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

· 21 min read · Email marketing · March 28, 2023
Josue from customer support

The hype around artificial intelligence (AI) tools is reaching a fever pitch. The challenge? There’s a lack of concrete advice about how to use the tools for email marketing.

Until now… This article will show you how to use AI in email marketing for everything from planning your campaigns to uploading emails to MailerLite. We'll clearly demonstrate each step by creating a welcome campaign for a fictional online cooking course and providing 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

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.

AI makes generating ideas for your next email marketing campaign 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. This will help you fill your campaign content calendar with ideas 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

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 copy for each email. Natural language generation tools do this in seconds, meaning copywriters can save a ton of time when creating email campaigns.

Here’s what happens when we asked ChatGPT to create the opening email in the above sequence. 

Email content created by ChatGPT without additional context
Source: ChatGPT

This is a good first attempt. The issue is that the AI algorithm doesn’t know any details about the course, so the email is filled with generic information. 

At this point, you have two options: 

  1. Edit the generated email copy to make it more relevant to your course 

  2. Provide ChatGPT with information and let it rewrite the email

Since we’re building our email campaign with AI, we chose option 2. We gave ChatGPT information about the chef and the course and asked it to rewrite the content. This resulted in a far more specific message. 

AI-written email content with additional context
Source: ChatGPT

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!

Alternative writing tools ✍️

We used ChatGPT for this article because it's the most popular generative AI tool and it's free to use. But, there are many alternatives that may better suit your needs.

Some of the most notable platforms are:

  • Jasper: Jasper has a super easy-to-use UI with plenty of options that guide you through the content creation process. One of its latest and most useful features is a Chrome extension that lets you access the tool on almost any website. It also has a ChatGPT-style chatbot.

  • CopyAI: CopyAI’s UI breaks down the content generation process into steps so you can specify the tone and type of information you want to include in your email. It then uses this information to generate email ideas quickly. CopyAI has also recently introduced a ChatGPT-like interface.

  • Notion AI: NotionAI is a generative AI tool built into Notion. It's a good option if you already use the productivity tool, as it only costs $10 on top of your plan.

We all know that using a good email subject line can boost open rates. With that in mind, the current subject line, “Welcome to our online cooking course,” isn’t particularly inspiring. 

The good news? AI tools excel at short-form copywriting. Just ask your tool to generate alternative versions until you find one that will send your open rates soaring. We really like the first version in the screenshot below.

Email subject lines generated by AI
Source: ChatGPT

You could go even further and create a subject line based on specific best practices. Our guide to writing effective subject lines points out that most mobile email apps only display the first 40 characters of a subject line, and that people respond well to questions. 

With this knowledge, you can ask the tool to write subject lines under 40 characters or include a question. You could even use a tool like Coschedule's email subject line tester to see which of the generated options is likely to perform best according to the tool's criteria.

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. 

Using ChatGPT, email marketers can quickly generate a relevant CTA to add to their email and help drive conversions. See the example command and output below.

An AI generated email call-to-action
Source: ChatGPT

The above CTA focuses on the fact that the community lets you connect with other learners. 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. 

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

This CTA is good, but it would be better if it was more concise and started with the phrase “Join our online community.” Let's ask ChatGPT to restructure the text and keep it under 14 words.

An email CTA rewritten by AI
Source: ChatGPT

This CTA is much better! Changing the word “guidance” in the button text to “help” would improve it further by removing the repetition.

Now 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 in email marketing: Top tip 👇

It’s easy to use ChatGPT to create alternative versions of any text you use in your campaign. Just paste the text into the tool and ask it to write a different version. 

You’ll get the best results if you are specific about what you want from the alternative. Ask to make the text more concise, less formal, include a joke, or be written in a different style.

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

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 in under a minute. 

AI-generated image of a steak
Source: Craiyon

Midjourney is another image-generation tool. It requires you to sign up via Discord, and there’s a limit to the number of free images you can generate. But, it produces impressive results, like the graphic of a fancy steak dinner below. 

