Sunday, 26 August 2018

The out of box salesman

Small Business Financing: Equity, Debt, or Convertible Debt?

Small Business Financing: 

(Which Option Is Really Best For You?) 

Equity, Debt, or Convertible Debt?


Alex Liu

Written by Our Guest Alex Liu
This article was originally published on UpCounsel.

When considering small business financing, it’s important to understand all your available options. Otherwise, investors can easily take advantage of you and offer unfair terms. So before raising any money, learn if equity, debt or convertible debt financing makes the most sense for you to grow your business.

Equity


Raising capital through equity is a popular, if not the most popular choice, for entrepreneurs to pursue. Investors buy stock in your company, giving them a financial stake in the future
success of your business.

How It Works


You set a specific dollar amount for what your company is worth. Based on that valuation, investors agree to give you money in exchange for a certain percentage of your company. Investors receive compensation based on the percent of stock they own once you sell the company or go public.

Pros


  • All your cash can go toward your business rather than loan repayments.
  • Investors take on some risk and don’t have to be paid back until you’re doing well.
  • Investors often have valuable business experience.
  • Since investors have a financial stake in the success of your business, they are motivated to offer sound guidance and valuable business connections.

Cons


  • Equity financing has the highest legal bills and takes the longest time to close, making it the most complex small business financing structure, says Forbes contributor and growth consultant George Deeb.
  • Selling shares of your company makes it very difficult to get them back.
  • You will most likely lose control of part of your board to your investors.

Debt


Debt-based fundraising is the form of small business financing most small businesses end up
choosing, says Fund able. It’s also the easiest to understand.
Money is loaned to you with the agreement you’ll repay it over time with an established
interest rate.

How It Works


You borrow money with an agreement to pay it back with interest within a specific time frame.
You will also have to offer your lender some form of collateral, which are liquid assets you will give up if you cannot make your loan payments.

Pros


  • You will raise capital much quicker than with equity small business financing. This is especially true of smaller cash amounts.
  • You can keep 100 percent of your company, along with 100 percent of its profits.
  • Interest payments are tax-deductible.

Cons


  • You must be completely confident you can make your loan payments in cash each month. 
  • If you don’t, lenders can make you sell your business in order to get their money back
  • Interest payments can become one of your largest business expenses.Commercial lenders will demand small business owners to personally guarantee the loan and offer personal assets as collateral, even if your company is structured as a corporation or limited liability company, according to Forbes.

Convertible Debt


A convertible debt small business financing structure is a mix of debt and equity financing. The money raised is considered a loan, but at some future date the loan can convert to equity if the lenders so choose.

How It Works


You will negotiate an interest rate to pay back the loan. This will also be the interest rate for
those lenders who decide not to convert any debt into stock. The details concerning how lenders can convert the debt into equity are negotiated at the time of the loan. For the most part, that means agreeing to give lenders a discount or warrant on an upcoming round of equity fundraising.

You will also set the valuation cap, or maximum company valuation, at which lenders can convert debt into equity. If investors decide not trade in their loan for shares at this predetermined valuation level, they can no longer do so at a future date.

Pros


  • Transaction costs are low and the process moves quickly.
  • If you don’t want to set a company valuation, which involves a lot of uncertainty and risks for new startups, a convertible debt structure for small business financing makes a lot sense, says Covestor CEO Asheesh Advani.
  • Using convertible debt protects investors from dilution in future financing rounds.

Cons


  • Investors are uneasy giving money without knowing the exact share of a company they will own, and you might have to offer steep discounts on equity in order to get them to agree to the terms.
  • You may be forced to set a valuation before you are ready in order to avoid not affordable loan repayment expenses.
  • In the end, it’s best you make your final choice, best on which specific option, works best for you, not just now, but in the immediate future as well.


Alex began his career as a scientific legal consultant and then as a journalist researching and reporting on health policy and health sciences. At UpCounsel, he enjoys researching and analyzing data to help businesses make informed decisions. In his free time, Alex is working on a documentary.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

The out of box salesman

5 Ways To Increase Customer Retention

5 Ways To Increase Customer Retention 

Guest Post By : Jennifer Arellano


5 Ways To Increase Customer Retention
5 Ways To Increase Customer Retention
Customer retention is one of the integral part of survival of brand in the era of this cut-throat  competition where brand loyalty almost does not exist.
Let us understand that new customer aquistion  is costly and time-consuming. There is a long gestation period where a new prospect or lead gets converted into paying customer.

