Each day, millions of marketing emails go out into the world, and it has become a hot topic of conversation among marketers as to what time is the best time to send them out. Study after study has been conducted to try to get into the psyche of the consumer to try to figure out what time is the best time of day to attract their attention.

One study, based on 100 million online transactions and reported by marketingprofs.com, claims that over 65 percent of email recipients open promotional emails in the afternoon and evenings. The study found that 38 percent of email conversions (opened, clicked through, and converted) occurred in the afternoons and 27 percent in the evenings. The least opens occurred in the mornings when most promotional emails tend to be sent.  If this is true, then as a marketer, you have to question the strategy of sending emails during a time when they are rarely opened.

Some say that Tuesday and Fridays are best for sending while others claim that 3 pm on Thursday is the best time for consumers to get your message. This continuing discussion leaves much room for debate.

The assumptions being made by many of these studies is that consumers have been sitting at their computers waiting for a promotional email and that they act on it as soon as they receive it. But other studies suggest that while 76 percent of email opens take place in the first two days after receiving them, 79 percent of purchases take place after those two days and one-third of purchases happen more than two weeks after the initial email offer. What this may tell us is that more and more, consumers are in the driver’s seat and they are making individual decisions about when to open their emails. The times they open emails may change from day to day depending on their activities and circumstances.

Some people open their mail at lunch while others may open them continuously as they come in if they are working on the computer all day. Others may wait a few days before checking offers.

One of the fears driving the concern over when to send is that consumers are being drowned by email offers, and while for some that may be true, other studies suggest that may not be true for all. And since most consumers are preferring to receive communications by email, these promotions may not be entirely unwelcomed. In fact, if you have used the best practices we have discussed in this blog over the weeks (careful targeting, using a preference center, etc.), your customer may be quite happy to get your offer.

What this may all mean is that while studies are interesting and can often yield helpful information, there is no rule that will guarantee your emails will be opened and will result in a transaction or conversion. The best strategy seems to be to keep experimenting, trying different times of the day and different days of the week.

After all, the customer experience is the most important factor. Let them dictate when you message them by allowing them to state this in a preference center, or use the behavioral data you have as a marketer and send to customers at times when they have opened in the past. (Don’t forget that email is global and there are different time zones to consider.) Getting to know your customer through an email preference center, paying attention to your analytics, and creating the best offer you can are great ways to insure a return on your investment and to create a great customer experience.