Send-time optimization has been heavily discussed for a long time. Some ESPs have led the charge with this functionality, but it may not be as effective as it used to be. Most ESPs recommend sending emails at times when the recipient has been known to open emails. After all an open rate is one of the first metrics to consider with email marketing, right? Well, that may be no longer the case, thanks to smartphones and the way email behavior is changing.

According to ExactTarget Marketing Cloud's Subscribers, Fans, and Followers research, 71% of people read their email first thing in the morning. The majority of those are on mobile devices. As this is the case, "send-time optimized emails" will mainly be delivered first thing in the morning.

But how many people actually purchase first thing in the morning? Not that many!

Treat Morning Openers Differently
Therefore, we should treat customers who read emails on their mobile, differently. The send-time optimized email should be sent based on real-time observation of behavior. By doing this, we can build a triggered program that aligns with exactly how customers behave.

Morning email opens are bleary-eyed, low-touch opportunities that need to be impactful and digestible in a dream-like state. I welcome the discussion about how morning emails should be designed to capitalize on our groggy-eyes.

Getting back on track, the really interesting discussion here is about the triggered messages that can complement the morning email opener's behavior. If you know customers regularly make purchases in a certain time-window, you should send those openers a follow-up email at those later times. The messaging should continue on from the earlier emails.

Aligning Email Content and Send-Time with Behavior
In short, as marketers, we know there are times when customers are predisposed to buy. Evenings after work or lunch breaks are good examples. We also know there are times when customers are just browsing. Therefore, it makes sense to send emails that are congruent with the behavior we see.

Traditionally, from a technical perspective it was difficult to connect an individual's transactional data into your ESP. It would require a big-data aggregation project, deep pockets, and a long lag-time.

However, technology has moved on. Triggered Messaging lets you collect all this real-time behavioral data, and its firehose functionality feeds this data into ExactTarget Marketing Cloud. This allows you to optimize send-times and get the behavior you expect to see from your customers.