8 Ways AI Can be Used in Email Marketing
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Jasmine Handa
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8 Ways AI Can be Used in Email Marketing

Published : December 6, 2022 | Updated : May 23, 2024

“Humans use available information as well as reason in order to solve problems and make decisions, so why can’t machines do the same thing?”

This was the question put forth in 1950 by Alan Turing, a young British polymath who explored the mathematical possibility of artificial intelligence. He published a paper called “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” and it was the beginning of AI as we know it today. (Courtesy: Harvard University resources)

Now, with generative AI, we’re seeing machines go beyond simply analyzing raw data to actually creating new output – poetry, art, design, and even music.

Let us explore what happens when AI meets email marketing. From the lens of a marketer, AI has infinite potential for transforming email marketing. At each stage of email creation and delivery, there is plenty of friction, where the marketer must undertake a fair bit of “email engineering” to smooth out the entire process. This is precisely where AI, specifically a customer engagement platform or customer engagement tool, becomes invaluable.

 In this article, we decipher how email marketing campaigns can create “frictionless hotlines” throughout the customer journey and generate unprecedented outcomes.

But first…

The stages of decision-making in email marketing

Emails can no longer be a slapdash collection of tepid “hello”s and “here’s what we want to sell to you”s. Your customers are aware that you want to sell to them, and there’s a lot they’d rather do than give your messages their valuable attention. They have jobs to work, friends to catch up with, kids to pick up, and shows to binge upon…

So, how exactly will your email(s) get their attention and engage them?

We figured out the eight specific elements on which a marketing email’s success heavily depends:

  • Subject Line
  • Header
  • Body 
  • Footer
  • Landing page (while not directly part of the email, it is essential for driving email-based conversions)
  • Audience segment 
  • Send time 
  • Delivery

These factors are applicable to broadcast emails, where the same email is sent to large numbers of recipients. They are also relevant for certain types of triggered emails for when an event (cart abandonment, for e.g.) occurs during a customer journey.

They work for transactional emails as well – sent out post-purchase. Here too, you’ll have to make decisions about personalizing each email (possible to address each specific individual?) and explore how to kick off the journey for their next purchase.

These decisions have very real consequences. Send out to too many inactive users (who haven’t opened an email from your brand for 90 days or more), and you risk harming your domain reputation. Conversely, targeting too few could mean missing out on potential re-engagements, a situation where a customer engagement solution or customer engagement software can be instrumental.

So, how can AI help?

Let’s start with a few well-known examples:

AI applications include advanced web search engines (e.g., Google), recommendation systems (used by YouTube, Amazon and Netflix), understanding human speech (such as Siri and Alexa), self-driving cars (e.g., Tesla), and automated decision-making and competing at the highest level in strategic game systems (such as chess and Go).

Now, we move on to a broader perspective of different AI approaches, as explained in a Netcore Cloud report on AI in Email Marketing:

  • Machine Learning
  • Using example data or experience to refine how computers make predictions or perform tasks. Or methodologies (how-to processes and guides) on how artificial intelligence would do these things.

    • Deep Learning

    A machine learning technique in which data is filtered through self-adjusting networks of math loosely inspired by neurons in the brain. Or using data and applying math inspired by how we think as humans.

    • Supervised Learning

    Showing software labeled example data, such as photographs, to teach a computer what to do. Or show examples to the computer to teach it how to do something.

    • Unsupervised Learning

    Learning without annotated examples, just from the experience of data or the world—trivial for humans but not generally practical for machines. Yet. Or learning by applying what they know, which humans do every day, but machines haven’t yet needed to or been able to do.

    • Reinforcement Learning

    Software that experiments with different actions to figure out how to maximize a virtual reward, such as scoring points in a game. Or adding a layer of ability to software to take actions/activities and calculate a logical reward. Consider this as endowing software with the ability to make decisions, assess outcomes, and subsequently derive a logical reward – central to adaptive customer engagement solutions.

    • Artificial General Intelligence

    As yet non-existent software that displays a humanlike ability to adapt to different environments and tasks, and transfer knowledge between them. Or creating customer engagement software that can think like humans – take information and apply it based on what it is doing, when and where.

    What AI Can Do For And With Email?

    Raj Venkatesan, author of The AI Marketing Canvas: A Five-Stage Road Map to Implementing Artificial Intelligence in Marketing, says, “An effective strategy is to use AI to personalize each aspect of customer engagement; acquisition, retention, growth, and advocacy (or word of mouth). Modern marketing is about using first-party consumer data and algorithms to personalize the firms’ marketing for acquisition, retention, growth, and advocacy. The idea is to put the customer in the center and use AI to enhance the customer’s experience with the brand….”

    In the context of email marketing, this is what AI can do to achieve what the above quote describes:

    • A/B testing: AI can be used to automatically test different versions of your email campaigns (known as A/B testing) to determine which one performs best. This helps optimize email campaigns for maximum conversion rates.
    • Delivery: Over-sending emails or reaching too many invalid addresses swiftly raises red flags for prominent ISPs like Gmail. AI, a quintessential customer engagement software, mitigates these risks. They will also decelerate the acceptance rate of emails from the marketer.

    AI helps you look out for issues that may lead to this. It can even fix the main cause of such occurrences and learn from these mistakes so that they may not be repeated.

    It’s also quite handy with domain/IP warmup – deciding how many emails should be sent in a day based on how previously sent emails have performed.

    Now, let’s go deeper and explore AI’s efficacy in optimizing the email itself. 