Mainting customer retention is a right way for the stability of the brand.
The following blogpost focuses light on the ways of increasing customer retention.



I hope that readers will enjoy the views of author (Jennifer Arellano) in meaningful constructive way.


Thursday, 15 February 2018

The out of box salesman

The out of box salesman is deeply humbled to get The Sunshine Blogger Award 2018

The out of box salesman is deeply humbled to get The Sunshine Blogger Award 2018


The Sunshine Blogger Award 2018
The Sunshine Blogger Award 2018
Well. I was feeling little feverish and was resting at home. I could not attend my work-place. Suddenly, my smartphone popped a message for being nominated for "The Sunshine Blogger Award 2018".

I was ecastic. Who does not like to be recognized for thier creative works ? Everybody likes. It was a surprise. It was an unexpected event of the day that made my day. Considering the fact that I have rarely won awards except in the corporate world where I belonged in the past as techie software engineer.

This award is different in so many other ways. You are solely chosen based on your creative output irrespective of biases like nationality,ethinicity,race,color and economic status. Sometimes corporate awards are based on some degree of human interpersonal relations besides your hard-work and professionalism.

This award adds fuel to bloggers creativity. It is a great motivation to write and share. The more you write and  the more you share and the more people read , it is good for blogging community. We are increasing the entropy of knowledge meant for humanity. The knowledge can be of economic value having professional experience or t can also be a trivial story of a person's day to day life.  But ultimately, every bit of information makes the world to live a better place.

What is the Sunshine Blogger Award 2018?

This is an award given to the Bloggers by the Bloggers to be appreciated by the Bloggers. It motivates the Bloggers to pour more creativity,love and enthusiams in their work.

What are the Rules to be fullfilled? 

The blogger can accept the award or he/she can reject it. However, when accepted there are some rules to be followed. Following are the rules:


  • You need to write a post about accepting the award thanking the blogger who nominated you for the award.
  • You need to answer the questions given by the blogger who nominated you.
  • You need to nominate other bloggers who you wish to receive the award.
  • You need to display a selection of questions for those you wish to nominate for the award.
  • You need to comment on each of the nominees blogs letting them know that you have nominated them and give a link back to your post.
  • You need to list the “rules” and display a The Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post.

My Nominees

Goregaon Highway Pulse
http://goregaonhighwaypulse.com

AugRealityPedia (ARP)
https://www.augrealitypedia.com/

Updateland
https://www.updateland.com

elearninginfoit
https://elearninginfoit.blogspot.in/

Shoutmehindi
https://shoutmehindi.com

Please answer the following same questions which were given to me.

Answers to Questions from "At Home With Nich"


If you could be any animal what would it be and why?

Chimpanzee. Because they are aspiring to be human being.


If you could go back in time when would that be and why?

It would like to be in the time and space when Albert Einstein was working as professor.


If you could change one thing about the world we live in what would it be?

The boundries of countries are not needed. Seriously. I mean why do we have so many countries ?  So many countries and so we have so many problems. We need to have many governments.
We need to have millitaries for each Government. We spend lots of money to maintain the militaries. We spend on weapons. We are spending on stuff with which we can wipe humanity completely on earth one day. Some fanatic mind need to press one button only.

Ironically, at the other end we are looking for life at other plantes. SETI. We are sending signals for finding life similar to us in deep space.Again we are spending millions and millions on that.

So far so good. At one end we are making arrangements to wipe us from here and at the other end we are looking for somebody similar like us somewhere else. But what about so many of us who are living here in absolute poverty?  They sleep hungry and we are not doing anything for that.

What is the most influential memory you have that has impacted on your life today?

My college years when I used to study books out of my syllabus buying from them at cheap prices from road side.

If you could travel to anywhere in the world where would that be?


The last train has left for the day and you need to call someone to come and pick you up, who would you call?

