Send Time Optimization (STO) isn’t a new concept. As email marketers, we’ve all thought about when to send an email to get the highest open rate. Unfortunately, many of the popular approaches for automating STO are surprisingly simplistic, resulting in, at best, a slight uptick in opens.
In this post, I’ll explain a key characteristic that dramatically improves the effectiveness of a send time optimization solution: the staggered send compared to the batch send.
The batch send approach to STO looks for one send time that will maximize the open rate for the largest number of contacts in a segment. This is the method that you’re most likely familiar with and is championed by marketing automation softwares like Mail Chimp.
But as you can see, looking at the send time graph below, the batch send approach of selecting one send time severely limits your ability to use your contacts’ data and adapt to their behavior.
The graph above maps opens for a group of contacts. The larger the circle, the more opens at that time. Along the right side of the graph is the average unique open rate for each day and along the bottom is the average unique open rate per hour.
Batch STO identifies the one send time that has historically achieved the highest open rate for the most contacts. But this approach means you’re adapting to only a portion of your contacts and it results in a slight increase in open rate once the low engagement of the rest of your contacts is factored in.
A staggered STO approach digs deeper and uses all the available data to identify the best send time for each individual contact. And instead of focusing on only a portion of contacts with one send, the staggered approach sends emails at the best time for each contact.
Technology is finally advanced enough to offer this staggered send approach to Send Time Optimization and this is the approach Motiva uses in its Send Time AI feature. The result can be a double and even triple increase in open rate, which trickles down to increase clicks and other success metrics like webinar registrations, content downloads, sales calls, and purchases.