Neil Patel

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Data-Driven Insights into Email Marketing Open Rates

A graphic saying "Data-Driven Insights into Email Marketing Open Rates"

Have you ever wondered what the best day to send an email is?

Choosing the right day can make a significant impact on your email open rate, leading to better engagement and increased conversions.

If you’re curious about how to get more eyes on your emails, analyzing the available data can help you make the right decision.

I asked hundreds of high-profile digital marketers about their experiences to provide data-driven insights about how to boost email open rates. Let’s dig into the data!

Why Open Rates Matter 

In the world of email marketing, there are many metrics you need to track to monitor the success of your campaigns. One of the key metrics is open rate.

Open rate and click rate in Mailchimp

Your email open rate is the percentage of subscribers who receive an email that actually open it. So if you send an email to 1,000 customers and 150 of them open it, your open rate is 15 percent.

Your open rate can tell you a lot about your email marketing campaign, including:

  • How well your subject lines are performing. Your subject line is critical in encouraging customers to open and read your email, so a high open rate shows that your subject lines are grabbing their attention.
  • If you’re sending emails on the right day and time. A high open rate shows that you’re sending emails when customers are receptive to receiving them.
  • How well your email list is segmented. Email segmentation allows you to send more personalized messages to customers. A high open rate shows that your segmentation is working.
  • How fatigued your customers are. A low open rate could imply that your customers are getting too many emails or are not finding your content valuable.

What’s a good open rate for emails? I wanted to hear from professional email marketers, so I conducted a survey to learn more. Read on to see not just the best day to send an email but how to improve your email open rates.

Insights on Email Marketing Open Rates

  • NP Digital conducted a survey of digital marketers on email marketing, receiving 585 responses from both B2B and B2C industries.
  • Wednesday emerged as the best average day for sending emails, with an average open rate of 18.5%.
    • In the B2C sector, Monday (19.5%) and Tuesday (18.9%) are the most effective days for email open rates.
    • In the B2B sector, Wednesday remains the best day with a 20.3% open rate, followed by Thursday and Friday (16.3%), and Monday and Tuesday (13%).
  • Late morning and afternoon were identified as the best times to send emails, with open rates of 25.5% and 25.3%, respectively.
  • Promotional subject lines yielded the best open rates (3.29 mean ranking score), followed by question-based subject lines (3.36).
    • Emojis in subject lines had the lowest open rates, with a mean ranking score of 3.79.
  • 62% of respondents are less likely to engage with content created using AI.
    • Marketers using AI for a quarter of their copy reported the highest percentage (17.3%) with an average unsubscribe rate under 1%.

Our Methodology 

I recently surveyed digital marketers who use email marketing as a key channel in their marketing campaigns.

Respondents represented both the B2B and B2C industries. The survey received 585 responses – many thanks to everyone who took the time to participate.

What is The Best Day to Send an Email? 

You might not think that sending an email on a specific day of the week may significantly affect your open rate. However, it can make a big difference to the success of a campaign!

People have different routines and schedules, which may affect when they get to open emails. For example, they may work Monday to Friday and have the weekend off.

I asked survey respondents which day of the week led to the best open rates for their businesses.

Which day of the week has the best email open rates.

The best day of the week to send emails? Wednesday, with an average open rate of 18.5 percent.

Why does Wednesday do so well? It’s the middle of the week. People have finished catching up on the work they had at the start of the week but aren’t quite ready to relax in time for the weekend.

Here’s a full breakdown of the percentage of marketers who chose each day as the best to send emails:

  • Sunday – 7.7 percent
  • Monday – 16.8 percent
  • Tuesday – 16.4 percent
  • Wednesday – 18.5 percent
  • Thursday – 15.4 percent
  • Friday – 15.9 percent
  • Saturday – 9.4 percent

Does Whether You’re in the B2B or B2C Industry Have an Impact?

Surprisingly yes! The results above look at open rates across all businesses and industry sectors, but I wanted to drill down a little more.

