How is AI Changing Marketing (And How to Prepare Your Business)
2018 isn’t even over yet, but we’ve already produced 30 zettabytes of data. So what’re 30 zettabytes of data really like? Well, Christopher Penn suggests a staggering analogy: If 1 GB is a brick, with 30 zettabytes we could build 14 Great Walls of China in a single day.
You get the idea, right?
Thanks to all this growing data in every field, the use of artificial intelligence (that basically feeds of all this data) is growing. Companies are expected to invest about $7.3 billion a year in AI by 2022. They plan on using AI to improve everything right from their marketing operations and backend processes to customer interactions.
Among many industries, the marketing industry is one that AI can totally disrupt. In fact, more than one-fourth of marketers believe that the next big marketing trend is AI. And when it comes to choosing marketing technology solutions, more than 50% of marketers find native AI capabilities indispensable.
What is Artificial Intelligence for Marketing?
Marketing is the art of displaying the right message to the right prospect, at the right time.
The incorporation of Artificial Intelligence in marketing is relying on the limitless processing capacity of connected networks and machine learning to fine tune “what” messages create the biggest impact, “who” can benefit the most from them and “when” the messages are likely to inspire actions that benefit both prospects and brands.
Let’s now look at the future of artificial intelligence and how it can power better marketing for your company.
AI for More Effective Content Marketing
AI can help with one of the most pressing challenges for most content marketers: content creation. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2018, 20% of all business content will be bot-generated.
Many AI-based tools already offer to create content — AI-writer.com, for example.
Now, how the quality of some bot-generated content compares to that produced by humans is up for a debate … but bots can help create content at scale and that’s a given.
In addition to writing, AI also makes creating visual content easier and faster. Take Adobe Sensei, for instance. Its Auto Tag feature uses AI to identify what an image is about and then automatically adds the relevant tags to it. Such smart tagging dramatically improves the files’ discoverability when clients need them.
“We did several manual search queries against a customer’s repository and showed the assets we were able to find. Then we applied Smart Tagging and did the same searches. This time the results were significantly better and much more comprehensive. And in a fraction of the time.” — Jonas Dahl, product manager for Adobe Experience Manager.
Besides content creation, AI also helps with effective testing, optimizing, scheduling, and promoting content among other things.
Using AI analytics, Visit Utah found that photos that had Fir trees outperformed the average by 53% while the ones with families did 30% below average.
AI for Better Marketing Emails
As the marketing channel with the highest ROI, email marketing already sees a good degree of AI adoption.
By using AI to send emails, you don’t just bring down your unsubscribes but also drive up the engagement and sales from each of your campaigns.
The most important thing that AI makes possible for email marketing is the email content personalization.
With AI, you can email thousands of subscribers and still make your emails feel like one-on-one interactions between your company and the subscriber. AI uses legacy data such as a subscriber’s interaction with your website or store, their buying history, email preferences and more to send emails that sound like they’re written exclusively for them.
AI also helps email marketers write better email copy. With AI’s natural language processing capabilities, AI-enabled email marketing solutions recommend words that can help invoke the right emotions in the subscribers. This can be used both in the email subject line as well as throughout the copy to ensure better click-through rates and conversions.
Also, a popular application for AI in email marketing is in the automation area. AI-enabled email automation in the form or autoresponders (or ‘drip campaigns’) are data-backed and unlike campaigns that are set up manually, they’re dynamically generated based on the subscribers’ interaction history with a website. AI-powered email automation also uses best send times for sending the campaigns optimizing the chances of an open.
Artificial Intelligence for More Engaging Social Media Marketing
One thing that AI is already helping with in the social media marketing area is content production. You have many great AI-powered social media marketing solutions that discover, curate (or create), and share relevant and engaging stories with your social followers.
The Washington Post, for example, uses its AI technology to write everything from reports to tweets to alerts:
Social listening is another common application for AI in social media marketing. This is possible because AI algorithms can monitor all the user-generated content for a brand at scale and help understand how the customers feel about a brand.
AI can also precisely identify the users’ sentiments based on their social content (feedback, tweets, Facebook posts, etc).
AI helps brands reach newer and more relevant audiences using historical data to find and target the social media habitues who belong to certain ideal customer demographics.
Social media platforms too are using AI to become more ‘intelligent’. For example, Pinterest acquired Kosei (an AI company that specializes in personalized product recommendations for Pinterest users) and LinkedIn acquired Bright.com (an AI company using machine learning to analyze hiring patterns, job descriptions and more to match employers with the right job candidates).
AI for Reducing Customer Churn
For any subscription-based business, retaining customers is as important as finding new customers. Getting a new customer onboard costs anywhere between five to twenty-five times of retaining an existing customer.
Which makes keeping the customer churn in check a top priority for most marketing teams. Luckily, AI’s predictive analytics can help companies stop a lot of their customers from abandoning them.
