15 Powerful Ways to Use AI in Email Marketing

15 Powerful Ways to Use AI in Email Marketing

I’ve discussed artificial intelligence and its relation to marketing as a whole, but there are certain uses that have their unique pros and cons. An AI-driven email marketing strategy is one such area, with a slew of pros that can encourage email marketers to adopt AI as a standard tool in their email marketing efforts.

How exactly does AI stand up to the challenges of email marketing in a way that standard marketing tools cannot? Let’s take a closer look at the finer points of AI use in email marketing. 

How Is AI Changing the World of Email Marketing? 

Artificial intelligence, more commonly referred to simply as “AI,” is a form of machine learning that occurs when a machine is given a task and it fulfills that task independently, or without additional intervention, in order to develop “intelligence.” It is a powerful tool in all forms of marketing, including email marketing, because it is invaluable in the realms of both automation and personalization.

Through AI-powered tools, email marketers can program emails to input specific information based upon a customer’s preferences. AI can also be used to automate responses to common questions or email subscription requests, to further personalize and endear a company or brand.  

Benefits of Using AI in Email Marketing

Using AI in email marketing means having the ability to increase the personalization used in emails, and increasing customer engagement as a result; after all, is someone more likely to open an email with their name and targeted language, or a generic email that has clearly been sent out en masse? Improving the customer journey via improved email deliverability and thereby improving campaign performance is one of the hallmarks of using AI in email marketing campaigns. 

AI is also useful to enhance the automation and efficiency of your email marketing. By optimizing your content creation and copywriting production via AI, you have more substantive content to bulk up your email marketing with, and you are delivering better services and building customer loyalty all at once. AI can run in the background, compiling deep customer insights and data analysis to further fine-tune your marketing emails. 

Potential Challenges and Considerations with AI-Driven Email Marketing

Although AI in email marketing offers distinct advantages, there are some considerations to take into account to ensure you are delivering effective email campaigns. Over-reliance on automation and a distinct lack of human touch in writing are the two most common AI issues. For some, automation becomes so necessary that simple tasks are often overlooked or managers are lost when an AI tool fails or no longer performs a certain function. For others, reliance on AI means that no marketing copy at all is created or edited by people, leading to content that is stilted and dry. 

It is important, too, to understand that AI algorithms do not detect nuance, unlike humans. The question of loss of human jobs, and the bias implicit in AI development tools (which rely on existing information to produce new information) can also give some marketing professionals pause. 

The possibility (or even the likelihood, in some situations) of seeing errors and poor quality in development is another concern. Because AI cannot come up with truly original work, but instead essentially repurposes and derives new work from existing content, it is not able to see and subsequently correct errors and differentiate good quality from bad. This can be problematic for marketing companies who are interested in using AI to develop an email newsletter without a human touch to first review and edit any content that has been developed using AI. 

The best way to prevent these concerns is to thoroughly review all content produced by an AI tool prior to sending it out. Flaws in AI newsletter development can also be avoided by regularly checking for invalid email addresses and removal requests, and conducting a weekly or monthly review of all AI processes. 

15 Powerful Ways to Use AI in Email Marketing

Now that we have established the why of AI for email marketing, let’s take a closer look at the how. Below, I have compiled 15 of the most powerful ways to utilize AI, from standardizing email send times to customizing emails for potential customers, along with actionable insights to get your AI marketing campaign ready to implement. 

1. Personalization and Segmentation

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Using AI, your marketing team can successfully analyze customer data and segment subscribers into relevant groups. This is useful, because AI-powered subscriber segmentation means delivering targeted messaging according to demographics, interests, and behavior. By catering to these segments specifically, you can improve engagement and set yourself apart from your competitors. 

2. Personalized Email Content and Recommendations

Artificial intelligence can be used to personalize different aspects of email content, including the subject lines of outgoing messages, greetings at the beginning of messages, and even product recommendations. AI-driven content can also develop dynamic email layouts and visuals that can be tailor-made for individual users to make your company or brand’s inbox delivery days happy occasions, rather than something accompanied by eye rolling and a heavy sigh. 

3. AI-Powered Email Copywriting and Subject Line Generation

Just as AI can be used to deliver compelling content, email marketing can utilize artificial intelligence to generate captivating subject lines and email copy that is well-constructed and engaging. Predictive insights delivered by AI can help generate vast amounts of basic copy within emails without sacrificing individuality toward each unique subscriber in your target audience. The readability, tone, and overall efficacy of your email can be greatly improved using AI. 

Further Reading: 15 Powerful AI Copywriting Tools That Will Transform Your Writing

4. AI-Generated Email Templates and Design Elements

Email templates can take up a great deal of time, and AI-based email marketing frees up that time by generating email templates that match your brand messaging and aesthetic standards. While AI may seem limited in its scope, it can also be used to find or generate images and graphics that enhance the visual appeal and thereby the user experience of your email marketing campaigns. Knowing that it can be used for both visual content and written content reveals just how vital AI-powered tools can be for successful email marketing. 

Further Reading: Looking for Email Marketing Templates? Here are My Top 15 Recommendations

5. AI-Driven Email Scheduling and Send Time Optimization

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While sending out emails may seem as simple as pressing a button, making sure that your emails get out at the same (or at least a similar) time each day, week, or month can be difficult. AI scheduling and send-time optimization can help produce consistency, and deliver according to the optimal time for your audience. This means no more guessing what might be the best time to send an email, and having a greater chance of seeing audience engagement. A/B testing can help optimize email subject lines, email content, and send times, to make sure that your emails are performing optimally. 