Interestingly, Monday (19.5 percent) and Tuesday (18.9 percent) are the best days to send emails in the B2C sector

Why is this the case? People often plan their purchases for the week ahead, so sending them a marketing email can remind them of your products or services. Alternatively, people often approach the start of the week with a fresh mindset, making it an excellent time to show them something new and exciting.

The least successful day for open rates in the B2C sector is Sunday, with an average 6.5 percent open rate. Being right at the end of the week, the opposite is true, with people having already spent their budget for the week and not being in the mood to try new things.

What about the B2B sector?

Wednesday is still the best day to send an email, with an open rate of 20.3 percent. It’s followed by Thursday and Friday, both coming in at 16.3 percent, and Monday and Tuesday both coming in at 13 percent.

When you work in the B2B sector, you’ll see more success sending an email on a weekday rather than a weekend, as that is when most people work. Send it on a Saturday or Sunday, and you risk potential customers ignoring your message.

What Are the Best Times to Send Your Marketing Emails? 

We’ve looked at the best day to send an email, but what about the best time? Do you get a better open rate by sending an email in the morning, afternoon, or evening?

I asked respondents to tell me the average open rate they saw when they sent emails at specific times of the day.

What time of the day has the best email open rates.

The results were as follows:

  • Early morning – 16.2 percent
  • Late morning – 25.5 percent
  • Afternoon – 25.3 percent
  • Early evening – 19 percent
  • Late evening – 14 percent

What does this mean? If you want to boost your email marketing open rate, it’s best to send emails in the late morning or afternoon.

If people are at work, it’s likely that they’ve worked through the emails they received in the morning and are getting ready for their lunch break. If people are at home, they’ve likely completed their chores and errands and are getting ready to chill for the rest of the day.

Here’s an interesting study: did you know that people are more receptive to taking risks in the afternoon than in the morning? This means they may be more willing to take a chance on your email!

If you’re running international email campaigns, don’t forget to take people’s time zones into consideration. Someone’s late morning could be someone else’s late evening!

What Subject Lines Yielded the Best Open Rates? 

As well as the best day and time to send emails, I wanted to ask participants what type of subject lines worked best.

I asked them to rank the following email subject line types in order of most to least effective:

  • Question
  • Funny
  • Descriptive (e.g. Your March newsletter)
  • Promotional (e.g. 50 percent off inside)
  • Emoji
  • Urgent (e.g. open NOW!)

Promotional subject lines yielded the best open rates with a mean ranking score of 3.29.

Example of a promotional email subject line

Why do promotional email subject lines work so well? They tap into our emotions. A solid promotional subject line makes us excited, curious, and may even use the fear of missing out (FOMO) to entice us to click.

Email subject lines posing a question had the second-best open rates with a mean ranking score of 3.36.

Example of an email subject line asking a question

Asking a question works well as it gets people’s attention. After all, if they answer “yes” to your question, they’ll want to read on and find out more!

However, there is a risk with asking questions – you must be 100 percent sure that your reader will answer in the affirmative; otherwise you’ll lose their interest. Knowing your target audience and the pain points they experience is essential. 

Emojis in Subject Lines: Yes or No?

Example of an email subject line with an emoji

Using emojis in your marketing can be a great way to connect with your audience and sound more human. However, do they affect your email marketing open rate?

The survey found that emojis yielded the lowest open rates, with a mean ranking score of 3.79. Email recipients can dislike emojis in subject lines for several reasons. They can make emails appear less credible and more spammy, as well as make it hard for recipients to understand the main message of the email.

Customers can also misinterpret emojis. For example, Millennials see the “thumbs-up” emoji as signifying approval, while Gen Zers see it as sarcastic and aggressive. 

If you do opt to use emojis in your email subject line, consider your target audience. Would they be happy to see an emoji, and would they understand what it represents?

How to Improve Your Email Open Rates 

You now know the best day to send an email, but what else can you do to improve your email open rates?