Well. It depends in which part of the world.

If you were to have a film made about your life who would you want to play you ?

Myself for myself.

If you had the chance to move to another country to live where would that be?


Invent or name a cocktail that best describes your personality.  With or without alcohol whatever is your preference.

Mojito. I would like to have with the Bacardi White Rum.

You are hosting a dinner party and you can invite 5 people, who would you invite?


My all friends

Cheese or choclate?

Choclate.




Friday, 1 December 2017

The out of box salesman

Sentient AI - Improving E-Commerce Customer Experience

Authored By Sentient AI

SentientAI - Improving E-Commerce Customer Experience


The market for artificial intelligence (AI) is booming. Many enterprises are racing to implement AI technologies hence the significant increase in its adoption. Artificial Intelligence is a computer science technology that seeks to create computing devices that mimic human intelligence. A recent survey shows that nearly 38 percent of business organizations are already using AI and the growth is projected to reach over 60 percent by 2018. Another research study has predicted a more than 300 percent increase in AI investments for 2017 paralleled to 2016. IDC has also estimated that the AI market will rise to over $47 billion by 2020 compared to $8 billion in 2016.


E-Commerce Growth


E-commerce – selling goods and services over the internet – has been expanding immensely. Many customers are now shopping online or are at least purchasing most of their necessities, including groceries, fashion products, or anything online. Many companies have therefore joined the rat race to seize something out this multi-billion dollar industry market share. These organizations understand that e-commerce is not only about delivering products, but also creating user-friendly customer interfaces and enhancing customer shopping experience. It is what makes customers loyal towards e-commerce sites, turn them into life-long customers, as well as attract potential customers.


When a customer visits an e-commerce site nowadays, it shows him/ her recommended products that they would want to buy. E-commerce sites manage to do this with the use of artificial intelligence technologies. Businesses that have adopted e-commerce understand the importance of enhancing the experience of e-commerce customers to ensure they do not get swayed away by their competitors. Artificial intelligence also supports by increasing the e-commerce customer experience and prompts them to buy products at an opportune time which is appropriate for products that need to be replenished including food, drinks, and personal skin care products.




To take e-commerce to that level, Sentient AI is one of the technologies that companies across the globe are adopting. Sentient AI has some innovative AI-based techniques that help with enlightening customer experiences at e-commerce sites while still helping with improving the efficiency of the site functioning. Artificial intelligence technology is no doubt the next generation technology that will transform business online marketing strategies. Sentient AI technology provides a higher level of intelligence and is paving the way for revolutionary e-commerce technologies for enhanced and better consumer experiences for all e-commerce businesses.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

The out of box salesman

5 Ways Augmented Reality Apps Are Transforming Our Everyday Lives

Guest Post By Author Serena Garner - Y Media Labs

About Y Media Labs


Y Media Labs is a full service digital agency on a mission to help our clients see what they cannot see themselves, and create incredible digital user experiences. We work alongside elite brands to uncover what we believe to be simple truths and most importantly, show them how an amazing experience can revolutionize the way they interact with their customers.

 5 Ways Augmented Reality Apps Are Transforming Our Everyday Lives
 5 Ways Augmented Reality Apps Are Transforming Our Everyday Lives


Pokeman Go! introduced the concept of augmented reality (AR) to the masses. By integrating layers of information and imagery over the physical world, AR for native app design and other digital products enhance user experiences in ways never seen before and likely in ways we have not yet imagined.

Here are just five of the exciting possibilities that augmented reality technology promises for the future:

E-Commerce


More now than ever, people are shopping online, and the market will continue to expand for years. The single biggest pitfall, however, is product returns – currently the result of over 30% of actual sales.

The main reasons for these returns are clothing not fitting as planned and unmet expectations. With AR, companies are developing apps that allow consumers to see clothing on their own bodies or products right from the comforts of home. Doing so sets the appropriate expectations about a product and increases customer satisfaction as they truly get to “try before they buy”, even virtually.

Product and Information Search


Augmented reality can match the physical world to sophisticated mapping. As a result, the shopping experience will change with AR apps that direct consumers to specific stores that offer the item they need, map directions to get there, and even guide them inside the store itself to find the items. Comparison shopping and product research will be almost instantaneous as information feeds into an AR app to help make better buying decisions.

