Can Artificial Intelligence (AI) really make a difference to an email subject line? Parry Malm, CEO of AI software company Phrasee, talks us through why you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of intelligent subject lines, and the advantages of using AI when creating them.
The Importance Of Intelligent Subject Lines
“The subject line is the crux of an email marketing campaign – if your subject line is bad, no one opens the message, and you’ve wasted your time on a campaign that makes no money”, says Malm. Often, companies underestimate the importance of writing good subject lines, and they end up as an afterthought during a campaign cycle. Also, the common “brute force” method of creating subject lines that involves “tricking your customers into buying your product” is often used for short term gain, but isn’t a sustainable model. Malm argues that a method of “longitudinal modelling” is a more effective long term solution – in other words, understanding the language that creates durable relationships with your customers. The capabilities of AI technology allow marketers to achieve this through creation of intelligent subject lines, which do more than just tricking your customers into making a purchase.
The Problem With Gut Instinct
Approaching email subject lines from a scientific standpoint is much more effective than writing them using gut feel. “Subject lines are usually written by one person thinking ‘I think this is good’, or ‘I think this is bad’ and trusting gut feel with no real rhyme or reason”, Malm explains. Ultimately, marketers write subject lines with their own response in mind – this is an unhelpful approach, because the audience’s response is not properly considered. Using advanced technological techniques to write your subject lines results in greater success, because this tailors the language to your audience’s response rather than your own.
Common Misconceptions When Writing Subject Lines
“Length of a subject line doesn’t matter”, explains Malm. There is a common misconception that subject lines should be punchy and short, but actually length can be used to your advantage if managed intelligently. Micro-testing, and adjusting minor variants such as words and emojis, is another aspect of the writing process that doesn’t make a significant difference in subject line success. This makes sense when you understand human behaviour. As Malm says, “humans don’t read words in a linear way. We read the entire sentence as a whole, and then make an interpretation from it all at once. Changing a word might have a minor effect, but it is not going to be a game changer.” Humans are actually bad at predicting how other humans will respond to an individual bit of stimulus – so it makes sense that intelligent technology would do a better job.
How Can AI Transform Your Subject Lines?
If humans are bad at predicting the way an audience will respond to a subject line, how can AI do it better? “Although any human can write a successful subject line, the difference with AI technology such as Phrasee is that it knows the subject lines that will lead to transactions. You’ve got to make sure what you send out is on point with everything your brand stands for. But you’ve also got to make money. Combining the two, and finding that local maximum response rate, is what Phrasee does.” One of the many examples of Phrasee’s success was writing subject lines for the X Factor Live Tour 2016 – the subject line written by Phrasee resulted in 417 per cent more revenue than those written by humans.
Creating subject lines from a scientific standpoint overcomes the inherent fallacies of the human condition. If your subject line testing and strategy is feeling tired, you too can harness the power of this exciting technology to reinvigorate your approach, save resources and improve performance in one.
Hear Parry talk more about exciting developments in AI at the upcoming Figaro Digital Marketing Conference on the 20th July. Join us and a host of 500 senior marketers as we explore the latest trends shaping the industry. Find out more about our expert speakers, read the agenda and purchase tickets here.