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4 Innovative Ways AI Is Revolutionizing Email Marketing

Soon after its introduction back in the ’90, email has become a preferred way of sending information and messages across the globe. Its popularity created a real boom in email marketing, followed by a series of technological developments. One of the newest innovations is AI, which is hailed as a true game-changer and poses one of the hottest media topics.

But, we need to separate the hype from facts and figures.

Let’s begin by saying that AI is much more than a buzzword to be thrown around business meetings.  It is a technology that is only as good as the benefits it provides. And those benefits are not just there for the taking. Namely, with email, there are a lot of moving parts to grasp. Not only that, but these elements have to fall together seamlessly to generate the desired level of conversions and engagement.

You should know right away that AI is up for the task. It can help you boost the reach and improve the results of your campaigns. The crucial question, though, is where your efforts come into play and how to best apply AI to your business.

Common Applications

4 Innovative Ways AI Is Revolutionize Email Marketing Through Machine Learning

AI and machine learning (ML) collect vast sets of data and automate email functions through the process of trial and error. Yes, that means technology can uncover the most optimal solutions largely on its own, using its ability to detect, deliberate, and develop (three Ds). There are many possible applications of these systems, but here are a few that shed radiant light on AI’s role and effectiveness. Note that they all rely on studying consumer (online) behavior and extracting related insights.

  • Subject lines are a staple email component. They either allow marketers to arrest attention right from the get-go or discourage people from clicking and engaging with email content at all. The good news is that modern AI and ML systems are capable of quantifying, optimizing, and producing human-sounding subject lines.  Split tests also prove handy here, as they determine phrases and words that are likely to resonate with the audience.
  • Email content is the bread and butter of marketing campaigns, and it too can benefit from automation. To make it happen, one can use advanced ML algorithms for optimizing images, fleshing out a body copy, and making it all look as if a human was behind it. What is more, AI helps marketers to achieve consistency of brand voice across different campaigns. The only challenge is to prevent emails from coming across as spammy or too promotional.  Of course, don’t experiment too much, you can always sift through many branding companies out there, ask for their advice and learn from them.
  • Timing must always work to the advantage of marketers. Namely, you want to send emails at the precise moment when users will click on and read them. Dispatching them to everyone based on broad assumptions does not cut it anymore. Thus, take advantage of AI tools to automate send time according to individual passed engagement data. That way, you target individuals across different devices they use.
  • Let us not forget promotions, tools associated with great revenue opportunities. To make the most of them, marketers of today mount AI solutions more often than not. After all, people have varying preferences when it comes to discounts, free shipping, and other incentives. While humans cannot accurately gauge how much the price needs to be cut in order to make a sale, algorithms can swiftly establish the exact types of offers that delight subscribers.

Pros Of Using AI For Email Marketing

If we are to utilize AI for these purposes, we need to do it because it really works, not because it is the hottest trend right now. Fortunately, AI automation does support your marketing cause and in more than one way too.

  • AI automation streamlines a variety of tasks that would otherwise consume a lot more time, energy, and other resources. Tech does all the heavy lifting and humans can save precious time and resources.  There is no need to waste them on things like chasing less probable leads.
  • AI paves the way for 1:1 personalization and automation throughout the consumer lifecycle. It revolutionizes marketing strategies and empowers marketers to send more relevant messages, emails that are contextual and timely. And I am not talking just about first-name personalization. You can do much more and effectively extend your overall reach.
  • Humans simply cannot match the level of learning and optimization that cutting-edge algorithms provide. Some goals like personalization could be reached, but only after a substantial amount of A/B testing. Besides, AI and ML platforms enable more robust testing for the individual consumer, as well as tools for anticipating trends and user behavior.
  • AI, alongside predictive analytics, is an exceptional tool for harnessing the power of data. Advanced algorithms learn from previous consumer behavior and allow us to use that knowledge to constantly refine our marketing. You have an opportunity to turn real-time data into valuable information.
  • Triggered emails are linked to a much higher ROI than standard bulk emails. Marketo claims they bring 3x better results, while other studies confirm they bolster click-through and conversion rates. For example, it is possible to bring people back into the loop with cart abandonment emails that contain tailor-made CTAs. That way, you minimize the amount of business lost due to pain points on a customer journey.
  • Ultimately, these benefits (at least in theory) start reinforcing each other and enable you to foster more customer loyalty and engagement in the long-term.

Cons Of AI-Driven Email Strategy

The drawbacks of AI-powered marketing are less obvious, but they exist nevertheless. We will outline only the most glaring ones.

