5 min read
AI is changing marketing, and that’s only the beginning.
Many experts believe AI – with its tremendous power to drive automation of the most complex processes – will be as transformative to the economy and the world as the Industrial Revolution.
In the next century, a whole lot of the most boring and tedious work might just disappear from the face of the Earth forever. Right here and right now, however, there’s a lot to be excited about.
Digital marketers are finding themselves on the forefront of the AI revolution!
Digital marketing is perfectly suited for AI for a variety of reasons:
- It all happens online, with few physical inputs that AI can’t account for.
- It’s already driven by tools that make sense of high-velocity Big Data.
- Like AI itself, it’s part and parcel with automating the low-level details.
In marketing as well as everything else, we’re still at the dawn of the AI age.
But, while it’s 6 a.m. for every other industry, it’s already about 8:30 in the morning for those of us lucky enough to be involved in digital marketing. We’ve had a preview of things to come, and there are already plenty of ways change is rippling through the marketing landscape.
The faster your company adopts AI, the better!
So, what AI applications are already changing the way marketing is done?
1. Customer Service
Brands of all sizes have been experimenting with AI in customer service. “Chat bots” are becoming more common as companies look for an interactive solution that doesn’t include the occasional delays and missteps you just can’t avoid with human customer service reps.
Most brands aren’t ready to throw in the towel on the human touch – lots of customers still prefer it, especially later in the buyers journey. Still, it’s exciting to know there’s a fully scalable way to make sure every customer contact is completely personalized based on past behavior.
2. Customer Journey Analytics
Any discussion of the buyers journey inevitably has to grapple with the fact that a lot of stuff goes on behind the scenes. Even the best lead attribution tools miss out on a lot of this backstage information, including lots of content and platforms that influence the final sale.
AI has the capability to synthesize customer data like never before, shedding light on more of what really goes on in the Consideration phase. Never-ending Decision phases will be a thing of the past, too, as there’ll always be something to add to your growing knowledge.
When all is said and done, cross-platform analytics and attribution will enter a new phase of life.
3. Content Personalization
Content personalization is the core of what’s enticing marketers to take a serious look at AI in the first place. We all know that personalization, used well, is much more likely to cut through the noise and get attention than even the most valuable generic content.
The question has always been: How do we take that next step?
AI content personalization is the answer. It goes beyond simple, but effective techniques (like first name personalization in emails) to incorporate factors like location, platform, length of brand relationship, content consumed, platforms used, social identity and much more.
As these combine in astonishing new ways, each piece of content will have more potential than ever to deliver value, foster trust, and build rapport. Complex results will come from relatively small, modular pieces of content, making the content creation cycle a little less hectic.
4. Smarter Ads
Ads are one of a company’s main tools for re-engaging prospects when the buyers journey drags on, particularly in the middle. Combined with enhanced journey analytics, AI will make it possible for the right ad to show up at the right time in the right platform.
Ads will not only be more effective, but may even be less expensive, all while driving positive user sentiment. Instead of a “brute force” approach that shows up everywhere a prospect might be, ads can take a lighter touch: Triggering when contextual factors suggest a buy is imminent.
5. Better Search
No less a source than Google itself wants marketers to know about AI.
Google is home to some of the most advanced machine learning algorithms in the world today, but marketers identifying buyer intent still find themselves holding up a finger in the wind: Looking for slight differences in search terms and evolution of vocabulary to learn about users.
A broader and deeper understanding of why people search the way they do and what they do between searches is coming. Marketers will have insight into customer search patterns across platforms and can deploy their own AI to keep content optimized in a changing world.
... and Much, Much More
As amazing as all of this is, it’s truly only the beginning.
One of the enduring facts about technology is that it’s hard to predict. Even the most incisive visionaries can misunderstand or fail to recognize the direction and pace of change.
Just look at Star Trek. One of the most complete and compelling visions of humanity’s future still had Starfleet Captain Jean-Luc Picard reading newspapers in the 24th century.
Writers working in the 90s couldn’t imagine a world where legacy newspapers were completely superseded by mobile technology ... even though they depicted a time where people could cross the galaxy with ease and “Computer” was always ready to answer a request.
Technology is emergent: There’s no way of knowing how all the different breakthroughs will work together and influence each other.
So, when we talk about AI, it’s also important to think about trends like the Internet of Things and virtual reality that are developing right before our eyes.
In a hundred years, fifty, or even twenty, talk about display ads and content personalization might seem as quaint to the people of the future as Picard’s newspaper.
Until that day comes, it’s a sure bet AI will be the driving force behind some of the biggest evolutions in marketing, both online and off.
Published on April 26, 2018