Consumers receive an average of 88 emails every day — sales, offers, coupons codes, etc. So, how does a retailer stand out in such a crowded space? For Cosabella, a luxury lingerie, sleepwear, swimwear and apparel company, artificial intelligence (AI) has helped.
Cosabella is a 30-plus year-old, family-owned retailer with an Italian heritage. The company began working with an advertising agency about a year-and-a-half ago, but when Courtney Connell, Cosabella’s marketing director, began seeing a decline in direct-to-consumer growth, she went with another strategy. Leveraging Connell’s tech background, Cosabella fired the ad agency and went in a different direction.
“When we made that shift, we decided not to immediately hire a new agency and necessarily hire new in-house talent, but really do a full, due-diligence review of the technology in the market and see if we can fill in some of the gaps there vs. hiring more humans,” says Connell.
Cosabella selected Emarsys' AI-enabled marketing automation platform that bridges the gap between complex data science and scaling personal interactions to enhance customer engagement and acquisition.
Connell is seeing that it takes her team less time to do some of the repetitive tasks that the AI platform now handles, freeing up employees to work on more creative and engaging tasks.
“I think that escalates the momentum that we get from the efficiencies with the new technology,” notes Connell.
Creating email campaigns, for example, was once a process for Cosabella. With the Emarsys integration, however, Cosabella is now able to send emails in different languages, time zones and currencies using AI.
“It’s very easy to just change out templates and create things for the different regions,” explains Connell.
On the content side of things for Cosabella, the team is able to build more relationships with influencers; produce content that's emotionally engaging; and think of better ideas through brainstorming and strategic sessions.
“We're seeing some really great ideas from people, even those straight out of college that have joined the team recently," Connell says. "It gives them the time to participate, as before they might have been buried in work that they didn’t really feel inspired by anyway. AI is helping everyone realize their full potential, allowing us to explore, think creatively, and test and experiment more.”
Personalization Through Data
Instead of blasting an email to all subscribers on a certain date and time, Cosabella now has a fluid process where AI is testing, finding different patterns and seeing what type of persona is responding to what.
“It [AI] learns and starts to scale, and sends out an email as needed compared to sending it to everyone, depending on where the customer is in the customer life cycle,” explains Connell.
AI also allows Cosabella to measure KPIs because the data shows exactly where every customer is in the customer life cycle.
“We can see who’s defecting, what our win-back rates are among defectors, what our win-back rates are among inactives, what our repurchase rates are among new customers, etc.,” says Connell. “We have a lot of segmentation capabilities, so we can see what level they're at on our spending scale, and how much they're interacting with our ads, emails and the website. It really gives us some nice insights.”
Cosabella is seeing its use of AI pay off. The brand has doubled its email subscriber base and grown its email-driven revenues by more than 60 percent compared to 2015.
“We're able to interpret data in a visual, easy-to-understand way," Connell explains. "That allows my team to become more educated. It also helps our communication from the marketing department to, for example, sales and other departments that can benefit from this customer data.”
Connell wants brands of all sizes to be aware that these types of results are attainable with AI.
“It’s really an interesting time for the digital world right now. Don’t think that it’s [AI] out of reach — people need to explore it and see if it’s actually a possibility for them. I think a lot of people would be surprised that it is.”
Cosabella’s marketing director also stressed that there's no need to be afraid of AI because it will only help retailers do their jobs better and concentrate on what’s important rather than repetitive.
“Humans started doing things that are machine-like," notes Connell. "I don’t think we're meant to be in front of our computers doing repetitive tasks. AI is going to challenge us to become more human and reconnect with that strategic, creative, inspirational side of our existence.”