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This article was published on December 29, 2017

These startups use AI to “optimize” marketing messages

These startups use AI to “optimize” marketing messages
Amber Leigh Turner
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Amber Leigh Turner

Owner and Creative Director of January Creative

Owner and Creative Director of January Creative in Nashville, Tennessee, Amber has been a self-employed graphic and web designer for over ei Owner and Creative Director of January Creative in Nashville, Tennessee, Amber has been a self-employed graphic and web designer for over eight years, starting early in her collegiate career. Amber has a unique passion for not only all things design, but all things business as well. Freelancing as a student gave Amber an opportunity to write a student freelancing book, appropriately named Students Freelancing 101: A Start to Finish Course to Becoming a Student Freelancing, to help other students who want to start freelancing. Follow her on Twitter. Email her at https://21.co/amberleighturner/

In a world where artificial intelligence (AI) is gaining traction and being applied in a variety of ways, is it really possible for AI to do intuitive things better than humans can, such as marketing messaging? Marketing messaging seems like something that takes human brain power to fully develop, understand, and formulate to optimize return, so could an AI-powered service offer better results?

Several startups are aiming to do just that. They are utilizing AI to help optimize marketing messages and better deliver marketing and email campaigns that help increase open rates, conversion rates, click-through rates, and overall increase the ROI on marketing.

AI-messaging based on the crowd’s preferences

One of those startups harnessing the power of AI is Persado. Persado’s aim is to use AI and machine learning to “optimize” marketing messages, or, in other words, make them better for the receiver. In Persado’s words, they aim for “AI generated language that resonates the most with any audience, segment, or individual.”

Persado runs your current marketing message through its database of millions of different marketing phrases to tweak the phrase to get the best return based on how these marketing phrases yielded the customer behavior desired. The company has executed over 8,800 marketing campaigns and achieved over 100 billion impressions for their customers, including brands like Verizon, Microsoft, Expedia, and Vodafone. This has resulted in over $1 billion in incremental revenue that wouldn’t have otherwise been realized.

While it seems like Persado would work for large companies, they claim it can work for just about any type of company large and small. “Persado Professional helps individual marketers or employees with hassle-free predictive and data-driven message creation capabilities,” states Greg Dale, the COO of Persado.

Persado works in two ways: email and social. It not only can generate “high-performing language for email subject lines with integrations into email marketing platforms such as Bronto and Mailchimp,” but it can also “generate paid ad units for Facebook, including headlines, text overlays, and images that emotionally engage an audience,” details Dale.

Add some anxiety to your message

One specific way Persado has worked (that small businesses could utilize for themselves) is call-to-action phrases. According to Dale, Persado recently worked with Air Canada and discovered that incorporating a little bit FOMO (fear of missing out) in their messaging drove an email campaign to have 48 percent more opens and 220 percent more click-throughs by changing the call-to-action button text in an email from “book now” to “see deals.”

“Persado’s work gave Air Canada marketers the enhanced ability to examine how their audience would react to different kinds of emotional language and drive better engagement with the brand,” Dale explains.

In a way, it seems that Persado wants AI to make things more human and relatable, while us humans are busy making things less human and more technical. The company could make things much easier for SMEs by bringing a more refined and approachable element, “undoing” in a way this mentality that small enterprises have to do what the larger companies do in order to be successful. By taking their best marketing message and optimizing it, it allows small businesses to compete just as well as larger companies.

AI-messaging based on the customer’s preferences

Persado isn’t alone in their endeavors. While they may be trying to scale the ability to create better messaging for all who use their service, Motiva aims at learning about your customers and tailoring messaging to them.

According to David Gutelius, CEO of Motiva, “Motiva AI gives marketing teams superpowers. It’s like having a really smart assistant that can design and execute all your messaging optimization and testing, interpret the results, and put the latest learning back into your campaigns for you.”

One thing that Motiva handles well, adds Gutelius, is offering insight about new customer segments you can target; potential buyers that you may not have even been aware of based on previous results. Motiva then allows you to craft more effective marketing messaging to reach that new segment.

Gutelius further details that it’s not uncommon to see open and click-through rates double when using Motiva, and it isn’t just a one-off benefit—over time Motiva adapts to the results it is getting, making each marketing message more optimize and effective than the last.

He does point out though that Motiva works best for companies who are “driven by a genuine care for customers” that have an attitude toward incremental improvements all the time. If companies are looking just to input so-so messaging into Motiva to make it a diamond in the end, it’s likely not the best fit for them.

What makes Motiva different is that it learns from your customers’ decisions and adapts over time, where Persado creates messaging from a massive database of phrases from various other sources to find the best one.

A very close competitor of Persado is Phrasee. They focus more on email marketing by claiming to write “better subject lines and email copy” than humans can. They also have a few large clients, such as Dominos and Virgin Holidays, and state that Phrasee generally works best with brands grossing $10 million or more a year. This is because often these companies have enough data from which Phrasee can perform optimally.

What makes Phrasee different is that they don’t have a massive database of words and phrases like Persado does. Phrasee “creates localized models on a client-to-client basis that create natural language generation algorithms,” according to Roxy Cameron, digital marketing manager for Phrasee.

Phrasee even backs up their claims with case studies, one of which is Dominos. Their website states that after two months of using Phrasee, they increased their open email rate by 26%, their clicks by 57 percent, and had a 753 percent ROI.

End of the copywriter?

With Persado, Motiva, and Phrasee, where does that leave copywriters and advertisers in this new world of AI-optimized marketing messaging? Copywriters would still be needed to create the best marketing message that would initially be sent in to be optimized, as these AI-driven marketing messaging services need something good to start with. Once a message comes back “optimized,” it’s still up to a marketer or copywriter to make sure the message is as intended and still fits well with their marketing goals.

For advertisers, using AI to optimize their marketing messaging allows a competitive advantage that their competition may not be able to tap into. Being first out the gate with better marketing messaging may attract better and longer lasting attention, even if a competitor were to step in and use Persado or others in their messaging later on. It would allow advertisers to also better plan their marketing campaigns and hit their goals better should AII optimize marketing messages just right for their companies.

As for if Persado, Motiva, Phrasee, or the like would replace the likes of copywriters and marketing departments, that’s unlikely in the near future. Using AI to craft better marketing messages would be a huge upgrade to what they are currently doing, but not necessarily replace the humans, as these services require human input first, then human review afterward.

How small businesses can benefit

For small businesses and enterprises, using software by Persado or its competitors could help boost their business. By optimizing their messages and making conversions over time, these companies might even reach the point where they could hire a copywriter or marketer who could then take over and continue using AI optimize messaging and scale it.

The power of AI optimized messaging could open a whole new world for companies struggling to get traction with their marketing messaging, or wish to have better brand engagement and conversions. Does this mean that all of our messaging in the future will be optimized by AI? Only time will tell, but companies like Persado, Motiva, and Phrasee aim to do just that — having every marketing and email message be optimized and perform better than human messaging.

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