  • AI promises to eliminate human error and bias, but in the process, it can also erase that much-needed human touch.  This could have devastating effects. To steer clear of them, never make it obvious to subscribers that there is no human on the other end. You also do not want to appear overly spammy. Take the example of people shunning chatbots, a trend that has stressed the risks of extensive automation.
  • Algorithms are not perfect. Yes, they are rather sophisticated, but also man-made constructs that cannot always be in the right. Likewise, there are some things that slip through the cracks of mathematical formulas and computers cannot make creative and imaginative decisions. They are not versed in detecting subtle variations in tastes and preferences either. On top of that, they require a degree of constant human oversight.
  • Ironically enough, the benefits of AI-driven automation do not kick in automatically. The process has to be meticulously organized and planned. The problem is that those who lack prior experience may struggle to overcome the learning curve. Indeed, outsourcing is a sound strategy to implement AI without friction.
  • There are some security headaches to keep an eye on. AI automation has opened doors to the proliferation of phishing and social engineering schemes that spearhead the bulk of modern cyber attacks. People are bombarded with malicious documents and links concealed in emails that look legit. The goal is to trick them into handing their security credentials. On the brighter note, we should realize that AI and ML can just as easy weed out spam and phishing.
  • Privacy issues and cyber breaches make headlines almost on a daily basis, and they can tarnish the reputation of any business. To keep this plague at bay, boost your cybersecurity perimeter.  Get ready to deal with threats such as sequence-to-sequence ML that monitor your conversations and compromise data integrity. At last, bear in mind that data must be managed carefully and diligently, adhering to ever higher privacy standards.

Getting The Most Bang For Your Buck

As you can see, AI is not the solution for all your marketing woes, and it also brings new problems to the mix. And to add real value to your business, it demands a lot of data, as well as a hefty investment of other resources.

So, before you jump right into it, educate yourself. Make sure you have the right understanding of AI’s role, the right tech infrastructure in place, and skills to manage it.  Without these prerequisites, your strategy could really backfire and do more harm than good.

Naturally, the next, million dollar question is how to create effective, AI-honed campaigns for maximum ROI. Well, for starters, align your email plan with a broader marketing automation process. Incorporate data from email marketing campaigns into the big picture of consumer analytics. Begin digging into past behavior and pay close attention to the stages of the buyer journey.

Furthermore, take your time selecting the most suitable email automation tools. They are not created equal and match different industry sector requirements, data volumes, workflows, and budgets. It is preferable to have them work hand in hand with predictive analytics towards tracking purchases, online behavior, interest levels, and browser activity.

Step-By-Step Roadmap

One of the most vital tasks at this stage is list segmentation. In other words, you have to categorize people and assign them to clear groups according to demographic, geography, psychographics, and other key factors that shape marketing personas.

Once that is sorted out, work out triggered automation (“dip”) campaigns. Identify specific events and behaviors that should trigger email correspondence. It is advisable to utilize a wide array of triggered messages, including welcome, cart recovery, order update, and retention emails. When crafting messages, you should avoid leaving a machine-generated impression.

So, infuse emails with a warm touch to humanize your communication. Optimize subject lines, body copy, and promotions. Predict the type of content and message that will convert a certain consumer. Come up with precise product/service recommendations in real-time.

Along the similar lines, notify people whenever a specific product or service becomes available. Be helpful and attentive. Send thank-you emails, as well as messages for special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.), sales, and events. The trick is to get personal— address each customer separately.

Whatever you do, avoid putting all your marketing eggs in the AI basket. Never lose sight of potential drawbacks and risks of automation. Always produce content people actually want in their inboxes. Resist the temptation to go all-in and flood them with irrelevant emails. Quality must not suffer snowed under sheer quality.

Never stop learning, testing, and fine-tuning.

Playing It Right

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Without AI, solid facts and figures would be hard to come by, and a lot of business goals would be much harder and time-consuming to achieve. Then again, this tech comes with a fair share of challenges that need to be addressed.

In our opinion, the pros outweigh the cons, but only provided that you invest time and effort in it. So, do your homework and understand how AI can shape your marketing, branding, and growth. The ultimate goal is to use personalization to deliver the right message, to the right person, and at the right time.

Remember that your customers are human beings with their wants, needs, habits, and preferences, not some effigies made up of statistics. Feel free to take baby steps first and scale up as you go. Yes, you will take some load off your shoulders, but be prepared to invest a great deal of work, input, and management into it.

If the predictions of Business Insider are true,

By the end of 2020, 85% of all consumer interaction will be handled completely by AI.

It is clear that this tech is the future of marketing, so it might be a good idea to embrace it sooner rather than later.

Make no mistake— this is your chance to gain a powerful edge in the market.

Daniel Bishop
Daniel Bishop started off as a content consultant for small SEO and web design companies. Online consulting was perfect for him as he is very social and loves to travel. Settling down in Europe, for the time being, he finally found his place as a junior editor for Design Rush a B2B marketplace connecting brands with agencies. Always searching for new opportunities, he loves sharing ideas with other professionals in the digital community.

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