People in all kinds of industries are debating artificial intelligence (AI) pros and cons.
AI pros and cons are going to shape future generations – and, indeed, the whole future of our species. Today, however, science fiction is still just a story.
When you’re thinking about AI and what it can do, it’s important to recognize its limitations. But it’s also vital to remember just how quickly it has moved forward.
Seeing both sides of the coin lets you really understand where AI is excellent and where it still has serious shortcomings.
One thing is for sure: You should be using AI.
The more familiar you are with AI capabilities now, the better off you’ll be later. This is an inevitable part of tomorrow’s sales and marketing landscape. As AI pros and cons gradually shift, successful marketers will be there for the whole ride.
What Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) Marketing?
AI marketing refers to marketing tactics that leverage artificial intelligence concepts like machine learning and customer data to predict or anticipate a customer's purchasing habits and improve the buyer's journey.
The growth of analytics solutions and big data over the years has made it easier for marketing professionals to get a more accurate picture of what their target audiences want and need. With these new advances, AI marketing has become a hot commodity in the business world.
The data insights gained from AI marketing provide marketers with a boost in campaign performance and ROI without them having to exert much effort. AI marketing has many benefits, but it also comes with some drawbacks.
The Pros and Cons of AI Marketing
Let’s take a closer look with our ultimate list of AI pros and cons.
Pros of AI Marketing
1. You Deliver Incredibly Responsive Customer Experiences.
AI gets smarter every single time it interacts with a customer. Yes, every time!
Theoretically, humans do this, too. However, it’s unusual for a person to take a “valuable lesson” from every time he or she chats with a customer.
Plus, people have to reflect on past experiences for a while before changing how they approach problems. Not so with AI.
Because of this, your AI will be able to deliver even more personalized customer experiences and refine its ability to deliver sales and other conversions faster. Your customers may find the level of personalization is far beyond what the average rep can offer them.
2. You Earn Higher Website Conversion Rates.
The ultimate goal of today’s sales and marketing AI is to move people along in the buyer's journey. A good AI chatbot is uniquely positioned to do so, since it is inextricably linked with all your other systems – for example, web analytics and inventory.
This means the AI can furnish a truly seamless experience.
Your leads could be asking basic questions about a topic, look at potential solutions, compare them side by side, and schedule a demo all in the same quick interaction. In cases where it makes sense to do so, AI can even handle the entire buy.
3. You Gain More Upsells and Cross-Sells Than Ever Before.
Even experienced sales experts often have difficulty finding new ways to add value to their existing accounts. Of course, it’s far easier to sell to a current customer than to a new one, but how can you make the process faster and easier?
AI is the answer.
Since AI has immediate access to a customer’s entire purchase history – and can infer all of the meanings hidden in the various patterns – it’s easier for an AI-based chat system to move people along the path to helpful (and lucrative) cross-sells.
Upsells remain more challenging. Still, with enough data to crunch and perhaps some simple rules to follow set by tech-savvy humans, AI can direct your customers to the content they’ll use to determine the best options for them.
4. You Enjoy Better, More Efficient Use of Your Data.
You’ve got tons of data, but are you using it the way you should be?
Data that isn’t either stored somewhere for later or applied to a problem immediately is as good as lost. It’s just floating out there. The older it gets and the longer it remains unused, the harder it is to figure out where it all fits within the big picture.
When AI is configured properly, you’ll have data moving directly from collection into use.
An optimized AI system is built to take in data from all kinds of other sources. Now only that, but it immediately captures its own data points and propagates them across every active instance of the AI. That means insights can be distilled down and utilized much faster than before.
5. You Experience Massive Cost Savings.
Cost savings are a big issue for most marketing departments. If you’re going to go through the trouble of selecting, implementing, and learning an enterprise-class solution, you want to be sure it will deliver ROI.
With AI, you win that ROI from at least two distinct sources.
First, there’s the extra revenue you pull from more conversions. That’s obvious.
Second, there’s your newfound ability to achieve more with less. AI means that you don’t need a fleet of customer service representatives sitting at their desks to handle every chat request that comes in. It may even mean you need fewer sales and marketing pros overall.
The lower headcount can make a tremendous difference in costs, especially for early stage businesses.
6. You Get Better Use of Your Time.
If you want to level the playing field and give entrenched industry rivals a good fight, then AI is the way to go. You’ll be able to leverage more productivity out of every hour because you can take a hands-off approach to the giant swirling vortex of new data that is your web chat.
