In a recent InternetRetailing webinar, Cutting through the AI hype: how using the right AI will improve your bottom line and help you to stand out in a crowded marketplace, Jasper Pye, head of product at Phrasee and Saul Lopes, customer lifecycle lead at Virgin Holidays, discussed how using AI in marketing could help increase both customer engagement and sales. Here’s a bulletpoint overview of their discussion.
• Jasper Pye, head of product at Phrasee, opened the webinar with an introduction to Phrasee, and how it goes about optimising email subject lines for clients including Virgin Holidays, and the part that artificial intelligence (AI) plays in that.
Virgin Holidays, its email problem, and how it tackled it
• Saul Lopes, customer lifecycle lead at Virgin Holidays, introduced the Virgin customer approach.
• Virgin had a complex email set up and a marketing team with no analysts. No culture of subject line or creative testing: “we’re too busy and don’t have enough resources”.
• “We had to change.” – but how to change without changing the infrastructure? Lopes started by proving the case with quick wins, bringing in new tools without changing the infrastructure.
• Improving results then enabled it to improve its infrastructure.
• “I wasn’t looking at AI: I just had a problem” Marketing manager wanted to test emails with five variants. How to test at scale without increasing the workload? “That’s when I found Phrasee and became its first full-service customer. Suddenly I had a tool able to test subject lines in the Virgin voice in less than a minute.”
• Example: used to send subject lines around the organisation, everyone would rewrite, have their own thoughts. Now Phrasee helps to create subject lines without human bias. “It’s data that’s proving the winner not human bias within the organisation.” Also saves much meeting times.
How AI helped
• Jasper Pye of Phrasee then spoke about how it works, through real time language generation, tested via third party technology in Salesforce.
• Saul Lopes of Virgin Holidays: one important finding was no sales message in the subject line. Used to be that discount sales messages (eg 10% off) would always be used ahead of others.
• But the highest performers, Phrasee showed, was that the highest performers weren’t those that talked about money but were those that provoked curiosity.
• Jasper Pye: Subject lines that don’t have directness that haven’t performed well. Those that do, that do perform well.
• Sometimes both perform badly: if start to focus on specific elements, and the ’someone told me’ element thing then it won’t work. Testing is vital.
• Saul Lopes: on how transformation worked visually. More personalisation, more subject lines, Improved year after year through transformation. Always continually improved on what did before – showed that both visually and financially to the organisation.
• Started to see two percentage point increase in open rates – to 22%. Multi million pounds of revenue as a result, since have a good attribution system.
• Results continued: first big campaign led to 66% increased awareness, 33% web traffic increase, 37% revenue improvement.
• Jasper Pye: it’s important is to spend time thinking about identifying the problem, then spend 5% of time looking to solve it using a machine.
• How to choose AI solution: Either it makes you money or it saves you money/time.