Invite Timing Tips – What Time of Day and Day of the Week Works

Invite Timing Tips

From the series: Improving Survey Effectiveness – Common Survey Pitfalls … And How To Avoid Them.
Part: Two Of Five
Written By: Paul Quinn, Founder of PeoplePulse Survey Software

Common sense tells us that when it comes to sending out survey invites, selecting the best day of the week and best time of day to send the invite can have a massive bearing on your response rates.

To me, however, one of the most fascinating parts of the ‘optimal invite timing’ issue is that the more you research the less consensus you find amongst the ‘experts’.

In this article I’ll try and make sense of the external research on the topic of optimal invite timing and also shed some light on what our own invite data from actual PeoplePulse surveys reveals.

As you will see, the challenge of deciding on ‘the one’ optimal day of the week and time of day to send survey invites is not as straight forward as it would first seem!

A) External research

Best Day of Week: 

Key Research Findings Source
  • Lightspeed Research sent out invitations to an online survey to 7,440 of its panellists at different times during the week. Overall the results showed that invitations sent on a Monday afternoon achieved the best response rates, at up to 39%. Surveys sent at 5.30pm on Friday afternoon resulted in relatively low response rates of 28% for women and 29% for men.
Lightspeed Research
  • Send the survey mid-week, during mid-afternoon – Most e-mail users will start their Monday mornings cleansing their mailboxes of non-corporate or personal emails.
‘Online Surveys Lessons Learned by IBM’
  • According to recent EmailLabs analysis, approximately 62 percent of all e-mails are opened between Tuesday and Thursday. Clearly most business-oriented customers are more likely to open emails during their workday, while consumer-based subscribers may open emails at any time.
EmailLabs
  • The best days (in no particular order): Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays. What’s wrong with the rest of the days? For business email, your audience is generally out of the office on Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, your recipients are recovering from the weekend and will not fully be in business mode yet. They may have a number of things to do on this day and are not quite interested in offers or solicitations. On Friday, they are interested in wrapping things up. If someone starts something on a Friday, it may be forgotten over the weekend. So we are left with Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as the best days. You will want to avoid holidays or any major vacation times.
Timing is Everything: Selecting the Best Time to Send Your Email Message. By Jason Lexell
  • The best day is, to summarise, Wednesday. “The average open rate on Wednesdays in the third quarter was 25.4%, and the average click rate was 3.9%”.
MarketingCharts

 

Our takeout:

You can’t go wrong with Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays, and if you had to pick just one day to send your surveys for optimal response, we would pick Wednesday.

Best Day of Week: 

 

Key Research Findings Source
  • The likelihood of your email being read is increased by sending out e-mail invitations mid-week, after 12pm.
  • Other e-mail marketing strategies (e.g. sender and subject line testing) can contribute to higher response rates).
Lightspeed Research
  • Response rates and times are best for surveys sent out between 6am and 9am, at the beginning of the work day – but not on Monday morning.
  • Business related surveys to be sent after 3pm should wait until the next business day.
‘Online Surveys Lessons Learned by IBM’
  • What Are the Best Times to Send Email
    10:00 – 10:30 am
    And 1:00 – 1:30 pm
Timing is Everything: Selecting the Best Time to Send Your Email Message. By Jason Lexell
  •  There’s a marked upward trend as time passes, so click rates peak around 4pm, and open rates top out an hour later
Marketing Charts
  • According to the Marketing Sherpa study, click through rates for emails sent at 9am performed more than 15% better than those sent at 4pm.
 MarketingSherpa – ‘When’s the Best Time to Send Email to Target Consumers at Work? Test Results’

Our takeout:

The research findings on the best time of day to send e-mail invites are very diverse and in some cases conflicting. At PeoplePulse we typically recommend our clients send business orientated survey invites at midday, however we believe that there are many other (perhaps more important) factors that impact invite success rates and that one should not over think the exact time of the day to send an invite. For example, a lot depends on the tone of the e-mail, whether the respondent is actually interested in the survey topic, whether the invite sender is respected and/or known to the invitee, whether an incentive has been offered to complete the survey, etc.

