Triggering marketing impact through Artificial Intelligence
Marketing is a sector that has among the most to gain from artificial intelligence (AI). At its core, the purpose of marketing is to understand customer requirements, map them to relevant products and services, and persuade people to buy. AI has the capacity to significantly enhance the power of marketing. A 2018 McKinsey study of over 400 use cases involving advanced AI techniques, found that marketing was the function where AI had the most significant potential. And as per a Salesforce report, from 2018 to 2020, adoption of AI by marketers saw a whopping 186% increase.
What can AI do for marketing?
AI-driven marketing uses technology to improve customer experience. AI collects large and diverse amounts of data on customer sentiment, transactions, journeys, and everything in between, and uses that to build machine learning and predictive algorithms on customer behaviour. The goal is to develop customer acquisition and retention strategies, and to generate personalized content, recommendations, and communications. AI promises accurate, rapid, adaptive, and human-like decisions that will help save costs, increase revenue, and improve customer satisfaction and experience.
Channelizing AI for the marketing spectrum
While machines haven’t yet mastered compassion and empathy, AI can still take care of many other things. It can eliminate human errors in digital marketing, streamline and optimize marketing campaigns, and generate data-based reports. For instance, the personalized email marketing that most of us are familiar with, is largely driven by AI.
Advertising has increasingly become more about specific and targeted messages. Digital advertising can be driven by AI. Google Ads is an example. AI is continuing to totally revamp the way businesses advertise. Programmatic advertising uses complex algorithms and big data to deliver the right kind of ads to the right audience. Studies have shown that click-through rates on AI-generated ads is substantially higher than ads written by humans, with the increase in some cases being even over 400%. Of course, AI-powered ads will only be as good as the data provided.
Content marketing rules the modern business world, and AI can be quite useful in this area. The success of AI lies in its ability to curate and generate the right content for different audiences. Businesses are using AI to recommend personalized services and products to its customers. Natural language processing (NLP) is an AI technology that can churn data to generate effective and compelling stories. The Associated Press and the Washington Post are well-known users of NLP. Technology can also be effectively used by retailers to customize landing pages and generate tailored product placements.
AI-powered chatbots are smart and can generate original responses to communicate with humans. They are commonly used in customer support, lead generation, as also cross-selling and up-selling. Although used by several businesses, many chatbots are still quite rudimentary. A plethora of organizations across the globe are investing significantly in this area.
Customer behaviour analysis
The internet generates a huge amount of data that can predict customer behaviour, but it’s next to impossible for humans to analyze it all. Here, AI provides the perfect solution. It can provide deep insights into customer preferences. Netflix is a case in point; it uses machine learning algorithms to recommend movies and shows to its users.
AI-based dynamic pricing can be used to predict how much a customer is willing to pay for a product or service. Companies even use algorithms to enable modifying prices in real time. Surge pricing in Uber after a major event or related to weather conditions, is an example of this.
In digital marketing, image recognition enhances brand experiences. The popular “similar item” option on shopping sites helps customers with potentially pertinent products, while also enhancing the per-user revenue of e-commerce sites. Similar decision support technologies are also used for security profiling.
Challenges of AI-driven marketing
Incorporating AI into a workflow requires deep understanding and careful integration of machine and human tasks, so that AI enhances people’s skills and does not hamper processes. For example, some chatbots could be ineffective and cause customer dissatisfaction. To avoid potentially costly errors, businesses must be cognizant to not let chatbots have the final word on customer experience. Businesses must develop and acquire the suitable skills required to implement every AI application successfully and impactfully.
Ultimately, it’s about trust. Customers on digital platforms are aware of risks such as data leaks; they need high levels of privacy and security. Many are hesitant to use applications that capture and share location information, often without their explicit knowledge. It’s also true that many are willing to share some personal information to enjoy the innovative conveniences offered by virtual assistant technologies like Alexa. Hence, businesses must ensure transparency while collecting any personal data in exchange for sophisticated AI-powered services. AI initiatives must be duly vetted by businesses from an ethical standpoint, to guarantee security and win customer trust.
The future looks riveting
It’s true that AI in marketing is attracting a lot of investment, however it’s early days yet in the larger picture. CMOs need to be realistic about the ROI that AI technologies can currently offer. Underneath all the glamour and clamour, the capabilities of AI are still limited to certain marketing activities, not necessarily the entire function. Yes, AI-driven digital marketing capabilities are growing rapidly, but it’s not going to be a quick ride to the finish line. It will take time, patience, and confidence. AI strategies created today, and executed robustly, will pay off in the future.
Businesses must be ready to work on building their AI capabilities for the long run, while also addressing any potential challenges. A human-ware approach, that can bring out the best of digital and human capabilities, is ideal. It can help businesses to become inherently sentient, respond with agility, make every interaction hyper-productive and value-adding - behaving like a live enterprise. Interesting times lie ahead, for the confluence of AI and marketing.
This blog was first published by Business Insider.