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AI in email marketing: How to create your next campaign in minutes

· 19 min read · Email marketing · Feb 20, 2024
Josue from customer support

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools are transforming email marketing. The challenge? There’s a lack of concrete advice about how to use the tools and what you can do with them.

Until now… This article will show you how to use AI in email marketing for everything from planning your campaigns to creating newsletters, testing your content to see what works, and optimizing sending to boost opens and clicks.

We'll clearly demonstrate each step by creating a welcome campaign for a fictional online cooking course and provide plenty of useful pointers on how to get similar results. 

Once you're finished, it won't be long before you're working faster, creating better content, and growing your business along the way. Ready to start? Then load up your favorite AI tool and let's jump in!

Why use AI in email marketing?

If you already see results, why would you bother using AI in your email marketing strategy?

Here are some of the most compelling reasons:

  • AI tools can generate almost limitless ideas for email campaigns 

  • The ability to create content quickly means you can roll out more automated workflows to scale your conversion funnel

  • If you’re not a copywriter, AI can help you create quality content. It will also proofread your writing

  • You can quickly generate alternative versions of text, CTAs, buttons, and even entire emails to use in A/B testing

  • You can create images to make your campaigns sparkle, even if you don’t have design or photography skills

  • AI can optimize delivery time to increase engagement in every campaign

If none of the above benefits of AI speak to you, it’s still worth experimenting with the tools to become familiar with a technology that is seeing such rapid adoption.

Check out MailerLite’s new AI writing assistant

Our AI features are all you need to quickly create and send campaigns that get more clicks and opens. Create email content, subject lines, and CTAs in seconds and fine-tune them with different tones and styles. Then send your emails at the perfect time to each subscriber with AI-powered Smart sending. 

Learn more

AI makes generating ideas for your next email marketing campaign or automated workflow a breeze. Head to your chosen generative AI text tool—we used ChatGPT—and ask it to generate a list of ideas for emails related to your industry.

AI for email campaigns

Use AI to fill your campaign content calendar with newsletters your email list will love. We asked ChatGPT for 10 weekly email newsletter ideas to promote our fictional online cooking course. It came up with plenty of suggestions for interesting campaigns. 

Asking ChatGPT for email campaign ideas
Source: ChatGPT

Pick and choose the best ideas and add them to your newsletters. You can either use these as full emails or as sections within your campaigns. 

AI for email automation

You can also get specific and ask the tool to create an automated sequence for a particular use case. 

We asked it to generate ideas for a welcome email sequence. The tool came up with a 7 email marketing automation series that includes all the information a new student needs to know when they sign up for a cooking course.

An email welcome sequence planned by AI
Source: ChatGPT

The resulting email sequence is pretty good. But, you’ll still need to adjust the series based on your knowledge of your audience and business.

For example, combining emails 3 and 4 into a single message that covers all the essential tools and ingredients would reduce the number of emails you need to send and help people get to the action faster. 

You could also delete email 5, as it seems like a lesson on its own rather than a way to prepare users for a course. It may also be necessary to add your own ideas with course-specific content.

Want access to limitless content ideas generated by humans? Check out our friends at 1000 Email Ideas.

Now you have your sequence in place, you can start generating email copy. Natural language generation tools do this in seconds, meaning copywriters can save a ton of time when creating email campaigns.

MailerLite users can easily generate AI email content from our recently revamped Drag & drop builder

Just choose a block with text, highlight the placeholder text, and then hit the AI symbol shown in the screenshot below. From here, you can type in a prompt and the tool will generate the text for you. Not sure how to write good prompts? Then check our guide to email prompt writing here. 

MailerLite's AI text generation feature
Source: MailerLite

We asked the tool to write the first email in the welcome sequence mentioned above using this prompt:

Write an email titled "Welcome to our cooking course." The instructor is a Michelin starred chef called Chris, he will teach 10 secret chef skills to transform your cooking through videos. 

This generated the following email (we added the paragraphs):

Cooking course welcome email generated by MailerLite's AI
Source: MailerLite

This message contains plenty of good content. And it’s easy to add more information to your email if you want to—just open up the AI text generation box and write another prompt.