Image of steak generated by AI tool Midjourney
Source: Midjourney

While the images are well-designed, our online cooking course emails would benefit from real photos of the cooking and skills it teaches. But there are still other ways we can use these image-generation tools. 

For example, we asked Midjourney to generate logo ideas for the course. You can see the prompt we used in the screenshot below.

4 logos generated by Midjourney AI
Source: Midjourney

The fourth logo stands out, although the tool struggles to replicate text in its designs. You can fix this by using a tool like Canva to add the correct text to the image. Here is the logo I ended up with.

Logo for an online cooking course generated by AI
Source: Midjourney
Other text-to-image AI tools

There are plenty of text-to-image AI tools out there. One of the below options may be better suited to your needs.

  • Canva text-to-image generator: Canva's version of the tool is built into its editor. It's super easy to use if you are already a Canva customer.

  • Adobe Firefly: Adobe's recently-announced AI image tool is still in beta, but it has cool features like the ability to add textures and styles to text and text-to-image generation. The company plans to add the tool to its existing design software, which will likely make it one of the most popular AI image tools.

  • Runway: Runway has the ability to generate both images and videos from your text. You can also expand existing photos beyond their current borders and build custom models using a particular subject or style.

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.

What's more, the tool has a browser plugin that lets you check your work on almost any website and web app, including MailerLite! Once you've uploaded your AI-generated text to the MailerLite email editor, you can check it for errors or adjust the tone based on Grammarly suggestions.

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 improve the content.

Grammarly in MailerLite
Source: MailerLite

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. 

AI command to generate HTML email
Source: ChatGPT

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 some 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.

The points above focus on how you can use AI in the email content creation process. But there are plenty of other ways to intelligently optimize your email marketing.

Here are some of our favorites:

Validate emails on signup or in bulk

Use email validation tools like MailerCheck to verify your subscribers to maximize deliverability and remove bad addresses. The tool will check your list and identify the contacts that are most likely to bounce so you can remove them.

The image below shows an example report. You can see that it identified an email address without a mailbox that would have been unable to receive the email.

Email address verification report
Source: MailerCheck

While you can check emails in bulk, things get really impressive when you add these tools to your signup forms. They intelligently identify email addresses that could cause deliverability issues in real-time and stop them from ever making it to your list. 

Analyze email content before sending to maximize deliverability

MailerCheck also has an email analysis tool that scans the content of your email campaigns before you send them and identifies issues that could impact deliverability or open rates.

The tool will generate a report for every email, highlighting potential problems so you can fix them before hitting send. You can see how our AI-generated email performed in the screenshot below.

MailCheck inbox insights report
Source: MailerCheck

The email performed well, with the only issue being related to sender authentication, which is probably because we sent it from a test email account.

The tool will also intelligently predict whether your email will land in the recipient's main inbox or in their promotions, social, or spam folder. You can then optimize the content to ensure maximum opens.

Automate email marketing

Using AI in email marketing is all about working more efficiently. Automation is perhaps the most effective way to improve the efficiency of your workflows.

Here are some smart ways to use automation in MailerLite to save time and improve conversion:

  • Set up automated email sequences that go out when people take particular actions on your websites. For example, downloading a lead magnet, signing up for your app, or adding an e-commerce product to their basket. 

  • Automatically send emails based on how people interact with your campaigns. For example, if someone clicks on a link to a particular e-commerce collection, you can send further emails with related products. 

  • Segment your users automatically based on behavior. For example, if they click on a link to a blog post about marketing, you can add them to a segment of users that is interested in marketing and then send targeted content in the future. 

There are almost unlimited ways that you can use email marketing automation to work smarter and faster. And once the workflow is set up, it will keep generating results without you lifting a finger.

Hit the link below to read our guide to email marketing automation.

The examples in this article show how powerful AI can be. Follow the steps to create AI emails of your own or experiment with the tools to find new ways to optimize your marketing. 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! 

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!
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