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If you’re a marketer with a knack for writing great copy, you may want to learn another job skill.

New York City-based Persado is offering an artificial intelligence-based system for creating the most effective text for emails, web pages, and other marketing. Today, it announced it has raised $21 million to help make human-written copy less relevant.

“It’s quite revolutionary what we do,” CEO and cofounder Alex Vratskides told VentureBeat.

“We generate the most persuasive language to drive action.”

The system’s semantic algorithm utilizes a language parser, machine learning that improves effectiveness from results, and statistics.

Currently, the platform is focused on providing the core, actionable parts of an email message. But, in theory, it could be applied to any kind of persuasive text where there is massive and quick feedback.

It’s “persuasion automation,” Vratskides told us.

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The company points to possible applications beyond email — for messages that persuade patients to follow their doctors’ recommendations, that convince people to pay their bills, that persuade people to obey the law, or that seal the deal for someone to accept an online date.

For its current email utilization, the system uses natural language generation to create as many as 16 versions of phrases. It creates an actionable message 100 to 600 characters long. Messages combine phrases generated by the platform, which the software has characterized by emotional appeal, feature description, and formatting elements. The marketer creates the rest of the email’s surrounding text.

“Every brand is totally different,” Vratskides told us, requiring different messages for different audiences.

One key application for Persado is creating email subject lines, since those phrases often determine if the email is opened. The system might generate and test the effectiveness, for instance, of several variations:

  • An amazing 25% off deal on [smartphone name]
  • Grab this special deal — 25% off [smartphone name]
  • Enjoy a new discount of 25% on [smartphone name]
  • See inside for a unique discount on [smartphone name]
The Wheel of Emotions, in context

Above: The Wheel of Emotions, in context

Image Credit: Persado

Wheel of Emotions

The system knows — or claims to know — which phrases will generate different emotions, showing on a Wheel of Emotions how a given phrase resonates for such responses as anxiety, guilt, exclusivity, excitement, achievement, or encouragement.

Emotion, as any copywriter still reading this can tell you, drives many kinds of successful sales efforts.

Vratskides said the platform offers “a 95 percent or more probability that you will beat in performance your current message” in terms of the likelihood of an action. The improvement, he said, ranges anywhere from a “30 percent to 200 percent increase.”

Founded on 12.12.12, Persado currently has more than 50 customers around the world, all of whom Vratskides described as “Fortune 500-type clients.”

The new Series B funding will be used to hire more salespeople and building — interestingly enough — a human-populated marketing department, he said. It will also be used to expand the product for other uses, such as search terms, Facebook pages, or landing pages.

The most recent round was led by StarVest Partners, with participation from new investors American Express Ventures and Citi Ventures and existing investor Bain Capital Ventures. In a previous A round, the company had raised $15 million.

“No other company does what we do,” Vratskides told us. A number of companies, such as Adobe’s Marketing Cloud or the Kahuna mobile marketing platform, do offer ways to test variations in messages. But Vratskides said Persado can “ride on the testing platforms.”

“In fact, we’re working with Adobe,” he told us. “We’re the content.”

Will Persado and similar systems put digital copywriters out of a job?

“Absolutely not,” Vratskides insisted.

Marketers can write the wraparound text, and, he pointed out, they can use Persado to generate the centerpiece. “Persado is replacing the gut, the randomness,” he said.

“We’re kind of like Moneyball, but for marketing.”

Moneyball, of course, rendered moot the collective experience of baseball scouts.

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