These days, the applications of artificial intelligence are so broad and far-ranging that we shouldn’t be surprised to see email marketing appear on that list. According to HubSpot’s recent State of Generative AI report, which surveyed 1,350 business professionals across the United States, 82% of marketers say that generative AI has impacted how they create content, and email marketing is an important part of that.
But what is AI in email marketing? Well, this refers to the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to enhance and optimise email marketing campaigns, using an array of different applications. Not only is AI used when creating the content or copy used in emails, but also in deciding when to send that content, and who to deliver it to, using historical data to improve effectiveness and efficiency.
Here are some key ways AI is used in email marketing:
Let’s start with content generation, since this is one of AI’s more recognised and high-profile uses today. Not only can AI tools assist in generating email content, but they will also help to write an engaging subject line, too, which is always the first thing a recipient sees. You can also feed the AI existing copy, to ensure that any email content generated is consistent with the overall voice and tone of your brand.
Personalised emails are nothing new, and are in fact a key functionality in most modern CRMs, but AI can take that to another level entirely. By analysing recipient data, such as past interactions, purchase history, demographics, etc. the AI is able to tailor messages to make them even more relevant to individual recipients, thus increasing overall engagement and conversion rates.
List segmentation is one of the most important and, often neglected, parts of email marketing, but AI can help. Through machine learning, it is able to automatically segment email lists based on various criteria, such as customer behaviour, preferences, location, or purchase history. This ensures that each email campaign reaches the right audience with the most relevant content, and in the most timely fashion.
One of the biggest strengths of AI is its ability to quickly analyse historical data and make predictions about future customer behaviour. When combined with an AI-enabled CRM or email marketing platform, it is able to predict which customers are most likely to make a purchase, for example, and then automatically contact just those prospective customers with targeted emails so as to boost conversion rates.
A/B testing, or split testing, is an important tool in the arsenal of any email marketer. AI algorithms are able to conduct A/B tests on different email subject lines, content and designs to determine which variations perform best, and then continue sending the winning variation to prospective customers. This helps marketers optimise their email campaigns for higher open rates, click-through rates, and conversions.
SEND TIME OPTIMISATION
As with posting on social media, there are various schools of thought when it comes to figuring out the best time to send your marketing emails. Rather than follow arbitrary advice, allow AI to analyse recipient behaviour and determine the best times to send emails for maximum engagement. This will ensure that emails are delivered when recipients are most likely to open and interact with them.
Another thing to mention are today’s AI-powered spam filters, which can also be a friend of the modern email marketer, since they help ensure that your emails don’t get flagged as spam and end up in recipients' junk folders. Modern spam filters use machine learning to identify and filter out potentially harmful or irrelevant emails, and are becoming increasingly effective at this due to the advent of AI.
REPORTING AND ANALYTICS
Besides the actual sending of marketing emails, AI can also be used to provide in-depth insights and analytics on email campaign performance, helping marketers track key metrics, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions to improve future campaigns. AI is great, but email marketing campaigns still require human-made decisions in order to function properly, and in-depth analytics provide all the information we need.
AI email marketing tools and platforms are continuously evolving, and their capabilities are becoming increasingly sophisticated. By leveraging AI in email marketing, businesses can streamline their efforts, improve engagement, and ultimately achieve better results in their email campaigns.
Finally, and just for (nervous) laughs, I decided to ask ChatGPT if AI could ever truly replace email marketers, and this was the response:
“AI can be a valuable tool for email marketers, but it is unlikely to completely replace them. Email marketing involves a combination of technical skills, creativity, and understanding of human psychology, which can be challenging for AI to replicate fully.”