Is AI About To Offer The Ultimate In Personalised Email?

The news seems very clear this week. Marketers across EMEA, Asia and North and South America are getting into personalisation, according to Monetate figures quoted by eMarketer. More than half -- 56% -- have a personalisation strategy in place, 28% are working on one and 6% are at an advance stage of delivering their strategy. It makes sense, as it turns out, because four in five companies that report they have exceeded sales targets have a personalisation strategy in place. Only 8% of those who missed their goals have such a strategy in place.

When it comes to personalisation, however, you do have to wonder -- is there anything more powerful than artificial intelligence? That's certainly the issue raised by eConsultancy's look at AI in several digital marketing disciplines. In email we have an intriguing example of Cosabella Lingerie claiming to have doubled its email subscriber base and grown email revenue by more than 60% since using artificial intelligence in its email marketing strategy last year. 

I'm always a little loath to unreservedly put the latest buzzword to any strategy so we might be able to say that this is effectively behavioural analysis that allows software to come up with some smart suggestions. If that means it's also AI, then that's fine with me, but if you'd rather call it smart behavioural analytics, that's fine too.

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense to roll out AI tech that allows you to treat each customer on your database as an individual. This means you can go beyond recognising and addressing someone by their name -- a point at which many believe personalisation is achieved -- to treating them as an individual. Certainly the lingerie retailer makes it clear that the biggest advantages come through the technology being able to analyse each person's behaviour and then make some smart decisions. 

In the experience of Cosabella, it has been particularly effective at deciding which emails should be sent to which consumers. Knowing what someone is interested in will likely give you a good idea of what they might buy again but also where there may be room for complementary items or upgrades. The tech can also give email marketers a more detailed idea of which customers will respond most to offers, so they know which shoppers need a code to get them clicking and which are more likely to buy without the need for a special offer that eats into margins. The tech is also being used to tailor messages for individuals to boost open rates and click-throughs.

As we talk about personalisation, then, it makes a lot of sense to bring in the growing field of AI -- which, in this case at least, appears to be behavioural and predictive analysis all in one. Many of these companies can begin to try themselves through segmentation, but it looks like we're approaching a time when the best personalisation will come via a tech upgrade that can examine what customers have told you about themselves, which can then inform how you contact them in the future, and with what message. This not only means you get the right message to the right person at the right term. but also that you don't just spray and pray messages across your entire list.

Email fatigue is a real issue, so there is an upside in not annoying subscribers when you miss out on a campaign as well as hitting the right people with it. 

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