Blogs The Future of Email: Optimizing B2B Campaigns Through Artificial Intelligence

Written by Paula Chiocchi on 2017-06-05


As B2B email marketers know, getting the right message to the right prospect at the right time can be easier said than done. Many marketers have years of prospect and customer behavioral data, such as email opens and clicks, completed forms and website page visits, but are challenged with analyzing and converting this data into ideal email tactics. This challenge is being addressed with the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, which can “mine” your data to determine and deliver targeted campaigns to prospects based on their previous digital activities.


While these technologies are still evolving, here are some examples of how AI can impact B2B email campaigns now and in the years to come:


  • Email personalization: Applying artificial intelligence, some vendors (e.g. Boomtrain) analyze user content and website behavior to deliver 1:1 personalized messaging and experiences through email and other channels. Their machine learning algorithms analyze behavior, engagement, mood, trending and metadata, and then conduct predictive, semantic analyses to understand users and what is most relevant to them. Powered with this data, AI-enabled emails offer personalized subject lines, optimized delivery times and even the best product suggestions for a particular prospect.


  • Optimized content: Other vendors (e.g. Persado, Phrasee) leverage AI to offer a cognitive content platform – the highest performing, machine-generated marketing language to send to prospects. The technology marries market research, psychology and millions of interactions with machine learning to score and categorize words, phrases and images to create optimized email campaign content. The Persado platform can create email subject lines, email body copy and even landing pages, and boasts an almost 50% conversion lift from companies leveraging their language.


  • Lead nurturing: Other vendors (e.g. Conversica) leverage artificial intelligence to offer managed and optimized lead nurturing. The company’s offerings include reaching out to leads within minutes of a prospect showing initial interest in your products or services, sending emails that appear to be coming from your company. The software then conducts follow-up for a set amount of time until a sale is made, or the lead opts out. When the prospect is ready to purchase, the software alerts a sales rep to make contact to close the sale.


It’s clear that AI may be too intimidating or bleeding edge for some B2B marketers, but others who focus on high-volume email marketing may be ready to give it a try. For such early adopters, there are a few steps to take when preparing to use AI:


  1. Prepare the infrastructure – Marketers should be using a central content management system (CMS) that can be easily accessed by outside partner vendors.


  1. Build a business case – Marketers will not only need budget to invest in AI technologies but data to show potential ROI and the ability to track results accurately.


  1. Start small – It might be good for marketers to start with existing, more proven machine-learning tools before making the jump to more complex (and expensive) AI offerings. Such tools include send-time optimization, product optimization logic and cart abandonment programs.


  1. Test consistently: Marketers will want to test and measure AI on smaller data sets before moving to more wide-spread, large-scale campaigns. Also test on “business as usual” email data -- not where you may already be leveraging other machine-learning tools.


While we are still in the early stages of improving and even optimizing email campaign performance using AI, the early results are promising. It seems even inevitable that automated, optimized messages will someday soon fill our inboxes – all driven by AI. How and when do you plan to put AI to work in your marketing initiatives?



Outward Media’s accurate, targeted email data can help you achieve better email marketing ROI, and convert more prospects into customers. Ask us how. Also, take a look at our complimentary new e-book on building a successful B2B email marketing database.

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