How Leading Companies Reach Consumers at the Perfect Moment with AI & Send Time Optimization

Ramses Bossuyt
April 1, 2021

No other technology has revolutionized how brands and companies engage with consumers like the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into marketing programs and workflows. The evolution of marketing-specific AI like Marigold Recommendations, built from the ground to deliver state-of-the-art CX based on consumer data, has led to widespread adoption by leading companies.

As a result, the integration of AI is at an all-time high. And looking into 2021, 36% of marketers predict that AI will have a “significant impact” on marketing performance this year.

This impact is two-fold, because AI not only creates more targeted and efficient engagement. The self-learning nature of marketing-specific AI also lets marketers get more functionality out of their platforms over time. Beyond creating personalized product recommendations, advertisements, and chat experiences, AI engines have drastically expanded the number of features and capabilities.

In the process, marketers now have more tools than ever before to drive meaningful engagement with consumers that truly moves the needle in terms of sales.

From Real Time to ‘Ideal Time’ Engagement

Relationship marketers have been focused on delivering real-time engagement to customers, personalized and at scale. Now that marketing-specific AI has evolved significantly, the focus has narrowed: From engaging customers in real time to engaging them in ideal time.

By ideal time, we’re talking about the moment when an individual consumer is most perceptive to messaging. This is where Send Time Optimization (STO) comes in.

As a key feature of Marigold Recommendations, STO enables marketers to automatically optimize email send times to boost open and click-through rates. The technology learns from engagement data captured across email, pages, and mobile channels to calculate the perfect moment for sending a message.

This technology lets marketers truly understand when consumers are active. It calculates the optimal send time and predicts each consumer’s habits based on engagement behavior and past interactions. In harmony with other Marigold Recommendations AI-powered solutions like Smart Content and Smart Audience, STO functionality delivers an entirely new level of personalized engagement that boosts sales and increases order frequency.

But don’t just take our word for it. Here are three successful cases from Marigold Engage clients that have used STO to take their email marketing to the next level:

1. HEMA: Controlling Email Send Time for Major Revenue Boost

Dutch variety retailer HEMA is a treasured household brand. With roots dating back to 1926, the company continues to innovate the customer experience. But upon reviewing its email marketing program, HEMA saw room for optimization: newsletters and promotional emails were sent at random times, regardless of the customer’s behavior or preference.

That’s when HEMA decided to activate Send Time Optimization in Selligent and track success via A/B testing, with a control group as a benchmark. Right away, the combination of customer data stored in Universal Profiles and artificial intelligence for the right send time made an impact.

Results: HEMA achieved a +2.44% open rate (compared to control group) and a EUR 1 million revenue boost. Great timing!

“Thanks to Selligent, we were able to target the perfect time of day to message individual customers and enrich our communications with personalized content based on consumer profiles and behavioral data. The positive results were instantaneous and speak for themselves!”

– Tim van den Berg, CRM Campaign Lead, HEMA

Learn more by downloading the full Hema case study right here.

2. ID Market: Sending Time-Sensitive Emails at the Perfect Moment

ID Market is an online retailer specialized in stylish and clever products at attractive prices, from garden tools to lighting decorations and DIY solutions. As a Selligent client since 2018, the brand knows the value of customer data. That’s why Selligent agency partner Avanci welcomed an opportunity to ensure that time-sensitive sales emails for ID Market – meant to be opened instantly before discounts expire – would connect optimally to customers.

In Spring of 2020, Avanci began enhancing a total of 55 email campaigns for ID Market with Send Time Optimization, always A/B Testing across control groups. The test results quickly proved a significant impact on the ROI of emails sent at the perfect moment for each customer.

Results: With STO activated, ID Market achieved email open rates close to 40% for time-sensitive emails. Internally, the number of customer profiles enrolled in STO grew almost ten-fold during the test period, and has been rising since.

“STO has been very easy to implement and activate. The test results were quickly and significantly focused on the ROI, which allowed us to validate the implementation of this module for our communications in all our devices.”

– Alexandra Campana, Chief of Experts, Avanci

3. Hunkemöller: Boosting Revenue and Email Efficiency with STO

As Europe’s leading and fastest-growing lingerie brand, Hunkemöller operates over 900 stores across 25 countries. The omnichannel retailer also maintains a strong online presence, keeping consumers engaged with regular communications on sales and enticing offers. But when the team noticed a drop in conversions and revenue, it turned to Selligent’s AI capabilities.

Using the Smart Audiences feature, Hunkemöller tailored specific campaigns and messages to AI-generated segments. Next, the brand activated Send Time Optimization to avoid sending too many messages and to hit the moment when a customer is most likely to open and read a communication – and then adapt the sending time to the customer profile. The wins were almost instantaneous.

Results: On the strength of the STO campaign, Hunkemöller increased online revenue by 7.6% and achieved a 2% increase in incremental open rate. What’s more, the company better understands the impact of time periods like sales or Covid-19 lockdowns on shopper engagement, as the optimization continues.

“We are seeing additional revenue, not just by sending out more volumes, but by sending the right content to the right customer. Revenue per thousand emails sent increased dramatically, because the content is becoming more relevant to the customers.”

– Anneke Uiterweerd, CRM and Loyalty Project Manager a.i., Hunkemöller

Learn more by downloading the full Hunkemöller case study right here.

The Moment for Send Time Optimization?

When it comes to engaging consumers at the perfect moment, this is only the beginning. The evolution of marketing AI engines continues, especially for this capability.

This year, our Satsuma product release offered several key enhancements to STO. These include more granular controls over Smart Audiences and individual contacts. Also efficiency gains for importing, managing, and synching data that homes in on the perfect send times.

Looking ahead, our product roadmap is packed with further updates in the months to come, while STO emerges as a major competitive advantage for leading companies like the ones featured in this article. If you’d like to join them, now is your ideal time to book a demo to learn more about our Selligent platform and what it can do to boost your marketing programs.