Does Artificial Intelligence have a place in email marketing? Can you use AI tools to outsource your email writing? These are some of the questions we're answering for you today after testing a few AI tools.
Curious to learn what we found?
SOME EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:
(0:12) Want to get more sales from your email marketing? Grab our Click Tricks.
(3:49) Fancy a 14-day FREE trial with Keap? (We give you TWO of our campaigns for FREE with it!)
(4:58) Should you use AI to write your emails?
(6:50) Where can AI be useful?
(7:47) AI tools can write about features and benefits.
(9:04) AI tools can't help you with ideas and stories.
(11:55) AI tools can't differentiate between products.
(14:32) AI can't target people with different levels of experience.
(17:42 ) AI tools can't create successful email campaigns.
(24:19) Subject line of the week.
We put a little something together for you. It's really cool and it's FREE (yes, it's cool and free - we're nice like that). If you want to make more sales from your email marketing, you need more clicks on the things that you're selling!
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We’ve been playing with a few AI platforms for a while now, and we have opinions about them. This isn’t about us bashing AI tools though. We believe they definitely have a place, but we’re going to get into some of the issues we found when using them.
So let's start by setting the tone with a quick example. This is what we typed into one of these AI tools to see what kind of marketing email they'd write for us:
“Welcome to the Email Marketing Show podcast for online course creators and membership site owners.”
Simple, right? Want to see what we got?
“So this is the first episode of the Z Z podcast. I am super excited about the new venture and hope you all enjoy it too.”
Not quite the introduction to our podcast we had in mind. In fact, this makes no sense whatsoever! Where does the "Z Z podcast" even come from??
So let's look at some of the issues we've found with these tools. And it's important to say that these findings apply to all the tools across the board. It doesn't matter how good the platform is. You might have the best one out there (and it's up to you to do your research and work out which one is the best for you), but they all have the same issues.
AI tools can be useful in what we consider to be simple copywriting - and that's where the stakes aren't massively high. So for example, if you have a membership site or a course and want to send an email to promote a new video, you might want to write a little paragraph that describes what that video is for. You'd pop the information into one of these tools, press a button, and get a few options back.
Bear in mind though that once you’ve put this amount of copy into the tool, you’ve almost done the job yourself! With a bit of tweaking, you could use the best out of the options the tool gives you, and it'd probably be good enough. But this is only for a piece of copy where the stakes aren't that high.
For us, it boils down to this - AI tools can only write about features and benefits. You're feeding information into these platforms, and the outcome is linear - it's features- and benefit-driven.
The problem is that people don't buy just on features and benefits - they also buy on emotion. And these tools are completely devoid of personality – of your nuances and your isms (as we like to call them). They don't have any authenticity because a robot wrote them!
There are no pieces of you showing in the turns of phrase and the way the emails are being worded. They're sterile - perfectly written, with no 'knack' about them. So if you want to write about basic features and benefits, by all means, you can try and use AI tools, see what they give you, and then manicure the content afterwards.
The issue with writing about features and benefits is that it's all about why you should buy a certain thing. And surely you don’t want to show up on the Internet every single day with another email that asks people to buy your product. Right? That's what so much email marketing out there already is – just bashing people over the head with offers!
The problem is that's all these AI tools can do. You can't use them to craft good, compelling, interesting stories about something that happened to you. Or pull something out of the news that might be relevant to your email list.
And one of the biggest struggles people have when it comes to email marketing is finding the things to write their emails about. Well, guess what? If you use AI tools as part of your email marketing strategy to write your emails, you still need to fuel the tool with ideas. And if you run out of ideas, the tools won't give you anything at all!
So if you’re worried about doing email marketing because you don’t know what to write about, AI isn’t going to save the day for that. Yet. And, of course, this is true as of mid-2022. Things might change, but we think we’re years away from AI getting close to what you can do with your digital marketing with some simple techniques.
Another factor to take into account is that you have to learn how to use these tools. It’s a bit like learning how to play an instrument – you need to know what parameters to put in. It’s not just a case of clicking a button - it's not that simple! You need to learn how to feed information into the tools in the correct way.
And once you’ve done all that, the platform will then spit out a few variations. You still need to go through them, pick the best one, and tweak it. There’s a lot of work involved!
Plus, let's not forget that AI tools can't use your personality, can’t express things as you would, and can't talk about what goes on in your life. They can’t share the metaphors or create stories, which are the most effective marketing tool in the world to help you create connections. And if AI tools could create stories, they wouldn’t be about you at all!
This means that AI tools currently can’t differentiate your product from someone else’s because they can’t communicate the unique elements of your framework. They don't know what makes it different and effective.
If we were to ask one of these AI tools to spit out an email to promote our membership, The League, we’d put in that it’s a membership that helps people write better emails through psychology-driven email marketing. But if someone else comes along and inputs similar information, the tool is likely to spit out similar emails.
The tool doesn't know about the five elements we teach our members. It can't know what happened during our coaching call last week. And it doesn't know about our Adaptive Offer framework that helps people put together compelling offers, which is something that sits in The Battle Plan section inside The League.
We can’t teach the tool what’s different about our membership. So if you look at the email that’s generated for us and compare it to one that's written for someone who offers a similar product, there wouldn't be much difference. And that's no good.
