Eek, a terrible mistake!

My big newsletter mistake’s lesson for you

When’s the best day and time to send your e-newsletters? My January mistake upset my beliefs about this topic.

My usual routine and its rationale

I usually send out my monthly newsletter around 8:15 a.m. on the first non-holiday Tuesday of the month. I send it early in the day because my Constant Contact statistics indicate that many people open it before 9 a.m. I figure they get to work early. I’m happy to make it easy for them to read before they’re distracted by work.

I picked Tuesday because I’ve read that people are distracted on Mondays and Fridays as they start and end their workweeks.

I publish on a consistent schedule because I’ve read that your audience values consistency. They want to rely on receiving your content regularly.

However, I skip holiday Tuesdays because I figure my audience reads me at work. I hope you’re not checking email on holidays.

My mistake: Sunday delivery

I made my mistake in haste after proofreading my letter the Sunday before my usual Tuesday in January 2013. I forgot to schedule my newsletter instead of letting it default to sending immediately.

Oh horror! I imagined my newsletter languishing unopened in hundreds of email inboxes. I was extra mad at myself because this newsletter was most of my subscribers’ last reminder about registering for my blogging class. I probably cursed out loud that afternoon.

The surprising results

But lo and behold! Over the following days, my newsletter hit its usual level of subscribers opening it. I didn’t suffer at all for sending it at the “wrong” time.

What a relief! I don’t need to freak out the next time my newsletter deviates from its usual schedule. However, I plan to return to my usual schedule because it’s good discipline for me.

What’s the point?

My experience convinced me that Scott Stratten, who tweets as @unmarketing, was right when he said in “The best time never to send email” that “The best time to never send email is when someone else told you to” because what matters is what recipients do when they receive your emails.

On the other hand, Michael Katz of Blue Penguin Development may be right that there are bad times, but no best times to send your emails, as he suggested in “Why Today is a Bad Day to Publish Your Newsletter.”

What works for you?

I’m curious about your results from sending e-newsletters at different times. Do some times work better than others for you?

7 replies
  1. Russ Thornton
    Russ Thornton says:

    I send my weekly email newsletter every Wednesday at 9am Eastern time, but Mailchimp (my newsletter platform) has a cool feature where I can have each subscriber receive it on Wednesday mornings at 9am in their respective time zone – so to the best of my ability, everyone gets it on Wednesday mornings.

    I’ve given up on reading too much into the statistics and have decided that consistency is more important than which day and time I hit the “send” button.

  2. Wendy J. Cook
    Wendy J. Cook says:

    Perhaps I over-simplify, but I’ve found my favorite time to send my e-newsletter is when I’m done with it. My perception is that good readership is far more related to the quality of the content than when it gets sent. Plus, I believe the value of not over-complicating one’s life is worth the tepid reader or two I may lose if I skip fretting about details that are largely beyond my control and focus instead on my own goals. Hey, that sounds a lot like a certain investment approach I recommend as well. 🙂

  3. Susan Weiner CFA
    Susan Weiner CFA says:

    Russ, that is a cool feature with MailChimp. Constant Contact lacks that feature. I agree that consistency helps.

    Wendy, it sounds as if you’re in Scott Stratten’s camp, which works for you. Since the experience that I describe in this post, I still aim for the first Tuesday of the month (with the exception of big holidays), but I’m less uptight about it.

    Thank you, Russ and Wendy, for taking the time to comment!

  4. Stephen D. Forman
    Stephen D. Forman says:

    Hi Susan, I’ve also grown frustrated with the zillion surveys which purport to tell you the “best time” to send things out, each in conflict with one another.

    I read each of the posts you linked to, but didn’t see something which I’ve tried twice with my own readers: ask them.

    Embedded in my weekly newsletter I’ve twice included a survey asking them all kinds of wish-list info designed to improve their experience (what should I cover? do they forward my news? does it duplicate what they get elsewhere? and, what day of the week and time of day do they prefer receiving it?)

    I’ve found large areas of agreement both times I ran my survey (most wanted Friday evening, with a smaller plurality Monday morning).

    When in doubt, ask.

  5. Stephanie Sammons
    Stephanie Sammons says:

    Thanks for sharing this Susan! I do think being consistent works best. Making that date with your subscribers sets an expectation. However, I still struggle to be consistent myself. I also believe knowing your audience helps. I tend to see pretty good opens/clicks on Fridays and Saturdays with advisors.


  6. Susan Weiner, CFA
    Susan Weiner, CFA says:

    Stephanie, that’s interesting that Fridays and Saturdays do well for you. I imagine that people want to get away from work on Saturdays especially.

    Having my virtual assistant format my newsletters helps to keep me consistent.

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