You probably had your first dose of artificial intelligence (AI) through Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi films that depict robots coming to life and gaining control over the world.
Though this is still a distant dream, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if such advancements actually came true in the near future.
As the world is moving at breakneck speed, the concept of AI is receiving a mix of emotions from all around the world. Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates referred to AI as a “holy grail” in the realms of computer science and technology that would go a long way in making lives easier.
Now looking beyond the scenario of robots taking over the world, AI has arrived in the business landscape transforming critical operations and processes for tons of businesses worldwide. Marketing, particularly email marketing, is one such practice that stands to receive the most out of artificial intelligence.
AI and email marketing
Image Source: MarketingCharts
Yes, email marketing is in for a revolutionary transformation. Thanks to AI, email marketing today is no longer confined to a rule-based marketing process. It is fast emerging as the most preferred tool for digital marketers when it comes to personalization. Long story short, email marketing has turned more powerful and effective than ever with AI. Let us discuss how:
Recently, Google rolled-out its biggest upgrade in years for ‘Gmail’, which aims to make Gmail more user-friendly, secure and smart with artificial intelligence. This is something that puts the entire idea of email marketing in for a grand overhaul.
Image Source: The Verge
Google is leveraging machine learning algorithms to help users respond. They call it the Smart Reply feature, which scans the email text and recommends three smart and often apt responses that users can opt to tweak and revert to an email.
Wondering how marketers can leverage AI to offer smarter and more seamless email journeys to their customers?
The more relevant your email content, the more targeted the promotions will be. Email marketers have been leveraging AI in their email campaigns for this very purpose i.e. to fine tune frequency, send times, relevant content, open rates, and to drive click-through rates.
Here are some of the key ways AI is influencing email marketing:
Driving customer engagement
With AI, email marketers get to learn about a customer’s historical behavior and predict what customers would want to buy as well as the timing for when the customer would actually buy. This allows marketers to come up with a strategy to develop automated triggers for every single stage of the customer lifecycle.
Though CRM systems have been a perfect pick-me-up for marketers across the globe to manage the data of customers, integrating AI with a CRM software would take things to a whole different level. The result would be smart predictions about a customer’s next step and behaviors. For instance, you can include a personalized recommendation for a product or service in an email. This is a great means to drive the click-through rates of your emails whilst driving customer engagement levels significantly and eventually contributing towards the bottom-line.
We know how daunting it is for a marketer to handpick products or services that would appeal to every customer out there. Artificial intelligence makes it a cakewalk for marketers to analyze gigantic volumes of customer data such as purchase history, past behaviors, browsing patterns, etc. to come up with highly personalized suggestions for every customer. Simply put, AI can help you roll out highly targeted, relevant and personalized email marketing campaigns.
Image Source: Statista
In fact, McKinsey & Company reported that Amazon generated about 35% of its total revenue from its email and on-site product recommendations.
Optimizing email subject lines
The subject line is unarguably the most critical aspect of your overall email marketing strategy. An appealing subject line is sure to help your email stand out instigating the user to click-through and skim the email content. On the other hand, a bad or dull subject line is a huge turn off causing the email to end up in the junk or spam folder of the users. It is the copywriter and a lot of A/B testing that go into the making of stupendous subject lines, but AI is here to transform this old-school practice.
Yes, AI leverages algorithms to come up with smarter and appealing subject lines that will appeal to your audience thus, driving open rates. AI does this by analyzing the data of all your email marketing campaigns followed by helping you optimize and improve subject lines over time.
Traditionally and until a few years ago, behavior-based or trigger based targeting used to top the list for email marketers when it comes to driving open rates. The marketer first analyzed the user journey to identify (triggers) or behaviors to understand whether the customer is interested in the email or not.
However, the inception of AI into email marketing has turned the tables drastically. Yes, email marketers are now using AI to understand what a group of users or a particular user is most interested in. AI-based behavior targeting or automated behavior based triggering has become the new normal for email marketers.
Image Source: Data Revenue
Just as email subject lines can be automated and optimized, the entire content of the email can also be automated.
AI-powered software can use pre-written copy, images, promotions, blog post snippets, curated content, links, and even machine-generated content to produce emails that are optimized for a high engagement rate.
AI algorithms can not only determine the optimal combination of different types of content but this automation also significantly cuts down on the time and resources needed to keep your email campaigns running.
Improved email automation
Similar to how AI can help optimize and automate subject lines for your emails, you can automate the entire email content with the help of artificial intelligence.
An AI-powered email marketing tool can intelligently use pre-written email copies, snippets from blog posts, promotions, images, links, curated content as well as machine-generated content to come up with emails that are pre-optimized for high engagement and click-through rates.
AI will not only test-run a diverse combination of email content but will also cut down the resources and time required to devise and execute your email marketing campaigns through intelligent automation.
Email send time plays a pivotal role when it comes to deciding the fate of an email i.e. whether it would appeal to the reader or whether it would go into the junk folder. With that being said, the timing of your email has to be suitable in today’s era where our inboxes are cluttered with tons of emails. For this, an email marketer should know when his/her readers open their mailbox. This is something that is extremely cumbersome and time-consuming.
AI with the help of predictive analytics can make this a piece of cake to automate and optimize send times for your emails based on helpful insights garnered through the analysis of past email behaviors and interactions. Long story short, AI and predictive analytics help email marketers determine the best time to send emails to their readers ensuring that nothing goes unnoticed. A good example here is that of the emails we receive post abandoning a cart and leaving a purchase incomplete.
Though AI still seems to be a nightmarish concept for some, it’s benefits clearly outweigh the misconceptions many of us hold. However, it is important for marketers to wake up to the idea of AI in email marketing and equip themselves with the right set of tools to take their email marketing campaigns to the next level.
Guest author: Anwar Shaikh writes about AI, machine learning, business intelligence and all things enterprise technology. A self-made writer and Digital Marketing Manager, Anwar works for Sage Software Solutions (P) Ltd., a leading provider of cost-effective and user-friendly ERP and CRM solutions. Follow him on Twitter.