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BizReport : Email Marketing : January 23, 2018

Big brand turns over email subject line copywriting to AI

Would you trust AI with your brand voice and email subject lines? That's exactly what Virgin Holidays in the UK has done, and with promising results, too.

by Helen Leggatt

Virgin has never been a company to shrink from new ideas. But it was an old idea - testing - that really brought Virgin Holidays UK's marketing into the realms of AI. When Customer Lifecycle Lead at Virgin Holidays, Saul Lopes, joined the company in 2015 he says there was no culture of testing. The reasons for this are, he said, "We didn't have the time, resources or technology to really optimize our customer experience".

With big plans to overhaul its online user-experience, and grow digital sales to 50% of revenue by 2020, the Virgin Holidays UK team looked to industry experts to help build and execute on a grand scale.

Virgin Holidays UK sought out new, innovative technology, such as AI marketing solutions, for investments across several of its digital channels. Lopes engaged with Phrasee, a London-based marketing software company that employs AI to boost email response rates, along with others such as Adobe and Moveable Ink, to begin the journey.

That was three years ago. Virgin Holidays UK are now reaping the rewards.

"Over the past 3 years Phrasee has increased Virgin Holidays email open rates by 2% points," writes Phrasee in their blog,"and that 2% points of incremental open uplift has generated several million pounds in revenue from their email marketing channel."

So, how does Phrasee work?

In a nutshell, Phrasee uses AI to generate marketing language that out-performs humans in a much, much shorter time than had briefs and copywriters been involved. Advanced technologies, such as natural language processing and generation, Markov Chain Monte Carlo simulations, and Bayesian Inference, are used to quantify, generate and optimize email subject lines that increase opens, clicks and conversions. Furthermore, the more Phrasee is used, the more it learns about a brand's audience.

And it's not just email subject lines that Phrasee can be used for. Also listed among its talents are body copy, calls to action, and triggers. Other marketing tasks are also being automated thanks to AI systems including running and evolving paid ad campaigns (Albert), or SEO (BrightEdge Insights).

What does this mean for those in marketing roles? Will AI muscle in on their profession?

According to Mike Kaput, director of the Marketing AI Institute, marketing jobs as a whole won't disappear overnight but "AI will certainly automate, and already is automating, lower-level marketing tasks like scheduling social shares, optimizing posts, and testing subject lines. If your job consists of a lot of repetitive marketing tasks like these, then you may want to consider how to evolve your role and skill set, as it will become more cost-effective and productive to have AI handle these types of activities."

Tags: artificial intelligence, copywriting, email marketing, marketing, technology, trends

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