Does this mean you have a completely hands-off approach? Naturally, the answer is no.
When it comes to AI pros and cons, though, it’s hard to overstate how convenient it all is. It can manage, correlate, and even “think” about problems in its area of expertise.
So, instead of laboriously combing through thousands of individual chat interactions, you end up looking at a couple quick reports that make sense of (almost) everything at a glance.
Cons of AI Marketing
1. Not Everyone Wants to Talk to Robots.
Here’s the major downside: Not everyone likes AI chatbots.
Sad, but true!
No matter how hard you work to make your AI personal and personable, some people are going to look at this technology as, well, crap. They’ll feel you’re demonstrating just how unimportant their business is to you – or that you’re simply collecting even more data for nefarious ends.
This probably won’t break an existing brand relationship on its own.
Combined with other factors, though, it may cause some leads to look elsewhere.
2. Algorithms Can Fail.
Algorithms are usually pretty good – assuming they’ve gone through enough testing and they get plenty of relevant, accurate data to run on. But they can also go stupendously wrong, pumping out answers that will only get you closer to your business goals by accident.
This is a worst case scenario, but it can still happen.
And if it does, you’re probably not in a position to notice the difference.
3. AI Still Needs Humans (for Now).
AI can't do everything a human can do. It can't think for itself; it can only do the things it is programmed to do. This means a human must program it. For instance, scheduled messaging may need to be changed if a crisis were to happen.
A computer can't cultivate empathy like a human, so a marketer must change the messaging to reflect their care and compassion.
4. AI Can Come With High Costs and Frequent Maintenance.
Most forms of technology come with a significant cost and a a lot of maintenance. AI is no different, and it may also need many upgrades to adapt to your evolving business environment.
Before you purchase AI tools, you need to evaluate what your ROI will be to make sure the tools you want are worth purchasing.
7 Types of AI Marketing Tools
Here are some relevant types of AI marketing tools and what they are used for today:
1. Customer Service
Brands of all sizes have been experimenting with AI in customer service. Chatbots 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 buyer's 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. 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, 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.
3. Automated Tasks
IFTTT (If this, then that) AI services have made it easy for marketers to schedule their work and to complete menial tasks. Marketers can set up and schedule specific tasks to be completed automatically, when other important actions take place.
This means that one action can automatically complete another. For instance, when you update your Twitter profile picture, then your Facebook picture can also be updated automatically with IFTTT AI tools.
The tasks these services automate are small but can save hundreds of minutes over the course of a year.
4. Personalized Website Experience
AI may not be able to build new website designs from scratch, but it can help you cater to individual visitors.
AI helps you provide your customers with a unique and personalized experience by using highly capable algorithms that analyze a visitor's location, device, interaction, demographics, touchpoints, and other factors to display the best content and offers for each website visitor.
In 2017, 63 percent of survey respondents indicated that artificially intelligent website personalization increased conversion rates and about 61 percent boosted overall customer experience.
5. Image Recognition
AI-powered image recognition has been a hot topic among social media users over the past couple of years. Most people, myself included, enjoy playing around with filters on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Snapchat.
These filters serve a higher purpose other than for people to send funny pictures to their friends. Brands use these filters to connect with their audiences.
They even create their own filters as a part of their marketing campaigns. Image recognition allows for brands to connect with their audiences in a more personal and relevant way.
6. Enhanced PPC Advertising
Pay-per-click advertising is typically handled by humans with most paid search ads taking place on Google and Facebook. With AI-powered technology, you can find new ad channels that have not been accessed by your competitors.
Facebook offers an AI option for companies to use that automatically selects a target audience with their advertising delivery optimization.
You may also use a third-party AI tool like Albert. Albert, the artificial intelligence marketing software, helps you to automate media buying. This marketing platform manages, analyzes, and optimizes PPC ad campaigns.
7. Automated Emails
Email automation is one of the best things to happen to the marketing landscape. Emails can now be sent on a schedule with targeted messaging that fits the customers' needs.
Brands use AI to help them curate personalized messages for their customers in order for them to increase engagement based on a customer's behavior and preferences. This makes it more likely that a customer will click through an email a company sends.
Email automation has helped to free up a good bit of time for human marketers so they can focus on other things.
AI can be a difficult topic for many marketers to truly understand at first. These tools may just seem fun or like a distant dream, but they are real and they can take your business to the next level by helping your team drive traffics and convert leads.