AI’s predictive analysis helps identify the traits of disengaged customers (by comparing them against the traits of loyal customers). Using these insights, you can spot users who you’re at the risk of losing. Once you know the accounts that are ready to switch, you can work towards re-engagement through tactics like drip campaigns, incentives and helpful, candid 1:1 conversations to help them reach their goals.
Data iku has built a market around offering custom AI powered applications which can be queried by sales teams in real time for churn insights and actionable recommendations to prevent losing a customer.
AI for Better SEO and Advertising (PPC)
Search engines have a mind of their own. They already use AI to understand a user’s intent and the meaning of the myriad pieces of content they browse to fetch the right results. This makes AI a natural use case in winning the SEO game.
You already have AI-enabled SEO tools that help you tweak content to make it more search engine-friendly. There are also solutions that identify your top competitors’ best-performing SEO content and help you fix the content/SEO gaps so that you can rank better.
SEMRush boasts SEO content templates that are a top notch actionable embodiment of the power of AI. These templates analyze the SERP results for particular keywords and offer ways to ensure that your content for those same keywords can go above and beyond your competitors.
Another key area AI helps SEO with is its insights on topic clusters. AI-powered SEO tools help discover topics to cover on a website to build a strong SEO foundation. Many of these AI SEO tools use the same machine learning and language processing technologies that search engines use.
AI SEO solutions also work exclusively on optimizing PR, local reviews, eCommerce, and other areas that contribute toward better SEO.
Just like SEO, PPC and advertising make a great use case for AI.
Alibaba’s marketing division, Alimama, has created an AI solution that helps Alibaba vendors write their product copy. With this technology, as soon as a vendor lists a new product, they can click on the ‘Produce Smart Copy’ button and they’ll see multiple ideas for the product copy.
A report by Alizila, the online news outlet of Alibaba, said the AI “has passed the Turing test and is capable of producing 20,000 lines of copy in a second…brands using the new tool, such as fashion chain Esprit and Texas-born clothing brand Dickies, can adjust the length and tone of their copy, such as dictating whether they want the tone to be promotional, functional, fun, poetic or heartwarming.”
In addition to writing the copy, AI helps with PPC (and advertising) logistics. For example, AI-enabled PPC tools help set advanced targeting rules that ensure maximum ROI. There are also tools like Google Cloud Machine Learning Engine to help you improve your PPC performance.
Soon, a lot of advertising operations will be taken care of by AI including identifying trends in large data sets, performing competitor analysis, doing data analysis, reporting.
How to Use Artificial Intelligence in Marketing?
When it comes to leveraging Artificial Intelligence for marketing operations — or for any other operation for that matter — understand the aspects that will benefit the most from AI intervention.
For example, you can automate tasks like ‘predicting if and when a product might go out of task‘ but you might not need to automate the work of writing the copy for the product.
- Identify the marketing areas you struggle with
- Can they take advantage of the predictive and prescriptive power of Artificial Intelligence?
- Break your problem down into processes to improve
- Once you’ve identified the processes to automate, think about the data you’ll need to make the automation possible. As you know, data is the fuel AI or machine learning, which means the more data you have, the more ‘intelligent’ your marketing and your marketing solutions can get.
- Start collecting data if you aren’t already doing that. Also, think strategically about the data you need to collect and structure it according to your short and long-term goals. Speaking of data collection, ensure that you comply with GDPR and collect and use your data only in ethical and permission-based ways. Check out this webinar by James Chiodo (a Certified Information Privacy Professional) where he walks you through all the major GDPR concerns when collecting and using user data in your campaigns.
- Finally invest some time learning data mining languages like Python and R. You can always hire developers but it wouldn’t hurt to know a thing or two yourself. The course ‘Machine Learning‘ by Stanford University is a good starting point.
- Measure the impact of incorporating artificial intelligence in marketing. Create trends for your KPIs and track the changes. If you’re moving towards more leads, or even softer goals like reduced time to undertake the marketing processes – you’re on the right path.
Wrapping it Up…
As you walk the Artificial Intelligence path, make sure your employees don’t feel ‘insecure’ about their jobs — or, they’ll become less productive.
Explain to them that it’s the human-machine team that wins, and that the bots can only do so much. Besides, in most cases, initially, you’ll only have your routine tasks taken care of by AI, which will only increase the time your team has available for creative tasks. Tell your staff that AI reshapes and streamlines their job roles — it doesn’t eliminate them.
Also, there’s no doubt that AI in marketing has a big place in the cognitive world we’re heading into.
So embrace AI now, rather than later.
You don’t have to start by investing in IBM Watson. Think about the AI-enabled marketing solutions that are already in your reach and experiment with them. You’ll see the potential, the pitfalls and the way forward yourself.