Testing times call for Send Time Testing
STT (Send Time Testing) is the prelude to STO (Send Time Optimization) – the process that ensures the STO algorithm has an unbiased data set to do its predictive magic. This process reduces the impact of a couple of challenges that STO algorithms face, but how significantly, depends on how long you are willing to run the test as a marketer – it is dependent on your business and campaign cadences. But for a set up where 3 to 6 touch points per customer per month is the norm, one month is quite short and anything beyond 6 might not show appreciable bang for the buck.
Challenge 1: Uniformity in Engagement Touchpoints. If all your campaigns are scheduled on a week day at 5 pm, you can identify good respondents but you do not know if they will actually be better respondents on a different schedule. Similarly, you can identify the poor respondents but you never know if this is their best or worst phase unless you target them at different cadences.
Challenge 2: Seasonal Fluctuations: We all consciously or unconsciously shift online behavior that might really be there to stay or could be an ad-hoc aberration. As a marketer, the capability to detect this anomaly and quickly conclude the transient nature of this change is the key to understanding behavior.
Let's see how to set this up on a Marketing Automation Platform. It is good to state the objective of the exercise (and for the sake of simplicity, let's look at the three facets of information) and the best way is to use the "I want to methodology".
Objective: I need to understand the email open behavior of my customers. I want to know,
What is the right slot to target a customer every day in the week? What is the best day in the week to target a customer and in what slot?
Do note that we can get as granular to the hour that we want to but that really means more testing, more time and yes you are right – more money!
Well, now that's off the table, the next step is to dive down into the nuts and bolts of the implementation. You need to have a clear process that will start kicking from the instant a customer is subscribed to your mailing list, take him through the life cycle of the test and finally push the results for this customer to the STO Engine.
Post this process, the customer is "Stabilized" which means you have a clear grasp of his / her "Open" preferences and can target them appropriately. A caveat however, is that you need to monitor this with an Audit Mechanism, and watch out for "Anomalies" i.e. change in behavioral patterns.
There are several ways to skin this from an implementation standpoint – using back end architecture and complex ETLs/ schedulers or if you are on an advanced platform, do utilize the Life cycle Orchestration features that make life simpler and reduce dependency on IT resources.
Well, there it is! You have upped the ante with one level of customer centricity vis a vis your engagement goals. This kind of "Tune Up" can go a long way in improving your Customer Satisfaction, Opens/CTRs, revenue and yes, your goals as a Modern Marketer.