Best time to send email: Eloqua Send Time Optimization

Mar 23, 2020

As a marketer you have so many decisions you need to make when planning your Eloqua email campaign, namely:

  • The subject line
  • The call to action
  • Content personalization
  • Send time

Email send time is the one decision that is a problem for even the most experienced email marketer.

Enter the £6 Billion pound…

When is the best time to send an email?

I have seen clients base their decision on things like:

  • Times that don’t conflict with other campaigns
  • When the business website can handle the traffic
  • Whatever their hunch is

Put your hand on your heart.  Do you or have you fallen into one of these categories.  I have.

A quick google search will give you all sorts of answers.  Two that stand out for me…

  • Experian – Monday is the best day
  • CoSchedule – Tuesday 10am
  • When is the best time to send an email?

Back to the £6 Billion question…

I am going to tell you the exact answer so listen in……


I can hear you say “Ok Greg, Mr clever clogs, I’m still reading, how can this be done?”

Using AI – For free through a feature called Eloqua Send Time Optimization

What is Eloqua Send Time Optimization?

Eloqua send time optimization allows you to set up your emails to send too your contact at the time they are most likely to open it.

How does Eloqua send time optimization do this?

Oracle’s AI based Eloqua Send Time Optimization is a feature that uses algorithms fed by every individual contact’s historical data to produce not just the best time to send, and the best day.

Let’s dive into the theory behind Eloqua send time optimization and then I will show you technically how it works and how you can use it.

People are creatures of habit. We have routines for all sorts of things and these routines vary from individual to individual.

Reading emails, especially marketing emails aimed at un-engaged contacts is no different.  Look to yourself as an example.  When do you read marketing based emails aimed at you as the contact?

  • Lunch break?
  • On your commute?
  • Throughout the day when you get bored?

Even if you answer with the last question – you will set patterns.  It could be after you make a coffe at 11am and sit back down starting to think about lunch if you are disciplined.  It could be during that boring daily meeting you never have to input into.  It doesn’t matter…  What matter is you have set a pattern for the time that you will open marketing emails.

Eloqua send time optimization works by monitoring when your prospect opens their emails and determines a best time and day for send.

Eloqua Send Time Optimization Results

Email Metric Eloqua Send Time Optimization Result
Unique Open Rates 37% Increase
Unique Click Through Rates 28% Increase

Oracle published the results of some testing they did with a couple of select clients and the results were amazing.  One travel industry customer had an increase of 37% and unique clicks go up by 28% when compared to a campaign that did not have Eloqua send time optimization enabled.

The same customer also found a 53% reduction in email bounces on one campaign.  Another customer found that Eloqua send time optimization increased opens and clicks by 33%.

So… Given these results this is a fantastic weapon in your Eloqua arsenal!

Best of all it is 100% free!

Using Eloqua Send Time Optimization

Using Eloqua Send Time Optimization is simple.

You set your email on the canvas and double click into it.

Click on Scheduling
Click the arrow on the drop down and select Enable Send Time Optimization.
You will now see two options:

  • Optimize by time of day
  • Optimize by time of day and day of week


You might be forgiven for wondering what on earth these are here for.  I was when I first saw it but the clever folks at Oracle saw this and foresaw the dilemma that if all your “always on” lead nurture campaigns and your latest campaign hit at the same time you could swamp the recipient’s mail box.  This feature buffers things out.

Optimize by time of day

​When you select Optimize by time of day it gives you a drop down with options in hours. 

Eloqua Send Time Optimization works by allowing the latest email campaign to be activated as the dominant one, then all the other shift back by the delay period set.

So let’s say you have two campaigns and your recipient’s optimal send time is 3pm.  You also set the delay period to 1 hour.

The latest campaign will get an Eloqua send time optimization time of 3pm.

The previous one with the exact same settings will then get sent at 4pm because you have set the delay period to 1 hour.

Basically this one will set the send time to the optimal hour and send on the same day the email is supposed to send.

Optimize by time of day and day of week

This Eloqua Send Time Optimization setting will hold off the send until the day of the week and the hour that the contact is most likely to open your email.  So Eloqua could end up holding your email send day by up to six days.