    • Header: AMP components for email let you insert headers, like a search bar, into the email itself. Users can search for products, deals, etc., right within the email. Introduce AI, and your customer engagement platform gets a boost. You can even provide an instant “Add to Cart” option and perhaps even a “Pay” action – so that customers don’t have to move away from their inbox to get everything they want.

      Bring AI into the mix, and it will power search bars to carry pre-filled text that nudges recipients to use the function. This text will be based on the user’s previous history and other text samples.

    • Body (images and text): Generative AI can match an infinite collection of different text and images to specific user personas. AI is not currently used for this purpose, but its efficacy will be unquestionable.

      Moreover, AI-driven customer engagement solutions can personalize email templates. For example, in the ideal scenario, a marketer can just say, “I want a Valentine’s Day campaign sent out to my best customers,” and it should be done.

    • Footer: Email footers can be invigorated with brandlets, gamelets, and ads using AMP components and Atomic Rewards. AI can help create AMPlets that appeal to each customer. It can use them to understand the customer by building interactivity through AMP and incentives provided by Atomic Rewards.

    • Landing Page: Thanks to AMP, you can move the conversion funnel inside the email and remove the need for landing pages entirely.

    However, if marketers still want one, they can use generative AI in tandem with machine learning. This duo can effortlessly produce stunning, personalized landing pages that nudge the right customers to take a specific action. Yet, for those still inclined towards separate landing pages, AI, especially when paired with machine learning, stands as a formidable customer engagement solution. They can also be disposable pages – created within a minute for a particular customer and then dissolved after the customer has taken the targeted action.

    8 Ways on How AI can be used in Email Marketing

    AI is swiftly taking the email marketing realm by storm. Now, with the rise of the customer engagement platform, it’s not merely about firing off emails; it’s about sculpting unique experiences tailored for every recipient. Here’s how AI is benchmarking the industry:

    1. Create Compelling Subject Lines:

    Beyond its computational prowess, AI possesses an uncanny creative edge. Using AI-enhanced techniques, open rates can soar by an impressive 5-10%! Powerhouses like Groupon and eBay, leveraging customer engagement tools, have witnessed monumental success. Tools such as the IBM Watson Tone Analyzer do more than scour for keywords. They delve deep into audience emotions, sentiments, and stylistic leanings, crafting subject lines that captivate.

    2. Meaningful AI-Personalized Emails:

    Generic emails no longer cut it in an age where customer engagement softwares are reshaping communication. AI-powered tools like Lyne.ai and Lavender personalize emails, interweaving nuanced personal touches. Email isn’t just about broadcasting—it’s about engaging in meaningful dialogues.

    3. Precision-Crafted Email Campaigns with AI:

    Bringing in a revolution with the customer engagement solution, AI refines email campaigns to the nth degree. Be it a sales pitch or a subtle reminder, AI ensures every message is on point. With customer engagement solutions like Netcore, even reminder emails get the AI treatment, nudging potential clients effectively.

    4. Maintain a Pristine Email List:

    Stale email lists are every marketer’s bane. However, AI tools ensure your list remains crisp, purging outdated contacts and updating essential information. This proactive approach not only magnifies engagement but also guarantees optimal deliverability.

    5. Effortless AI-Powered Segmentation:

    Wading through traditional segmentation can feel like deciphering hieroglyphics. AI transforms this process, employing algorithms that segment lists with ease. By mining data such as purchase patterns and browsing habits, AI fine-tunes segments, ensuring content resonates every time.

    6. Journey Through the Customer Lifecycle with AI Insight:

    AI, a beacon in the customer engagement solutions space, illuminates the entire customer journey. From onboarding to retention, AI offers deep insights, fostering genuine, enduring connections.

    7. Retargeting Perfected:

    AI doesn’t just revamp retargeting—it reimagines it. With the capability to discern diverse customer tendencies, AI crafts emails that strike a chord. It’s about syncing with customer beats—understanding their purchasing cadence and acting accordingly.

    8. AI-Driven Product Recommendations:

    Envision a concierge service for each customer. AI, acting as this virtual assistant, dissects on-site activities and preferences, facilitating personalized product endorsements. Brands like Endy, harnessing customer engagement tools not just to push products, but to offer a bespoke shopping voyage for each customer.

    Summing it up

    Email marketing is all about getting the ‘R’s right: right person, right message, right time. As mentioned earlier, eight elements in an email make or break a marketing campaign. AI is already being used in four of them (subject, segmentation, time, delivery); the other four are where AI will be applied in the near future (header, body, footer, landing page).

    AI can help marketing emails strike the right balance between being educative and persuasive throughout the customer journey. 

    AI is the future of email marketing. It has primarily assisted with campaign management; it is now time for AI to take the leap into creative functions. It has infinite potential to eliminate friction from each marketer’s day-to-day tasks and bring about a higher ROI than the current industry standards can ever imagine.

    Based on the blog “Email and AI: A Perfect Match” by Rajesh Jain. He is the founder and Group MD of Netcore Cloud, a bootstrapped SaaS company that helps brands create outstanding AI-powered customer experiences at every touchpoint.

    50+ top-notch brands, such as
    YourStory, Axis Securities, and CaratLane, across industries partner with AI-powered Netcore Cloud, capitalizing on its customer engagement solution for AMP emails, subsequently witnessing an uptick in their ROI.

    We have sent more than a billion AMP emails across 200+ highly successful campaigns. Connect with us to understand how you can benefit from our expertise and experience.

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    Written By: Jasmine Handa