“When is the best time to send my email messages?” This is a question we hear from marketers all the time at Return Path.
Inboxes are overloaded. It has become increasingly difficult to stand out, and your messages are likely to get buried beneath everyone else’s. One way to drive more interaction is to be at the top of the inbox: people are more likely to open a message if it pops into the inbox around the time the subscriber is checking their email.
But there is no one right time for every subscriber. People are in different time zones and check their emails at different times throughout the day depending on their personal routines. Return Path’s Send Time Optimization solution solves this problem.
Currently available for Salesforce Marketing Cloud customers, Send Time Optimization adds just one step to the campaign process. By looking at historical engagement metrics, Send Time Optimization can predict when each individual subscriber on your list is most likely to interact with your message and sends your email at that time. It solves the issue of time zones and caters to individual subscriber habits.
At a recent Salesforce Marketing Cloud webinar, we received a few questions about the solution that we didn’t get a chance to answer. Here are the questions and answers:
Q. How does the increase in mobile email usage affect the time we should send emails? Is send time as important now that people are more connected throughout the day?
A. The solution looks at opens but also at clicks and applies a favorable weight to the click event. Therefore, the message is sent when the subscriber is most likely to interact—whether on their mobile device or on a desktop.
Q. How much value is there in consistency—sending at the same time, on the same day of the week—versus personalization?
A. Can you condition or train your subscribers to expect (and want) your messages at the same day and time? Maybe, but doubtful. An audience that would respond to conditioning the same way that a subscriber would respond to Send Time Optimization implies an extremely loyal subscriber base. This means your subscribers would have to make an effort to locate your messages by navigating to page 2, 3, or 4 to find your offer as opposed to seeing it at the top of the inbox.
Q. Is it possible to “turn on” or “skip” the rules for the Send Time Optimization tool?
A. Yes. You can easily choose which campaigns you want to optimize for send time.
Q. Behavior differs on weekdays versus weekends for the same subscriber. Does Send Time Optimization change per day of the week?
A. Yes. The solution recognizes different behavior patterns for different days of the week.
Q. What day of the week is best to send?
A. There is no one right answer to this question, which is why Send Time Optimization is so powerful. What is best for one subscriber is not best for every subscriber. This solution allows for a personalized send time for every subscriber.
Q. Are there advantages to doing both Send Time Optimization and A/B testing on the same email? Or does it introduce too many variables?
A. Introducing the dimension of time to testing disqualifies the concept of A/B testing. The goal is to make just one change and measure the impact that it has. Send Time Optimization plus A/B testing for the same send would modify multiple aspects. This doesn’t mean you can’t do any A/B testing. You can run an A/B test to a portion of the list and then send time optimize the winner (creative, offer, subject line, etc.) to the remainder of the list (e.g., 10/10/80 split).
Q. What if you send more than one email per day? Would both emails get sent at the same time?
A. For each campaign, you choose a beginning time/day and end time/day which is called a campaign spread. If your campaign spreads overlap and a subscriber is on both lists, they will receive the message at the same time. To avoid this, simply do not schedule overlapping campaigns.
Stephanie began her digital marketing career 20 years ago with AOL followed by BMG Columbia House. She has been with Return Path for 11 years working with clients to optimize their email marketing programs by leveraging custom consulting and innovative AI solutions. Stephanie is based in New Jersey.
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