3 AI-Driven Email Marketing Techniques to Get the Gift of Holiday Revenue
So little time to activate, so much at stake — that's what email marketers scrambling to optimize their campaigns are facing now, in the teeth of Q4.
The common denominator in any optimizations that will move the needle at this point is artificial intelligence. Don’t try to boil the ocean; lock in on a select few you can implement now, with a little upfront set-up and QA included. (Do note that each of the recommendations to come assumes that you’re set up on an ESP, with customizable email templates that include dynamic elements.)
For my money, the three I would prioritize are, in order:
- cart abandonment campaigns;
- product feed recommendations; and
- send time optimization.
Cart Abandonment Campaign Set-Up
Of the abandonment emails you could set up (e.g., site visits, product page visits, etc.), cart abandonment is both closest to the point of purchase and usually the easiest to execute. Ask your ESP contact (or dig around on your own time) for the set-up documentation, hustle it up to your tech team to implement, and start crafting your email sequences as they connect the plumbing. If everyone makes this a high priority, you’ll be able to launch in a matter of hours, not days — just make sure to QA the emails and send mechanics before you launch.
Recommended Product Campaign Set-Up
This one is a little more complex than cart abandonment campaigns, but it’s also an email initiative that will have legs far beyond Q4. Essentially, these are AI-fueled email recommendations for product purchases that can be based on purchase history and/or site engagement — think related products or refill reminders for past purchases, or “other products you might like” suggestions based on browsing histories.
For this campaign type, your first step should be to research your ESP’s options for making recommendations based on product feeds. Even a small roll-out test should tell you within a few days if users are responding to the emails. A “yes” would give you plenty of reason to roll out a broader campaign while holiday purchase intent is high.
Send Time Optimization Set-Up
You can approach this initiative (email delivery at an optimal time, on the optimal day) in one of two ways: either let AI figure out the best delivery moment for each of your subscribers, or use past performance data to tell you the single best time to send one message to segments of your subscriber base.
The latter might be more feasible given time constraints. However, if you’re ambitious (or if you’re going to implement this after the holiday rush), take your time and use your ESP’s AI to set up some decision trees that help you dial in the right send time and delivery frequency for each user.
Ready to roll up your sleeves and get these optimizations working for the holidays? Please consider two general factors before you launch anything. First, do a sanity check on your CRM data. If it’s a mess, you run the risk of sending poorly timed, irrelevant messages that will earn you more unsubscribes than positive engagements. Second, make sure you’re set up to measure the before-after impact of these efforts — even a little performance lift will give you plenty of motivation (and information) to ask for more email optimization resources going forward.
Brian McKenna is the vice president of CRM at DMi Partners, a Philadelphia-based digital marketing agency founded in 2003.
Brian McKenna is the vice president of CRM at DMi Partners, a Philadelphia-based digital marketing agency founded in 2003. Over more than a decade and a half at the company, Brian has helped DMi grow its channel management solutions for American consumer brands. Most recently, he developed a managed solution for email marketing automation strategies for DMi’s CPG and retail clients.