Ask People Out on Dates in E-mail on Wednesdays

Crazy title for this column, but it should get your attention. At a recent ExactTarget conference, I spoke alongside Aaron Kahlow, founder of the Online Marketing Summit. We addressed the best day to send e-mail, advising that there’s no longer a best day to send e-mail. The best day varies greatly, depending on the following elements:

  • The reader’s current environment when she reads your e-mail. (Is she focusing on e-mail or multitasking?)

  • The reader’s frame of mind when your e-mail arrives. (Is she thinking about a home renovation or a vacation when you offer arrives?)
  • The reader’s need of your product or offering.
  • The reader’s e-mail client. Is she reading on a handheld device or on a computer?
  • The reader’s mental health. Is she exhausted, stressed, or even excited?

These statements brought questions from the audience. The biggest question was, “Given these circumstances, how in the heck are you supposed to know when to send your e-mail?”

This is a great question. And while there is no one answer to the best day and time to send an e-mail, there are some best practices to follow:

  • Think about the product or service you’re selling and when people might have the biggest need to hear about it or buy it. For example, if you sell entertainment-related services, don’t wait until Friday night to send your e-mail. Send it on Wednesday, when most people are buzzing with personal e-mail strings about what they plan to do this weekend. (At this event, we also learned this may also be the best time to ask someone on a date.)

  • Think about when you reader will be paying the most attention to the e-mail you sent. If you send a B2B (define) e-mail, consider your work schedule. You probably pay most attention to your e-mail when you first get in or sometime in the early afternoon. If it works for you, it will work for others in similar jobs.
  • Think about where the person will be when she reads your e-mail and what you want her to do with it. If you send an e-mail about a special sale, think about sending it either when people are at home and can buy right there, or when they are in the mall, reading on a handheld device and can walk into the store.

There are no fast-and-hard rules for the best day to send an e-mail anymore. In the end, you must test, but think outside of the box. There is one hard-and-fast rule you can always depend on: things will always change. In this world of digital consumers, the only truly best time is the time when the reader feels it’s relevant. And that changes every second.

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