Turning Leads Into Candidates

When Should You Send Email To Potential Franchisees

Eli Robinson
Monday, March 09 2015


If you ask an email marketer which levers are their favorite to improve email performance, they’ll certainly mention subject line and send time testing as two of the easiest and most effective. 

We’ve previously written about some of our subject line tests, take a look at them here, so today I want to focus on send times.

Frankly, if your franchise hasn't thought about your email send times, you're probably losing out. As you'll see below, what time of day you send email can make a pretty significant difference in the amount and type of engagement you get.

The best way for me to make this point is to actually show you what we saw at FranchiseHelp. So all data you see below is for February 2015, Eastern Standard Time.

As a point of information, I’ve excluded all of our marketing blasts. They’re designed to go out at a specific time every day (depending on day of the week, topic, etc.,) so they would almost certainly skew the data.

The emails included are going to be more of the transactional nature e.g. confirmation emails, friendly reminders, as well as a handful of other auto responders. We generally send these out as a drip based on when the user subscribed. For example, if a user subscribes at 2AM, they may get an email at 2AM the next night because the email is on a 24 hour delay.

The important part is that we aren't biasing the analysis by making a consious choice about when the email is sent out. so in theory, the analysis is purer.

So you get an idea let’s look at the highest level breakdown of when these emails are sent:

February 2015 FranchiseHelp Email Send Distribution By Hour

(Unsurprisingly, this shape of this graph is very similar to “When people visit FranchiseHelp”)

Since a number of these are autoresponders, the fact that the afternoon and evening are way more common than the morning makes sense. 

Alrighty, let’s start with the open rate (Opens / Sends) by hour:

February 2015 FranchiseHelp Email Open Rate By Hour

Open rate actually shows a fairly strong picture. From 2AM to 9AM, you see a fairly depressed open rate.

And then it stabilizes at a higher number from around 11AM – 10PM, with 7PM having the highest open rate. (Keep in mind these are emails sent in the 7PM, not emails opened during that hour.)

And here’s click rate (Clicks / Sends) by hour:

February 2015 FranchiseHelp Email Click Rate By Hour

So first things first, it looks like the 2AM – 4AM timeslot is pretty bad!

Other than that, click rate doesn’t appear to fluctuate particularly predictably from 4AM – 5PM, which is a tad bit surprising. However, as the evening sets in, you see quite the bump in click rate, fairly predictably from 8PM – Midnight.

If you think about it, that’s when people are least likely to be working, so they may have time to evaluate their future.

And finally, here’s the data for click-through rate (Clicks / Opens) by hour:

February 2015 FranchiseHelp Email Click Through Rate By Hour

Well, it looks like our evening thesis still is strong as the 8PM – Midnight timeslot is strong.

However, this data also begs the question why the CTR is so high during the time period. My guess is that because open rate is so low, that people who do open are pretty serious about what they’re opening.

So what are the highest level conclusions?

  • 2AM – 6 AM is almost certainly the wrong time to send email to potential franchisees.

  • If impressions are what you’re going for, then the afternoon has the highest open rate.

  • Based on click rates and CTRs, the evening seems to be the winner, even if the open rate is lower than the afternoon.

NB: Now, before you go and start sending emails at 10PM EST, think about what the repercussions of that strategy are. While you may be getting larger email engagement, you’re way more unlikely to respond to inquiries quickly because your sales staff isn’t working. (And we’ve written quite a bit about how important it is for you to respond quickly to inbound leads.)

If you want to talk about your franchise’s email strategy and tradeoffs as they relate to send times, shoot us a note and we can set up some time to talk.