Product Design and 3D Modeling


AR has the potential to push the boundaries of creativity in product design while eliminating the time and money spent on 3D model prototypes. Augmented reality apps can realistically demonstrate a car interior design without the need for a test build. Space planners can see the results of their designs in real world environments. Traffic planners can demonstrate virtual scenarios for improving travel efficiency that go far beyond best-route recommendations of GPS apps.

Gamification


Whether it’s business applications, shopping channels, or information-seeking, user engagement is a primary measure of success. By integrating game concepts into more areas, AR can improve employee morale at work, reinforce brand loyalty, or enhance employee, consumer, and student training.

By acknowledging behaviors with tangible and intangible rewards, AR can help increase interest and performance. This is accomplished through tracking team success rates, leader boards for competitive situations, or training scenarios keyed to specific job skills.

Healthcare


AR offers enormous potential for the healthcare industry. Everything from enhanced handheld diagnostic tools to surgery testing and planning will benefit from AR apps. Even remote areas with limited medical resources will have access to doctors who will be able to use AR for treatment assistance and recommendations.

Workplace Safety


The work environment will become more efficient and safe with AR apps that track production, monitor equipment at a glance, or suggest refinements to assembly lines. Employees will be safer with AR apps that track people in the vicinity of potentially dangerous equipment, monitor air quality, or guide them through chaotic work environments.

The Revolution Is Here


AR has already found ways to improve existing apps, from mapping systems that display routes overlaid on the physical world, gaming systems for leisure activities in most any location, and online shopping demonstrations that show how products will actually look. As consumers, employees, and other users become more familiar with the process, AR has the potential to be a multi-billion dollar industry that crosses all industry verticals and retains interest from everyday individuals.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

The out of box salesman

The Right Way to Advertise on Facebook-A Beginner’s Guide-By Author Ilan Nass

A special guest post from Author : Ilan Nass


The Right Way To Advertise on Facebook - llan Nass
The Right Way To Advertise on Facebook- By llan Nass
Changing the oil in your car without referring to a manual or consulting an expert is foolhardy. The same can be said about businesses that choose to advertise on Facebook without attempting to understand best practices or consulting a Facebook marketing agency.


Taking the leap into Facebook advertising should be done with knowledge of how to launch, run, and optimize your campaign. You should review the built-in tools, clarify goals, understand how to measure your ad’s performance, and be prepared to test each Facebook ad several times.


If you want to beat the 1.59% average CTR of retail ads on Facebook, you’ll need to understand few basics of marketing on this platform. Here’s a beginner’s guide to Facebook advertising.


Split test, modify and test again
Split testing helps advertisers pinpoint the highest performing elements of their ads. It also aids them in identifying what isn’t working and fixing it to optimize results.


Your Facebook advertising campaign should be structured to run two to three variations of ads that fit one promotion. With the recent introduction of Facebook dynamic creative ads, A/B testing has become far more simple and consolidated.


Change just one detail between the ads; this will allow you to identify the element that’s working (or not) and it makes it simpler to turn off the under performing ads. Calculate which is the most successful by tracking ads with the lowest CPC and highest CTR. These are the ones that should point to the elements that are working, whether that’s the visuals, keywords, headline, or CTA.


Customize Your Audience


Facebook has some of the easiest to use and best custom audience tools of all platforms.


By allowing marketers to zero in on specific audiences based on a wide number of variables such as visiting your website, living in a particular region, or having specific interests, it allows them to create better opportunities to convert users to customers by delivering targeted content to their Facebook feed. You can also deliver materials and interact directly with customers through Facebook Messenger marketing. Wherever you decide to advertise, the tools at your disposal for customization are unrivaled.


Refine Audience Insights
Audience insights will help you to understand your customer demographics, their behavior, preferences, and tendencies. These help you to hone in on an audience most liekly to engage and convert.


For instance, if you’re targeting people who like ‘biking’, you’ll have an audience in the millions. By using the Facebook Audience Insights tool you can search for related terms to get specific with your targeting.


