Front-End Web & Mobile

What’s the best time to engage your mobile app users?

In talking to customers about mobile analytics, many customers have the same questions about best practices for customer engagement. Specifically, a question that’s often asked is, “What’s the best time to engage with users of my app?” The simple answer is that there’s no simple answer. The “best time” varies depending on your customer base, your use case, and the type of messages you send. In this blog post, I talk about how you can analyze engagement data for your mobile apps to determine the best time to contact your customers.

Understand your users’ behavior

When you’re trying to determine the best time to engage with users of your app, it’s important to understand when customers are most likely to use your app. For example, a music streaming app probably has more users during the day than a movie app. Similarly, customers probably use an app that offers food delivery at different times than an app that offers Deals of the Day.

Fortunately, Amazon Pinpoint includes a helpful session heat map that can help you identify your windows of opportunity.

To access the session heat map, do the following:

  1. Sign in to the Amazon Pinpoint console and select your project.
  2. In the navigation pane, choose Analytics.
  3. Choose Usage, and scroll to the bottom of the page.

The session heat map shows the number of users who opened your app at every hour of every day of the week. One of my favorite features of the session heat map is that it’s based on each user’s local time. In other words, if a user in London opens the app at 8 p.m. local time on Sunday, and another user in Seattle opens the app at 8 p.m. local time on Sunday, both user interactions are shown as having occurred on Sunday at 8 p.m., despite the time zone difference between the two locations.

To illustrate the insights that you can gain by using this chart, let’s look at a sample app for a Seattle restaurant called Ristorante Alexandria. Users of the app can use it to make reservations, check wait times, learn about daily specials, and look at the restaurant’s menu. After collecting data for several months, our session heat map might resemble the following example.

In this heat map, the darker rectangles indicate days and times when the largest numbers of users opened the app. We can gain several important insights from this one chart, including the following:

  • Users are more likely to open the app around dinner time (7 p.m.–10 p.m.), and are highly unlikely to open it in the early morning hours (2 a.m.–7 a.m.).
  • Users are more likely to open the app on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday—and are less likely to open it on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.
  • On most days, there’s a small but noticeable increase in usage around 3 p.m., when some users are likely to start thinking about what to eat for dinner.

Turn insights into action

The session heat map acts as a survey of your users. It helps you understand the days and times when customers are most likely to use your app. You can use this information to plan your interactions with your customers.

In the case of our Ristorante Alexandria sample app, we might consider a few different engagement tactics based on the data from the session heat map. For example, because we know that there’s a small spike in app usage around 3 p.m., we could send our most frequent users a push notification that lists the restaurant’s daily specials around that time. This would help to entice prospective diners to come to the restaurant that evening.

Another tactic to consider is offering an incentive for customers to come into the restaurant on the days when it does less business—in this case, Wednesday through Friday. For example, we could send an SMS message or email to a certain set of customers that offers them a 10% discount on their bill when they dine at the restaurant on one of these days.

Both of these tactics require you to segment your audience, and to create and schedule campaign messages. You can use the Amazon Pinpoint console to meet both of these needs.

The segmentation tool in Amazon Pinpoint helps you create dynamic segments based on your users’ behaviors and attributes. After you’ve created your segments, you can use the campaign execution features in Amazon Pinpoint to create and schedule messages in multiple channels, including email, SMS, and mobile push.

To learn more about Amazon Pinpoint, visit

Zach Barbitta and Brent Meyer contributed this article.  Zach is a Senior Product Manager for Amazon Pinpoint, and Brent is a Senior Technical Writer for Amazon Pinpoint.