7 Remarkable Ways AI is Transforming the Future of Email Marketing with Hyper-personalization
If there is one concept that has caught the collective imaginations of governments, technology evangelists, academics and even the general public, it has to be Artificial Intelligence (AI). This idea - that machines can simulate human intelligence - has been around for over half a century, and finds numerous applications in the real world, from healthcare, education and finance, to agriculture, automobiles and even space exploration.
One other powerful application of AI that is not discussed as much as it should be is Digital Marketing. This trend needs to change because AI is already leaving its mark in multiple areas of Digital Marketing. This is especially true of Email Marketing, where AI is making a particular impact in terms of automation and personalization. In fact, experts believe that Artificial Intelligence will be one of the most important factors to drive the future of Email Marketing over the next 5 years.
In this article, we discuss some of the ways Artificial Intelligence is poised to reshape and transform the future of Email Marketing, particularly with respect to hyper-personalization.
Personalization in Email Marketing
Despite its naysayers, Email Marketing remains a powerful way for brands to connect with their audience, attract new customers and retain existing customers in order to enhance their equity and recall value. And not just because there are well over 3 billion email users in the world today or because we send over 300 billion emails every day!
Email's open rate is close to 23% (across industries) while its click-through rate is 3.71%. These two statistics alone indicate that emails reach most of the people they're intended for, and have a much higher 'engagement rate' than many other online channels including social media.
These are some of the many reasons why many marketers rate email as the most important channel for their content marketing efforts.
In short, Email Marketing works!
BUT these benefits are only felt by those brands and marketers who focus on one very critical aspect of Email Marketing: personalization.
Email personalization is an effort to reach real human beings and not just their inboxes. It includes tactics like
i) including a subscriber's name in the subject line
ii) addressing the subscriber by name in the greeting
iii) providing dynamic content, imagery, offers or recommendations based on specific information about a subscriber such as gender, location, purchase history, etc.
In the current era of 'hyper-personalization', subscribers pay attention only to emails that 'speak' to them directly. They usually ignore the rest. Studies have shown that personalized emails are more relevant to subscribers than campaigns with generic offers and messaging. Therefore, personalization increases open rates and generally delivers greater revenues than emails that are not personalized. The bottomline is that personalized emails are an effective tool to create 1:1 experiences that delight customers, increase their brand engagement, and thus create a measurable impact on the brand's revenue and ROI.
So now we know that email personalization matters. But this article is about Artificial Intelligence in the context of Email Marketing personalization. What does one have to do with the other? Read on!
Artificial Intelligence in Email Marketing: A Match Made in Heaven
Artificial Intelligence is the perfect technology for brands looking to 'upgrade' their Email Marketing tactics for more favorable results.
Unsurprisingly, one of the benefits that AI brings to Email Marketing is automation. With AI, marketers can easily set up automated or drip campaigns driven by customer insights such as interests, browsing behaviors and past purchases, and based on what stage they're at in the buying journey. All this information can enhance a brand's lead nurturing efforts.
AI also can help them determine what type of content, images and overall email template design will be most effective in driving audience engagement and in boosting conversion...
...which is the other benefit of AI in Email Marketing: smart hyper-personalization. Brands that utilize AI-powered Email Marketing can build more engaging, personal connections with their audience that ultimately improve their marketing returns compared to brands that continue to rely on old-school, non-AI Email Marketing tools and tactics. But how? The next section explores these ideas!
7 Ways AI Can Drive Hyper-Personalization In Email Marketing
Hyper-personalization in Email Marketing helps brands create personalized content that matches the tastes and interests of an audience of one.
Here are 7 ways AI-enabled systems help optimize Email Marketing workflows, and make it possible to create and send tailor-made content to the target audience at the right time, every time!
1. For more effective audience segmentation and targeting
Modern-day email marketers already understand that their subscribers have different interests, preferences and behaviors. With AI, they can use this understanding to personalize the email experience for these subscribers. Good-bye one-size-fits-all, hello segmentation!
Segmented emails get more opens and better CTRs, improve customer engagement and increase conversions. Purchase patterns, subscriber demographics and browsing behaviors are often generated through CRM systems, web forms and other customer touchpoints. AI can identify relevant information from all this data to effectively group subscribers into key segments and create email campaigns tailored to these specific segments. In fact, behavioral information can even help marketers identify new and distinct marketing segments that can then be targeted with updated, customized campaigns.
2. Create subject lines that stand out
A bold and persuasive subject line will stand out in the receiver's inbox and persuade them to open the email, while a bad subject line will be ignored or even interpreted as spam and deleted. AI simplifies the task of writing strong and personalized email subject lines that will appeal to the target audience.
AI algorithms can automatically generate subject lines to attract a higher click-through rate. They can also 'learn' from previous Email Marketing campaigns to understand what kind of subject lines resonate best with their subscribers so they can be improved over time.
Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. They also deliver 6x higher transaction rates than emails with generic subject lines.
3. Optimized copy that the audience just can't ignore
In addition to automating and optimizing email subject lines, AI also helps automate the production of personalized content.
AI and cognitive computing-based platforms can uncover individual customers' preferences at highly granular levels. They can also use pre-written copy, images, links, etc to produce the most optimized type and combination of 'bespoke' email content that ensures high engagement and high conversion.
4. Get the email send timing and frequency right
The timing and frequency of an email campaign can determine its success or failure. AI and predictive analysis make it possible to 'calibrate' email timing and frequency in order to automate content distribution to the right people at the right time. This takes any guesswork out of the equation, eliminates the need for manual intervention or costly experimentation, and also reduces the time and resources needed to keep email campaigns running like they're supposed to.
5. Send personalized promotions and recommendations that really impress
AI can automatically track customers' behaviors and understand their interests to create personalized product recommendations or promotions. This content can be automatically added to the email body in real time. This can not only boost customer loyalty and increase sales, it also reduces the chances of a drop in engagement or conversion that often result from promoting the wrong products or offers to the wrong set of people.
6. Retarget 'on the fence' customers and bring them over to your side
Email retargeting is highly effective at reducing shopping cart abandonment rates and boosting sales. And AI is highly effective at boosting the success of email retargeting strategies!
AI can distinguish between different types of customers and send personalized retargeting emails at different times, depending on what is optimal for each of them. AI could also choose and recommend other items in the body of the HTML email template to further increase the value of a sale.
7. Capture the numbers and make them work for you
Every email marketing manager tracks certain metrics or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to gauge the performance of their campaign, whether it's open rates, click through rates or overall RoI. AI algorithms can help managers analyze this data and even incorporate it into other broader analyses to further learn what customers want and find ways to offer it to them in order to keep them engaged with the brand and prevent 'churn'.
Today's consumers don't have the time or patience for generic, 'cookie-cutter'-type marketing emails. In such a cluttered, noisy world, the only way to keep audiences engaged and interested is with personalized Email Marketing campaigns. And ironically, Artificial Intelligence plays an increasingly vital role in bringing this 'human' touch to Email Marketing.
AI provides brands with useful insights into the customer's wants, needs and preferences. By showcasing a new level of personalization for subscribers, AI-enabled Email Marketing helps make campaigns more effective and relevant so they can generate real growth and boost RoI. These are benefits that no brand or email marketer can afford to ignore, now or in future.
Kevin George is Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest growing email marketing agency that specializes in crafting professional email templates, PSD to HTML email conversion and free HTML email templates in addition to providing email automation, campaign management, and data integration & migration services. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz and eats and breathes email marketing. He enjoys sharing his insights and thoughts on email marketing best practices on his blog.
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