05 February 2020
Automation, Personalization, and AI in Email Marketing
Email automation has been around for quite a while, helping businesses reach the audience with efficient and relevant content. Today, the competition for the customer’s attention is as intense as ever. To simply stay on people’s radar, more and more brands spend big budgets on personalized design and ads, AI-supported algorithms, and latest marketing solutions.
Automation tools have become a must-have for any company willing to keep ahead, yet there is much confusion even among marketers when it comes to defining that actually automation is. Such discrepancy is determined by too high speed of technological progress. The professional language is penetrated by so many new words that it’s hard not to get confused by all the info. Personalization, targeting, segmentation, artificial intelligence, machine algorithms, AR, web tracking, AMP, etc. – the vocabulary inflow looks never-ending.
Each of the above terms require a separate article, and so today we’ll focus on the most commonplace yet often mistaken email automation, personalization, and AI. We’ll move from the general to the specific to find out what each concept means in today’s marketing and how any company can benefit from using them.
What Is Email Marketing Automation?
Email marketing automation is the automated management of all subscribed contacts and campaigns you send them across multiple channels: Email, SMS, Viber, Web Push, and Mob Push.
If done properly, automation can increase your overall marketing performance in many ways; to name a few:
- segment the contact base;
- send personalized and relevant offers;
- reach contacts at the right time, when they’re most likely to become customers;
- track customers’ behavior;
- evaluate at what stage of the customer lifecycle a user is, and generate sales-ready leads;
- deliver seamless user experience, employing different communication channels;
- evaluate the results with advanced reports, and see the general picture.
Let’s say you’re a company with more than 1,000 subscribed customers. You want to launch a welcome series that consists of three emails: a welcome email, company introduction, and first purchase discount. Imagine how much time you’d need to manually create and send an email to every person. Also imagine how much time it’d take a company with 1,000,000+ customers.
Instead, you can set up an automated welcome series that is sent after every new user confirms their subscription. And the best part is that you don’t need to configure any additional settings. All you need to do is to create three templates with the necessary content and create a workflow with the corresponding trigger: the campaign will be being sent to all new members who meet the trigger.
This approach applies to any campaigns and channels. Product feedback, abandoned carts, reminders, birthday greetings, event promotion, etc. – automated campaigns can help you save time for more important things.
How You Can Automate Your Email Marketing
We agree that automation is a too general concept, so let’s take a look at its compounds: what exact stages you can automate and how.
- Use smart blocks that generate product cards with URLs. You can also save your custom modules as templates so that use them when the occasion arises.
- Fill templates with the relevant content the recipient would be most likely interested in.
- Integrate with different systems to have a solid contact base.
- Collect customer data and preferences that would be automatically updated based on the customer behavior, browsing activity, etc.
- Create segments for bulk campaigns based on any condition.
- Create workflows with different triggers, include there messages from different channels, and launch them for any segment.
This isn’t a full display of what email automation really is. The more contacts you have the more segmented your base should be; the more segmented base, the more diverse and numerous the campaigns; the more campaigns you send, the more time automation can save you. For better results, pick up the service that matches your particular needs and budget, and start exploring its functionality step by step.
Custom pricing + free additional service
Personalization in Email Marketing
Due to so many offers on the market, today’s consumers have developed their demands to a very high standard. A mere name in the campaign no longer equals relevancy. People expect a meaningful approach across all channels, both online and offline, and marketers need to keep up with this demand. However, exceeding it would gain you even more following, and this is where personalization steps in.
In terms of email marketing, personalization is all the practices and tactics you use to tailor the content of your campaigns to a specific audience. From basic to advanced, personalization can vary depending on your goals, campaign types, and the technical solution you employ. A subject line, an email copy, product recommendations, targeted offers, promo codes, etc. – each email component can be personalized provided you’ve collected and analyzed enough information.
What Data Can Be Used to Personalize Campaigns
Any information you manage to collect via any channel can be used to create more relevant campaigns. To name some:
- email address and phone number;
- profession and position;
- marital status;
- preferred language;
- available social media accounts;
- browsed products;
- last purchases;
- opens and clicks;
- open time;
- average purchase value;
- gadgets used to open messages.
No need to tell that the more data you have, the more personalized your marketing campaigns could be. Of course, it’s impossible to collect it all at once: the profile of each contact would grow as long as they would continue their customer journey with your brand.
How to Collect Data for Personalization
A signup form isn’t the only way to find out your customers’ preferences. The more methods you engage to collect data on your customers, the more chances you’d have to personalize your campaigns.
Techniques to capture as much customer info include (but are not limited to):
- newsletter signup forms with further preference options;
- subscription forms on social media;
- subsequent preference updates;
- on-site quizzes;
- email quizzes;
- desktop IP and device geolocation from apps;
- product feedback;
- product voting;
- face-to-face events;
- loyalty program membership;
- giveaways on social media;
- contests and challenges;
- web tracking.
With enough analyzed data, you’ll be able to achieve a deeper level of personalization:
- segment the contact base;
- create targeted content and send personalized product recommendations;
- offer customized incentives, loyalty programs, subscription plans, etc.;
- deliver campaigns optimized by customer demographics, preferred language, and sending time, etc.;
- include dynamic content;
- contribute to better engagement and brand loyalty.
AI in Email Marketing
In general terms, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a computer system that can perform predetermined tasks that typically require human intelligence. In terms of email marketing, AI is a tool that analyzes big volumes of information of various types, aka big data, (text, voice searches, visuals, behavioral patterns), generates data-driven solutions, and predicts customer behavior. All this contributes to the often mentioned above personalization and helps reach better email segmentation.
Let’s say you regularly send campaigns to a segment of 50,000 contacts that looks as following:
However, of these 50,000, 25% open messages only in the morning, 30% open only at the weekend, 30% browse only one particular category of product, 25% click only sales with promo codes, etc. And these percentages vary and change as long as new contacts get included in the segment.
AI algorithms would automatically analyze behavior and preferences inside the segment, and generate the content and sending recommendations personally for each contact.
Depending on website searches, most often viewed and clicked products, and last purchases, AI algorithms would fill such sections as Recommended for You, You May Also Like, Staff Pick, Our Favorites, etc. with the products each particular contact might potentially be most interested in.
Sending Time & Frequency Priority
Depending on how often every person opens campaigns and responds to them, AI would generate customized sending frequency strategy. The bigger the response, the more campaign you would be sent to.
Moreover, those customers who prefer opening emails in the morning would receive them in the morning; late readers would hear from you in the evening. Time accuracy may range between hours.
Depending on the purchase frequency and average purchase value, each customer can be approached with a different pricing policy. Customers spending, let’s say, by average $100 per purchase would be recommended product within the $70-100 range. Customers spending more $300 per purchase would be offered products with higher price tags.
And the best part for marketers is that you don’t need to configure additional settings to manage AI. It’s already incorporated in the system (provided you use a modern professional platform) and automatically performs all the necessary analysis.
Email automation, personalization, and AI overlap and affect each other in different ways. All of them nonetheless serve one purpose – help create more relevant campaigns (it terms of content, design, preferences, and sending) and build long-term, fruitful relationships with your audience. To be a strong competitor in your industry, you need to take full advantage of all these processes, and constantly update your marketing strategies.