Once you have selected the specific audience it’s time to observe and monitor. Refine your audience further to generate more specific results or use the results you have to create a few Facebook ads that speak to that demographic.
Specify your destination
Carefully direct where your CTA is sending users. Having people land on the homepage of your website is wasting the effort put into your Facebook ad. Instead, you need to send them to a targeted landing page or other detailed part of your company’s site to increase the chance of generating a lead and making a conversion.


11% of Facebook advertisers are losing impact by sending their clickers to their website homepage. A further 20% are still missing the opportunity by sending people to their Facebook page. Just 69% of marketers get it right and send users to a specific landing page, which encourages conversions with tailored text and imagery. A great landing page needs to compel users to the action you enticed them to in your Facebook ad.

Follow the above to ensure your Facebook ad campaign has the right combination of research, targeting, and testing. Doing so puts you on track for making the most out of this affordable and effective digital marketing solution.

Monday, 30 October 2017

The out of box salesman

Quora as a marketing tool

Quora as a marketing tool
Quora as a marketing tool

Quora as a marketing tool


Quora can be used as a great marketing tool. Quora marketing strategy is one of the most powerful strategies in the hands of Digital Marketing people.

It is better than Facebook, Google+ and other Social Media Marketing platforms for long-term strategy of  "Content Marketing" or "Inbound Marketing".

What is Social Media Platform?

In this modern age, it is the invisible media surrounding us twenty four hours and seven days. It is  like air which you can feel it every time. It has easy accessibility with finger touch because of smart phones.

Most of the Social Media Platforms are Web 2.0 Internet based applications controlled and driven by central servers on the Internet. The main driving force of these media platforms are User-Generated Content (UGC) which is generally in the form of comments about people , products and services,
emotional stories and content of real people's stories,life-event drama,information sharing and real-world news.

The nature of social media platform


Social Media Platform is a gathering of people on INTERNET. Every person needs to have identity on the platform with his/her own social circles  which are generally in the form of groups or communities. Most of the Social Media Platforms are driven by User-Generated Content (UGC) and are based on the philosophy of sharing information to attract people in order to increase it's reach of network breadth-wise and depth-wise. People share lot of  information on Social Media in the form of text,images,video and in other formats. Most of the time , their opinions and feelings are honest, frank, just and up to the mark. Since it is driven by User-Generate Content (UGC) of viral nature which spreads like fire, it offers vast opportunity for business communities to do:
 

  1.    Market Research for their products/services
  2.    Sales Forecasting for their products/services
  3.    Understanding the need of new products/services
  4.    Understanding the brand image of existing products/services
  5.    Interacting with existing customers of products/services
  6.    Understanding consumer psyche and behavior for existing products/services
  7.    Solving customer complaints and grievances
  8.    Competitive analysis of rival products/services

Types of Social Media Platform


There are many types of Social Media Platforms:

  • Community or Group Based e.g. Google+
  • Informal Social Media Platforms where business is not supposed to be conducted like  Facebook,Instagram, Pintrest and Twitter,etc.
  • Question and Answer based or Knowledge Based Social Media Platform e.g. Quora.
  • Profile or Identity Based where sharing,chatting,commenting and friendship  is prime concerned  e.g. Facebook,Google+.
  • Social Media Platforms for Professional Linking to advance in career e.g. LinkedIn.

 
The above are just broad classification. Eventually , it must be understood that wherever there will be large gathering of people somehow business will be conduced formally or informally. Google+ is also community based social media platform which is driven by profile identity. It is gaining popularity among businesses  for Digital Marketing. It is more or less like Facebook and late entrant as far as Facebook is concerned.
 
 Even popular platform like Facebook has started allowing people to create their own pages (personal or professional) and  on-line stores in order to transact business. It also offers advertising services in the form of Page Boosting and liking at economical rates.

LinkedIn is profile or identity based social media networking website where focus is on career opportunities.It also offers facility to create company or business pages to establish professional identity of organization.

