Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been one of the talking points of the year so far, with new uses for innovative technologies being discovered all the time. Whether it’s conducting complex surgeries or classes of students handing in identical coursework, all written by ChatGPT, AI is taking the world by storm. But when it comes to email marketing, how does AI fit in?
In this article we take a look at how artificial intelligence is used within email marketing and how this benefits your brand.
What is AI email marketing?
Email marketing automation is a way to use technology to save time on repetitive tasks while scaling up your email marketing campaigns. But with AI thrown into the mix, is there even more that you can achieve through automation? And is it coming for your job?
That last question is the common response to anything involving AI at the moment and the instinct is understandable, especially for anyone who has watched a dystopian sci-fi movie. But AI in the real world isn’t Skynet and there are no armies of Terminators, just tools that can help us save time and improve performance. And they still need human marketers to make them work.
There are three different types of AI tools that you can use with email marketing:
- Detectors: These are algorithms that pick up the patterns in your data.
- Predictors: These pick out patterns and use them to give you information about the future, much like algorithms on Netflix that suggest programmes you might like, based on what you’ve already watched.
- Creators: These are the ones (like ChatGPT and Jasper) that use patterns to create something new, whether it’s blogs or email copy.
Do you need AI in email marketing?
Currently, AI is still a very new concept within the world of email marketing. This can make it an exciting time to jump in and be early adopters of all of the new tools, but this can also bring problems. As with any new technological trend, tools might come and go as everyone tries to get a piece of the action. This can leave you needing to chop and change until obvious industry leaders become clear.
Having said that, there’s no reason not to dip your toes into the water of AI, which is becoming an increasingly important part of everyday work and life. It’s all around us, even when we don’t realise it. And while people may try it out as a fad, it’s only when it delivers results that we see it becoming a commonly-used tool.
Within email marketing, AI has the potential to save time and therefore costs, but most importantly, also increase your revenue. This is a crucial consideration because AI can not only automate repetitive tasks, but it can also optimise them when used effectively to send better-targeted emails to your customers and deliver better results for you.
How marketers are using AI in their email marketing
Currently, one in five business professionals are using AI/automation in their role, with 82 percent of marketers expecting AI to impact their content plans for this year. The majority of which cite AI as a major time saver. 28 percent said they would use generative AI (like ChatGPT for example) to create emails, saving on average more than three hours on each new piece of content.
So, what can AI do to help you create more impactful email marketing campaigns? Here are some examples:
1) Write more compelling subject lines
The likes of Groupon and eBay have already started using AI tools to optimise their email subject lines using natural language processing (NLP) and natural language generation (NLG) technologies to work out what words and phrases will have the most impact.
A key driver behind email automation has been the ability to personalise email copy. This allows you to send emails to thousands of people but in a way that makes the reader feel like they’re the only ones reading it.
AI tools can take this to the next level by using the recipient’s email address to suggest personalisation messages based on company announcements and social media updates etc.
3) Restructuring your campaigns
One of the great advances that automated email marketing has introduced is the ease with which you can segment your database for maximum impact, making sure you’re sending the right targeted emails to the right people.
AI in email marketing can use machine learning to dig even deeper into the data to create and send hundreds of sub-campaigns with even more specific targeting.
4) Optimising your send times
Knowing the best time to send an email has long been key. You can lose yourself down an internet wormhole reading the many theories regarding which time of which day you are likely to get the best response from. Or, you can take the guesswork away and let your AI tool break it down to send the email out at each individual’s optimum time.
5) Cleaning up your database
Of course, we all know that sending out emails to addresses that are out-of-date will end up hurting your email deliverability. That doesn’t make it any more fun weeding these out of the email list, but here is yet another time-consuming job that AI can take off your hands, even updating job titles, contact information and much more.
6) Be smarter with retargeting
A lot of the ways that AI email marketing can make a difference for you are things that you’re probably already doing, except it can do it quicker and more efficiently. Retargeting is another task that can be done better with AI, working out from the data when individual customers are most likely to take action from a retargeting email, as opposed to using a blanket strategy across all of your customers.
7) Generate visuals
As well as creating copy, AI can also be used to create images. You’ve no doubt seen photographs of people who have never existed but have been created by AI and look completely lifelike. You can use AI tools to generate imagery for your emails or illustrations to go within the copy.
How could AI change email marketing?
If you’re still worried that AI could change email marketing by eliminating the need for human marketers, just remember that it’s simply another tool that’s only as powerful as the people who use it.
Sure, it can write the subject lines and the email copy all by itself, but if you’ve ever read a blog written by ChatGPT, you’ll know that AI still can’t convincingly speak fluently like us. So, while it can make helpful suggestions by processing mountains of data much quicker than we could, it still needs us to craft truly compelling sales copy that will tell a story and engage your customers.
Just like getting used to any new digital marketing tool (hello Threads), there’s a period of adjustment happening now. And with the right AI advances, this adjustment could be an ongoing process.