Despite the growing number of competing marketing and sales channels, email is still considered an essential tool for reaching out to potential customers, generating leads, and closing deals.
Econsultancy’s Email Marketing Industry Census, ranked email marketing as the #1 best channel in terms of ROI. According to HubSpot, 79% of B2B marketers credit email as the most effective distribution channel for demand gen efforts.
However, the days of blasting out the same email to a large list of cold leads are over. As spam filtering technology becomes more sophisticated and email deliverability becomes more challenging, a smarter approach is needed.
This new approach requires that your customers actually want your emails in their inbox. In order to achieve this, you must craft content that is highly relevant and personalized to each customer segment. In fact, a study by Marketo shows that personalized messages triggered by customer behavior are 3x more effective than the old “batch and blast” approach.
In order to create smarter, more personalized marketing and sales emails, many organizations are turning to Artificial Intelligence. Businesses that utilize Artificial Intelligence “will steal $1.2 trillion per annum from their less informed peers by 2020”, according to Forrester.
Here are 4 ways your business can harness the power of AI for email marketing to automate tasks, improve decision-making, and close more deals:
There’s a mountain of data out there just waiting for you to collect and harness to run smarter marketing campaigns, retain your most important customers, and increase revenue.
Artificial Intelligence allows you to quickly sift through all of this data and derive valuable insights, such as:
Artificial Intelligence gives you the ability to group customers based on a myriad of factors beyond just demographic data (company size, role, age, location, etc.).
For instance, you can also utilize specific behavioral data (such as interests, past purchases, browsing history, etc.) to create entirely new customer segments that you can then tailor your marketing and sales efforts to.
Behavioral and transactional data can also allow you to segment leads in your pipeline based on how profitable they are likely to be and which products similar customers buy most often.
You can then use this information to provide highly-relevant recommendations, speed up the sales cycle, and focus on the most profitable opportunities first.
Your sales team should know who their big buyers are and be focused on taking care of them to ensure the highest customer satisfaction and retention rates possible. You probably know who your largest accounts are, but transactional data can help you identify other accounts that are growing quickly.
Research done by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company shows that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by a whopping 25% to 95%.
You simply can’t afford to lose those large accounts, so you need to be able to identify them, and then make them a top priority for your team. Artificial Intelligence makes this quick and easy.
Once you’ve crunched the data, and created detailed customer segments, it’s now time to tailor your marketing and sales efforts to them.
Personalization is often the difference between a hugely successful email marketing campaign, and one that’s a waste of time, effort, and resources. In fact, marketers have noted a 760% increase in revenue from segmented campaigns, according to Campaign Monitor.
According to MarketingSherpa, targeted, personalized email marketing has 2x higher return than cold calling.
At this point, personalized emails have become so common that customers expect them, and they often ignore generic, mass emails entirely. Unfortunately, 42% of marketers still do not send targeted email messages, according to HubSpot.
While basic personalization (such as allowing customers to select the type of emails they want to receive, or addressing each customer by their name) has been common in email marketing for a while, AI allows you to get far more sophisticated.
According to the book Marketing Metrics, businesses have a 60% to 70% chance of selling to an existing customer, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5% to 20%.
If you want to increase revenue fast, start by reaching out to your existing customers based on their past purchases and their unique, individual needs.
Using transactional data, you can identify ways to recommend highly-relevant, new products to your existing customers that are related to products they’ve purchased in the past.
According to McKinsey, 35% of purchases on Amazon come from these kinds of highly-personalized product recommendations.
You can also increase sales significantly by customizing promotions to each customer, based on what kind of discount they are likely to respond to.
For example, if the data shows that a customer typically ignores a 10% discount, but often makes impulse purchases once a product is 40% off or more, you can send them a customized promotion to increase the likelihood of making the sale.
This same level of personalization can be applied to all kinds of other incentives, such as free shipping, freebies, etc.
In addition, based on a customer’s browsing history, “Abandoned Cart” emails can be automatically generated that offer a discount on a product they viewed or put in their shopping cart, but didn’t purchase.
This level of personalization simply wasn’t possible before Artificial Intelligence.
It’s an established practice among marketers and salespeople to test different variations of subject lines, body text, CTAs, and even images to determine what performs best.
Before AI and automation, this was a painstaking, time-intensive, error-prone, manual process. You had to write several variations of an email based on best practices and guesswork, send them out, and wait until the results came back.
Fortunately, today’s AI technology can analyze large data sets and automatically generate email content based on what has performed best with each customer segment in the past, and continue to optimize it over time.
Because it’s the very first thing that a customer see in their inbox, the subject line of your email might be the #1 most important factor in whether your sales emails ultimately fail or succeed.
If the subject line isn’t relevant or enticing enough to compel the customer to open your email, it doesn’t matter how good your offer is; they’ll never see it. Even worse, the wrong subject line could provoke your customers to send your emails directly into their spam folder.
Fortunately, AI can now automatically generate and test hundreds of different subject lines, and optimize them over time (based on open and click-through rates) to be as persuasive as possible.
Additionally, AI can optimize the body text, CTAs, and even images in order to maximize conversions.
Even if you have emails that have been tested and proven, if you send too many (or too few) of them, or send them at the wrong time, you could end up accidentally decreasing your chances of success.
AI not only takes the guesswork out of what to write, it also determines the exact right frequency of emails to send, and what day and time to send them, based on each of your customers’ individual time zones, activity patterns, and habits.
For example, one customer might be the most likely to buy something on a Thursday during her lunch break, while another customer might be more likely to respond on a Saturday afternoon while relaxing at home.
Fortunately, AI makes it possible to send the right email, at the right time, and at the right frequence to optimize sales for each individual customer.
In addition to automatically generating and optimizing individual emails, advanced AI email tools can now generated entire outreach and lead nurturing campaigns, personalized to each customer, based on their demographics, behavior, and what stage they are in the sales cycle.
These tools will automatically find and verify a prospect’s contact information, send out a predefined series of follow-up emails at the optimal time and frequency, track open, response, and click-through rates, and even pause the automated sequence if a prospect responds to you and asks for a specific answer or requests a time to meet.
While data can power smarter, more personalized emails to generate leads and close deals, collecting accurate and complete sales activity and customer interaction data remains a challenge for many organizations.
Collecting this data often fails for two primary reasons:
HubSpot reports that sales reps spend an average of 5.5 hours a week just entering contacts and activities into CRM.
No salesperson wants to spend their time manually updating opportunities, cases, forecast reports, case history, or project milestones. After all, time spent entering data is time not spent selling.
Fortunately, AI has become extremely helpful at automatically handling all kind of mundane, tedious admin work.
ZynBit, for example, works transparently in the background to automatically record and track 100% accurate sales activity data so your team is free to focus on more important activities, like attracting, delighting and retaining your customers.
With ZynBit, your sales reps can carry out their work like they normally do, sending emails, booking appointments, making phone calls, etc. As they work, ZynBit automatically tracks all of their sales activities, without them having to think about it.
By eliminating manual data entry, ZynBit gives your sales team hours of valuable time back that they can use for high-impact sales activities and coaching.
It’s like having a virtual sales assistant working behind the scenes to record events in Salesforce, book meetings, and find the data-driven insights your team needs to deliver sales quotas.
Best of all, your sales reps never have to open Salesforce again!
If you’re ready to see how ZynBit can help your sales organization become data-driven, sign up for your free, 14-day trial here.