Interestingly, our research reinforces the immediacy of online survey responses – with 75% of all responses to a survey typically received within the first 48 hours of the original invite send time. (This is another good reason to avoid sending survey invites on a Friday, as when the weekend arrives you miss out on the typical response flow on to the next day).

Perhaps our approach to what time to send your invite is best summed up by Jason Lexell, author of ‘Selecting the Best Time to Send Your Email Message’:

“I urge you not to place too much emphasis on this area. It’s often very difficult to ensure the precise time your message goes out. And even if the message is launched at precisely 10am in one time zone, there are other time zones to consider. Putting it in Perspective…Don’t wait for the perfect time or you will never launch your email campaign.”

B) PeoplePulse Research – Real Life Examples

In order to complement the external research we also examined four real life surveys recently conducted by us on the PeoplePulse survey platform to establish what day and time worked best for our own survey projects.

Survey Overview: Day of Highest Response: Notes:
Survey 1:
A survey with 2,000 responses from business people conducted over a 4 week period
Over 55.66% of all responses were received on Wednesday It should be noted that the invite and reminder (a week later) were also timed to send on Wednesday.
Survey 2:
An ongoing survey with over 1,400 responses from employees that has been running for more than a year (with invites sent out at various days throughout the year).
Monday (26.7% of all responses) followed by Wednesday (26.0% of all responses) were the days that recorded the highest response rates. N/A
Survey 3:
A survey with over 7,000 responses from volunteers conducted over a 2 week period and sent to mainly personal e-mail addresses
54.59% of all responses were received on Monday. The second most popular day was Tuesday – the day after the invite and reminders. Again, note that both the invite and reminder were sent on Monday.
Survey 4:
A survey with over 3,800 responses from employees sent to personal e-mail addresses at varying days all throughout the last 2 years
33.23% of all responses received on Wednesday. Noticeable pattern showing that the majority of responses were received the same day invites were sent.
Our takeout:

While Wednesday and Monday appear the clear winners in these examples, the results are closely linked to the fact that the survey invites were sent out on these same days.

Best Time of Day – Actual Examples:

Survey Overview: Time of Highest Response:
(between the hours of 9am and 6pm)
Notes:
Survey 1: 
A survey with 2,000 responses from business people conducted over a 4 week period
3pm – 4pm (20.51% of responses), clearly ahead of the next best time of 10am – 11am (12.92%).BUT – all of the first invites (over 15,000) were set to send between 3pm – 4pm. The worst response rates were recorded between 12pm and 1pm, which goes against much of the current thinking on this issue.
Survey 2:
An ongoing survey with over 1,400 responses from employees that has been running for more than a year (with invites sent out at various days throughout the year).
9am – 10am (14.57%), 10am – 11am (13.98% of responses), and 11am – 12pm (13.82%) The worst response rates were recorded between 4-5pm (5.70% of all responses)
Survey 3:
A survey with over 7,000 responses from volunteers conducted over a 2 week period and sent to mainly personal e-mail addresses
3pm – 4pm yielded the best response (11.66%), followed by 2pm – 3pm (9.61%). The worst response rates were recorded between the hours of 12pm and 1pm (3.67% of all responses).
Survey 4:
A survey with over 3,800 responses from employees sent to personal e-mail addresses at varying days all throughout the last 2 years
<>10am – 11am (15.02% of responses) followed by 11am -12pm (9.51% of responses)”>NB: invites were typically scheduled to send at 10am. The worst response rates were recorded between the hours of 9-10am (2.81% of all responses).

Our takeout:

It would seem 3pm to 4pm, and 10am to 11am are good times to get optimal response, but the fact that invites in these examples were triggered to send around these times obviously plays a big part in the high response rates achieved as a high percentage of invitees respond immediately.

Perhaps the best approach for your organisation is to trial invites at different times and see what works best for your target audience and your survey type.

Previous issue:

Part One: Poorly Produced Survey Invites

Next issue:

Part Three: Excessive Questionnaire Length

Also ahead in this series:

Part Four: Scant Consideration Given During Questionnaire Design to Reporting
Part Five: Optimising Your Post Survey Follow up

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