Explore our Email Marketing and Marketing Automation Toolkit

Enhancing email marketing performance with artificial intelligence

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 03 Dec, 2019
Essential Essential topic

Marketing AI implies the art and science of personalized marketing in an age where creativity and simple data collection are not enough to drive your business forward

Not long ago, the marketing process was seen as a human endeavor perfected through several cases of trial and error. The idea of automation streamlining the marketing process looked like science fiction. But with the dawn of the Digital Age, new technologies are transforming the marketing landscape. One such technology is Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Introducing artificial intelligence

The first breakthrough of AI was in 2016 with the introduction of machine learning. It is basically the next logical step in computing: A program that can figure out things for itself. In other words, it is a program that can reprogram itself.

Marketing AI implies the art and science of personalized marketing in an age where creativity and simple data collection are not enough to drive your business forward. It is being executed across multiple channels, including email, to increase sales, promote customer satisfaction and help companies stand out from the pack.

The shorthand to know how AI works is the three Ds: DETECT, DELIBERATE, and DEVELOP - all on its own.


AI can identify the most predictive elements or attributes in a huge pool of data. The technology is unique, as it can discover the most valuable characteristics from a large chunk of data with diverse data blocks. This means you can figure out which data should be considered and which ignored.


AI can appraise the relevance of data and derive a conclusion by deducing rules about the data and analyze the most predictive attributes against each other to make a recommendation or answer a question.


Every iteration helps to make the AI more mature and powerful. According to the new information and the results of experimentation, it can program itself.

For example, a subscriber’s search terms hold more importance when compared to their name and age (detect).

If a subscriber has clicked through your email, the propensity to purchase is high and a discount might be counterproductive (deliberate).

Sign up for Free membership

After it is observed that women under the age of 30 are not likely to make the purchase, regardless of the click-through rates, an experiment can be carried out to offer them free shipping (develop).

Are you a Netflix person? If yes, the promotional emails that you receive from them are mostly driven by AI.

Here’s an example.

Netflix email example

Welcome to autonomic email marketing with AI

The autonomic nervous system manages everything you don't have to think about - be it your heart rate, respiration rate or digestion. These processes take place even during your sleep or in your unconscious state. They are intricate and so vital that they must function continuously without any deliberate thought. The same system applies to email marketing. Personalization, relevant recommendations and dynamic content are all just table stakes.

It is time you open the black box full of mumbo-jumbo known as AI for your email marketing and put it to practical use. The biggest advantage of AI is that it allows you to deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time in an automated manner. This is often called the Email Marketing Triad.

With that said, let’s understand how AI can help email marketers enhance their strategy and generate unmatched results.

Better segmentation

AI allows you to segment your subscribers according to the data collected through the preference center. Subscribers have varied interests. Hence, it is of utmost importance that you create separate lists and send them different emails based on their details.

You can segment the subscribers by demographics, geographic location, psychographics, past purchases, total purchase value and products or services they have searched for.

Segmenting the email lists help you enhance the open rate, click-through rate and conversions. It helps determine accurate customer information in order to improve your email engagement.

Captivating subject lines

AI enables you to draft better email subject lines that ultimately enhance the email metrics and overall campaign performance. Phrasee is one such AI email marketing vendor that uses specific algorithms to generate subject lines, email content and calls-to-action.

This app is believed to take the help of language matching the concerned company’s brand personality and numerous phrases that will appeal to the subscribers. It considers the information from past email campaigns to understand the behavioural model of audience engagement. Such apps have taken email marketing to another level with AI, as the results keep getting better with each iteration.

More personalized emails to every subscriber

You can use AI for effective data management. As your subscriber list keeps growing, it can get tedious to manage the data. AI facilitates studying customer behaviour and managing customer data so you can send personalized emails to every subscriber.

If a subscriber usually opens their emails in the mornings, they will receive the email at that time as AI can determine such behaviour and customize the emails for each individual.

You can even ask the subscribers to set their preferences and send out tailor-made emails that match their interests and make them look forward to more.

Here’s the email I received from ASICS because I added a similar product to my cart. Naturally, I ended up buying one for myself after the tempting email.

ASICS email example

Sending the right email at the right time

Grabbing your subscribers’ attention is daunting, as a huge number of emails flood their inboxes every day. Therefore, it is best to send the right email at the right time. A combination of predictive analysis and AI is a great asset to study customer behaviour and build an email automation system based on the insights generated through the data.

Have a look at this cart abandonment email by Beardbrand that encourages the recipient to complete the purchase.

Beardbrand email example

Tailor-made product recommendations

Taking into consideration the subscriber’s past purchases, you can send out relevant product recommendations that encourage customer loyalty and boost the click-to-convert ratio of your emails. AI algorithms can provide a leg up to the email marketing strategy by letting marketers know the customer’s online activity, products purchased and browsing history. Eventually, it enhances the subscriber engagement and sales by sending personalized product recommendations in real-time.

Zillow sends out a recommendation email based on what the prospect has searched for or liked.

Zillow email example

Customer lifecycle marketing

As the email marketing industry is getting more and more competitive, marketers should send unique email campaigns that will bring them high ROI. AI and predictive analytics let the marketer understand how long it takes for the average customer to make a purchase. According to this data, you can ascertain the stages of the customer lifecycle - Awareness, Consideration and Decision - and send emails accordingly.

Take a look at this email by Twist that is a perfect fit for a subscriber in the awareness stage.

Twist email example

Quicker and more effective A/B testing

A/B testing refers to creating two variants of the same email to understand what resonates better with the recipient. The variables that you can test include the subject line, the preheader text, CTA placement, email layout etc. This method mainly counts on user behaviour, intuitive design and technology to derive conclusions about what works best with the target audience.

Previously, A/B testing was a two-dimensional approach where you had two email variants and two groups and the marketers altered a single variable at a time. However, with the global shift towards omnichannel hyper-targeting, there are numerous variables possible in multiple permutations and combinations.

These combinations can get quite perplexing to allow any conclusion, but AI can help you to decipher the high-performing campaigns with greater accuracy.

Tools to aid AI

  1. Mailchimp provides numerous personalization tools, optimization systems for send time, and A/B testing tools for creating better performing email campaigns.
  2. An extension of Mailchimp known as Seg helps in the user segmentation and targeting them as per their purchase and browsing history.
  3. Automizy enables email automation and creates personalized user experiences, split testing and tracking metrics.

Final thoughts

AI can certainly create emails that match the customer’s actions, but you should make sure that your email campaigns do not get too creepy for the recipient. Use the right tone and message so that it imparts a pleasant experience to the reader.


Author's avatar

By Expert commentator

This is a post we've invited from a digital marketing specialist who has agreed to share their expertise, opinions and case studies. Their details are given at the end of the article.

Recommended Blog Posts