The machines are coming.
But far from being an end-of-world scenario, the continued development of sophisticated computers and artificial intelligence is increasing our productivity, safety, and efficiency while making our lives easier.
We’ve got ‘smart’ televisions, phones, lights, thermostats, cars, kitchen appliances, cameras … even belts.
However, with great power comes great responsibility. We can embrace AI, but we need to constantly be aware of what it could mean for us.
“Everything we love about civilization is a product of intelligence, so amplifying our human intelligence with artificial intelligence has the potential of helping civilization flourish like never before – as long as we manage to keep the technology beneficial.“ ~Max Tegmark, President of the Future of Life Institute
Should we be afraid? No – despite what the Terminator films have taught us. Artificial intelligence is not inherently good or bad. It’s all in how we use it.
As we move from 2018 into 2019, we’re doing some fascinating and innovative things with it, including Toyota’s $1 billion investment into self-driving cars and AI, AI programs being used to predict the next trends in fashion, and the recent unveiling of the world’s first AI news anchor in China.
The reach of AI extends to virtually every profession and industry, and that most definitely includes marketing. In fact, it’s the fastest-growing marketing technology with an anticipated year-over-year growth of 53%.
Will we soon see robots in suits and ties sipping martinis on Madison Avenue? Absolutely not. Marketing and advertising require too much creativity and instinct to be completely taken over by artificial means. But it does present some very intriguing developments and disruptions, many of which we’re already experiencing.
Marketing is evolving, and AI is a big part of that.
Before we take a look at some industry-specific use cases, let’s define terms. We hear and read about AI all the time now, but what exactly does it entail?
At its most basic, artificial intelligence is simulated intelligence within machines and computer systems. They’re programmed to ‘think’ and make rational decisions based on what they know and other pre-programmed criteria, depending on the task.
Alan Turing created the Turing Test in 1950 to assess a machine’s ability to exhibit human-like intelligence. In 2014, a program named Eugene Goostman passed it, marking the first time a machine managed to fool more than 30% of people into believing that it was a real live human.
But within the very broad category of AI, you’ll encounter a number of subsections and classifications:
- Machine learning – the ability of systems to learn and interpret new data without human intervention
- Deep learning – learning based on data representations with or without human involvement
- Strong AI – equivalent to human intelligence in virtually every way
- Weak AI – AI that is focused on a single or narrow task
- Natural Language Processing (NLP) -– a branch of AI that deals with how computers interact and process human languages
Everyone still with me? Good. Let’s get into some specifics.
AI and Marketing
AI is the marketing technology outpacing all the others, and 80% of marketers predict AI will completely revolutionize marketing by 2020.
Despite that, 34% of marketing execs feel unprepared for it.
Prepared or not, it’s coming, and the benefits are too good to ignore:
Better insights, detailed analyses, and faster and more accurate prospect identification are just three examples. So far, AI is primarily used for data analysis, but it’s increasingly being used for data generation as well.
Within marketing, it works best at the moment for clear sets of inputs, well defined texts, and clear outputs. But the sky is truly the limit.
When it comes to modern marketing, personalization is the order of the day. Consumers no longer respond or react to generic ads and messaging.
Personalized emails deliver higher open and click-through rates.
A personalized consumer experience delivers higher revenue, loyalty, and conversions.
One of the most successful examples of AI in marketing is the powerful programs that deliver highly personalized and targeted recommendations from Amazon, Netflix, eBay, Spotify, and every ecommerce site that knows what it’s doing.
By gathering data, possibly from your customer relationship management platform, AI algorithms analyze user behavior, past purchases, reviews, ratings, and whatever else is available to them to generate recommendations and make predictions about what users will want or need next.
And that creates a very positive, very personal customer experience.
Looking to add a little AI to your ecommerce platform? Try Limespot, Barilliance, Nosto, Vue.ai, or an alternative provider. Ecommerce in 2018 without some sort of AI assistance is needlessly fighting an uphill battle.
It doesn’t stop there, though. AI tools can be used for better audience targeting, segmentation tracking, and more.
Keeping up to date with ecommerce trends around AI and test what works for your business and customer.
“By analyzing customers based on their movement among segments over time, we can achieve dynamic micro-segmentation, and predict future behavior in a very accurate fashion. This approach can take customer segmentation to a whole new level. Using micro-segmentation, brands can communicate ‘personally’ with every customer, optimizing customer experience and increasing loyalty and lifetime value, in today’s highly-competitive direct-to-consumer space.” ~Pini Yakuel, founder and CEO of Optimove
We live in a world of fast, instant, and immediately. Consumers typically expect a response to a question or complaint within 0-4 hours, but the average brand response time is 10 hours.
Additionally, imagine being able to engage with, answer questions, and make suggestions to everyone visiting your site or platform, regardless of time or day.
Enter chatbots 2.0.
