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What AI Tools Will Help You Improve Email Marketing?

Digital marketing changes at what seems to be the speed of light.  What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow and what is working likely needs upgraded to take advantage of new technologies and trends. Email is a tool that falls into this later space.

Email marketing really began taking off in the 90’s as the Internet became available to consumers around the world. Email marketing isn’t spam. It’s not a personal note from an old colleague either. It’s something in between. Your customers don’t give their information lightly, and — if used right — email marketing can be both a relationship-building and profit-building tool.

ROI on Email

An Adobe report found email is “ahead of the pack” when it comes to return on investment. It cited an Econsultancy finding that 73 percent more companies think email ROI is “good” or “excellent,” compared to 35 percent who feel that way about online display advertising, or banner ads. Additionally, other research, found 57% of email subscribers spend anywhere between 10-60 minutes browsing marketing emails during the week.  

Tom Dwyer, CEO of Taylrd an online men’s apparel company that’s not yet two years old, said while almost 100 percent of its advertising budget is spent on Facebook and Twitter ads, email accounts for 25 percent of the company’s revenues.

“The social media ads are like paid acquisition to get people to the site,” Dwyer said after the discussion. “For us, a successful visit is one that ends with the customer giving us their email. We use advertising to bring brand awareness of what we’re about in that short attention span we have. The people who come to our site will then be prompted with a pop-up window, which offers a discount code to give their email. And that’s because email is extremely valuable to us.

Ideas for Developing Effective Email Sign Up 

Using email effectively means you need email addresses to be able to use in email marketing campaigns. Obtaining email addresses is the foundation of such an effort. Here is a list of some of the effective ideas that have been used by brands to obtain email addresses. 

  • Creating CTA’s that are engaging, creative and prompt the people to want to find out what they will receive in their emails.
  • Reassure them they will not be spammed or sent irrelevant material.
  • Provide examples of your sterling email content.
  • Provide a deal or discount (According to research by the Social Habit, 70% of email readers open emails from a brand or company in search of a deal, discount, or money-off coupon).
  • Placing the sign-up form at the top of the homepage is effective to capture.
  • Allow the person to “tailor” the email they will receive.
  • Reduce the friction of signing up by allowing people to sign up using one of their social logins.
  • Offer consumers updates on products and services(41% of consumers like to have updates on products and services).
  • Premium content offers exclusive to email subscribers.

At the recent Custora Carma conference in New York, Carlos Alberini, CEO of Lucky Brand, said the company enlisted store employees in its quest for more email addresses. Unfortunately, the company only had a 14 percent capture rate when simply asking customers for their email at checkout.

“We had been doing a catalog, and in each, we put a coupon,” said Alberini, explaining the plan to gain more email addresses. “When customers were checking out, we decided employees would ask if they had the coupon from the catalog for a 20 percent off discount. People would reply, ‘No, I didn’t get the catalog.’ So the employee would say, ‘I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you the discount this time, give me your email and then we will make sure you do get the catalog.’ With that, we took that 14 percent and increased it to a 54 percent capture rate. That led to more data. When we started this program, we had 1.9 million people in the database. About 18 months later, we have over 5 million as of today. And the expected revenue went from about $55 million to $170 million.”

Capturing Data and Building Upon it for Your Email Campaigns

“The more data you collect that you control, the more power you have to be responsive to your customers. If you allow someone else to control all the data about the people who purchase your products you giving away money and the foundation of your future.” Scott Galloway, Four Horsemen

Even in this world of digital voice search, visual search, social media, message bots, and traditional search, email marketing provides an opportunity for highly targeted and personalized communication with customers that can provide a high return when they get it right. This is where data collection and analysis comes into play.

Adobe says “emails can be sent in response to both online and in-store customer actions. To get there, analytics software is integrated with a company’s email platform, and the software constantly monitors customer behaviors across channels. And depending on the investment, brands, and stores can deliver evermore insight-driven marketing emails. For instance, when a customer abandons their online shopping cart, an email reminder can get them to go back and complete their sale. However, the more a company knows about a customer, the easier it becomes to send meaningful emails that go beyond the abandoned shopping cart to engage the customer and inspire loyalty.”

Analytics, according to Adobe, give companies the ability “to notice when conversion falters, and then act quickly and automatically.” Online data points include website behavior, offer performance, mobile behavior, display performance and social media usage. Offline data points include CRM (customer relationship management), direct mail, broadcast data, physical stores and loyalty programs. When certain criteria are met, such as an abandoned cart, or a website visit or in-store trip that didn’t result in a sale, the email system can be activated with relevant and personal messages.

Personalization in Your Email Campaigns

Consumers are increasingly indicating to brands they welcome them using information from their purchase history to create a richer shopping experience that includes recommendations. 

Brands can show customers what others in their state or region are buying, related products, and how those products are being used. This allows the creation of campaigns around those products. Data from online activity when captured can help define who the customer is and what are their shopping behavior patterns. It can also allow for the creation of specific personalized micro-content or micro-experience pieces. These, can add an incredible amount of value that really moves the needle on impacting customer behavior and positively influencing a journey. 

The more customer visits and data that a brand can collect from those visits allows them to further refine creating a personalized experience. The more personalized and relevant the email marketing is based on individual data the better the success of the email campaign will be (here are 13 examples of effective email personalization). 

Personalization support by consumers

Brands are just beginning to fully tap into what they can do with email. Data and new tools are providing increasing opportunities to create personalized email experiences. Brands are just scratching the surface of what they can do with this data and tools.  

