Stripo’s Volodymyr Kreshchenko on When to Use AI in Email Marketing

Stripo’s Volodymyr Kreshchenko on When to Use AI in Email Marketing

Interview by Maja Skokleska
Published: May 26, 2023

Who Is Volodymyr Kreshchenko

Volodymyr Kreshchenko is the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Stripo. He has over 13 years of experience in the digital marketing space and specializes in analytics, strategy and process optimization. Prior to joining Stripo, he worked as the Product Marketing Manager and Head of PPC Department for local Ukrainian companies.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a game changer for the marketing industry, revolutionizing the way businesses perform specific tasks. This is especially recognizable when it comes to email and streamlining campaigns, personalizing content, and optimizing messaging.

According to a survey, 32% of marketers already started using AI along with marketing automation for paid advertising, personalization of email messages and offers, and 22% of them leverage AI with marketing automation for product and content recommendations and personalization of email subject lines.

But when is it best for businesses to consider using AI and when should they avoid it in their email marketing campaigns?

Volodymyr Kreshchenko, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Stripo, has the answer. In this interview, Volodymyr shares innovative ways organizations can leverage email as a marketing platform and how they can use Stripo to generate branded email templates.

Stripo logo

Spotlight: Email turns 52 this year. What do you think has helped email stay relevant over the years despite the rise of more popular communication channels like social media?

Volodymyr Kreshchenko: Great question. The main reasons are constant transformation, changes, and improvements that help email as a technology avoid the fate of fax machines. As soon as it stops, email will gradually decline over a span of several decades. This won't be an immediate shift due to the significant inertia and the large number of people still using it.

That's why we need to help this industry evolve, bring fresh ideas, change the landscape and ways to use it, simplify and add new features, develop new products, combine them with new technologies, and standardize them.

How has the role of email in marketing evolved over the years? What are some innovative ways businesses leverage email as a marketing platform in today's competitive digital landscape?

The role has greatly changed since email was first used for marketing. It has adapted and transformed over time:

  • From personal to business communication
  • From internal usage to global adoption
  • From receiving messages from the people you know to a daily routine of receiving dozens of new messages and spam
  • From an optional to a necessary tool in the modern world

Email marketers nowadays are responsible not only for sending offers but for communication itself. Previously, people used text messages only; now, they can create exceptional designs that align with brand identity. Those who ignore trends become less effective. Nowadays, real experts that are ready for changes and innovations in email marketing are required.

Regarding innovative ways, the top of mind is definitely AI. With internal data and 3rd parties, you can greatly improve personalization. Another big thing is interactivity in emails like games, quizzes, forms, etc. It isn't new, but powerful enough to delight customers and increase customer engagement rate.

AI has revolutionized almost every sector. In what scenarios should companies consider using AI and when should they avoid it in their email marketing campaigns?

This tool is trendy and has a lot of attention. Still, if your business is trying to replace an email specialist with an AI solution, usually that won't work because this “black box” cannot provide you with a solid and complex understanding that includes all the aspects of your business until real artificial general intelligence (AGI) is developed and trained, especially for email marketing.

On the other hand, you may use it to speed up email development, generate new ideas, summarize knowledge, and test all the elements on the scale faster or even localize email for different geos and markets. Only let AI work with your supervision and check all the text it generates to meet your expectation and communicate in a brand-consistent way.

Also, use it for testing purposes, or even ask AI to rewrite some elements for different frameworks or rules like scarcity or social proof.

Stripo website
[Source: Stripo]

Stripo is known as an email production builder that utilizes AI. Can you elaborate on AI's specific role in your email production processes and how it contributes to streamlining and optimizing your email creation workflows?

We described our experience using it for email marketing here and covered all the main use cases. Also, we widely apply it to our workflow and inside almost every team in the marketing department and beyond.

Here are some interesting ways that weren't mentioned in this article that we also use but not for email marketing:

  1. Creating complex plans to solve specific issues, such as gathering more information or achieving certain goals. This means you can get great results that meet your needs, usually without needing many changes or extra explanations. This is a way to push and test the AI's capabilities. It's like programming but with words.
  2. Coding without the help of programmers. For example, SQL requests to get data from a database or create simple Google ads scripts. Sure, it usually takes some basic knowledge of how it works and where it can be applied, but this is a faster and cheaper solution, especially to test some ideas.
  3. Writing Excel or Spreadsheet formulas to do something you need. That is the most challenging task for me because you need to explain the structure of the data and the task you need to proceed with.
  4. Working with regular expressions. Many non-tech marketers have no idea how to do it themselves.

How important is brand consistency in email marketing? How can brands leverage Stripo’s Branded Email Templates Generator to stay consistent?

As marketers, we use consistent colors, shapes, fonts, and more in our communication, whether it's through email or other channels. In most cases, big brands and enterprise companies already have brand guidelines with all the necessary information and processes that help maintain a consistent style and rules.

On the other hand, for new companies or services still figuring out their branding, it's important to understand what elements to include and what style suits them best. Sometimes they have no idea how to do that and why they should care about it and go through their own brand evolution.

Consistent communication can be a bonus to their marketing efforts and PR activities — they become famous faster and spend less money on marketing compared to those who change their appearance a few times a year. It's crucial to build a strong brand and outperform competitors.

