Opt-In Emails Get Most Opens Within First Hour Of Delivery, But Timing Counts

Opt-in emails (e.g., newsletters, emails from retailers) are far more likely to be opened within the first hour after delivery than at any hour after that, according to GetResponse findings released in October 2012. Some 23.63% of all email opens occur within the first hour after delivery, and 9.52% in the second hour. Another 6.33% occur in the third hour, and 4.8% in the fourth. Five hours after delivery the results drop more than 90%, and less than 1% of opens occur 24 hours later.

But, these results likely reflect actual message sending times, and open and click rates do vary substantially by time of day. According to the study, messages sent in the afternoon and evening have the best chance of being opened or clicked, with an average open rate of 10.61% (between noon and 6 PM) and click-through rate (CTR) of 2.38% (between 6 PM and midnight). These correspond to subscribers’ top engagement times, which are between 3PM-4PM (6.8% of total opens and 6.2% of total clicks). A “second wind” occurs between about 7 and 8PM, when almost 6% of clicks occur.

Marketers appear somewhat cognizant of these peak periods, with many (25.8%) emails reaching inboxes in the afternoon, between noon and 6PM. Even so, a plurality (38.7%) are sent in the morning hours, when click rates are lowest – potentially due to inbox overcrowding, suggesting that afternoon emails have a better shot at being separated from the clutter. But, there is a significant difference between sending an email at noon and at 6PM. An email sent at 5PM likely does not have that 23.63% chance of being opened in the first hour, as recipients are stuck in traffic, preparing and eating dinner, bathing children and so forth before they return to checking emails at 7PM or later.

Necessarily, marketers must allow for time zone differences. An email that arrives in a Manhattan inbox at 7AM will reach a Hawaii recipient at 1AM, and a Sydney, Australia recipient at 9PM.

Retail Emails Need to Consider Preferred Online Shopping Times

Retailers in particular must also match email delivery times to recipients’ preferred shopping times. October results from a Yesmail survey find that a plurality of consumers (39%) prefer to shop online between 6PM and 10PM, although just 5% of email campaigns by top brands tracked over a 3-month period were deployed in that preferred slot. The bulk (41%) of retail email campaigns were deployed between 2AM-6AM, and another 31% from 6AM-10AM, two time periods preferred by just 5% of the consumers surveyed, collectively.

About The Data: GetResponse analyzed 21 million messages sent from US accounts in Q1 2012.