How to Automate Email Personalization While Maintaining Creative Control
When you’re interacting with millions of email subscribers, the only way to personalize content for each person on your list is with automation. But within many organizations, the idea of giving a machine control over email content isn’t exactly an easy sell — especially for brands that have spent decades refining their voice and visuals. How can marketers and publishers ensure that their artificial intelligence (AI) software won’t assemble inappropriate combinations of messaging and imagery?
The balance boils down to three essential factors. Here, we’ll look at the core components of an automated email campaign that keep personalization faithful to a brand’s unique voice.
Factor No. 1: Customized Reusable Creative Assets
Using automated personalization doesn’t have to mean handing all creative control over to the machine. Within your email templates, you can allow the AI to personalize one zone (for example, the hero image) or any combination of multiple zones, or use a “fully baked” creative with the messaging designed right into the image. It’s entirely up to you.
By storing all your individual creative assets in a content library, you give AI the room to create a broad spectrum of email variations. Furthermore, you save the time and resources you would ordinarily spend on designing new creatives for each email.
Factor No. 2: Guardrail Controls Aligned With Your Brand Objectives
Once you’ve set the AI to work within the designed templates and allow creative assets to swap in the specified zones, you’ve struck an effective balance between personalization and creative control. You can further refine that balance by giving the AI specific rules that support your brand's marketing objectives.
For example, you might tell your personalization software never to combine creatives for raincoats and sunglasses in the same email. You might tell it never to include a promotional offer with high-ticket jewelry, or to only feature ink pens in emails containing creatives for other office supplies.
You should also have the opportunity to check the variant results before a campaign sends. If the software generates an unfavorable combination, add a rule to the list and generate new emails within those constraints.
Factor No. 3: AI That Learns and Gets Smarter Over Time
As effective as guardrail-guided personalization is, that’s only the beginning of what machine learning can do for your campaigns. The real power of AI lies in its ability to not only follow the rules you set, but to learn from them and to get better at personalization as it learns from each interaction with your readers.
After the machine runs for a while and you’re confident that it’s personalizing emails in a way that makes sense for your brand, try loosening up the constraints a bit and seeing what innovations it comes up with.
You might discover, for example, that two seemingly unrelated products sell better when they’re presented in the same email, or that products in a certain category sell just as well without promotions as they do with them. As the machine learns, it will continue to add value to your campaigns in surprising ways.
With the help of guardrail controls like these, you’ll make sure your automated emails not only align with your brand’s voice, but actively work to support your marketing goals. Strike the right balance and your customers will think the unique, curated email they received was designed from scratch just for them. That’s a win for both your brand and every subscriber on your list.
James Glover is the co-founder and CEO of Coherent Path, an email marketing optimization and email personalization solutions provider.