The evolving role of machine learning in email marketing

Machine learning is turning traditional email marketing truisms on their head

20Feb

Machine learning (ML) is creeping its way into every facet of business and email marketing is one of the areas that has been influenced by advances in AI the most. Email marketers must understand the role that it is playing and utilize it appropriately to maximize the ROI of their campaigns.

How is machine learning changing the nature of email marketing?

ML is turning traditional email marketing truisms on their head. Here are some of the changes that it has brought.

Developing a deeper understanding of subscriber behavior

Email marketing is a complex art that has traditionally been studied through trial and error. Since there are so many different variables that need to be taken into account, they would often need to conduct dozens or even hundreds of split-testing experiments.

Unfortunately, sometimes obvious patterns are missed in all of the noise. When marketers are conducting a test to discern a relationship between two variables (such as the time of day the email is sent in the email open rate), they often explore other potential patterns.

ML is helping simplify their analytics models. It not only identifies correlations between independent variables and performance metrics, but it also provides detailed feedback from continuous, real-time data. This enables email marketers to get much richer insights into the behavior of their email subscribers.

Creating the best possible headlines

There are probably thousands of articles over the internet on the art of crafting email headlines. This repetition was not done purely for the sake of redundancy. Creating exceptional headlines is one of the most important skills in email marketing.

The problem is that there is no uniform standard for creating the right headline. Even in the same industry, countless factors can influence people's response to different headlines. The age of the subscribers, their income levels and relationship with the brand all influence their psychographic makeup and response to a given headline.

In order to create the best performing email headlines, it is necessary to get a deep understanding of your own subscriber list. This is one of the biggest benefits of ML. Marketers are using AI to write better converting headlines.

Significantly improving personalization

Personalization has been one of the biggest advantages of email marketing over other types of digital marketing strategies over the years. When marketers are trying to reach customers with a message on their own website or social media, it is difficult or impossible to customize content for every visitor. New dynamic website tokens have made it possible to personalize website content to some degree, but not nearly as well as with email marketing.

While personalization in email marketing predates many of the recent advances in ML, new AI technology has improved on it considerably. The first contact management systems to reach the market had limited features enabling personalization, such as allowing marketers to include the first and last names of their subscribers with dynamic tokens.

The most recent content management systems have more sophisticated personalization capabilities. Companies like Adobe are using ML for better personalization. They can understand the types of messages that certain subscribers are most likely to respond to. This means that email marketers can customize message templates and make other tweaks that help them tailor their messages carefully to each individual subscriber.

Optimizing landing pages and other elements of email marketing funnels

Too many email marketers get hung up on their email messages themselves. The problem is that there are multiple stages of the funnel that are separate from the email medium. The landing page on a website is a classic example.

Marketers need to understand the importance of optimizing them to get the best value from their campaign. ML can play an important role in these aspects of your funnel. Personalization is one of the ways that ML helps squeeze more value out of their landing pages. Another benefit is with chatbots. ML has helped chatbots better engage with customers to lift conversion rates.

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