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Inbox browsers expect a bit more these days. They can be a little demanding. Marketers must employ sophisticated means of connecting with potential customers. Email marketers are moving towards interactivity, accessible email designs, and hyper-personalization to create better targeted emails.
Ironically, one of the most advanced methods emerging now is artificial intelligence. Here’s the irony with AI: marketers do a little more by integrating AI into their email strategies; and then they do even less thanks to AI. Artificial intelligence performs automated work – and more – on behalf of the marketer.
Want a few greater reasons to use AI? The practice and performance of email marketing change from year to year. An ever-evolving technological landscape always changes. One thing never changes though: email marketing strategies must make money. AI could very well help with that all-desirable goal thanks to how it helps with analyzing metrics.
What is artificial intelligence?
HAL, the supercomputer from the classic movie 2001: A Space Odyssey paints a pop culture picture of sci-fi artificial intelligence. Once HAL learns how to think for itself, the computer presents a grave challenge to humans. Real-life artificial intelligence programs aren’t so dramatic. Benevolent AI programs are a lot more helpful as well. Like HAL, they do kind of figure out how to think for themselves.
Artificial intelligence represents programs capable of learning and adapting. They prove more efficient than non-AI programs lacking learning capabilities. Anyone accessing an AI program relies on the software to expand on performance to deliver equally increased results.
How’s the email marketing plan working out?
A standard answer here is “It could be better.”
If a campaign falters, scrapping everything doesn’t need to be the response. Prematurely canning a campaign might even lead to serious future regrets. Fixing the deficiencies, a smarter approach, may lead to better metrics. In the past, limitations on the abilities to review strategies, metric, and data created stumbling blocks to instituting changes. AI lifts some of those limitations.
How so? Let’s look at AI’s influence on A/B testing models.
A/B testing plays a vital role in all email marketing campaigns. The concept is relatively simple. Two different elements – an “A” and a “B” — undergo a comparison. Is intro A on one email delivering better results than intro B on another? If so, then maybe B should use A’s intro or a similar one. A/B testing often delivers good marketing analytics results, but the process might be cumbersome and limited. There’s only so much you or a team can do manually. AI, however, may take over and automate the process. Automation and multiple-task performances could speed up the time required for an analysis.
The depth of the analysis could increase dramatically as well. A/B testing through artificial intelligence could involve far more data as well. The comparisons may be broken down into scores of smaller components. All this leads to a comprehensive metrics analysis capable of improving future email campaigns.
Just how valuable is that lead?
In the Stone Age of email marketing, mass mailings sometimes led to surprising results. Email marketing was new and novel. People often gave the sender the benefit of the doubt and made purchases even when the content of the email looked, well, lame. “Send me a message with a decent price on a product, and I might buy.” Those days are long over. Email content has to dazzle the person receiving it. And the recipient must be the right person. Otherwise, a lot of time and money end up wasted.
The role of metrics plays in figuring out how valuable a lead/recipient indeed is. Artificial intelligence programs can monitor and analyze stats from the person receiving the email. An AI program may scan the click-through rates of customers along with how much time they spend on a particular website. All this data related to engagement creates a profile about the potential customer.
Marketers usually love the person who seems like a great prospect. Not everyone buys the first time out. And yes, there are those who only like to read content and never make a buy. A useful AI analysis of how recipients behave allows everyone to make a value assessment. Is this person worth sending more promotional material?
Figuring out an answer to that question requires a mix of reviewing available data combined with making a judgment call. Judgment calls rely on speculation, but proper data analysis makes that speculation more educated. Maybe you should leave the data collection and analysis to an AI program. AI isn’t at the point where it can make judgment calls yet, but the programs do wonders with reviewing data.
Artificial intelligence comes with sincere feelings
2001’s HAL’s droning, emotionless, monotone voice emphasized the computer’s cold lack of humanity. Sad to say, marketing emails often come off with similar dry content. Emails of that nature don’t move people. Who would go beyond the first paragraph — or even the first couple of lines — when an email reads too dry?