Even if you do not have a product to show off yet, you might still want your messages to be more professional and aligned.

With Stripo, you can cover one of the most critical communication channels — emails, as we offer not only modular email design and drag-and-drop builder but also a branded template generator to create the first set of templates according to your website brand colors, fonts, and so on. That shortens the way to develop the first sets of brand-consistent emails and allows you to edit and polish them accordingly.

This is a huge opportunity, especially for young companies and services that have yet to figure out what kind of emails they need.

Also, you can create all other emails based on these templates, so this can be even more valuable and save time.

Let’s talk about your company’s beginnings. What were the initial challenges that Stripo aimed to address in the email marketing industry when it was first launched in 2017?

When we first started working on Stripo, our third email builder, we already had a good understanding of what it needed to be like. With over a decade of experience in email marketing as a CDP, we were able to analyze the challenges that email marketers faced.

We knew that building HTML emails that rendered correctly across different email clients and devices required technical knowledge that many marketers didn't have. This meant they had to spend time learning to code instead of focusing on marketing.

To solve this problem, we created an editor that allowed users to create professional-looking emails quickly and easily without any technical skills. Initially, Stripo was intended to be an email builder integrated into a CDP, but we later decided to make it an independent product.

After releasing Stripo, we discovered that a significant portion of our audience was using it not just for marketing emails but for business correspondence also. We realized this when we added the ability to export emails to Gmail, and 30% of users utilized this feature. We further increased interest by integrating with Outlook.

As a result, we made a one-click integration with different email services a core part of our strategy. We also created over 1,300 customizable templates based on user feedback. We learn a lot from our users, and with over 800,000 of them now, we receive valuable insights into how they use our platform and what features and integrations they want to see.

What sets Stripo apart from other similar tools? How does Stripo differentiate itself and become the preferred choice for notable brands such as Dell, Coca-Cola, and Microsoft in their email marketing efforts?

First of all, users preferred Stripo because it's a great time-saving tool. According to our customers' responses, interviews, and polls, they prefer us for the following reasons:

  • Easy-to-use
  • Rich functionality to create any kind of the complex task
  • Easy to design fully responsive emails that render well across all devices and platforms
  • Last but not least, our customer support team — our colleagues do a fantastic job providing outstanding customer service and ensuring every client gets what they need

For brands and enterprise companies, we provide great flexibility to create templates and emails with our platform or even integrate Stripo into their software via a plugin option combined with full pledged support and educational events.

Stripo is headquartered in Ukraine. Can you discuss how the war has affected your operations, the challenges you have faced, and the actions taken to reassure your customers?

War definitely changed all of us — our country, our consciousness as a nation, and Stripo as a company as well. We had to adapt to new conditions and find internal resources to continue to work, deliver outstanding service, and provide our customers with stable software no matter what, work in bomb shelters because of constant bombing, and join the resistance movement in the information field.

Our team knows our work is important, and we've learned to work remotely during Covid times, which made things a bit easier. Still, everyone is feeling a lot of stress. We're especially concerned about our friends, family, and coworkers who have joined the Armed Forces. We're doing our best to help them by donating and offering support in other ways. It's become a regular part of our daily lives.

Yes, we must make sure we are able to stay online to keep it up, so we bought Starlinks, generators, and batteries to have power and internet during blackouts to decrease the impact on our business and our clients. And our servers are in a safe place in Europe.

Some tools and services were replaced with others to avoid using any bit of Russian code. Also, we blocked all clients from Russia and banned them from paying in March 2022. Yes, we lost some money, but it was essential, and we didn't regret this decision for any second after.

As the Chief Marketing Officer of Stripo, what is your vision for the future of email marketing?

I believe email marketing will be improved with modern technology and services like ours, combined with AI and other tools like anti-spam and malware filters, predefined quick answers like the ones that Google brought to us some time ago, text proofreading and localization, etc.

It will remain one of the most powerful tools with a bright future. I don't believe email is going away, but I do think that new technology could come along and change the way we communicate entirely.

For example, if brain chips become common, they could quickly send information straight to our minds. This could make not just emails but also messaging apps and phones obsolete. But this kind of tech is probably decades away, and I don't see it happening anytime soon.

There is still no single standard for this industry, so we have a lot of work to do.

What do you think are the top five effective email marketing strategies organizations can leverage to meet their business goals?

My personal top five list of strategies I believe in:

  1. Using interactive elements and gamification for your communication
  2. Hyper-personalized messages based on customer data or behavior
  3. Speeding up and optimization of workflow using AI solutions
  4. Saving time for creativity instead of routine; Happy people bring you more value
  5. Making sure every bit of communication delivers value

Finally, how does Stripo plan to continue innovating and staying ahead of the game in the ever-evolving email marketing landscape?

Even after seven incredible years, our journey is far from over! We're brimming with plans for the future. From our recent AI integration to an upcoming new editor and account update set to launch this year, we're all set to make things even more user-friendly. This will lay a solid foundation for growth and innovation. So, stay tuned and join us on this exciting journey!

We can and want to do more, but our priority is providing quality and integral solutions. It is our way to meet customers' expectations.

Thank you for your time, Volodymyr Kreshchenko. Best of luck to you and Stripo!

Keep up with Stripo on LinkedIn and read about other successful businesses here.

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