Ever tried to launch an email marketing campaign and wished you had another set of hands to help you out?
Thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI), you can.
AI may seem scary, but despite what you've heard, it's not robots taking over the job of a human. There's a good chance you have already taken advantage of artificial intelligence without really realizing it, like better suggestions for our online shopping or more targeted emails hitting our inboxes.
Today, we're going to dive deeper into what AI in email marketing is—and how it's changing the game.
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI) in email marketing, and why should you use it?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) in email marketing is where data and customer behavior are used to shape campaigns, influence subject lines and copy, and make sure every message is tailored specifically for the reader.
It's a bit like having a (really) accurate copywriter standing over your shoulder when you're building an email marketing campaign.
AI technology tracks your subscribers' history, looks at their buying and behavior patterns, and uses the data to decide what language is more persuasive for your audience and when you should be sending emails.
Quite a change from how email marketing campaigns are normally built.
The reason that AI can be an awesome assistant for making sure every email you send packs a punch. Not only can it help you optimize subject lines to get your emails opened, but it also uses:
- Predictive analytics to track and optimize current and future campaigns based on engagement and behavior
- Automated tests like A/B and multivariate to find out what email combinations work best for blasts and campaigns
- Data to send out emails at optimal times, giving them the best chance of getting opened
So, just how does AI do all this? Let's dive a little deeper 👇
5 Ways Artificial Intelligence is Changing the Email Marketing Game (And How It Can Help You)
1. Run automated multivariate tests to find out what makes your email list tick
Figuring out what makes your audience tick is one of the most important parts of email marketing.
Multivariate testing goes beyond traditional A/B testing—instead of testing one element, you can test a bunch of them at once. Imagine that you are getting ready to launch a new product feature, and you want to sell it to your community. Instead of experimenting with a single subject line or offer, multivariate testing analyzes several combinations at once, like:
- Email 1 (Subject line 1) + (Feature offer 1)
- Email 2 (Subject line 2) + (Feature offer 1)
- Email 3 (Subject line 1) + (Feature offer 2)
- Email 4 (Subject line 2) + (Feature offer 2)
But multivariate testing also goes beyond just experimenting with subject lines and feature offers. Using a tool like Sendlane, you can create a multivariate testing campaign and then let AI take over by putting it on autopilot. It happens in three steps:
- Choosing the components: What do you want to test? Choose from elements like subject lines, offers, preheaders, and content.
- Picking your audience: Who do you want to test messages on? Choose the percentage of contacts you want to send test emails to
- Finding the winner: What components have worked the best? Find the combinations that make up the most successful email.
The best part about using a tool to do multivariate testing is that you can do all of this—automatically.
2. Write catchy subject lines to snag your audience's attention
Ever had an email land in your inbox that just… spoke to you?
Learning to speak the same language as your customers is crucial. And when subject lines are the first part of your email they see, getting them right can mean the difference between a winning campaign—and the email getting thrown in the trash.
AI helps you write better subject lines that make your customers feel like you really get them. This is done using NLP (Natural Language Processing) tools, which listen to your customers' language and helps you incorporate it into your own subject lines.
When online retailer Dixons Carphone wanted to boost the success of its email marketing campaigns, it turned to AI-based tool Phrasee for help.
What does it do?
Well, it blends NLP with algorithms that study and learn what language customers are using. Then, it feeds this information back to the company creating the email campaign and gives them hints on what their subject lines should say.
Dixons Carphone noticed the changes immediately—they had 10% higher open rates and a 25% increase in click-through rates after AI intervened. And when they launched their biggest event of the year—the ‘Black Tag Event’ campaign—AI helped sales go through the roof.
An email from Dixons Carphone's Black Tag Event
Not only did the new and improved subject lines increase open rates by a whopping 42%, but the campaign's revenue by over 100%.
3. Build targeted campaigns that predict what your customers want to read and buy
Blast emails went out of style a long time ago. The least we expect from brands that email us now is a bit of personalization, right?
AI can help you target people down to what products they might like. Think about your Amazon recommendations.... They are almost creepily accurate in guessing what products you might want to buy.
That's AI at work. Using tools like predictive analysis, brands like Amazon target customers with campaigns that have a good chance at getting a sale.
The good news is that you can use the same tactics in your emails, thanks to AI. Sendlane's pixel allows you to track and segment your email subscribers based on their behavior. For example, if a customer is browsing your site and then leaves without buying anything, the tracking pixel can then retarget them with product recommendations they might like to win them back.
The best part is that this is all done automatically with AI.
For example, if someone has been eyeing one of your popular hoodies (but didn't buy it before leaving), you can retarget those window shoppers with a browser abandonment funnel.
Here's what it looks like:
Anyone who browses—but doesn't buy—is automatically sent this series of emails over a few days to encourage them to come back and finish what they started.
4. Time your emails so they land in your audience’s inboxes at the perfect time
Ever had an email land in your inbox at the same time you are having your morning coffee? What about on your commute home from the office?
This isn't a coincidence.
Brands that use AI can determine their subscribers’ time zones and when they are most active in their email. Figuring this out allows campaigns to be so targeted that they land in people's inboxes at the perfect time..
This is all done using machine learning open predictability.
Imagine that your list has subscribers who check their emails at different times. For example, customer one likes to read his emails over breakfast at 6.30 am, and customer 2 prefers catching up on her inbox on her lunch break at 2 pm.
Using machine learning open predictability, any email you send will automatically land in their inbox at the best time. So if you are having a Black Friday sale and want to send out a reminder to your list, customer one will receive it over breakfast while customer two will read it at 2 pm on her lunch break.
Good to know: With the new iOS 15 updates, there have been some changes to how machine learning open predictability works. Read more about it here.
5. Study your customers' behavior and learn more about them
One of the most useful quirks of AI is how much it can tell us about our customers.
Not only can it track what they're doing, but AI also figures out where they spend most of their time, what products they're interested in, and what they actually buy. Marketers who are armed with that much information can use it to understand their customer's journey and build better funnels to drive sales.
Sendlane's advanced AI tracking tool Beacon gathers this information using three types of tracking:
- General: Which tracks a visitor's behavior on your website
- Events: Which alerts brands when a specific URL or web page is viewed (so a visitor doesn't have to make a purchase to track their behavior)
- Conversion Rules: Which tracks someone if they make a purchase or spend a certain amount on a specific URL
All of this data helps make every one of your emails super personalized to your customer's experience.
Picture this: a loyal customer is on their favorite skincare website, but a product they regularly buy is out of stock. So, they leave without buying anything.
End of story, right? Not exactly. Thanks to AI, the whole event has been tracked. Since the skincare brand set up an opt-in form for shoppers to get notified when said product is back in stock, they can send personalized emails to ring the alarms. Plus, using this data, they can set up custom audiences to retarget shoppers on social media too!
Check out how this email from Public Goods did just that:
By tracking visitor browsing and buying behavior, Public Goods learned what their favorite products were and if they were waiting for something to come back into stock.
All the customer has to do is click the CTA—and the sale is in the bag.