When sending out generic emails to thousands of people, the final result is a “one size fits all email” that doesn’t fit anyone. Generic emails don’t wake strong appeals to people because they don’t hone in on feelings. AI programs might not develop a level of empathy for humans, but they do assist with figuring out behavior patterns.
Does a certain segment of recipients respond well to bright, cheery, and even funny emails? Are others more likely to react to serious calls to action? The overall collective of recipients commonly breaks down into different subgroups. Each subgroup reacts in its own unique way towards promotional emails. That’s fine! You must craft the emails that best work for a particular group. AI helps this cause by analyzing the response rates which, in turn, allows a careful eye to examine personal preferences. Through better insights into personal preferences, decisions can be made about how to personalize future marketing campaigns.
All manner of different data could contribute to devising a home run campaign. Imagine if the AI system revealed a segment continually checked emails between the hours of 2 AM and 4 AM. Tailoring emails to “night owls” might deliver a different and potentially lucrative response. While a creative human must craft the interesting email targeting these night dwellers, AI makes it possible to know of their existence and how many of them there are.
AI acts as the bearer of bad news, which is good
Marketing life would be wonderful if artificial intelligence programs regularly revealed incredible click-through rates and consistently opened emails. That’s not how life works as reality sets in with all campaigns. An overwhelming percentage of people won’t respond to emails. They get so many promotional emails, they zone them out. Don’t let their behavior defeat you in your goals to succeed! Percentages and metrics can always be improved at least incrementally. A small increase is better than flatlined figures.
Why are the figures so low? If AI reveals metrics showing an inordinate amount of emails were never opened during the month of March, did the problem occur during the entire month or a specific week? If you narrow down the problem to one week, you can examine the email that went out. In doing so, you may be able to focus on the problem. Perhaps the subject line wasn’t compelling enough. Maybe the subject wasn’t timed properly for the week. That is, you heralded spring a bit too early and people were still in a winter mindset.
Even worse than poor open rates would be a high rate of unsubscribes. At one point, someone found the content compelling enough to want to see it again. Maybe some would-be customers fell out of favor with your product or service. Unsubscribing happens. They may not have been serious, to begin with. You don’t want, however, to lose those people who opted in out of genuine interest. Once someone unsubscribes, he/she becomes very difficult to draw back into the subscriber category. When people start unsubscribing in big numbers come in, a smart fix is past due.
And you do need a good idea about the actual problem to come up with a decent fix. AI comes in to save the day once again. Or at least AI can provide insights into what’s currently wrong. Telling the captain and crew the ship is drifting aimlessly into treacherous waters isn’t the best news. Would it be better to stay on the same course and happily assume nothing is wrong?
Artificial intelligence lends a real helping hand
Big data is a big deal. Analyzing large quantities of data allows for improving critical email marketing metrics. Truthfully, analyzing small amounts of data helps as well. Human beings suffer limitations regarding what they can do. Leaning on artificial intelligence programs for help and support could overcome those limitations while making sure an email marketing campaign never misses out on its potential.
Examples of artificial intelligence in emails
1. Amazon uses the principles of artificial intelligence and helps in sending automated emails that are highly relevant with most engaging product recommendations.
Such emails consider the last purchase, recent searches and other behavioral traits of the subscriber.
Here’s an example:
Several ecommerce businesses have started implementing this strategy to enhance the conversion rate and generate more sales.
2. Netflix uses systems that evaluate data established by the watch list of the user and the trending shows. With the help of a recommendation engine, the algorithms create tailor-made recommendations for every user. This will help in keeping the subscribers active and reduce the subscriber churn while enhancing the email marketing metrics.
Have a look at the screenshot below:
Artificial intelligence is a technology that has made it possible to create a hyper-personalized experience in the subscriber’s inbox. It has an eye for details and patterns that humans fail to recognize. If you want to create more persuasive emails that can get better metrics, artificial intelligence is the way forward.
Kevin George is the Head of Marketing at EmailMonks.