Using the other way means that Thursday send would happen at 4pm and the Tuesday send at 3pm.  Then you get the added problem of this cascading.

And that’s it.  Away you go, go and continue kicking ass on Eloqua!

One final note..  Don’t use this on any auto-responders, confirmation, reminder or in fact any time sensitive email.  Use this for webinar invites, whitepaper downloads, etc.

If you don’t have Eloqua Send Time Optimization enabled give me a shout using the contact me form.

FAQ straight from Oracle

Eloqua Send Time Optimization Question Response
How is sending an email using Eloqua Send Time Optimization (STO) different from a traditional email send in Eloqua? With the new Eloqua Send Time Optimization functionality, an email campaign is sent to individuals at different times based on their optimal time measured using historical open data. On the other hand, traditional email launches sends the email to the entire audience at the same time.
What data is used to generate optimized send times for each recipient? Eloqua Send Time Optimization uses historical open email data to determine the most optimal day to send for each week and the most optimal time to send for each day of the week for each contact.
What types of campaigns should or should not be launched using Eloqua Send Time Optimization? Batch-type campaigns launched using Eloqua Send Time Optimization will be the most beneficial. Time sensitive emails such as webinar or event registrations are not ideal candidates.
What happens to an Eloqua Send Time Optimization email send if the recipient does not have any historical email send data in Eloqua? In the standard Eloqua Send Time Optimization Campaign step, if a recipient has yet to be sent/opened an email from Eloqua, the Eloqua Send Time Optimization email is scheduled to be sent immediately. Any future Eloqua Send Time Optimization emails to that recipient will then start to adjust Eloqua Send Time Optimization send times based on new historical data that is collected from that first email.
Can I control which days an Eloqua Send Time Optimization email send goes out? (e.g. limit it to business days) No, Eloqua Send Time Optimization measures the optimal time the recipient interacts with their emails from Eloqua regardless of what day and time it’s on. Future Eloqua Send Time Optimization emails will send and adjust based on those optimized times of interaction so it puts control back into the recipient’s hands.
What happens to wait steps in campaigns if I am using Eloqua Send Time Optimization? Wait steps will function the same. Eloqua Send Time Optimization will commence after the wait step.
What does this mean for email batch control? Eloqua Send Time Optimization will override email batch control. If Eloqua Send Time Optimization is on, batch split will not be working.
What does this mean for campaigns decision steps? It should not get affected. Currently, there is no interaction with the decision steps.
Is the open time based on contact activity? Yes.
How far back does the historical data go? The data is taken into consideration for Eloqua Send Time Optimization starting from the time when the flag is on.
Is this working for apps and/or SMS channel? No, it’s only for the email send step only at this time.
Is Eloqua Send Time Optimization available with A/B testing on Simple Email Campaign? If a Contact has the same hour on different days (say, 3 opens Monday at 6am and 3 opens on Tuesday at 6am), how does Eloqua decide the optimal day? No, at the moment Eloqua Send Time Optimization will not work with A/B testing.
How is this impacted by clients who’s emails are opened by a security system without contacts inputs? (e.g. Symantec Cloud Spam Detection Heuristics which will scan through the entire email and all links (including the email open pixel)) Regarding historical open data collected, given it would start now – within 3 years, will it still include the initial starting historical open data? Once email open data is registered, it will be added to our email open algorithm. This will be the same for emails with automated opens where all the data will be used for email opens calculations. Historical data starts collecting as soon as we enable the data processing to the customer. Eloqua Send Time Optimization will only process data from that starting point onward and nothing before that.
Will the client be able to see a contact’s optimal send time in a field? Without that kind of field, how will they know if there is a delay from the system? Does it weigh new data higher than historical? Can it be configured on or off for each email step, each campaign, or is it just on or off for the whole instance? There is no field currently. If there is a new customer or a customer without any data, the email will be sent right away (just as it would be with a scheduled campaign). As the system receives more data regarding the customer’s behavior over time, the STO will start sending emails at the most optimal time for the contact. Recent data has more weight than old data and it can be configured individually for each step.
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