New Report Reveals More Marketers are Using Send Time Optimization

Amy Hager

I love STO!

I was very happy to see in this year’s Association Email Marketing Benchmark Report that 24.5% more of my fellow association email marketers are using STO, or Send Time Optimization. I have always wanted to ask those who haven’t used it, “why don’t you send a message to your members when they are most likely to read it?” It seems simple to me.

I remember explaining STO to some of my members once. We were at a conference breakfast and my members (a father/son duo) received my newsletter. As the father was reading my table of contents (TOC) and getting into a story that was relevant about the conference we were attending, the son takes out his phone, looks for the newsletter and frowns. He didn’t get the newsletter at our breakfast. I pulled up my Informz account and showed them, the father tends to open and reads email at breakfast, while the son checks his email over lunch. That then resulted in the father joking with the son on how he should start his day earlier. They both concluded it was helpful and “cool” that I was sending the content they wanted, when they would read it and therefore, giving our association more credit for providing what members want.

Association professionals might struggle with using STO for the simple factor of my situation of the father/son team: will members in the same office talk or question one receiving the newsletter earlier than another – or at least that is what my Association CEO was worried about when I told them I was using STO. I am happy to report, after using STO for almost five years with two different associations, not a single member has called to complain.

How do you use STO and what does it mean? Basically, STO means your members will get your mailing based off  of past opens and engagements. Your message is being sent over a 24 hour period based off their engagement history. In my example above, the father took action or clicked on mailings right away in the morning, while the son let items collect in his inbox till noon. You want your message to be the first thing in their inbox when they are most likely to engage, and that is why STO is critical to my email engagement success (PS, you don’t pay extra for this service in your account.)

Try using STO in these situations:

Regularly Scheduled Messages: Sometimes members get glossy eyed when reading so many emails and if you are sending a regular newsletter (even though there is new content for them to read). STO will help in more opens, reads, clicks and overall engagement. Also, we spend hours putting useful info into these mailings and it is a disservice to the time your staff is putting into the newsletters if you don’t give it the best chance of being read.

Promoting Education Sessions, Conferences and Events: If you are wanting more registrations for your educational sessions, conferences and events, give your readers the mailing when they are likely to take action… like registering to attend.

Products: A new product or even general product promotion can give members the opportunity to be at their desk or somewhere that is easier for them to purchase or take action – resulting in more sales and more non-dues revenue.

Voting or Surveys: Sometimes members invest a lot of time in taking a survey or completing a vote and it is important to our associations they do so. Using STO can help members take action right away and hopefully more members will take part in the vote or survey.

Potential Member Messages: If you are regularly sending messages to your potential member list, STO will help your association’s message land in their inbox when they are likely to be engaged and maybe they will finally click that “join” button!

Probably not the best times to use STO:

Legislative Action Alerts: If you need members to call their legislators today or act on a legislative issue, the urgency to take action should trump STO .

Deadline Driven Messages: Sending a message within 32-47 hours of the deadline, STO might not work well as it might not give people enough time to react. If they have 48-72 hours to meet the deadline, STO could work well.

If you haven’t used STO and you need more guidance, your advisor will be happy to help. If you need help with “selling” STO to your team, reach out and we can set up a call. I am always willing to share my success with STO. Don’t forget to check out the 2015 Association Email Marketing Benchmark Report for more stats on how your association peers’ email marketing programs are performing.


About the Author
Amy Hager

Amy Hager has been an Informz client since June 2010 and is the Informz Client Advisory Board Director. When not working hard for the Bed and Breakfast Association of Virginia, Amy enjoys taking in the sights of DC, wine and cider tasting in Virginia and planning mini getaways with her husband and friends.