How to Use AI Marketing to Drive Traffic and Leads (+ Examples)
Here are some great ways you can apply AI in your marketing strategy:
Optimize Your Lead Generation Using Predictive Analytics.
Predictive analytics can help you to monitor conversion rates closely. The way it works is a predictive analysis tool can predict who your ideal customers are by leveraging consumer data. The ideal customers are the people who are more likely to make a purchase.
Instead of relying on guesswork, you can cut down the time you spend and your marketing budget by using predictive analytics to determine your most qualified leads.
For example, Datavail, a data administration and data integration provider in North America, began using predictive analytics to help them with lead scoring and data enrichment. They integrated predictive analytics into their CRM and marketing automation software to increase demand generation across several channels.
They used different models and monitored them for about one quarter, and found that they could encourage more leads to advance through the sales funnel by applying Mintigo predictive analysis models.
The results were astronomical! Datavail increased their bookings by 329 percent in less than a year, and they achieved a 146 percent return on investment.
Use Chatbots to Serve Your Audience and Capture More Leads.
Chatbots are becoming more and more popular as companies try to find better ways to answer their customers questions in a quick and efficient manner 24 hours a day.
But, did you know that chatbots serve a greater purpose for AI marketing than just answering customers' basic questions?
You can make use of them by investing in chatbots that can conduct contests, provide quizzes, and deliver promotions to your customers. Your giveaways can help you capture prospect information, such as email addresses or phone numbers.
For instance, the chatbot used by National Geographic engages their visitors using a quiz to help get them interested in one of their yearly Almanacs.
Their chatbot can also have six to eight minute conversations through Facebook Messenger in an Einstein-like fashion that helps them promote their show Genius.
Create Efficient Marketing Campaigns With Automated Emails.
AI has been a game changer for email marketing. It allows emails to be created and scheduled out for months to reach different customers.
This is great if segmentation is a part of your marketing strategy because you can create different emails to provide more value to your subscribers.
AI technology can track and analyze consumer reading habits when your emails are sent and opened. This helps to determine how your subscribers interact with different emails and gives you a better idea of what they are interested in so you can send them more emails based on their interests.
For example, AdoreMe, the online subscription-based lingerie company, used a one-size-fits-all approach to email marketing between 2014 and 2016 until they discovered Optimove’s technology.
Optimove allowed them to find around 60 segments so they could begin personalizing and automating their marketing messages. They were able to break customers down into segments, such as where they shopped from, the device they shopped on, and the average amount they spent.
With AdoreMe's new data-driven email marketing campaign, they began sending more specific messages to their customers and saw their monthly revenue increase by 15 percent.
Produce In-Depth, Complex Content With Machine Learning.
Copywriting should be human right? Wrong. AI can actually help you to achieve more humanity in your written content.
AI machine learning can produce on-brand content for your site by analyzing large amounts of sample text to detect patterns such as syntax, narrative themes, and word choice. Persado has technology that goes further because it has the ability to detect punctuation, specific words, phrases, formatting choices, and other narrative elements.
They tested copy written by humans versus copy generated by AI, and found that the AI version performed better with customers.
Get Your Customers Involved in the AI Experience.
Customers love to experiment with AI features. It truly gets them engaged and allows them to participate in the fun that AI can provide in the buying experience.
Take Nike for example. Nike created an interesting system in 2017 called the "Nike Makers' Experience" that invited customers to try on a plain pair of Nike Presto X shoes and allow them to choose their own fun colors, patterns, and graphics to reflect their personal style.
How did they do it? They used augmented reality and a series of projectors that showed the designs on the shoes so customers could try before they buy.
The designs were then able to be printed on the sneaker and available for the customers to take home in 90 minutes.
You can do something similar for your customers on a smaller scale by allowing them to create their own unique experiences with your AI tech.
AI pros and cons look pretty favorable right now, but the fact of the matter is AI still needs real people to function. Without help from experienced, enthusiastic humans, AI can only do a small fraction of the job at hand.
Yes, it does that portion well – but the end results aren’t strategic. You won’t achieve much in comparison to a team using AI to its utmost potential.
The bottom line: AI in marketing is a winning bet ... as long as you’re willing to take it seriously and integrate it into a complete digital marketing and sales plan. Although AI isn’t perfect today, it’s poised to get better and better.