Expert: How AI is changing email

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Kristina: Why haven’t personalization and AI lived up to the hype, so far, in email marketing?

Eric Wanta, CMO, Kiwi for Gmail: When you look at trends that were predicted over the past few years, you’ll notice there are several recurring themes. While extremely relevant and impactful, things like Interactivity, mobility, targeting, personalization, and even artificial intelligence all end up running into the reality of actual performance and adoption. People see these technologies on the horizon and recognize their potential, but they usually take longer than expected to mature to the point where they’re easy to use and accessible to the typical marketing organization.  AI has been one of the more hyped trends recently, with the promise of being able to improve nearly every aspect of marketing while simultaneously instilling fear that scores of marketing jobs will be displaced.

Kristina: What advantages does AI bring to email marketing?

Eric: Personalizing at scale is too hard for humans to accomplish. People are now the bottleneck when it comes to understanding and acting upon on the seemingly limitless opportunities to analyze data, interpret what it means, develop new strategies and execute variations. The only way this can be done effectively and at scale is by leveraging technology like AI.

AI helps understand the past, optimize the present and predict the future. Artificial intelligence can do that manual work on behalf of marketers, leading to messages that are conceived with the end user in mind. Humans simply cannot replicate this degree of constant learning and optimize at the same pace. The right AI tools have the potential to do this in seconds, freeing up email marketers’ time to think more strategically.

Kristina: What hurdles are brands expect until AI becomes more common?

Eric: Like other technologies, AI will eventually transition to the mainstream when it becomes more integrated with leading platforms and tools. At that point AI won’t be another thing you need to implement, but rather something that is embedded in everything you already use and enables you to do more.

In the near term, data processing and campaign optimization problems will be the areas most likely to see AI. Marketers have already been using rules-based logic to automate campaigns and we will see artificial intelligence begin to play more substantial roles there as well.

Kristina: What can Marketers do to prepare for next year?

Eric: Don’t get caught up in the hype and be willing to experiment. Understand your business, your customers and your organizational strengths and weaknesses. Then take a step back and think about how each new trend or technology can be applied in value-added ways to your business and improve how you communicate with and sell to your customers. Take small steps and continue to learn.

Kristina: What can we expect from Kiwi for Gmail in the new year?

Eric: Kiwi for Gmail and our enterprise version, Kiwi for G Suite, are applications that provide a better way people to use Gmail and G Suite by freeing them from the browser and turning them into true desktop apps. Because of our focus on Gmail, we need to stay up to speed and anticipate where email is going and how people, and marketers who target them, will use it.



Kristina Knight is a freelance writer based in Ohio, United States. She began her career in radio and television broadcasting, focusing her energies on health and business reporting. After six years in the industry, Kristina branched out on her own. Since 2001, her articles have appeared in Family Delegate, Credit Union Business, and with Threshold Media.