The role artificial intelligence plays in our day-to-day lives is more actively integrated than ever before—and that role continues to grow. From powering our GPS to deciding what kind of content we see on our favorite social media platforms, AI is everywhere, almost omnipresent, even. For businesses, this explosion of AI capabilities has been ripe with opportunities. From being able to better understand internal processes to helping extract clearer insights from consumers, the umbrella of tech that is AI has proved to be an irreplaceable asset for teams across all industries.
Specifically in the marketing world, this tech is making it easier than ever to create engaging content that drives conversions, scrape valuable consumer data to make better decisions, and access industry insights faster than ever before. To better understand how AI marketing is transforming business as we know it, let’s go over a few basics first.
What is AI Marketing?
In today’s ever-changing landscape, speed is foundational to a successful marketing strategy. Being able to hop on the latest trends and respond quickly to evolving consumer preferences is key to brands staying resilient—just think of how quickly brands had to pivot in 2020. Creating a strategy based around AI marketing helps ensure that level of speed and agility can be attained by any team.
How? Through different use cases like real-time analytics and automated chatbots, brands are able to leverage AI to make more efficient and data-driven decisions, better understand consumer insights, and even speak to customers in more engaging and successful ways. All of these things work together to help marketing teams focus less on gathering insights themselves, and spend more time on high-value tasks like content ideation and creation.
AI marketing has become an increasingly valuable (and necessary) way for businesses to better connect with consumers. And many applications of AI are helping teams bridge the gap between vast swaths of available data, and real, meaningful insights.
How businesses are leveraging AI
So how are today’s brands taking advantage of AI marketing and all of its myriad capabilities? Let’s take a look at some of the most popular use cases for artificial intelligence that marketing teams are utilizing.
Customer service chatbots
Today’s marketing and customer service teams can’t spend all day engaging with and responding to customers. Yet today’s customers expect 24/7, 365 service, whenever and however.
Fortunately, AI is helping bridge this gap through chatbot technology. Through a mixture of AI and guided-conversation trees, bots can interact with users, answering common questions, fetching information, and connecting users with human customer service agents. Increasingly common in eCommerce and real estate in particular, chatbots are one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways brands can incorporate AI marketing into their wider strategy.
A fascinating subset of artificial intelligence, machine learning involves programs and algorithms utilizing information to learn and optimize their performance. In marketing, this is often used behind the scenes to help teams analyze information in deeper and more meaningful ways. What’s more, machine learning can help teams A/B test things like copywriting, web design, and even entire ad campaigns to see which create the best reactions and engagement with consumers.
Full-scale AI platform solutions
These days, marketers have more data than they know what to do with. To help parse through all of this data, AI platform solutions have been created to give teams a leg up. Brands can input target audience parameters and watch as these platforms pull valuable insights from the data pools they have on hand. From larger trends to hyper-specific insights, these platforms can help steer marketing teams in the right direction.
Challenges and considerations
Despite the variety of applications of AI marketing, there are also a few challenges and considerations teams should make before diving into them. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list—just a few of the most pressing considerations surrounding AI in marketing.
Now more than ever, people are aware of the data they produce and the ways brands store and use that data. While some are okay with brands using their data to gather insights, many more value their privacy, and both consumers and regulatory agencies are cracking down on how brands can get data. This means that today’s AI marketing algorithms need to be formulated and built with these regulatory standards and best practices in mind—or risk penalties.
Quality of data
The quality of an AI solution is inherently tied to the quality of the data it’s able to draw from. The thing about AI is it doesn’t know the difference between good and bad data, and that lack of understanding can be a big impediment to marketing teams that don’t understand the difference either. This can lead to unhelpful insights at best and highly biased insights at worst. This is why it’s important to train AI marketing solutions with only high quality data sets, and make sure teams are equipped with the education and tools they need to collect this quality data.
Another step marketing teams have to be willing to undertake when utilizing AI is creating a standardized set of best practices for its specific use. Since AI is still a new and emerging tool, there is no widely-practiced set of standards to help guide teams forward. But that doesn’t mean your team can’t be the first to do so!
The future of AI marketing capabilities
One of the most exciting things about AI marketing in business is that it’s all still so new. There are a variety of use cases and applications that are still being created, and many more that are still in their infancy. Here are a few that many consider to be the near future of AI marketing tech:
Truly personalized experiences
Much of today’s digital marketing strategies are shaped by automation, which saves marketers time, but doesn’t create the kind of personalized experience and engagement that today’s consumers want. With advanced AI however, future marketing teams will be able to create more personalized, omnichannel marketing than ever through machine learning. Think Netflix’s ‘for you’ recommendations, but more detailed than ever, based on factors like day/time, demographics, and more.
Natural Language Processing
While natural language processing (or NLP, for short), is becoming more popular in applications like chatbots, the tech’s capabilities just aren’t quite up to par yet. Unlike artificial intelligence using canned replies to direct users where they want to go, NLP works to understand all the nuances of human speech and communication to give users more helpful and engaging experiences. Within the next few years, expect to see a huge improvement in this area of AI’s capabilities.
Today, around 20% of all searches are voice-powered. Virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa are helping people retrieve information not just at the press of a button, but at the call of a simple voice command. For marketers, voice search is the next big frontier to master, and many are working on AI marketing strategies that explicitly leverage voice to help drive conversions. For example, the eBay chatbot built for Google Assistant utilizes voice-recognition capabilities to help users find the best deals through voice search.
The realm of AI marketing branches out into a lot of exciting avenues for marketing teams to explore. As these technologies continue to advance, so too will their capabilities. In order to stay competitive in the oncoming years, businesses will need to stay forward-thinking on the opportunities AI provides. And how much better their marketing could be even starting today.