Social Media Sites
Social Media Sites
 

Some major players among Social Media Platforms


  •      Google+
  •      Facebook
  •      Twitter
  •      Instagram
  •     LinkedIn
  •      YouTube
  •      Pintrest
  •     Reddit
  •      Quora

The fundamental comparison is between a Social Media Platform where community based profile identity is created and "Quality of content is not given utmost important" and a platform where "Quality Of Content is given utmost important". So we will shift our focus of discussion between
Facebook and Quora for comparative analysis. 


How Quora strategy gels with the fundamental principle of Digital Marketing?


"Content is King" in Digital Marketing. It is the content which pulls eyeballs and generates leads which can later be converted into satisfied customers. Let us focus on Quora marketing tips.

Quora is a Social Media Platform which offers some unique features to do this. For example:
 

  1. It offers question and answer based knowledge sharing where most of the time answers are created by the people who have  deep knowledge of the subject in question. Quora platform monitors the answers given in real-time and has authority and capacity to remove answers or content which are not appropriate and generally of  nature such as "one line comment" given as answer.
  2. It maintains the quality of content with out any restriction on topics.
  3. Since answers are "upvoted" or "downvoted" based on the readers or users , naturally top quality of content gets the highest position. It also remains on the top position based on "views or eyeballs" for an answer.
  4. Readers or users can follow individuals or topics of their interest.
  5. Readers or users can themselves ask questions.
  6. If a good quality of answer is written, it remains on the top and it keeps attracting eyeballs for very long time.
  7. Unlike Facebook posts and other Social Media Platform posts, where your content is pushed down after some time irrespective of it's quality.
  8. Generally, people do not bother about quality of content on other platforms. Facebook posts have tendency to settle down at bottom unless it is extremely eye catching,bold and unique in nature. 
  9. We can say people have become desensitized up to certain degree with Facebook posts because
  10. content quality is rarely moderated.
  11. Facebook , Google and Yohoo also have question and answer based Social Media Platform , but somehow they could not make great impact in this segment. Quora emerged as the winner.

You can find lot of statistics about Facebook regarding user demographics and traffic here:

Facebook Statistics

Facebook Penetration In the World


Advantages for Social Media Marketing People and Business Community


Quora is driven by quality content and quality content is heart of Digital Marketing. The impact of answers given on Quora given by business owners  regarding their products/services is huge in terms of :


  1. Content remains trending at top for long time. Quora content which is generally in the form of answers can have images,text, videos as well as links to other websites.
  2. If product/service reviews have lot of  "upvotes" and positive comments along with comment "upvoting", it servers as good quality content for Inbound Marketing.
  3. For negative comments or feedback , specific customer's grievance can be addressed and closed transparently on the spot where negative comment is written by solving customer's query.
  4. It is possible to redirect customer's attention to the website of the concerned product/service by specifying website links.
  5. The content provides source of good inbound traffic for product/service website or blog.
  6. It also provides full-text based search on any topic. If questions and answers are present as per relevant topic searched, it presents results in the format as per other Search Engine.
  7. It has facility to create blogs where content can be generated for products/services.
  8. Answers or Content of Quora can be shared on other Social Media Platforms like Facebook and Google+.
  9. Some of the best answers on Quora are shared very often on other Social Media Platform like Facebook.


Following website gives some statistics which will justify the impact Quora can make for businesses:
 
12 Interesting Quora Statistics And Facts
 

Summary


It may seem that Facebook has more number of active users spread across geographic locations in the world with much higher traffic,  but Quora strategy gives better Return On Investment (ROI) on "Content Marketing" in long run.
 
 

Monday, 28 August 2017

The out of box salesman

AI in Email Marketing

Artificial Intelligence in Email Marketing

Email acted as the catalyst for "Internet Revolution".

The birth of internet may be credited to invention of Email before four decades.

Internet's 40th birthday :  First email crashes after just two letters received

The birth of email
The birth of email - The out of box salesman

It is the Email that created the Internet Revolution and gave birth to Digital Age. This revolution is equivalent to invention of steam engine in the 19th Century which made Industrial Age possible.

Email Marketing is the most important strategy of Digital Marketing which is going to rule the Digital Age.In the overall scenario, application of artificial intelligence in marketing and specially Digital Marketing will be the deciding factor for success or failure of any business organization.

