For me, historically, artificial intelligence (AI) — and what it does behind the scenes of digital marketing — has really felt like some sort of secret weapon that developers kept behind closed doors and talked about in hushed voices  —  something I wasn’t really supposed to know about much less use.

Now, I don’t know if my reluctance to dig into it was because I’ve seen too many science fiction movies or because I thought I had to understand the same coding languages, terms, and acronyms that developers use to understand how it works and how to use it, but no matter the reason, I was wrong.

What is AI (Artificial Intelligence) marketing?

AI marketing is simply using complex computer programs (artificial intelligence) to automatically make decisions and complete marketing tasks for you. And an AI program makes those decisions and completes those tasks based on data analysis and machine learning. 

And while that may sound a bit complicated (and, of course, AI programming probably is), it’s really not that complicated when it comes to using AI in marketing.

Understanding automation and artificial intelligence

If you keep up with the blog or subscribe to the Hints & Tips newsletter, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve featured a lot of articles on marketing automation lately. That’s because, quite frankly, Constant Contact is offering more automation options to customers, but the blog was lacking in providing information on what it is and why and how to use it.

Whether you know it or not, marketing has been using artificial intelligence for what seems like forever. And while there are lots of different types of automation, AI marketing is most often functioning behind the scenes. 

It started out with task-oriented automations that follow a set of rules or directions that are provided to them. You likely saw the results of these integrations when you implemented an automated welcome series or set up a simple drip campaign. This also includes simple chatbots that can answer formulaic questions but can’t discern user intent or provide personalized responses. 

Slowly, the industry has been increasingly integrating more sophisticated AI into their platforms to augment those task automations. This took the form of machines that can decipher text, anticipate responses, and even recognize images based on massive quantities of data. Resulting in computer algorithms that can make purchase recommendations, analyze if a prospect will have the propensity to make a purchase, and create better online advertising with more precise targeting.

In real-life terms, marketing AI — via ads and website integration — is what provides you with those movie recommendations, that just right mattress you’ve been looking for, and even the perfect paint color for the baby’s room.

With all that said, there’s a difference between being on the customer side and not realizing how much AI is affecting your buying decisions and being on the big-biz marketing side and implementing it into your large-scale marketing efforts.

However, you don’t have to be a large-scale business with big bucks to take advantage of AI in marketing. As a matter of fact, you probably already do.

How Artificial Intelligence Changes the Email Game

AI in marketing today

Whether on the backend or the front end, AI is used in nearly all aspects of marketing.

As I mentioned earlier, artificial intelligence in marketing can not only collect and analyze data, but it can actually make automated decisions based on that data. It also learns based on user actions and observations of trends.

AI is used in everything from spam filters to predictive analytics.

You can actively use AI as part of your marketing strategy to do things like:

  • Get subject line and preheader recommendations for email to help you craft lines that get your emails opened and read.
  • Banish writer’s block by using AI-generated content to spur ideas and get you started.
  • Automate customized multi-channel marketing campaigns with Campaign Builder
  • Maintain brand consistency by automatically importing your creative assets with BrandKit
  • Personalize customer experiences to create better relationships and improve sales.
  • Target Facebook and Instagram ads to those most likely to purchase your goods or services.
  • Improve customer satisfaction by adding a virtual assistant or chatbot to your website that can answer some of the more common and repetitive questions people have about your service, product, or organization.
  • Use social listening tools to identify what your customers are talking about on social media so you can join the conversation in a meaningful and insightful way.

Whether you’re a small business owner who wears too many hats and ‘marketer’ is just one of them, or you’re a marketer always working to improve your strategy, using artificial intelligence as part of your strategy will save time and help you increase your ROI (return on investment). And here’s why you should consider implementing AI into your marketing strategy:

AI-generated content can be a lifesaver if you’re not a wordsmith

Many of us struggle with creating the best email subject lines for our campaigns (yes, professional writers, too) and having an AI generate an idea, or two, can really help in a pinch. And, it can do wonders when it comes to banishing writer’s block when creating an email campaign.

However, it’s not perfect. It doesn’t have your brand personality and can’t write in your brand voice or tone. And while someday that may change, right now, it’s up to you to use it wisely by editing and polishing any content that’s been generated by artificial intelligence before you send it out into the world.

AI-powered tools can help you make smarter marketing decisions

When you have insight into your customers’ preferences, hobbies, and habits, you can make better decisions about where to spend your marketing resources. Whether that’s time spent on a community board to establish yourself and your brand as thought leaders on a subject, creating better-targeted ads on Facebook, or learning how to harness the power of LinkedIn, having the right data and crafting the right message can save you time and money.

Looking for Do’s and Don’ts? Download our AI Best Practices to learn how to make AI work for you each and every time.

The TLDR (too long, didn’t read) version

While there are countless uses for automation, there are only two kinds of automation that are used in marketing.

  • Task automation
  • Machine learning

Task automation

Task automation is where technology completes a task for you. Often these are tasks that are repetitive and/or time-consuming for humans to complete.

In marketing, these tasks range from sending automated emails to notifying you when someone has mentioned your company on social media. These types of automation are generally straightforward if/then types of tasks.

Machine learning

Machine learning is where artificial intelligence (AI) uses algorithms and data to learn how to imitate human behavior and thought processes — to think and create in the way that humans do. As more data and input is provided to the AI, the better it gets at mimicking human behavior.

Machine learning is in everything from email spam filters and search engines to shopping recommendations and content creation. It’s just a matter of whether the AI application is integrated or stands alone.

Types of AI applications

If you look at something like an email marketing platform, the integrated applications (AI and otherwise) are all pieces of one puzzle, and each works in concert with, and is dependent upon, the other to make the platform what it is. If you removed one of the integrated applications, the platform may still work, but it wouldn’t work in the same way it did before you removed it.

In the case of stand-alone applications, like Quicken or Photoshop, which connect to and work with other applications, they can do their job all by themselves.

Pros and cons of using AI in marketing


  • Saves time and money. Completes routine, repetitive, and complicated tasks in a fraction of the time it would take a human to do the same task.
  • Can increase sales. Things like predictive analytics and customer journeys can turn prospects into customers and one-time customers into loyal, repeat customers.


  • Lacks human “touch.” While AI is more sophisticated these days, it can’t replicate your personal or brand voice.
  • AI makes mistakes. AI is only as good as its input, and the information that’s available is not always accurate.

Examples of AI in marketing

  • Spam filters
  • Predictive analytics
  • Content generation
  • Social listening

Using AI to market your small business or nonprofit

Using marketing AI comes down to knowing what type of AI to implement into your marketing strategy and when.

While big businesses have the big bucks to implement predictive analytics into their websites to do things like recommend movies and paint colors, small business owners should focus on using AI tools to strengthen their current marketing efforts through content creation and data analysis.

Invest in marketing platforms and applications that will help you communicate with your customers better and use marketing automation to do the heavy lifting and AI to relieve the pressure of the unknown.

Constant Contact’s AI tools like Campaign Builder, BrandKit, and the content generator can help you market your business smarter, not harder.