AI, Artificial Intelligence, Ex Machina, The robots are coming for us all, All Hail The Google Overlords – whatever you call it, it’s becoming increasingly significant for people who don’t work with 4000 lines of code and 16 different neural networks every day. One of these people is your humble email marketer, who has been seeing artificial intelligence and machine learning features popping up all over the place.
Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, SendInBlue, ConvertKit, Constant Contact and many, many more are all beginning to implement intelligent solutions to their platforms, to make the lives of the people behind these emails just a little bit easier. The vast, vast majority of these features are entirely optional, so if you’re feeling old-school you don’t have to trust the machines with the work you do, but honestly, lots of them make a big difference.
Like almost everything else in the modern world, automation is developing rapidly, taking on the tasks that you don’t want to do and making them happen quietly and without great aplomb. Of course, email automation has been around for a long time now, but the new features that are becoming available are helping small businesses take things to the next level. And it’s not just that they are available, it’s that they’re accessible. It’s the same with every new development under the sun – large companies and corporations get their hands on it first because they have the resources to do so.
However, now we’re seeing the affordable mass-market softwares starting to jump on the bandwagon! This year, ActiveCampaign raised $100 million to expand their AI and machine learning algorithms and capabilities, to help generate intelligent email automations that are completely personalised for every user. Mailchimp also recently released their “auto-designer” which uses machine learning algorithms to quickly and painlessly generate branded designs using just your website URL – picking out your brand colours, imagery, taglines, fonts and overall visual identity to create a carousel of branded designs in seconds.
As well as offering their own tools and AI experiments on their platforms, there’s an increasing number of integrations available between email clients and specialist AI software like Bloom Intelligence, which uses its “customer intelligence engine” to pick up and collect user data and then neatly drop it into your Mailchimp account!
It’s not all sunshine, roses, ones and zeroes though. There’s still a long way to go before I’m out of a job (phew!), and it’s worth noting that a lot of these features are still in Beta testing with plenty of glitches of their own, not to mention the fact that lots of these tools are restricted by poor data sets, something that people are still far better at working around (as much as we hate doing it!).
From the horses (chimp’s?) mouth, Alex Kelly, one of Mailchimp’s frontend developers, had this to say about AI:
“AI is very interesting, but I don’t feel like many marketers are there yet, or even near there. To be used effectively, it needs perfect databases, and a lot of marketers are still struggling with the basics. It’s a cool toy, but I think very few businesses are actually ready for it. Also, you have to look out for the Uncanny Valley effect, where the more closely a thing resembles a person, but is identifiably not a person, the less people will accept it.”
So there you have it – a long-winded rolling rant about how AI is changing email marketing, for good or for evil! To find out more about email marketing or any of the other digital marketing services we offer to create fantastic results, both with and without the help of AI, give us a ding!