Off course, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is gaining popularity, but Email Marketing will always persist and it is better than SEO in many ways. It establishes personal relationship with your target audience or customers and it is not dependent on the mercy of any Search Engine or any company providing the services of Search Engine.

It is not wise for any business organization having online presence to solely dependent on the Search Engine services  for generating Inbound Traffic. The change in the rules and regulations or policy of the Search Engine Service providers may severely affect  the customer base in long run or future.

It is always better to have one to one relationship with each and every customer for any successful business organization, however it may be big or small. This is the strongest point in favor of Email Marketing which is going to survive in new shape and size with new features.


Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning algorithms are bringing automation in "Digital Marketing"  with personalized rapport building with customers.

The rise of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Algorithms are going to revolutionize the Email Marketing in the Digital Age. It is going to create a giant leap for Digital Marketing people.

"How AI and Machine Learning algorithms work?" and  "What are the characteristics of the software solutions designed using AI and Machine Learning algorithms?" These questions have been answered very well here:

Artificial Intelligence in E commerce


More resources can be found here to learn about these algorithms:
Artificial Intelligence
Machine Learning

Limitations of Current Email Marketing Methods


Limitations of email marketing
Limitations of email marketing- The out of box salesman



Current Email Marketing methods have some peculiar drawbacks:

If is not easy to get new subscribers swiftly or easily. Inbound Marketing which uses SEO techniques help in gathering new subscribers. "Subscription List" is grown cumulatively over a period of time using "Organic Methods".  There are options to buy "Subscription List" from free market which is called "Inorganic Method" of growing subscription base.

The content or of email or newsletter is not personalized. So it rarely appeals to each and every reader or customer and it is hardly opened by all of them. In short, it has less "Open Rate". "Open Rate" is a ratio of the number of emails sent and the number of readers who opened it.

It is difficult to have common time or the best time for higher "Open Rate" as every individual is different and unique. Every individual has got different lifestyle which is based on his/her demographic profile and geographical location. Everybody has distinct "persona".  We can not have a common time to suit every distinct "Customer Persona".  "Customer Persona" is a term to uniquely identify a customer based on his/her country,religion,income,age,educational qualification, work experiences, lifestyle habits , hobbies, expenditure pattern, etc.


The "Delivery Ratio" of  emails sent in bulk quantity  is low. Sometimes it goes to spam folder based on "Subject Line" of the Email. Spam  Filters segregate emails based on commonly used keywords in the subject line which are known to almost all the Email Service Providers.

It is difficult to maintain long term relationship with subscriber or reader as generally content is not emotionally touching and repeatative in nature.

It offers low Click Through Rates (CTR) for the links in the email. If is not easy to quantify or measure ROI of Email Marketing Campaigns from cost benefit point of view.

Common email marketing problems
Common email marketing problems - The out of box salesman

    
If you are eager to think deeply on the above problems which every digital marketing personal faces with Email campaigns, you will notice that the problem boils down to that:

So the crux of the problem is:

Email campaign including content or newsletter is not personalized to the customer's mental framework or "Customer Persona". It lacks the personal selling rapport which happens in face to face meeting and sales transaction. So it is very difficult to predict conversion rate of many "Email Marketing" campaigns successfully.


Simple Email Newsletter Design
Simple email newsletter design - The out of box salesman




How AI and Machine Learning Algorithms can help?

Using the AI and Machine Learning techniques , the above pitfalls can be circumvented. The algorithms can classify the online subscribers or online customers as per their "persona". It will be a CPU intensive computing task to gather  information about each and every customer or visitors to the website  and store  this "Customer Persona" in database, but it can be achieved in the following steps:


Step 1:

Installation of tracker code or program on your website to gather customer intelligence or web page visiting habits of the visitors or customers.

This step requires massive custom programming in the website or online store where each and every activity of the customer is recorded. The data of customer browsing habit will be sent to central database usually on cloud platform where "Customer Persona" will be stored as a record in the database with detailed schema having  vast attributes from personal details to lifestyle details and hobbies.
              

