by Isadora Welby

Marketing Executive, Phrasee

Artificial intelligence has been making waves in the digital marketing space for several years now. Oddly, though, the email marketing industry has been more hesitant than most to adopt this game-changing technology. According to data compiled by Econsultancy earlier this year, fewer than 20% of email marketers are planning to adopt AI in the year to come. As stories about the positive digital marketing outcomes AI has been generating continue to pile up, however, it looks increasingly likely that the email industry’s hesitance is poised to change in the very near future.

Some of the world’s biggest brands have already integrated AI tools into their email marketing strategies, and the results have been impressive, to say the least. UK classified ads site Gumtree, has boasted a 35%+ increase in open rates since implementing AI-optimized email subject line copy, and Gumtree are certainly not alone.

An email marketing AI arms race, driven by changing customer expectations and increased competition in the inbox, may well lie just over the horizon.

With more brands beginning to explore their artificial intelligence options in the year to come, many of whom lack an in-depth understanding of how AI works, some SAAS companies specializing in email marketing automation and advanced analytics have begun touting their products as “AI”, even though many do not offer true AI technology at all.

This issue may go some way to explaining why so many in the email marketing business have been hesitant to accept the lofty promises of AI-optimized email marketing at face value. Not all AI is created equal; some AI is optimised towards performance, making it difficult to understand and explain why it did what it did. These are called “black box” solutions. The information asymmetry between those offering AI solutions to some of email’s most pressing problems and those who most want to see those problems solved will need to be navigated soon if email is to take its next logical step into the data-driven future.

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