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Should You Take Email Marketing Advice From Wilson Pickett? [CHART]

Joel Rothman
Senior Product Consultant

Let me take you behind the scenes at Eloqua for a bit. We have been doing the Chart of the Week for a long time. Every week. In fact, this week is our 120th edition. Putting them together is always fun, but it also can be challenging. When we are putting the chart together, we almost always start with data — sometimes, a ridiculous amount of it. Then, we come up with a thesis, and start analyzing the data. Sometimes it supports it, and sometimes it doesn't. But, we always learn something.

I created a fairly popular chart almost two years ago that analyzed which day of the week is the best to send emails. It turns out that it’s the weekend. I wanted to drill in a little more, down to the hour, to peel back the layers of an effective email marketing strategy. So, I requested a listing of email sends over the last three months, with the time of day as well as metrics (total sends/opens/click throughs). This amounted to just about 1.1 billion emails sent. And, that was only over random segment of customers. 

So, after a long time trying to open the file (that’s a lot of data!) and get it formatted, I needed to determine my metrics. I decided to analyze the following:

  • Email Open Rate: (Email Opens)/(Emails Delivered)

  • Email Click Through Rate: (Email Click Throughs)/(Emails Delivered)

  • Click to Open: (Email Click Throughs)/(Email Opens)




 NOTE: The data is represented as a logarithmic scale. The outer ring represents 100%. The inner ring represents 10%.

Now for the fun part: interpreting what it means. For emails that are sent during the day, the open rate is fairly constant. There is an improvement for those emails that are sent overnight. My assumptions are that those emails are either requests for information (such as form submissions) or that they are being batched and read first thing in the morning.

The click through rate and the click to open rate actually mirror each other pretty closely (which is to be expected). The most interesting thing to note here is that the click to open rates are highest for emails sent between 6-9 a.m., as well as from about 11 to 3 a.m. The lowest appears at 1 a.m.

So, it looks like people are opening and digesting the contents of emails that are sent at off peak times. People aren't clicking through those emails. Most likely this is because if they do open it, at off peak hours, they are not in a position to follow through. If they are going through emails in the morning, people might be less likely to follow up on them because they have so many emails.

The last piece is for me to come up with article title, to get you guys to read it. So, if Wilson Pickett was to give advice on when the best time to send an email is? My bet, he would suggest in the midnight hour. Good thing he stuck to R&B.

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