SmartSeeds are Here, and so is AI for Your Email Program

Posted by Scott Ziegler 

Artificial intelligence is something you hear people talking about or you read in the news, but in reality, only five percent of email marketers are using it. That’s a shame because AI early adopters are already reaping major rewards. In a recent study with The Relevancy Group, we found email marketers using AI had higher inbox placement rates and generated 41 percent more revenue. For many marketers, however, a lack of expertise is a barrier to AI.

This is exactly why we are excited about the release of our AI-powered SmartSeeds. With Return Path’s newest AI-powered data source, email marketers can reap the rewards of AI without a degree in data science.

Where it all began
Return Path pioneered the use of seed-based deliverability monitoring, our CoreSeeds, which gives marketers visibility into where their email is being delivered across 140 different mailbox providers. Over time, we developed our Consumer Network, the industry’s first and largest network of active consumer inboxes, to monitor both email deliverability and engagement.

Return Path’s Consumer Network data was the first of its kind to provide unique insight into inbox placement based on subscriber’s email engagement. Our Consumer Network has rich behavioral data that provides metrics surrounding the way real people interact with commercial emails while presenting a holistic view of inbox behaviors and consumer preferences. Our Consumer Network covers mailboxes at Microsoft, Verizon Media Group (AOL and Yahoo), as well as Google. While we’ve seen the benefit of including insights into engagement based filtering for our clients, our Consumer Network is unable to cover all of the domains being used for commercial marketing.

Today, with the introduction of SmartSeeds, we’re able to offer a complete view of email deliverability with AI-powered personas that interact with email like real subscribers. Pursuing a technology like SmartSeeds has been on our radar for a while as a way to expand our coverage and offer those insights to a larger audience.

Where we are today
In 2018, we introduced the Return Path Platform—our newly updated user interface—to the market. This has become a springboard for many of our new products and capabilities around data and email solutions. As we continue to drive innovation through Artificial Intelligence with improvements across our Deliverability Data, the growth within our platforms remains our focus to help email marketers become better senders with advantageous deliverability across the email ecosystem.

SmartSeeds provide a critical signal into subscriber engagement that is unlike anything else in the ecosystem. Because mailbox providers like Google put a large placement emphasis on how subscribers engage with their email, we made it our mission to give our senders visibility into this semi-disguised side of deliverability. The Return Path Platform rolls all three Deliverability signals (Consumer Network, SmartSeeds, and CoreSeeds) into one metric to give clear insight into your true deliverability and also provides you with a drill down for more information on each data source. If you’re working with our Service team, you’re able to get deeper slices of this data and actionable next steps. We take this further with our Partner Platform, which we are using to make SmartSeeds data available to ESPs and their deliverability consultants.

SmartSeeds data integrates directly into our platforms and our products to help tell the story about how relative subscriber engagement behaviors can affect your deliverability at different mailbox providers. Our Deliverability Data provides an unparalleled view into the deliverability landscape so that you can be sure you are accessing accurate and relevant data that you can use to improve and evolve your programs.

Where we’re going next
Our first iteration of SmartSeeds is available today, but we have extensive plans for our new data source, as well as for our other products.

We continue to have hundreds of thousands of subscribers in our Consumer Network and the insights we receive are unparalleled—but SmartSeeds enables us to increase the availability of engagement based inbox placement data for our clients. SmartSeeds are currently set up to provide insight into how subscriber engagement affects performance at Google, and we plan to add other major mailbox providers in the future. With SmartSeeds, our clients can monitor individual campaign performance as well as gain visibility into trends happening within the larger email ecosystem.

Helping email marketers take their programs to the next level remains at the center of everything we do. Over the last 20 years, we’ve built the world’s most comprehensive source of data across the email ecosystem – EmailDNA –  and we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. You can learn more about our Deliverability Data and how we help marketers, like yourself, gain an advantage in a competitive ecosystem! Email marketing will continue to evolve and we’re here to make sure that you stay one (or ten) steps ahead.

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About Scott Ziegler

Scott is Senior Vice President of Product Management at Return Path. Scott sets the strategic direction for Return Path’s product portfolio by leveraging input from customers and analyzing market trends. He joined Return Path in 2014 and has led product teams in Email Optimization, Consumer Insight, and Data. He is active in the email community as well as the product management community and is a frequent presenter at industry events. Before joining Return Path, Scott held leadership roles in Product and Engineering at IBM and Ricoh and holds multiple patents. He has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science from Muskingum University.

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