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4 Ways to Strike A Balance Between AI Optimization & Creativity

Jul 10, 2024

Can you over-optimize with AI? And can that over optimization kill your messaging’s creative appeal? You may share these concerns, yet choosing to not optimize your email marketing subject lines will leave you in the dust, far behind your competitors. After all, AI is already paying off across marketing efforts in big ways, with 75% of CMOs telling Gartner that artificial intelligence has a positive impact on their marketing efforts. 

Promises of improved performance, enhanced engagement, and higher conversion rates are AI’s siren song. Yet, in order to stand out in inboxes, it’s critical that your content be original, intuitive to subscribers’ tastes, and highly creative. 

Success lies in combining both AI-powered optimization and your own creative marketing instincts. McKinsey states that companies using this type of full "growth triple play" by combining creativity, analytics, and purpose, saw average revenue growth rates climb to more than 12%, compared to 6% for companies using just one of these elements.

So . . . How can you strike this balance? Here, we explore ways that today’s email marketers can use AI to deliver data-informed content and strategy to bolster their success metrics, while simultaneously bringing their best creative instincts to the table. 

AI and creativity go hand-in-hand. And we’re going to show you how to make the most of both. 

What Will AI-Powered Email Marketing Optimization Do? 

Today’s technological optimization techniques include using AI, machine learning, deep learning and natural language processing to automate and improve email marketing automations, processes, and outcomes. 

Of course, there are many ways to do this, and some popular solutions like ChatGPT may come to mind first. We do love ChatGPT, Llama 3, and other generative AI solutions whose models are trained on data scraped from across the web. However, marketers need AI solutions that are trained on their own industry data, in order for their outputs to be truly optimized toward their needs and goals.

Vertical-specific AI solutions are the answer. For example, Backstroke’s email subject line generator models are trained on over 10,000 email marketing programs across apparel, beauty, cosmetics, pet, and retail industries. This means that it crafts highly specific, engaging, and effective email subject lines that are fine-tuned to those specific audiences’ interests, preferences, and behaviors.

Using AI to optimize your email content—and selecting the best AI solution to do this work—is critical for email marketers nowadays, as it:

  • Helps marketers make data-driven decisions to improve campaign performance.
  • Reveals insights into what’s working and what’s not, in real time,
  • Gives direction on how to steer the ship, so to speak, as predictive analytics inform decision making on both creative and strategic fronts. 

This type of optimization delivers 31% more revenue per send, in the case of Backstroke users. Several of our customers like Lyssé New York and Nathan Sports see even higher returns.

4 Ways to Strike A Balance Between AI Optimization & Personal Creativity 

With all of this data-driven information and hard science available at marketers’ fingertips, there’s still plenty of room for creativity in your work! Joining your own creativity with AI-powered optimization is your best bet. After all, 80% of marketers deem creative quality key to marketing effectiveness . . . and you can’t afford to lose that creative spark amidst all the AI-inspired noise in the marketing space! 

Here are some ways to strike a balance between the creative and technical, making the most of your own intuition and experience, while using AI to optimize your email marketing efforts.

Personalize With Personality

EMarketer states that AI-driven hyper personalization will be the area of email marketing most impacted by AI. Today, emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, with personalized email marketing generating a median ROI of 122%.

Successful email personalization is easy to achieve with the right solution in your toolkit. Backstroke’s email subject line creator generates content that’s predicted to perform AND makes it easy to apply your own style to its outputs! 

When using the email subject line generator, Backstroke customers can toggle its personality filters to strike a balance between the riskiness of the copy it generates, as well as how corporate or emotional of a brand voice it should apply. This means that, no matter how creatively risky or safe you want to sound in your subject lines, you can use your own voice to guide AI-powered content outputs.

personalized subject lines for boomers play it safe

A look at Backstroke's email subject line generator's customizable personality filters.

Edit Accordingly 

Of course, AI-optimized email content and Backstroke’s great email subject lines can be used in a variety of ways. You can simply copy + paste your favorite subject lines into your email software and see success from there. 

Alternatively, you can use AI-generated subject lines for inspiration! If you don’t like the exact direction of what Backstroke has generated—but you do like its concept—you can feel free to lightly edit copy, emojis, and more, in order to make your subject line samples just right. 

Backstroke uses natural language processing and predictive analytics to understand which words, sentiment, emojis, and offers will perform best in your industry. And with those guiding principles in mind, users can edit its outputs to perfect them for future campaigns. 

After all, you know what creative is best for you! 

Buck the Trends (Or Ride the Wave) 

Take a look at what’s popular amongst your email marketing peers. Then decide if you want to ride out those trends too . . . or completely buck them! 

You can consult Backstroke’s Trends Lite Dashboard to ride the wave with trends, themes, and insights customized to your industry. Get the full run-down on trends across: 

  • Subject line length
  • Subject line character counts and word counts
  • Commonly used emojis 
  • Popular offers
  • Trending phrases and topics 
  • A swipe file full of your industry’s very best email subject lines

Use these creative insights to guide your subject line strategy! Whether you want to look trendy or avant garde, you can use data from this tool to guide your creative decision making.


Tried and true is fine and all. But as a good ol’ AB test shows, experimentation is at the heart of marketing! We suggest you always experiment, and we even do so with every single email we send.

add that millennial sass to your personalized subject lines

Experiment with a variety of creative filters, like the toggles shown above.

In the email subject line generator, you can toggle between a variety of subject line content attributes, including:

  • Length: Select short, long, or any copy length in-between.
  • Emojis: Does your brand ❤️’em? Hate ‘em? 🚫Feel indifferent about ‘em? 🤷
  • Slang: Add a little rizz to your content . . . or stick with a more classic copy approach, if you prefer.
  • All Caps: Go ALL-IN on the caps lock, if you’re into that. 
  • Seasonality: Are you sending during a special season? Want AI to reference holly jolly feelings or warm weather in its outputs? You can tell it to. 
  • Personality Sliders: Does your brand like to play it safe or stand out? Is your voice more corporate or emotional? As mentioned before in Tip #1, you can slide the personality toggles around to tell the generator exactly how you want to sound.

After applying and saving these customizations, If you don’t like its outputs, simply adjust and do it all over again! 

You can try a lite version of our AI subject line creator right now, no matter your email marketing needs, be they simple creative inspiration or full-on content optimization. 

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