6. Automated Email Follow-Ups and Abandoned Cart Recovery

Using artificial intelligence, brands can deliver personalized follow-up emails according to user behavior, purchase history, and browsing habits. If, for instance, a customer adds a series of products or services to their cart but does not check out, AI can be used to send a targeted email regarding the items left in the cart. Called abandoned cart recovery campaigns, this type of campaign can increase conversions, reduce lost sales, and help you stand out amongst your competitors. 

7. AI-Powered Email Analytics and Reporting

Artificial intelligence can be used to analyze email campaign data, in order to provide deeper insights regarding your subscribers’ behaviors and overall performance. Predictive analyses can help forecast future trends with your audience to more effectively create personalized content. In this respect, AI analytics and reporting is essential for email development, to make sure that all emails–from cold emails to long-standing business relationships–are following best practices and trends in content and timing. 

Further Reading: 17 Metrics to Consider for Your Email Marketing Report

8. AI-Powered Churn Prediction and Customer Retention

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Artificial intelligence can be used to analyze patterns of customer behavior and markets, in order to determine the likelihood of a customer churning, or no longer using your company or products. Once these patterns have been assessed and presented, AI programs can then recommend the best personalized retention strategies, in order to help prevent churn and retain customer loyalty.

9. Identify Top Performing Formats, Images, and Calls to Action

Using AI, you can effectively lessen the likelihood of your emails being flagged by spam filters; by analyzing past email opens and clicks in order to determine the precise formats, images, and even calls to action (CTAs) that best resonate with your audience, AI tools can repeat your most popular email formats and types in order to increase the likelihood of being opened. The efficacy of your email marketing is important, and by analyzing entire emails in previous campaigns, you can make sure that you are developing engaging emails that capture your audience’s interest. 

10. Personalize Product Recommendations

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Past purchases and behaviors can be analyzed through AI to generate personalized product recommendations in the body of emails automatically. Doing so increases the relevance of your messages, and improves your conversion rates. 

11. Identify and Remove Underperforming Lists

Email lists with low engagement do little for your brand and waste time and energy. AI can analyze past email performance to find the lists with the least amount of engagement. Lists can then be removed altogether, or targeted for re-engagement campaigns to improve your email marketing program. 

12. Schedule Automated Reminder Emails

Emails that have gone unopened or have not been browsed through are another drain on resources. AI can analyze past email opens and clicks and subsequently schedule reminder emails to keep your message top-of-mind while increasing engagement. 

Further Reading: What is Email Marketing Automation and How Much Can You Actually Automate?

13. Identify Top Performing Creative Elements

Similar to point 9, AI can be used to analyze the most visually appealing and engaging creative elements–think images, buttons, and other aesthetic elements. By analyzing top performing emails in conjunction with these visuals, you can inform future email designs to enhance their impact. 

14. Route Website Visitors to Targeted Lists

Website traffic can help inform visitor intent, and AI can help automatically route those visitors to the email lists most relevant to their browsing history and interests. Tailored content is one of the best ways to ensure that you have an effective email marketing campaign. 

Further Reading: 7 Best Practices In Creating Automated and Targeted Email Marketing Campaigns

15. Identify Lookalike Audiences

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By analyzing past purchases with AI, marketers can identify customers with similar purchase histories and behavior. Lookalike audiences can then be targeted through personalized email campaigns to increase conversion potential and develop high-performing emails. 

Best Practices and Implementation Tips

Now that you have a clear idea of all of the different ways to use AI in your email marketing efforts, let’s take a closer look at the best ways to implement AI and ensure you are leveraging it to benefit your business. 

Choosing the Right AI Email Marketing Tools and Platforms

To select the AI email marketing tool that will deliver data-driven insights and help your company’s campaigns, first evaluate your unique wants and needs. If, for instance, you see the greatest issues regarding conversion rates, you will want to find an AI tool focused on analysis and content generation and automation. If consistent branding is the greater struggle, an AI tool with a focus on visual and content analysis will be the more valuable resource. 

While most of the major players in the market are increasingly supporting AI functionality on a daily basis, you might want to check out some innovative AI email marketing tools in these two posts of mine:

Integrating AI Into Your Existing Email Marketing Workflow

Introducing new tools can initially result in a small increase in bounce rates as you develop your new workflow and learn how to read and subsequently implement the valuable insights your tool provides. To start, conduct a regular review of all of the analysis results delivered by your AI tool, and slowly add in recommended changes. You can effectively train and optimize AI algorithms for optimal results by putting the tool in place over the course of several emails or campaigns, to help it grow accustomed to the style and tone of your work, and to get a feel for the way the tool’s analysis functions. This will allow you to develop the best responses to the insights you receive and “teach” the program how to fulfill your brand needs. 

Monitoring and Measuring the Impact of AI on Email Marketing

Tracking key metrics and analyzing data on a regular basis will help you determine whether or not you are seeing a positive ROI for your AI programs. To make sure you are tracking your data, determine the issues you are most concerned about. If your engagement is your greatest source of frustration, for instance, keep track of any changes to engagement when you begin using your AI tool. If you do not see any improvement after a few months have passed, it may be time to tweak the program, or find another program altogether. 

Conclusion

Developing effective content for your commercial emails can be daunting. From effective timing to ideal visuals, AI can be an enormous boon to your email marketing campaigns. If you have been on the fence about using AI in the place of a human copywriter, or you have been hesitant to try out the automation and analysis features provided by artificial intelligence tools, consider the vast number of uses available for email marketers and consider utilizing this specialized tool today. 

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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

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