Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere. It chooses songs to play that we should like (and writes them, too), answers customer support inquiries, and even helps to make better beer. It’s already clear that there are almost no limits to the applications for the technology or the advances it will enable. At this stage, AI works especially well in automating repetitive tasks and for applications that generate data that may be analyzed by machine learning algorithms. That makes it a natural fit for the marketing industry.
There’s one specific digital marketing channel that is already being boosted by AI, and it’s a decidedly old-school one – e-mail marketing. E-mail has been used as a marketing medium for almost all of its 46-year history. Over that time, the practice has evolved into a specialized and highly targeted endeavor that is part science and part art form.
To improve efficiency and increase conversion rates, AI is being integrated into the leading e-mail marketing software platforms. It is also turning up in some innovative tools for e-mail marketers. Here’s a look at some of the AI innovations that are reshaping e-mail marketing forever.
Standing out from the crowd
One of the biggest hurdles e-mail marketers face is how to overcome the sheer volume of competition they face. There are so many e-mails sent on an average day – over 235 billion – that it is very easy for marketing messages to get lost in the shuffle. Under those conditions, marketing e-mails have an average open rate of just 22%. That means the only part of most marketing messages that recipients ever see is the subject line. To increase open rates, Phrasee uses AI to craft effective subject lines and, by analyzing response rates, learns from each successive round of sent e-mails.
Artificial intelligence systems are excellent at noticing and exploiting patterns in data sets that they work from. When it comes to marketing, AI uses available data for behavioral analysis to fine-tune strategies for maximum effect. For e-mail marketers in particular, AI has improved response rates by finding an especially useful behavior pattern. By analyzing databases, Seventh Sense’s AI can identify precise times of day when individuals are likely to open e-mails. That information allows e-mail marketers to get their message in front of a target exactly when it’s most likely they will engage and take action to learn more.
The holy grail of marketing is the ability to establish a meaningful relationship with customers. In the past, e-mail marketers didn’t have the tools to communicate with customers on a personalized, individual basis, but AI is changing that, too. It’s creating the digital equivalent of having dedicated account managers for individual consumers, and it’s revolutionary. An excellent example of this approach may be found at Starbucks, which deployed an AI engine to manage its e-mail marketing that is capable of creating and selecting over 400,000 personalized e-mail variants per week. The system can create a specific offer based on individual customer behavior and deliver it when it is most likely to have the desired effect.
The next phase
As e-mail marketing platforms continue to integrate AI into their offerings, their results should continue to improve. Of course, that is good news for marketers as well as the customers they are targeting. It should make sure that end users receive only marketing messages and offers that are relevant and useful. That alone should increase response rates and decrease customer dissatisfaction. This could be the tip of the iceberg. As AI continues to advance, it is possible that one day users will look forward to receiving marketing e-mails instead of feeling annoyed by them, and that would really change e-mail marketing forever.
To learn more about the ways AI is changing industries, read Meet Machine Learning, Your New Favorite Colleague.