Did you know that the algorithm behind YouTube’s content recommendations system is AI-based? If you work in marketing, you’re probably aware of this. You should also know that most highly-successful ad campaigns are powered by AI algorithms.
In the world of digital marketing, the machines work side by side with specialists to improve ads, create and provide better content, increase reach, and keep users engaged and happy. AI has the power and speed to process unbelievable amounts of data while marketers have the creativity and spark to use the results.
In this article
What Exactly is AI in Marketing?
A recent PwC study shown that around 72% of the marketers interviewed consider AI as something of an advantage in business. But what exactly does AI entail and how it can be used as an advantage?
In short, AI stands for artificial intelligence, which is a broad term used to define new technologies that have the ability to understand, learn, and act based on the information they receive. As such, these technologies are not just mindless processors of information. We now have various algorithms integrated into chatbots, digital assistants (like Alexa & Siri), and recommendation systems that can make decisions based on relevant data.
In the world of marketing, we are mostly influenced by what specialists call ‘assisted intelligence’. This is a branch of AI that’s already well integrated into users’ lives but also can provide an advantage in a business that’s entirely based on drawing complex conclusions from a deluge of data originating in a wide range of sources.
One of the main issues marketers have nowadays is the amount of data that pour in on a daily basis. In order to make useful decisions, marketers must be able to process and understand these data as they come in. Sadly, this is not humanly possible, especially considering that our brain is afflicted by cognitive bias.
Luckily, we now have access to AI-powered systems that have the capacity and power to process incoming data and provide comprehensive reports, recommendations, and solutions. However, their accuracy is highly influenced by the quality of the received data, as such, it’s crucial to make sure the sources are reliable.
In addition, intelligent systems can use computational concepts (like Machine Learning) to predict the audience’s behavior in a given scenario. This takes away the guesswork and allows businesses to refine their targeting campaigns in order to become relevant for the right people using the best channels.
Customer service is another marketing segment where AI is extremely useful. We now have digital assistants and intelligent chatbots that can sustain a natural conversation. On one side, people are encouraged to use the technology (and most of them actually enjoy it). On the other side, chatbots improve customer satisfaction and help reduce costs.
But the main advantage for marketers is that now the information is constantly monitored and we have systems that learn customers’ behavior and can offer a higher degree of personalization. Marketers can now approach smaller segments of their audience, playing on each person’s preferences and offering customized recommendations and advice.
Does Your Competition Use It?
While many business owners and even marketers were skeptical at first, the number of companies that use AI algorithms in one way or another is increasing. It started with industry innovators like Google and Facebook, but nowadays we also see medium and small companies interested in introducing automation in their daily processes.
As it turns out companies that use AI for marketing managed to increase their ROI and profits. This happened because they know what content is relevant for their audience, which leads to increased engagement and overall sales). Due to AI-powered platforms (like Phrasee), marketers now can create copy that targets micro-segments of their audience, which is a very efficient method of reaching out and connecting with possible customers.
A good example to consider here is the partnership between Dell and Persado (the world’s leading technology in AI-generated marketing creative). As a result, Dell managed to increase its conversion rate by 45% and its page visits by 22%.
So yes, your competition may already be using AI or, at least, consider using it in the near future.
The First Step: Understand Your Needs
AI is amazing, but it’s still a tool to use in your strategies. If it’s not used correctly, or if it is fed the wrong data, it will deliver low-quality results. As such, you must understand what it can offer to your specific needs.
We saw this first-hand, in 2016, during the US presidential election when most polling aggregators predicted, with over 70% confidence, a Clinton victory (which we know was incorrect). In hindsight, the error started with the way data was collected and continued with forgetting to account for the human element.
As such, we should see some training in artificial intelligence solutions for marketers, so this type of mistake doesn’t happen in the future. We believe it is paramount that people, who are responsible for collecting and processing data, understand how the artificial intelligence process works.
So, before you even think about adding AI to your marketing toolkit, let’s take a deeper look into how it may be of help.
Where Does AI Fit Best in Marketing?
Data Processing and Analysis
Marketing campaigns and lead scoring are data-driven tasks that require an analytical mind and lots of processing power. Furthermore, AI-powered systems are capable of analyzing large chunks of data and predicting upcoming trends.
This way, marketers have access to better leads and know who to target using trends that are relatable to possible customers. Even more, some companies use AI to create intent-driven ads based on what the algorithm knows and understands about possible clients.
The best examples of data-driven campaigns and marketing in general come from big companies like Google, Amazon, or Facebook. These platforms all use intelligent systems to deliver highly relatable ads and make recommendations based on past behavior, upcoming trends in the areas they’re interested in, and other factors. As a result, everyone’s feed is unique as the content is displayed based on individual preferences.