Here is some expert guidance to consider.

Use AI (Sparingly)

There is currently a lot of debate about whether it’s okay to use artificial intelligence (AI) tools like Chat-GPT to write your marketing copy. 

Chat-GPT home page

I asked survey respondents about their experience using generative AI to craft email copy and whether it had an effect on their unsubscribe rates.

62 percent of people say they are less likely to engage with and trust content if they know it was created using AI.

According to the survey:

  • Marketers who use AI to craft about a quarter of their copy had the highest percentage of respondents (17.3 percent) who report an average unsubscribe rate under 1 percent. Marketers who don’t use AI at all weren’t far behind, with 16.3 percent reporting low unsubscribe rates, below 1 percent.
  • Marketers who use AI to craft most or half of their copy had the highest percentage of respondents (both 6.1 percent) who report an average unsubscribe rate over 10 percent.
How does using AI to craft email copy affect unsubscribe rates.

The results were intriguing and indicate that it’s okay to use some AI to craft your email copy as long as you aren’t overly reliant on it.

My opinion?

AI tools are fantastic and save time on repetitive tasks, meaning you can focus more on strategic marketing. AI still has a long way to go though, and still needs a heavy human touch to generate content customers love.

Look at Your Own Data

While the results of this survey can give you a clear steer, it’s always best to benchmark against yourself. While Wednesday is the best day to send an email for most businesses, it might not be the right time for you to send your messages.

Each business has a unique set of challenges and goals – monitoring your own metrics means you can ensure continuous improvement.

Record your open rate when you send an email campaign and identify any spikes or significant drops.

A/B testing can help you identify what your customers like and dislike. Many email marketing platforms give you the option to send two different emails to two different audiences and see which does best.

Example of A/B testing in Mailerlite

Don’t Forget Your Click-to-Open Rates, Too

While it’s vital to ensure your email open rates are as high as possible, it’s also essential to optimize your click-to-open rates.

What is click-to-open rate? Click-to-open rate, or CTOR, focuses on the number of unique clicks and opens your email receives. 

You calculate it by dividing the number of unique clicks your email receives by the number of unique opens and multiplying by 100 to get a percentage. So, if you get 3,000 opens and 1,000 clicks, your CTOR is 33 percent.

A high CTOR means the content in your email is engaging and relevant to your customers.

I asked respondents to list the best ways to boost CTOR and engagement in their emails. The results in order of votes were:

  1. Polls
  2. Static images
  3. Videos
Shopify's Talking Shop marketing email

By adding engaging imagery and videos, as well as interactive elements like polls, you can boost the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.

FAQs 

What is the Best Day to Send Emails?

According to the insights provided by digital marketers, Wednesday is the best day to send an email.
What is the average open rate for email marketing on a Wednesday? 18.5 percent.

What’s a Good Open Rate for Email?

The open rates identified in this survey varied between 6.5 percent and 20.3 percent.
If your open rate is over 20 percent, you’re doing an excellent job!

Is There a Difference Between Open Rates and Click-to-Open Rates?

Yes, there is a difference between open rate and click-to-open rate.
Open rate refers to the percentage of email recipients who opened an email. 
Click-to-open rate (CTOR) refers to the percentage of recipients who click on a link in an email after opening it. 
Both are vital metrics to consider when monitoring the success of your email campaigns.

Conclusion 

With the average person receiving over 120 emails a day in their inbox, it’s essential to do what you can to stand out. If your email open rates are languishing, the guidance above will help you turn things around and create an effective marketing email.

Is email open rate the most accurate metric for determining the success of an email marketing campaign? Not always – some platforms and tools like Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection can mean some opens aren’t always registered. 

Despite this, open rate is still a great way to identify which subject lines resonate with your customers and how your campaigns are doing.

Give the guidance in this article a try today, find the best day to send an email, and see your email open rates skyrocket!

What do you do to improve your email marketing open rate? Let me know in the comments!

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