Gone are the days of robotic-sounding ‘bots’ limited to canned responses. Modern versions use AI and NLP to engage in genuine conversations in real-time.
That’s useful in customer care, sales, and marketing.
AI chatbots are revolutionizing prospect and customer interaction with unprecedented personalization and engagement. They can track and predict based on past behavior. Companies like KLM Airlines are using them to tremendous success at every customer touch point.
According to a recent survey, 59% of millennials and 60% of Gen Xers in the United States have interacted with a chatbot, and consumers find them 35% more useful than apps.
Even better, getting started with a chatbot is easier than ever before with services like Botsify, Chatfuel, MobileMonkey, LivePerson, and Twyla. With them, you can quickly create a chatbot that can answer questions, collect data, make suggestions, accept payments, and more. They easily integrate with commerce platforms, websites, social media profiles, and messaging tools like Slack, Facebook Messenger, and Whatsapp.
“Where 10 years ago every company needed a website and five years ago every company needed an app, now every company needs to embrace messaging with AI and chatbots.” ~Murray Newlands, Entrepreneur, Author, and Investor
Engage with prospects, leads, and customers 24/7/365. Chatbots are not a replacement for human interaction, but they are complementary to it. Take engagement into the 21st century.
Analysis and Optimization
An artificial intelligence program can do the work of dozens of humans in a fraction of the time. In the age of big data, that means lower costs and better insights.
AI allows for a move from reactive to proactive when it comes to monitoring, tracking, analyzing, and optimizing.
Tools like Adext, for example, can optimize hundreds of ads on multiple channels to find those that resonate best with an your audience, and then automatically prioritize them with additional funds and resources. How long do you figure it would take your marketing department to do that?
“Ad relevancy and timeliness will always be the key to running profitable marketing campaigns. The beauty of AI tools like Adext, Tapcast, or countless other tools is that you can better pinpoint what is working or isn’t quicker and make adjustments. The cost of advertising is skyrocketing due to the amount of advertiser’s leveraging ad platforms so AI is going to keep marketing cost down while hopefully increasing profitability.”
– TJ Welsh, VP of Marketing at STRYDE
Email marketing is effective, but it can fail for a wide variety of reasons. AI-enhanced email automation can analyze and uncover individual insights on everything from content topics, subject lines, best times, frequency, and more.
Phrasee, for example, can create, test, and optimize subject lines, Facebook ads, and push notifications that outperform those drafted by humans 98% of the time.
Likewise Persado, which identifies the exact words, emotions, and visuals that most resonate with your audience to build stories and marketing copy with your brand voice, context, and prospect interests in email and on social.
An AI service or tool can analyze and track campaigns in real-time, optimizing for best times, lowest price-per-click, and conversions on the fly. They can generate countless variations and permutations of copy and design with specific input to find the perfect offering for your intended target.
Every marketer understands the importance of proper research on everything from the market to the individual prospects and customers.
Artificial intelligence can be used to quickly pull data from multiple sources, organize it, and present it to marketers for consumption. This allows for greater accuracy across the board, but especially in audience and customer insights.
Data-driven agencies like Ayzenberg use AI to collect the data you need, and find the influencers most able to help spread your message. They advocate a listen-create-share workflow powered by analytics, data, and AI.
AI solutions can track customer sentiment and buying habits, uncover their motivations, and make better decisions faster.
“The knowledge you get from AI technology is akin to the knowledge most sales reps have when they research every single buyer in-depth. Today, many companies are already enabling this hyper-personalization at scale, creating context-rich conversations that help businesses understand, connect and relate to their audiences.” ~Aman Naimat, CTO/Senior Vice President of Engineering & Technology, Demandbase
Yes, even content creation can benefit from an artificial intelligence booster.
Most content marketers list creating content and/or identifying suitable topics as their biggest challenges. Finding hot topics is time-consuming but necessary.
At the moment, the best solutions utilize a human-AI collaboration model. Take Quill as one example. They produce AI-enhanced ‘primary content’ – product and category descriptions, shoppable how-to guides, and more – that is fast, customer and SEO optimized, and reflective of brand voice. At scale.
It’s early days, but possible.
Creativity is one of the hallmarks of humanity, and it’s unlikely that AI will ever be able to fully replicate that. That said, it can certainly help us be more productive and make better decisions supported by concrete data. It’s yet another tool in your tool belt.
Ultimately, AI is the bridge that connects platforms, datasets, and tools into a meaningful resource for us, the human innovators.
The world is changing.
Are you ready?
How are you using AI in your overall marketing strategy? Share in the comments below:
Sujan Patel is the co-founder of Web Profits, a growth marketing agency helping companies leverage the latest and greatest marketing strategy to fuel their businesses. Sujan is also a partner in a number of software companies including Mailshake, Right Inbox, VoilaNorbert and Narrow.