We also noticed that if you use AI tools to write your email content, you’ll struggle to target them to the right level of experience of your audience.
We tested this out by using a made-up gardening programme as an example. Initially, we tried the angle of people who might be starting gardening and would like to learn how to do it. But when we changed the parameters to address experienced gardeners, there was nothing different to target the advanced gardeners specifically. It still spoke about gardening at the most simplistic level.
So if you have sections of your audience with different levels of experience and expertise, you need more persuasive email copy to address them. And what an AI tool can generate for you is very bland. The copy has no personality and therefore nobody cares – it has nothing that makes it sound interesting. It's not copy that builds relationships. It's just fact-based copy that keeps asking people to buy. And this leaves all the heavy lifting to your sales page (assuming these emails are even good enough to get your subscribers there!)
In essence, what you can write with AI tools are bland emails that fit someone who hasn’t done any research into their product, their audience, their personality, or their brand values. And in this busy world, that’s not good enough anymore. You can't send emails like that expect to get results.
There’s nothing emotive in these emails – there are no good adjectives in there, and they’re not written following any copywriting principles to help persuade people. So it's still quicker for you to write your own emails. Never mind having to then sift through various versions generated by the tools and having to edit them!
The other issue we found when testing AI tools is that they can't build campaigns. Imagine you’re going to launch a new membership, and as part of your marketing strategy, you want to send 7 emails over 7 days. Every day, you'll feed information into the tool, sift through the versions you get back, pick the best one, edit it, and send it out. You'll do this every single day for the 7 days of your launch.
The problem is that your emails aren’t getting any better at handling objections or building a sales argument or conversation. They aren’t getting any more persuasive over the course of the 7 days. They're not stacking on top of each other to become more compelling - they're just going to be the same.
Because the tool doesn't know you're building a journey or a campaign of emails - not like the ones we teach inside The League. It's building one email at a time. And that means you won’t be able to take your subscribers on a journey. You’re just spitting similar emails at them day after day, and we know that singular emails do not work – they don't have the same impact, and that's why we don't use them!
So to test out these tools, we did a little experiment. The input we used to feed into the tools was:
“The League is a membership which helps online course creators sell more of their online courses with psychology-based email marketing.”
And this was the best example of an email generated by one of the AI tools:
“Are you sick of spending hours a day working on your emails? If you're like me, you're always looking for new ways to improve your business. And one of the best ways to do that is by learning about psychology. In this course, we'll teach you the psychology of how people respond to emails. We'll show you how to use it to create the best emails you've ever sent. You can also use this information to build better relationships with your clients. It's never been easier to send emails. And it's never been more important to understand why people respond the way that they do.”
When you look at this email objectively, it doesn't go anywhere. It talks around in circles and doesn’t even make an offer! You could easily take half of the words out, and the email would be as impactful. It’s full of wasted words, and while it at least makes sense, it’s not great.
The worse example we got was one that made us howl with laughter. And it goes like this:
“I don't have any money to spend on marketing. That's where you come in.”
Now, we said at the beginning that it wasn’t our intention to bash AI tools, but this isn’t right, is it?
We think AI has its place, but only when the writing is super simple. It’s more of a springboard for you to go and do something else with. You could give the output from an AI tool to your VA or someone in your team to work on, for example.
But it's not a solution to outsourcing email marketing, and in our opinion, AI tools are a long way away from being anything close to that. So let’s pay attention to AI – let’s watch it. It’ll definitely do incredible and amazing things in the world, but it’s not going to revolutionise email marketing anytime soon. So for now, your time is better off spent learning how to write your own emails and campaigns, just like we teach our members inside The League.
This week’s subject line is “Be less ‘Marie’” and we put the word ‘Marie’ in quotes because you always have to be a little careful when you do this type of thing. If the person receiving the email is called Marie (and you're likely to have a Marie or any other name you pick in your audience), then it might be a bit weird for them.
But this particular story was about a real person named Marie, who was Rob’s best friend at one of his old workplaces. Rob and Marie lost touch for years and years until one day they bumped into each other again. So the idea was to be less ‘Marie’ in the sense that you shouldn’t lose touch with your subscribers.
If you want to write better emails, come up with better content, and move your readers to click and buy, here's how. We put together this list of our Top 10 most highly recommended books that will improve all areas of your email marketing (including some underground treasures that we happened upon, which have been game-changing for us). Grab your FREE list here.
If you want to chat about how you can maximise the value of your email list and make more money from every subscriber, we can help! We know your business is different, so come and hang out in our FREE Facebook group, the Email Marketing Show Community for Course Creators and Coaches. We share a lot of training and resources, and you can talk about what you're up to.
This week's episode is sponsored by ResponseSuite.com, the survey quiz and application form tool that we created specifically for small businesses like you to integrate with your marketing systems to segment your subscribers and make more sales. Try it out for 14 days for just $1.
Not sick of us yet? Every day we hang out in our amazing community of Email Marketing Heroes. We share all of our training and campaigns and a whole bunch of other stuff. If you're looking to learn how to use psychology-driven marketing to level up your email campaigns, come and check out The League Membership. It's the number one place to hang out and grow your email marketing. Best news yet? You can apply everything we talk about in this show.
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