You’ve probably noticed the auto-responses that Gmail and LinkedIn have been suggesting for the last few months. LinkedIn’s even getting the emojis right!
Intelligent chat platforms are now able to process conversations and predict human emotions. And they’ll only get better at this as time passes. AI is going mainstream in email and chat. Naturally, it follows that AI will also go mainstream in email marketing.
1. How AI can improve email marketing
There’s a huge debate among digital marketers about whether email marketing is still relevant in today’s scenario. While these marketers don’t seem to have concluded the argument, it’s clear that a certain type of email marketing has died a tragic death. 74 trillion emails are sent out every year, and a good part of them are left unopened and unread. These are what consumers consider “spam email” or irrelevant and annoying email.
But imagine what AI can do to this scenario. AI is already able to gauge human emotions in conversations. Given its high-processing potential, AI can enable real-time, behavior-based personalization in email marketing, creating emails that people will want to read.
2. The basic process that AI follows to improve your open and conversion rates
AI uses collected data to perform certain functions by deliberating on that data on a trial and error basis. AI can make its own decisions using the following work process - Detect - Deliberate - Develop. It’s through this process that AI functions and continues to learn on an ongoing basis. Here’s how the process works.
AI can “read” data sets, identify elements in the data integral to prediction and ignore the rest of the data.
Using the collected data, AI can measure important data points against each other and make the most relevant suggestion to resolve a problem.
Through neural networks set in machine learning, AI can reprogram itself and get better at its job with each iteration. It can refine its process based on results of its hit-or-miss experimentation.
Using this process, AI is changing email marketing and enabling 1:1 personalization. AI is optimizing email marketing for brands by helping them deliver the right content to the right target audience at the right time and frequency.
3. Stages of email marketing that AI can optimize with big data and autonomous decision-making
When AI enters any equation, it does so to replace human involvement in the equation with uncompromised quality.
AI can be applied to several stages of email marketing to ensure automated and optimized decision-making. For instance, AI can be applied to email marketing to optimize -
Email subject lines
AI can generate multiple headline versions, and match the best headline version to each set of target users or even to each target user. And it can match these headlines to users based on behavioral data collected over time.
Just as AI can match email headlines to user behavioral data, it can also match email content to user behavioral data. Bots with AI are already writing reports in place of journalists, and will soon be able to write content for multiple purposes.
Responses to queries
Over 80% customers who email a brand expect a response within 24 hours, according to a recent study. And automated responses just don’t cut it anymore. AI can process language in emails and form relevant responses to resolve queries or at least pacify frustrated customers.
Many businesses generate leads via email by getting email subscribers interested in products and services. But every subscriber is probably in a different stage of his or her purchase journey, which you can’t cater to using generic emails blasts.
Email marketers spend a lot of money sending mass emails to their entire emails lists even when several list members are inactive and when the content they’re sending isn’t relevant to many members. Email marketing software that uses AI can cut down irrelevance and optimize the effectiveness of email marketing.
Audience behavior analysis
Audience behavior is changing real-time, which is why programmed data collection isn’t as effective as it should be. AI can collect information real-time, store it and adapt based on it to ensure that every email being sent out is tailored to the latest available audience behavior data.
A small change in sending time could greatly affect your open and conversion rates. However, without AI, it’s very hard to collect and process the data you need to make a change with such precision. AI enabled email marketing software can autonomously collect data and enable such a change.
Frequency is another dilemma for email marketers, many of whom decide to send many more emails than they need to. AI can analyze the frequency, cross-reference to open rate, click behavior and decide what frequency is best for your email marketing.
Email marketing software that employs AI can manage these tasks autonomously and out-perform humans when implementing them. While email marketers rely on instinct, AI-powered software work with data, generally making better decisions than their human counterparts.
4. How to use AI in your email marketing campaigns to boost conversion rates
While it’s clear that AI is transforming email marketing, few email marketers have begun to leverage the technology because they’re uncertain of how it works or how they can use it. This section of the blog post will focus on how exactly you can use AI in email campaigns to boost conversion rates.
5. Identifying personalized preferences of audience members vs audience groups
Email marketers today are implementing some level of personalization by focusing on the interests of different target groups. However, this level of personalization still lacks the ability to dramatically boost conversion rates by targeting individuals.
AI can be used to store and process a lot of data. With your email subscriber’s list growing every day, there’s more data available to you for decision-making. AI can provide the tech you need to analyze this data and use it to send tailored emails to every single subscriber.
For instance, someone who works the night shift is likely to be completely inactive during the day, making your regular email targeting tactics ineffective. For others on your email list, the same email may be most effective during daytime, when they are likely to be active and responsive. AI can help collect data to understand when each subscriber wants to receive email and send emails to each of those subscribers according to their personal preference.
One way of implementing this would be by asking your subscribers directly what their preferences are.
A simple Google form can collect that data for you, but to be able to manage and use that data to your advantage, you need AI enabled email marketing software.
6. Smart targeting of atypical customer personas
Audience behavior applies to so much more than time and content preferences. An audience-centric brand can even use audience behavior data to decide when to stop sending emails or restart the effort again. While the collection of audience behavior data is common, few marketers apply it to attract more customers and improve customer experience.
For instance, certain customers are considered invaluable to a brand because they don’t fit the typical target persona. However, a certain company’s study found that 35% of its sales originated from purchases made by such customers. The reason why most companies don’t convert these customers is that they fail to identify what they can do to add value to these customers’ lives. This is why most companies’ website traffic doesn’t reflect in its conversions and revenues.
AI can identify behavior patterns in new types of audience personas and incorporate them in your email marketing efforts, even if you can’t see their relevance.
7. Product recommendation and personalized promotion emails
According to McKinsey’s study, 75% of what people watch on NetfliX and 35% of what they buy on Amazon are picked up from product recommendations. That’s the engagement and purchase potential that you can fulfil using AI to personalize your product recommendations.
It’s tricky for email marketers to identify patterns in data and apply them to the content they create, because of human error and bias. However, AI is not prone to either of those fallacies. AI can use online purchase and browsing histories to generate a smart targeting strategy to help email marketers surpass their goals. And AI can do this real-time, greatly improving the quality of engagement, click-throughs and eventually sales.
The same applies to product promotion emails. Based on data available per user, AI can give users better discounts on products that they are likely to find interesting or useful. This strategy can dramatically improve customer experience because customers can get the best discounts on the products that are most important to them.
AI can also store the history of each promotion campaign and improve the effectiveness of every successive campaign. It can also take stock of new product data and predict which new products are best marketed to which customers.
AI can also personalize “other product” recommendations on websites and cart abandonment emails.
While AI is going mainstream, an adaptation of Ai technology by marketers has yet to catch up. The best time to get started to get ahead of the competition is now, and you won’t be disappointed by the results.
Sawaram Suthar is CMO at Acquire, and also a founder of Jagat Media, a digital marketing agency. A digital marketing consultant, he has experience in things including branding, promotions and page optimization, along with research and strategy. He has an MBA from the University of Pune. Anyone can find him on @sawarams.