Think of a task you hate most, be it washing dishes, mowing the lawn or even budgeting. Maybe it’s something at work, like generating performance reports or planning team meetings. Now, imagine how awesome it would be if technology could do all that work for you. Imagine how much more convenient it would be and how much happier you’d feel, and imagine how much time you’d regain — time you can invest elsewhere.
That is exactly the kind of profound impact that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies are having on the world right now. As they become more advanced and more capable, they are starting to replace menial and repetitive tasks all while improving existing methods. It is also a great example of what AI can do for the business world, specifically in marketing. In fact, not only will it help automate some of the more rote tasks, but it will often perform them with higher efficiency than human workers.
Artificial Intelligence Is Not a Pipe Dream
One of the first things to understand is that proposed applications of AI and machine learning are much more than a pipe dream — many solutions are either in play already or soon to be implemented.
In fact, you might be surprised to know that AI already powers a lot of the interactions and experiences you have. Smart voice assistants are the obvious example, but retailers also use AI to provide better advertising and promotional campaigns. Marketers, on the other hand, rely on AI to improve the customer experience, launch more informed or even predictive advertising, handle market forecasting and even provide customer support.
How AI Changes Marketing
Today’s AI powers a technology called machine learning, which is a cognitive subset of the same artificial systems. It was designed to work like the human brain, learning over time as it ingests more information and grows in experience. Machine learning doesn’t necessarily achieve all this on its own — however, many of the modern technologies work in tandem. Big data systems especially can help feed the kind of information and insights into a machine learning platform that ultimately power its growth and development.
All of this contributes to a technology that is incredible at automating and improving upon existing processes, across a wide variety of industries. But in marketing specifically, it’s really good at improving the relationship between companies and consumers. What this means for marketers is better and more successful interactions with audiences or prospective customers.
Even in its current form — and AI still has a long growth trajectory ahead — the technology can provide many benefits, all of which change marketing for the better. Here are seven of them.
1. Smarter Insights
By collecting and processing raw data, AI platforms can help marketers learn unprecedented amounts of information about the world.
Marketers can now understand things like why customers visit a company site, what they do when they get there, what elements they avoid or don’t like and even how that affects future visits. They can also track sales and customer experiences to deliver better and more improved interactions in the future.
When a customer walks away, for example, marketers now have enough data to see why that happened. More importantly, they can get to the absolute core of why a customer might behave a certain way or make a particular decision.
It provides the opportunity for highly-predictive yet increasingly more successful actions, as a result of the incoming data — all organized in the form of trends and datasets by the supporting AI tools.
2. Chatbots and Automated Support Tools
It can also be used to power entirely new and interactive platforms. Chatbots are an excellent example of this, which are meant to provide always-on, accurate customer support with the help of AI and voice assistants. National Geographic’s chat with Albert Einstein via Facebook Messenger shows just how advanced these tools can get.
Chatbots help answer customer questions and concerns, deal with simple account problems and may even reach out to prospective audiences through mobile apps and digital experiences.
3. Content Curation
In the real world, Netflix uses AI for content curation. Their toolset will analyze a user’s browsing and viewing histories to recommend more accurate programs. It takes into account user ratings, how many times someone has watched a show or movie, whether it was completed, and also if it was rewound or fast-forwarded. This relates to marketing because advertising teams could very much rely on a similar strategy for deploying targeted ads and promotions.
It presents a new form of content curation, as well. You can tailor publications and releases for certain demographics, or even to achieve certain tasks — like hyping up a new product or service with existing customers.
4. Real-Time Insights
For a long time, marketing has been about learning from past events. You would plan out an event or action, measure just about every element related to it, then take that information to make better decisions later. That strategy still exists and can be incredibly helpful.
But with the help of AI, a better solution has appeared, relying on real-time, in-the-moment data. As you’re making a decision or running a promotion, for example, you can collect and analyze information in real-time. If an ad campaign is not performing as well as it should, you can adjust accordingly or stop it before wasting more resources. This results in a highly-optimized and more successful environment.
5. Higher Return on Investment
When you combine all the disparate elements of marketing, you can see the big picture. Collectively, you might look at customer behavior, sales performance, advertising or promotional views, inventory and supply chain updates and even prospective interest. All of these things can be measured and followed to improve upon existing strategies.
When you have more information, you can make more informed decisions that result in higher revenues and ROI ratings.
6. Finding New Audiences
A big challenge for marketers is finding ways to engage with consumers in new demographics or focus groups. Initially, you might not understand what they want or prefer out of an experience. You may also have a tough time identifying why they wouldn’t resonate with a product or service, or even a certain promotional campaign.
AI can help in this regard by monitoring customer behavior and highlighting areas where they overlap with your existing customer base.
7. Sales and Performance Forecasting
George Santayana said it best: “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
The same can be said for marketers and businesses that fail to understand the progress of past campaigns and actions. But what AI offers is the chance to accurately predict what’s going to happen in the now. With the help of past statistics, current market and customer insights and ingenious technologies, an AI platform can tell you almost exactly how a campaign or event is going to play out — that’s an invaluable tool to have.
AI Will Transform Marketing as We Know It
In the end, marketing AI is really nothing more than an additional solution to interact with customers in smarter, more efficient ways. That doesn’t make it any less awe-inspiring, however. Furthermore, it’s definitely going to change the marketing world — one could even say transform it entirely.