How to Conduct Send Time Analysis to Improve Your Email Strategy


A well timed email can be the difference between a new relationship or a missed opportunity.  Learn how to conduct an email send time analysis to get the most out of your send.

Start a send time analysis by organizing your send and open data into a high level view of your current activity and results.  The visualization we use at Motiva is the send time chart below, where each day of the week and each hour of the day is displayed to show all the potential send time opportunities.

Open Rate by Send Hour Heatmap

Each gray box in the chart represents one of the total 168 hours in a week.  Down the left side of the chart is the label for the day and across the top is the label for the hour. 

Down the right side of the chart is the average unique open rate for each day and across the bottom is the average unique open rate for each hour.  This gives you a quick indication of which days and hours are performing the best.

The circles in the gray boxes represent the number of sends that went out at that time over the past 12 months.  The bigger the circle, the more sends.  The smaller the circle, the fewer the sends.

The color of the circle indicates the open rate.  As you can see on the spectrum below, a light cream color indicates a very low open rate and a dark blue color indicates a high open rate.

Open Rate Color Key

It's important to keep in mind that many opens don't occur at the exact time an email is sent.  For example, an email sent at 3pm might not get opened until 6pm, but that 3pm send still gained that 6pm open so it's recorded in the average unique open rate for 3pm.

A visualization like this can help you quickly evaluate the results of your current send time strategy and help you identify new opportunities for experimenting with send time.

There are a few insights we recommend gathering to boost your email performance: best send window and best send times.

Best Send Window

The best send window is a combination of the days of the week and the hours of the day that consistently achieve the highest unique open rates.  Only send emails within that window, and not outside of it, to get the highest engagement for your group of contacts.

For example, the red box in the send time chart above indicates the best send window: Wednesday through Sunday, 3am to 7pm.

You could decide to include Monday and Tuesday in the send window, but you can see that the average unique open rate for Monday is 42.8 and for Tuesday it's 42.7, which is significantly lower than the average unique open rates for the other days of the week.  So emailing your contacts on Wednesday through Sunday would most likely result in higher engagement.

Best & Worst Send Times

You can also see that some hours result in the highest engagement while others result in the lowest engagement.

Best and Worst Send Hours by Percentage

In the example send time chart above, three hours on Thursday achieve the highest unique open rate between 67-70%.  These are great times to send a simple batch and blast, single send email.

However, you should avoid your worst send hours on the right, which will most likely result in a relatively low unique open rate.

Automating Analysis with Send Time AI

A send time analysis can be great if you're optimizing a simple batch and blast email, but ultimately one approach doesn't work for all contacts in the group.  Everyone engages with email in their own way and at their preferred times.

So if you really want to level up your send time performance, you should focus on finding the best send time for each individual contact. 

Obviously an analysis of that scale isn't practical on a database of hundreds of thousands or millions of contacts.

That's where software can completely change the game by automatically conducting a per-contact send time analysis for you and send an email at the best time for each individual contact.

If you're interested in learning about per-contact Send Time AI, check out our Ultimate Guide to Send Time AI.

Want to see how Motiva works? Pick a time to see a demo!

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