We asked the tool to: Mention that online cooking class learners also get access to an online community of learners where they can share tips and recipes. Keep under 50 words.

Which produced the following output:

AI content promoting a cooking course community
Source: MailerLite

With a little bit of editing, it’s easy to add this new paragraph to the one we originally generated above. 

When using AI to generate your own email content, you might need to make further edits to adjust the tone and language to match your brand. But for the purpose of this example, we’re delighted with the resulting email. On to the next step!

We all know that using a good email subject line can boost open rates. The good news? AI tools excel at short-form copywriting, and MailerLite users can quickly generate multiple subject lines using our AI subject line generator from the campaign builder. 

All you have to do is hit the AI subject generator button, add some relevant keywords to the modal, and select a tone.

MailerLite subject line generator
Source: MailerLite

Our tool will then generate a list of subject line options you can easily add to your email or use as inspiration for your own creations.

Subject lines generated by MailerLite AI
Source: MailerLite

As with all AI content, you can use the output as is or edit it to meet your needs. I think cutting the third subject line down slightly to “Master the Kitchen With Our Online Cooking Course” is a good option. 

The email is almost finished, but we can still improve it. One way we can do this is to include a call-to-action asking learners to sign up for the course community. This will strengthen the relationship between the brand and the customer, which is an essential part of a welcome email campaign. 

With our AI text generation feature email marketers can quickly generate a relevant CTA to add to their email and help drive conversions. See the example command and output below.

Prompt: Write a CTA encouraging people to sign up for a cooking course’s online community. Also generate text for a signup button.

Output: Become a Master Chef: Join Our Cooking Course Online Community Today

Sign Up Now

The above CTA focuses on the fact that the community can help you become a “master chef.” But is this the most compelling reason for potential customers to join?

You can find out by creating multiple versions of the CTA and running A/B tests to see which has the highest conversion rate. Our new workflow A/B testing feature makes testing different parts of automation workflows a breeze.

We decided to generate an alternative CTA that focuses on the benefit of being able to access expert help from within the community. Here is the prompt and the output.

Prompt: Write a CTA to join a cooking course community. The benefit is that the community lets you access expert help. 

Output: Unleash Your Inner Chef: Join Our Cooking Course Community Today for Expert Guidance and Perfectly Cooked Delights!

AI CTA rewritten by AI with a different angle
Source: MailerLite

This CTA is pretty good, and I really like the phrase “Unleash your Inner Chef.” I’m not so keen on the final part “for perfectly cooked delights.” With that in mind, it’s easy to remove that section of the sentence. 

This is a perfect example of how using AI alongside your own skills and knowledge will usually lead to the best possible results. Use the AI to generate ideas and then sculpt them with your own knowledge.  

When creating alternative versions of your CTAs, you can also experiment with tone. Just choose whether you want the sentence to be natural, catchy, professional, or persuasive from the drop-down menu. You can then choose the one you like the best.

Tone options in ai email
Source: MailerLite

Once you have some CTAs you’re happy with, you just need to automate an A/B test and track which one has the highest click-through rate. You can then set the most effective version as the default to create an optimized customer journey. 

Click here to learn more about how to set up automation A/B tests with MailerLite or the button below to read our ultimate guide to the topic.

AI technology isn’t just about text generation. There are plenty of text-to-image tools that will create images for your content. 

Graphic design tool, Canva, has a text-to-image generator that lets you create images in seconds. The tool stands out because you can choose from predefined styles and aspect ratios which makes it easier to create images that meet your needs. 

Just describe the image you want, select your styles, and the tool will generate multiple versions in under a minute. 

Once you're happy with the image, export it to MailerLite from within the tool's editor using our Canva integration. Search for MailerLite from the tool's share menu and follow the onscreen instructions to get set up.

AI image in Canva
Source: Canva

There are other options if you don’t want to sign up for a Canva account. Craiyon is a free and super easy-to-use AI image generator. Just describe the image you want to create and it will generate multiple versions.

AI-generated image of a steak
Source: Craiyon

Google has also released an AI image generator called ImageFX. It produces realistic images and has an easy-to-use interface that provides suggestions about what to include in your prompt. 