Content Organization & Personalization
Once you know the target audience, you also know the channels they prefer and the type of approach to adopt. But, with the help of AI, marketers now can personalize the content in order to appeal to specific people. They can also know what sentiments to include and how to connect with each individual at a more personal level.
By analyzing historical browsing and transactional patterns, intelligent systems can understand customer’s behavior and can predict the type of content that will be appealing to them. In addition, it can be used to plan content strategies and the best channels to use.
For instance, the Associated Press uses AI to generate stories (based on data) that are no different than the ones written by a human journalist. This doesn’t mean they fired their journalists (the tech can’t write in-depth pieces), it only means writers could focus more on quality and less on quantity.
Intelligent chatbots are already a thing in many industries and they help improve customers’ experience when they ask for support or require information. In these cases, AI uses natural language to support human-friendly conversations and provide the required data at lightning speed.
Also, chatbots are active day and night and one system can handle several simultaneous conversations. Lastly, chatbots are designed to learn and understand people’s behavior, which means that, with each interaction, they get better.
A good example of such a chatbot is ChatBotlr, the system used by Marriott International. The chatbot is available in Facebook Messenger and Slack and helps Marriott Rewards members to plan and book their travels. The system does the booking and offers recommendations based on the user’s preferences and Marriott’s database.
At first glance, AI has a bad reputation in the world. Hollywood and dystopian novels taught us that smart robots are dangerous and that they will enslave humanity for their own benefit. On top of that, the media is buzzing with sensational titles that scare people into thinking that robots will render them obsolete and take their jobs.
Of course, there is the other school of thought, where we consider AI the miracle solution for all of our world’s problems.
In reality, AI and all its associated solutions are neither. While it is indeed a wonderful technological opportunity with plenty of potential, it’s also a tool. It can identify and provide recommendations for a large array of complex problems, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t go any further (yet).
The new technologies will not replace humans. They will be able to take over routine tasks that suck the soul out of human operators, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Also, this is the type of technology that can help us improve ourselves by correcting cognitive bias and democratizing services that today are not easily available to everyone (education, healthcare advice and monitoring, law and financial advice).
The Second Step: Find the Best Tools
Once you know the segments that can be automated in your marketing process, the second step is finding and implementing the tools that fit your needs.
There are lots of platforms and AI-powered tools available right now, so, in order to work, this step must be adapted to your business situation.
Tools for Content
We already mentioned Persado and Phrasee when it comes to managing and creating content for ads and social media campaigns. However, if you don’t have a generous marketing budget, you may find them a bit costly.
So, small and medium-sized businesses looking to get a buzz going around their brand or products could be happier with a tool like Woorise. This platform is more accessible and uses various channels that can raise engagement from different types of audiences. In addition, it allows users to personalize the tools they prefer, thus providing full freedom.
Lastly, did you know that Grammarly is an AI-powered tool? Its job is to correct your writing as you write copy for ads, text for blog posts, emails, and more. It won’t catch all your mistakes, but it is free and extremely easy to integrate over different platforms and it is designed to learn your style and provide recommendations to improve it.
Data Processing Tools
In today’s day and age, all businesses and marketers need access to a platform that collects and processes data from different sources. One such platform is Import.io – it imports data from any web page and then applies machine learning algorithms to compile and understand. With this platform, marketers can do a lot of things from researching competitors to analyzing customers’ reviews.
Lead Identification Tool
AI is great at identifying the best leads for your business as it eliminates the guesswork and offers actionable recommendations. However, it’s important to highlight that everything starts with the quality of data that is being fed into the algorithm.
For instance, Nudge is an AI-powered platform that keeps your CRM up to date with all your contacts, their interaction with your online channels, and how they relate to your brand. This frees the sales team to focus on actual sales, which can lead to an increase in profits.
On the other hand, if you don’t use a CRM or don’t have a sales team, you may want to consider a tool like BrightFunnel. This one uses AI to help optimize the sales funnels in order to turn those hard-earned leads into customers.
We already mentioned intelligent chatbots and how they can help companies improve customer service and experience. But you should also know they can be effective for smaller companies as they can cover a wide array of operations from starting a basic conversation to performing basic activities (booking, financial operations, offering personalized information), thereby fostering operational excellence.
Businesses can use the built-in Facebook Messenger chatbot or they can build their own using one of the available platforms.
Artificial Intelligence is far from being the boogeyman of our century (as it is still portrayed in movies or some scientific journals). In fact, it may be the technology we need to move forward and create a better life for ourselves. When it comes to marketing, the situation is quite clear: AI-powered tools and platforms are taking over, so businesses must know how to adapt.