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When copywriters imagine being replaced by a computer, they’re probably thinking of something like Persado.

Founded in 2012, the New York City-based company offers an enterprise-level platform that helps brands like American Express, Neiman Marcus, and Zipcar generate email and other marketing messages, assisted by human campaign and data experts. Today, the company is taking the next step, with its first self-service online module.

Called Persado Go, the new service is initially offering email subject line creation. With pricing starting at $3000/month, it’s intended for the mid-market as well as for larger companies that prefer to do their own email campaigns. Starting early next year, Persado Go will roll out other capabilities, like creating text for display ads and mobile push notifications.

As any marketer knows, a subject line is the most important part of an email, because it determines if the communication gets opened. To create a winner with Persado Go, you first choose selectors that define parameters such as audience and general purpose, and then upload an offer description that some human has written.

You also select the number of subject line alternatives you’d like, from one to 16. The setting with the highest number of alternatives, according to Persado, has a 90 percent likelihood of generating better-performing headings than actual writers would have written. Persado chief marketing officer David Atlas told me this is compared to data the company has on the effectiveness of writer-created copy.

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The probability declines as the number of alternatives decreases, and you’re left with a 55 percent chance of having a higher performance if you choose just one alternative. Some marketers, however, might choose fewer alternatives because their email marketing tool is more limited in its ability to test alternatives.

If you want to tweak the subject lines, you have a few choices: You can swap the machine-generated subject lines with phrases from a library of tested lines, such as:

    Make your move!
    You can’t waste it!
    Not kidding!

You can also choose a selector that adjusts the “emotional tone” (either milder or stronger), or you can request personalization or a holiday greeting. But you can’t actually go in and change the language. If the subject lines got the meaning of the offer wrong, you have to revise your initial offer description and run the program again.

A screen in PersadoGo, showing subject line alternatives.

Above: A screen in Persado Go, showing subject line alternatives.

Image Credit: Persado

A Content Overview highlights which emotions were employed in the alternatives. A Linguistic Analysis shows the mix of emotional language, descriptive language about the product, call-to-actions, and formatting.

The alternative subject lines are then deployed in the email marketing campaign, with results returned on delivers, opens, and clicks. Persado Go is currently integrated with Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud, but if you use another email marketing tool you’ll have to export the campaign results from your tool and import them into Persado Go, or input the email campaign results by hand.

Persado Go’s machine learning then generates a single, winning subject line for your campaign, based on initial results.

What if that final subject line doesn’t work very well in email campaigns?

“That hasn’t happened,” Atlas told me.

The company says a dozen brands have already tested this new self-service tool. One, Angie’s List, reportedly achieved a 100 percent lift in order rates for its winning machine-written subject line, compared to previous email campaigns with the same human-created internal email message. In other words, the difference was the subject line.

On average, the company said, Persado Go demonstrates a 75 percent greater customer response rate for emails using its subject lines, compared to those created by actual wordsmiths.

Most email marketing systems allow for some form of testing for alternative campaigns so you can arrive at the most effective wording, and many companies sift communications for emotional content or sentiment.

But, Atlas said, Persado doesn’t “see anyone doing what we’re doing here.” The main competition, he added, are those who still do it “by hand.”

You know, with practitioners who actually have hands.

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