AI Driven Tools That Will Help You Deliver a More Personalized and Relevant Email Experience 

In a study by the Relevancy Group, they concluded that "data indicates that marketers embracing AI have higher deliverability, engagement, and revenue, from their email campaigns." With that in mind, here are seven AI driven tools that can help you improve email marketing. 

Seventh Sense (@knowingwhen) makes sure your emails get to your target at the time they open their emails. Every marketer and salesperson has a problem in common: how do you make sure your marketing or sales email rises above the flood of communications hitting a person’s inbox each and every day?

The company’s solution uses artificial intelligence to determine when a prospect is most likely to engage with your email. Seventh Sense helps reduce stress and improves making sure your emails get read by delivering them when people read their emails. The tool integrates with HubSpot portals, Marketo accounts, or company email systems to build unique profiles of your contacts and learn their habits.

Boomtrain (@zetaglobal) is a marketing tool that uses AI to automatically personalize content for the user that will most likely increase clicks, engagement, and sales. The manual work that typically takes place to segment prospects and choose appropriate, relevant content is replaced by this technology. Boomtrain analyzes user behavior (from interactions with websites, emails, mobile apps, etc.) to provide a unified view of each contact and boost engagement with them.

Phrasee (@phrasee) generates and optimizes subject lines so people are more likely to open, click and convert. A major problem with marketing artificial intelligence today is that marketers don’t first identify the business problem they’re trying to solve with AI before implementing it. Phrasee, a marketing AI tool, has a laser focus on the business problem their artificial intelligence solves: Email marketing optimization.

Phrasee uses machine learning to generate and optimize email subject lines so people open, click, and convert more often. The company works with large companies like Domino’s and Virgin Holidays to beat humans 98% of the time in head-to-head subject line writing tests. For example, Virgin Holidays sells travel experiences that net hundreds of millions per year. A lot of its sales happen over email, so even a modest bump in engagements and conversions is worth a fortune.

Using the tool, Virgin Holidays raised open rates by 2%, a bump that was worth millions in new revenue. Additionally, writing subject lines now takes minutes, not weeks like it did before. That frees up the brand's marketers to work on higher-value tasks.

Return Path (@returnpath) is an expert in email deliverability. They analyze the world’s largest collection of email data to help their customers to stay connected to their audiences, strengthen subscriber engagement, and drive more revenue through the email channel. They partner with mailbox providers around the world to deliver great user experiences and build trust in email by ensuring that wanted messages reach the inbox while spam doesn’t. As an example of how it can help, Overstock moves a ton of product via email marketing each and every day. So you could say it was a pretty big problem when their email delivery rates dropped. In fact, every email Overstock didn't deliver was a missed chance to generate revenue. The company turned to Return Path, an AI-powered email platform, to diagnose their deliverability issues. After several months of working with the platform and Return Path experts, Overstock's inbox placement rates "averaged 98 percent and often reached 100 percent at their most important domains." 

Optimail (@getoptimail) uses AI to automatically adjust personalization, content, and timing of your email campaigns. Traditionally, A/B testing was used to help optimize your drip email campaigns. Optimail continually monitors behavior and adjusts which messages are sent and when to drive prospects and customers toward your business goals, whether it be purchasing your product or sharing your social media posts. It's proven to increase engagement, drive conversions and reduce spam reports.

Atomic Reach (@atomic_reach) is a tool that will create high quality content that converts. Creating such content is a key to a successful content marketing program, but it's not always straightforward. How do you maintain consistency across multiple assets? How do you know what's working and more importantly, why it's working?

Atomic Reach's content intelligence platform scores your content on sentiment, structure, emotional intensity, readability & more. With these actionable insights, it's easy for your team to uncover the perfect content "conversion recipe" for your customer personas.

Lead Gnome (@leadgnome) is an automated reply email mining solution that seamlessly integrates with your marketing automation and/or CRM solution. Every reply to your emails is automatically categorized, mined of critical sales intelligence, and synchronized with your CRM or MA. A reply sorter feature then cleans up your inbox - moving the auto-responses to folders and leaving the actual customer replies in your Inbox for immediate engagement. This tool integrates with HubSpot, Marketo, Oracle, and Salesforce allowing the user to create workflows that automatically trigger tasks such as notifications, follow-up emails, and calls. This tool cleans your data and delivers sales ready leads. Case Study: QuickMobile by Cvent

Thinking about innovating and expanding your email campaigns? Take a look at the Econsultancy Email Marketing Industry Census for a summary of what others are thinking. 

innovation with email in 2018


In the End, Email Works!

Email addresses provide a foundation for connecting with existing and potential customers from which to gather data to personalize your relationship with them. Email marketing is a channel you solely own. You decide how, when, and why to communicate with your subscribers.

Through email you can communicate and learn about the problems, challenges, and opportunities they are experiencing. Besides providing premium content, brands can develop short online surveys in which customers are rewarded for participating by receiving a coupon for a reduction in pricing on items you sell. Whether it’s a discount coupon or “Swedish meatballs,” don't forget to serve up whatever treats/experiences you can provide to draw customers into your email orbit.

According to Inc., companies like Amazon, Google and Spotify are leaders in their space because they effectively leverage the vast amounts of data they gather from their customers and potential customers. This data can range from search habits and products purchases to the music they listen to and the posts they share online. Using this data and artificial intelligence, these companies are able to better understand and market to their users.

Why does this matter to you? Because you don’t have to be a major enterprise to leverage data as a competitive advantage. You simply have to learn how to gather data that is better than your competitors, safely store it and combine it with the right AI tools to create and execute ROI busting email campaigns. Email is still an important part of the Fundamentals of Digital Marketing for the Outdoor Industry.

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