Step 2: 

Creating individual "Customer Persona" " with AI and Machine Learning Algorithms

Step 3: 

Creating Customer Segmentation as per "Customer Persona"

It is necessary to create segmentation in the "Customer Persona" database as generally, it is not feasible to have personalized content for each unique customer. However, there is no hard and fast rule and there is a strong possibility that in the future the content will be generated and targeted for each distinct customer.

There should be balance between fine grained segmentation and coarse segmentation. If there is more fine grained segmentation of "Customer Persona" database, more unique and different content is required.
       

Step 4: 

Designing Email Campaign as per segmentation and executing it.

This step requires drafting Email content as per the characteristics of  segmentation in which all the customers have been classified. Drafting content will be a creative manual process and in near future it is hard to believe that this task can be automated using AI and Machine Learning.


Step 5: 
Monitoring the campaigns and using analysis data to modify "Customer Persona" and segmentation.

This is the most crucial step in order to algorithms work. It is a kind of feedback loop used by the algorithms
to get insight into the customers and understand them in a better way.  This step will be required to continuously update "Customer Persona" database and keep it intact and current.

What benefits will be derived for Email Marketing? 

The above exercise may give the answers of following questions:
  • What is the best time to send to increase "Open Rates"?
  • Who are the customers who open his/her email account with specific to  the email content delivered?
  • Does personalized product recommendations with customized subject line work?
  • Does personalized product recommendations increase click through rates (CTR) and ultimately sales?
  • Can we get accurate information about cart abandonment rate in online sales?


Can we use AI and Machine Learning techniques without using above algorithms?


Yes up to certain extent.
No because it is time consuming in terms of human effort along with working with common software.

It is possible to use above techniques without AI and Machine Learning algorithms and software. It is possible to implement the above techniques using traditional Email software and  popular Spread Sheet program like Microsoft Excel,etc. But it requires lot of human effort to maintain Customers Data as "Customer Persona". It requires lot of human work to create and maintain segmentation in "Customer Persona" data in the form off groups or communities.

Almost, all popular client Email software offer facility to organize emails into "Folders".  They also offer to search and query emails based on "Filters". It is possible to classify customer emails based on various demographic attributes like:
  • All customers between age 18 to 25  or 40 to 50 or above 60
  • All customers who open email between 8AM to 10AM , during lunch time 1PM to 2PM or               at night after 10PM
  • All customers  who have income in certain range or above certain range
  • All customers who buy in the first week of month, at the last day of month or quarterly , weekly
  • The group of ladies and the group of men... and the classification or segmentation is endless.

We can also term this segmentation or classification as group or communities. We can go on classifying like taxonomy of customer attributes.  We can use Microsoft Excel  sheet also to store the above segmentation or groups.

Now, the tedious tasks like updating the data has to be done every time "Email Campaign" is executed and  feedback report is obtained. Also, human effort in form of judgement , intuition , analysis and trying different strategies is required to determine predicative behavior or next step of the customer which is generally very well handled by AI and Machine Learning algorithms.



AI in email marketing
AI in email marketing


Email marketing solutions based on AI and Machine Learning algorithms 


Some of the solutions (there are many more...) from the world which use the above techniques and methodologies in less or more degrees:

http://www.optimail.io
 

This software solution provides the complete toolkit to supercharge your email campaigns with AI.
Optimail’s AI explores thousands of strategies automatically to find the strategy that works best for individual customers and segments. This permits us as data scientists the opportunity to take a peek at the data and see which strategies tend to work in general — across campaigns — in order to gain new insight into email campaign optimization.
www.automizy.com


This solution offers features that automatically tests the subject line and content variations of  auto responding and follow-up emails of various "Email Campaigns" executed. Besides it offers features to check instantly conversion rate, best performing subject lines and contents, delivery ration, list healthiness, engagement rate, open and click rate, world map and more.

www.phrasee.com 

The strong point of this solution is that it uses AI algorithms to write better email content using marketing language than human. The strength of this solution is it's AI algorithms which provide better results from better use of language combined with better statistical analysis.


Summary


It is interesting to know that Email gave birth to Internet and  we are standing at the threshold of a new era where automation in day to day life whether personal or business will be dominating factor. It is again the very basic Email which is leading the way.