With all the buzz surrounding artificial intelligence (AI), today’s email marketers may feel as though they are navigating through both a world of opportunity—and a minefield of potential productivity and cost pitfalls.
To understand the power of AI for email marketing, it is important to take a step back and recall that email is still huge, despite naysayers predicting its demise for years. According to Statista, global email users amounted to 3.7 billion in 2017, with that figure projected to increase to 4.1 billion by 2021.
Why is this so important? Because email remains a top marketing channel that generates one of the highest ROIs: a recent survey conducted in the US by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and Demand Metric found that email had a median ROI of 122%. It’s four times higher than social media, direct mail and paid search. That’s right, all you ROI-hungry marketers out there…four times higher!
So how does AI fit into all of this? Big data and machine learning, two core aspects to AI, can be huge levers to conquering the next frontier in email marketing. It can also drive higher conversion rates—and sales—than marketers have ever thought possible. Let’s take a look at some of the ways AI is revolutionizing email marketing.
Hyperpersonalization with AI
Today, leads and customers crave personalization and relevance in order to remain engaged. Statista found that the higher the personalized email, the higher the email open and click-through rates. However, when we talk about hyperpersonalization, we’re going beyond the “Dear John,” intro and even beyond personalization per list segment. Nowadays, data-savvy businesses are mining rich data to adapt to an individual needs.
In order to offer a hyperpersonalized experience, email marketers must collect data—lots of data—to better understand what drives the behaviour of email recipient. Cue in machine learning. Machine learning is basically a means to analyze data, predict outcomes and automatically act. It reveals important insights and trends that may remain undetected to the “human eye,”. Then it can provides vital clues to what resonates from a content, messaging, promotional and product perspective to each individual.
The beauty of machine learning is that rather than being rule-based, it uses sophisticated algorithms to personalize the contents of upcoming emails without the need for any humans to keep tinkering with the content.
The end result? Email marketers can drive better email marketing results without having to inject more staff, time or money.
A compelling AI offshoot to hyperpersonalization is the ability to generate “human-like” content without the need of actual human writers. As mentioned before, AI can help email marketers determine which content works best in ways that are faster and less prone to human bias then A/B testing.
But what about upstream content creation? Email and content marketers are using AI to narrow the gap between speculative content ideas. This is based on human opinion that one piece of content/messaging is more popular than the other, and not based on actual facts. In this sense, AI’s algorithms can be based on analyzing keywords, schematics, trending topics and conversations. It can be linked to a multitude of platforms in almost real time to recognize what content generates the most engagement.
Different AI platforms can then use this invaluable curated data to generate content for your emails, including subject lines, simple messages and calls to action—all based on your segmented email lists and recipients’ past responses.
Improved send times with AI
Statistics and guesstimating are rampant about the best time of day to send out emails. After all, each segment in your list—and each person—probably has different preferences with respect to engaging with email.
In the past, email campaigns were basically sent out at the same time across all customer profiles and perhaps even stages in the sales funnel. But today, thanks to AI, email marketers can individually send out messages at the very precise times recipients are most likely to open them based on past conversions. For example, a busy executive may prefer receiving a promotional email early in the morning while another may set aside some time in the late evening.
In addition, thanks to AI, email marketers can also configure the frequency at which emails are sent to each specific subscriber based on his or her engagement history. This means that they can send more emails to very enthusiastic followers and keep the cadence slower to those who are less inclined not to respond to a barrage of emails. The goal here is to optimize touchpoints with your leads and customers based on when they are more likely to convert—all while mitigating the risks of recipients unsubscribing.
So, where are we going ?
We are at the dawn of the AI era and its positive impact on email marketing. Artificial intelligence, once the backdrop for novels and sci-fi films, is today a tool with powerful potential. IA will undoubtedly be a “must” to transform the results of email campaigns, and our platform will definitely have to integrate it in the coming years!