Send Messages at the Right Time

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Activate Send Time Optimization.
  • Use Send Time Optimization in Journey Builder.
  • Analyze email send performance.

Fine-Tune Your Delivery Strategy 

You’re learning more and more about your customers with Einstein Engagement Scoring and sending personalized content. Your content strategy is looking good. But what about your delivery strategy? That’s right—when you send is just as important as what you send. Timing is everything, but how do you know when it’s the right time to send that email or push notification? Should you send at 9:00 AM local time, when subscribers may be getting to work? Or is 8:00 PM local time better—when they’re likely at home and looking at their phones? Take the mystery out of these questions and let Einstein do the work. 

Einstein Send Time Optimization

Einstein Send Time Optimization (STO) determines the best time to send emails or push notifications to each of your contacts in your marketing journeys within Journey Builder. STO uses machine learning and 90 days of engagement data to determine the best time (within a 24-hour period) to send a message to each contact.

How It Works

Einstein gathers data for approximately 20 factors, such as the number of emails sent to a contact, the number of emails a contact opened, and the day of the week the email is opened. This feature uses machine learning to assign a weight to each factor according to that factor’s influence on predicting future engagement behavior. Then, Einstein analyzes this data and assigns a likelihood score to each of the 168 hours in a week for each contact. Finally, Einstein uses this information to recommend send times that lead to opens. So smart, that Einstein. 

Activate Einstein Send Time Optimization

Sound good? Complete these steps for each business unit where you plan to use the feature.

  1. In the Marketing Cloud Setup app, expand Einstein.
  2. Click Send Time Optimization.
  3. Click Activate.

Allow up to 72 hours after activation to complete the data transfer and analysis before heading to Journey Builder.

Use STO in Journey Builder

Once activated, the Einstein Send Time Optimization activity is placed before an email activity in a customer journey. This helps to maximize the chance your subscriber opens the email.

Journey Builder map with Einstein STO

How do you do this? Glad you asked.

  1. Drag the Einstein STO activity to a position immediately before the email activity you want to optimize.
  2. Click the added activity.
  3. Select the time period that Einstein optimizes send times for either: Best Hour in Next 24 or Best Hour in Next Week.
  4. Click Done.

Easy, right?

Test with Path Optimizer

Being a scientist and a marketer, Einstein likes to experiment. If you'd like to measure the effectiveness of Einstein Send Time Optimization, we suggest doing a test on email opens using the Path Optimizer activity in Journey Builder. Let’s review the steps. 

  1. After selecting your data source, drag the Path Optimizer activity to the beginning of a new journey.
  2. Click the Path Optimizer activity to configure.
  3. From the summary screen, enter a name for the activity and a brief description.
  4. Then click Configure Winner Evaluation.
  5. Select Email Engagement and the Open Rate as the engagement metric.
  6. Next select a test duration (for this example, we use 3 days).

Path optimizer example

Next, under the split tab, add 3 paths for your test. This test should have one path with no optimization activity, another path with the send time optimization activity test, and a control group in which the send times are randomized. Let’s walk through these steps.

  1. Click + Add Path twice to add two additional test paths for a total of 3 paths. The audience distribution should remain equally divided.
  2. Click Done.
  3. From the journey canvas, drag an Email activity to the empty activity slot in path 1 and configure your email as desired.
  4. Repeat this step for the next 2 paths.
  5. For path 2, drag the Einstein STO activity immediately before the email in path 2.
    1. Click the activity and select Best Hour in Next 24 for the time period that Einstein optimizes send times.
  6. Click Done.
  7. For path 3, drag the Einstein STO activity immediately before the email in path 3.
    1. Click the activity and select Best Hour in Next 24 for the time period
    2. After configuring the sending time frame, select Randomize send times for contacts on this path.
  8. Click Done.

Once complete, validate and activate your journey to begin the test. You can wait for the 3 day test period, or you can view results in real-time and select a winner manually. 



Learn more about Path Optimizer in the module, Path Optimizer in Journey Builder. 

Send Time Optimization Dashboard

Feeling curious about your overall account or a specific business unit’s performance? Head to the Einstein Send Time Optimization dashboard. Let’s check out the information you can find on email and MobilePush—starting with the email dashboard.Einstein Send Time Optimization dashboard with callouts of specific features

First select if you want to view data from your overall enterprise account or from a specific business unit (1). From here you can also tailor your view to display data according to email addresses, assigned or pending times. Also note your time zone (2). This can be updated in Setup. The Overview tile (3) shows the number of emails analyzed, along with emails sent. This tile also provides a data quality score (4). Use the down arrow next to data quality to learn more about your orgs data score. 



Emails not analyzed include: Transactional emails, bounces, and test sends.

The graphs When Are Messages Likely to Be Opened (5) and When Would Einstein Send (6) allow you to drill down further to find information about when to send over the course of a week.  

MobilePush Dashboard

The MobilePush dashboard is similar to the email version, except you are selecting which mobile app and contacts to view versus business units and email addresses.  

Einstein STO dashboard for MobilePush

Great! Now that you know when to send (and how to find out if it’s working), in the next unit we cover how often you should send. 


Rights of ALBERT EINSTEIN are used with permission of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Represented exclusively by Greenlight.

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