delivery. We always say Tues or Thurs and after lunch.

  • http://www.hightouchweb.com Kim Kolb

    Caroline, I think you are right on the money. I am like you. I may or may not get on my computer, but if I do, I see nothing wrong with reading and cleaning up my emails. I like to start Monday’s off ahead and not behind. We even take our laptops on vacations… I always hated coming back from vacation to hundreds of emails at my corporate job. Now that I own my own company I don’t feel like I am missing out on my vacation.. On the contrary, the more I know I am in control and that all my clients are happy, I am happy. Then I come back from vacation and never skip a beat. Let’s face it, it doesn’t take that long to quickly look through you emails to find anything that could be “earth shattering”. Great post. I am going to try the Sunday morning delivery. We always say Tues or Thurs and after lunch.

  • http://www.resultsthinking.com Donna Fedor

    I had to giggle when I realized after reading your final comment about “still not sending your email on Fridays”, that you actually sent this email on FRIDAY :) I read it and am glad I did. I am sending my newsletter today too. Since I have been tracking them I find they are read most Fri, Sat, Sun and Mon with Monday being the biggest open rate. It tapers off after Monday.

  • http://www.resultsthinking.com Donna Fedor

    I had to giggle when I realized after reading your final comment about “still not sending your email on Fridays”, that you actually sent this email on FRIDAY :) I read it and am glad I did. I am sending my newsletter today too. Since I have been tracking them I find they are read most Fri, Sat, Sun and Mon with Monday being the biggest open rate. It tapers off after Monday.

  • http://www.sliderocket.com/blog John Rode

    Caroline,

    Very interesting. I always suspected this was the case for more senior folks. I picture them during the week jumping from meeting to meeting and having 15 new emails every time they sit back down on their desks. On weekends you may catch them with a cup of coffee and 10 minutes to review your message/content.

    But like you say, testing it is in order…and of course we need to look beyond the Open rates to measure effectiveness.

    - John

  • http://www.sliderocket.com/blog John Rode

    Caroline,

    Very interesting. I always suspected this was the case for more senior folks. I picture them during the week jumping from meeting to meeting and having 15 new emails every time they sit back down on their desks. On weekends you may catch them with a cup of coffee and 10 minutes to review your message/content.

    But like you say, testing it is in order…and of course we need to look beyond the Open rates to measure effectiveness.

    - John

  • richard keen

    I think as the week progresses there is message fatigue for the business person. Most mgrs hit their email on Sunday and have interest/energy for new ideas on Monday. It’s downhill from there…

  • richard keen

    I think as the week progresses there is message fatigue for the business person. Most mgrs hit their email on Sunday and have interest/energy for new ideas on Monday. It’s downhill from there…

  • http://paulgailey.com Paul Gailey

    I think there is a hardcore of workers who pop in on monday having already caught up with matters on a sunday late night.

    I once tried micro segmenting a list to send by open rate bands based on average past open times so to “strike while they were sat at the screen” – it did increase openrates, but it really was a hassle to setup – probably a more complex email platform/crm could handle it more adroitly.

  • http://paulgailey.com Paul Gailey

    I think there is a hardcore of workers who pop in on monday having already caught up with matters on a sunday late night.

    I once tried micro segmenting a list to send by open rate bands based on average past open times so to “strike while they were sat at the screen” – it did increase openrates, but it really was a hassle to setup – probably a more complex email platform/crm could handle it more adroitly.

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  • http://www.planobe.com Dennis

    Good point.
    So far I’ve actually always tested sending mails during the workweek and tracking response. I guess giving the weekend a try can’t hurt!

  • http://www.planobe.com Dennis

    Good point.
    So far I’ve actually always tested sending mails during the workweek and tracking response. I guess giving the weekend a try can’t hurt!

  • http://www.tengoldenrules.com Tracy Antol

    I completely agree! I’m always questioning why we do what we do and this new “send it on a Tuesday” song and dance always leaves me scratching my head.

    I’m swamped during the work week. And I’m not alone. I barely have time to take a phone call from my hubby or really dedicate myself to making dinner. Note: I am probably the best customer of my local Papa John’s pizza delivery service.

    Why not TEST sending your email campaigns on a Sunday vs a Tuesday (or any other day for that matter?) I personally am more relaxed and have just a wee bit more time to purvey my email. I definitely think I’m more receptive to an offer. Especially if it’s from one of my favorite brands.

    Thanks for making the point!

  • http://www.tengoldenrules.com Tracy Antol

    I completely agree! I’m always questioning why we do what we do and this new “send it on a Tuesday” song and dance always leaves me scratching my head.

    I’m swamped during the work week. And I’m not alone. I barely have time to take a phone call from my hubby or really dedicate myself to making dinner. Note: I am probably the best customer of my local Papa John’s pizza delivery service.

    Why not TEST sending your email campaigns on a Sunday vs a Tuesday (or any other day for that matter?) I personally am more relaxed and have just a wee bit more time to purvey my email. I definitely think I’m more receptive to an offer. Especially if it’s from one of my favorite brands.

    Thanks for making the point!

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  • http://www.marketo.com Maria Pergolino

    It has worked for us, but I would love to hear from others too.

Caroline Ruggiero is a Marketo Customer Enablement Manager. Prior to joining Marketo, she served in a variety of marketing and strategy roles for over ten years and knows the challenges of b2b marketing. She is a Marketo evangelist and brings her enthusiasm to on-boarding and educating new Marketo customers on best practices.

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Is Sunday the New Tuesday for Email Marketing?

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