You can even generate AI images from within ChatGPT if you have a premium subscription with access to the GPT4 model.

AI is surprisingly good at proofreading your work. Grammarly is one of the most popular AI proofreading tools, and it has plenty of features that can help improve your emails.

The core product is a proofreader that checks your work for spelling and grammar errors and provides alternatives with explanations. But it goes beyond this with features that analyze the tone, intent, and clarity of your writing to help you communicate more effectively.

All you have to do is copy the text from MailerLite into the Grammarly editor. The tool will then highlight errors or places where it thinks you can improve. 

As you can see in the screenshot below, the AI-generated content has no major errors. But Grammarly has a couple of suggestions that could make it better.

Grammarly checking AI content
Source: Grammarly

If you don't have a Grammarly subscription, you can also use ChatGPT or other AI tools to check your work. The example below shows how effective asking the tool to remove errors from your writing can be.

We generated text for the second email in the sequence and added errors to the content. ChatGPT spotted and fixed each one. The tool was even able to change the order of “important note to” into “important to note,” despite this not being a spelling error. 

AI proofreading example
Source: ChatGPT

The benefit of this is that it takes seconds to check your work. The downside is that it doesn't show you where it made corrections or provide you with any context about the changes like Grammarly does.

At this point, your email should be ready to upload to MailerLite so you can create your welcome sequence automation. Here’s all you need to know about creating an automated workflow. You can even use one of our email automation templates to speed up the process.

Our final AI email use case is to use ChatGPT to generate code you can use to create HTML emails quickly. 

Just tell the AI what you want to include in your email. Mention the elements you need and details about how you want them to appear. 

In the example below, we highlighted:

  • The body content, font, font size, and container width 

  • The heading content, font size, and alignment

  • The button color, alignment, and text

We also uploaded an image to the MailerLite file manager and added the image URL, size and alignment to the command. 

ChatGPT generated the HTML code in seconds. We then pasted this into MailerLite’s HTML email builder and used the settings to add a preheader and a footer. This resulted in the following email design.

HTML email generated by AI and uploaded to MailerLite
Source: MailerLite

Most people will get better results faster using our Drag & drop email editor. It makes creating beautiful emails easy, and you can even start quickly with one of our email templates. See 3 of our favorites in the widget below.

But, using AI platforms to generate HTML code is helpful if you have specific needs. And once you have a basic template you like, it’s easy to adjust the body content and headers to create new emails quickly.

So far, we’ve focused on how email marketing AI tools can help with content creation. But AI for email will also help with other parts of your campaign too. For example, MailerLite’s Smart sending feature uses AI to discover the best time to send emails to each subscriber on your list. 

The tool uses data about subscriber behavior including click activity, open rates and email list sign-up times to identify when subscribers are active and automatically send the email at this time 

What’s more, Smart sending will continue to learn about each subscriber’s behavior habits with each send, allowing it to more effectively estimate when each subscriber is most likely to interact with your emails. 

To use the feature, create your campaign in MailerLite as you normally would. Then, when you’re ready to send your campaign, choose Smart sending from the options in the Schedule your campaign section on the Review and schedule page.

MailerLite schedule your campaign options including Smart sending
Source: MailerLite

You can then choose to schedule the campaign or start sending it immediately. The tool will send your email to each subscriber at the optimal time in the following 24 hours.

The examples in this article show how powerful AI algorithms can be. Follow the steps to create AI emails of your own or experiment with the tools to find new ways to optimize your digital marketing strategies. Let us know in the comments if you find any good tips!

We wanted to use AI as much as possible for the examples in this article. But nothing compares to the human touch. You may have better results by using the strategies to generate ideas and then taking a more hands-on approach when adding your own voice and style to your content. 

Ultimately, now is the time for experimentation with these tools. People and businesses who can work out how to get the most value from them will be one step ahead of the competition. So get experimenting! 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2023. We've updated it with new content and examples.

Duncan Elder
Duncan Elder
I’m Duncan, a content writer at MailerLite. I love building websites with no-code tools and writing about what I learn. I created my first site in 2011 with Blogger—it’s safe to say that website builders have improved a lot since then!