There's a lot of research out there about the best time to publish blog posts. We had an internal conversation about it, and we realized that aside from knowing we should be posting "sometime in the morning," we didn't really know the right answer.
So, we did a little research of our own. We used our sister blog as our testing ground, since it's more established, we publish a new post every day, and it has more data.
In the past, we've posted at 5am Eastern time, with the idea that those who subscribe via email would have an email waiting in their inbox as soon as they came into the office.
The question we wanted to answer was:
What happens if we post at 9am Eastern time instead of 5am like we used to?
What would that do to our email open rates? Blog post visits?
Should we change our posting schedule?
Let's find out.
In both our test week (the 9am test) and our control week (5am), Tuesday had the most page views:
Interestingly, only Monday vs. Monday had the earlier publishing time winning the race. On every other day, hitting publish when people were more likely to be at their desks (rather than in the early morning) was the way to go. It should be noted that since this study is decidedly not scientific, we can assume that one Monday's post had something else going for it to make it more viewed than the following week. Overall, the week where we published at 9am had 8% more views than the 5am week.
But what about email open rates? Let's see.
Email Open Rates
The Center for Sales Strategy has a large subscriber base, and most people who read the blog get it delivered to their inboxes (if you haven't yet, you might want to!).
For our purposes here, we're measuring instant subscribers, because the other options (daily, weekly, monthly) aren't time dependent.
Does publish time affect email open rates? It does, but not as much overall as we thought:
Here again, that first Monday is the only data point that could be used to say, "We should publish as early as possible!" because the rest of the week shows that publishing at 9am means we get to the top of someone's inbox (at least on the east coast!) rather than already being in a subscriber's inbox. Overall, publishing at 9am was 3% better than publishing at 5am.
Email Click-Through Rate
Since these are subscriber emails and not offer emails, the click-through rate measures things a little differently. A subscriber gets a snippet of a blog post, then has to click on the email to read the whole thing. So it's kind of a measurement of how enticing the snippet is.
Here's what we found out:
Publishing at 9am instead of 5am is significantly better than 5am for subscribers, and that makes sense. Let me ask you this: which email has precedence:
- The subscription email already waiting in your inbox, or
- The subscription email that chimes and pops up mid-morning?
If you're anything like our subscriber base, you're more likely to click through in the mid-morning. In fact, you're 35% more likely to click through!
The Final Verdict
Publishing at 9am instead of 5am resulted in:
- 8% more page views
- 3% more subscribers reading the first paragraph of our emails
- 35% more subscriber click-throughs
Now, of course, we could do more analysis (and we will revisit this in the future!) but one thing's for sure: our sister blog is going to be published at 9am every day.
I have to say, these results surprised me. My coworker Dani had a hunch that publishing later (but not too late!) would be better, and I have to say, she's right!
Have you done any tests like these? What were your results?