Machine Learning: A competitor email experiment

How to train your puppy to sort newspapers from pizza flyers.

A firm belief of the dotmailer team is that marketing automation allows marketers to focus more of their time on the strategic thinking and worry less about the manual tasks and execution. And software like dotmailer is needed to do this in various facets, from sorting and cleansing data, to designing marketing messages, scheduling them and so on. This is why we appreciate when our partners work on projects that apply the same belief. Enter Other Media, a digital agency we work with…

If you’re considering how to make the most of your email marketing, chances are you’ve been investigating personalisation and automation. As an agency defining and designing digital solutions for clients, the machine learning techniques that underpin this intelligent approach to marketing have caught our interest and we wanted to investigate their potential a little further.

We partner with dotmailer (an email marketing automation software) to help our clients, and Other Media as an agency, to get to grips with understanding our customers, but what about our competitors?

It is absolutely the right thing to focus on your customers and understanding their needs and behaviours from analysing their interactions with your brands. However, we can all benefit from taking a more outward looking approach – remembering to look at the market in which you operate.

It can be very useful to take the same way of thinking and processes that you apply to your customer marketing and apply them to your competitors. Getting hung up on what your competitors are doing isn’t healthy but keeping an eye on what they are doing, with minimal input and effort required, can be a very useful thing.

So, how did Other Media do it?

Ok, so we didn’t actually train a puppy, we trained an algorithm to sort documents, but that doesn’t sound as fun or useful. Useful, though, is hugely underplaying the importance of our latest experimentation.  

At Other Media, we thrive on delving into new trends and technologies by experimenting with what is available to help us, and our clients, to provide the best solutions for business needs. And this time the trend we focused on is Artificial intelligence (AI).

The last few weeks have seen us utilising machine learning, a particular branch of AI, to enhance our ambient data technologies. We wanted to see what AI could do for us in terms of analysing vast swathes of data in order to help us understand competing brands.

The ambient data technology, JustNow, collects real-time or near real-time data from multiple sources including Google Analytics, social media, news feeds and email newsletter campaigns. Our custom data displays help our clients to see the bigger picture of how their marketing activities, and those of their competitors, might be driving visitors, sales and value.

We used machine learning technology to distil insight from data and present it through this ambient, real-time display. We looked at the collection and display of competitor newsletters and asked ourselves this question:

Can we build a picture of what is going on in a competitive market by using artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to automate the reading and classification of news?

Well the spoiler is that, yes, we can.

To find out more about machine learning (what it is, what its applications and implications for businesses are), and see what our resulting data screen looked like and get a feel for how it could look for your organisation, download the experiment report here.

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