Let’s start with the basics: artificial intelligence (AI) is technology that allows machines to behave more like humans: learning from experience and actually improving learning, adapting to new information, and performing human-like tasks. AI is what helps Google automatically complete your search term or Facebook suggest friends for you to tag in the photo you’ve posted. Have you ever deposited a check using your phone or reviewed items suggested for you on Amazon? That’s AI at work! It helps you to feel like the machine or program you are using understands and is able to respond to what you need.
How Is AI Changing Marketing?
Artificial intelligence is changing the marketing landscape in all kinds of ways: automating tasks that once required human interaction and helping companies respond better to customer needs, streamlining costs, and spending time on more strategic rather than menial tasks. Three specific examples of how AI is transforming marketing are chatbots, programmatic advertising, and automatic content generation. Let’s look at each of these more closely:
Using Chatbots in Marketing
I recently listened to a HubSpot master class on the use of bots in marketing which compared an effective chatbot to a skilled bartender or a barista. They may not know you, but by the time you are done engaging with the bots, they’ve not only met your needs, but made you feel like they know you. The best bots are ones that have a small area of “expertise” and are able to warmly hand the customer off once they are outside that realm of knowledge. They streamline processes and are genuinely helpful to the customer. Great places to use chatbots might include:
- Lead generation: I recently received a message from a chatbot in Facebook Messenger after commenting on a post on the organization’s Facebook page.
- Customer service: Chatbots help customers get the kind of help they want when they want it. For example, a customer might ask a chatbot in a messaging app to help them find a product with xyz specifications. And in the banking industry, bots have made “bankers’ hours” a thing of the past.
- FAQs: Using friendly, intuitive chatbots to respond to an organization’s most frequently asked questions is a great opportunity to use a personal-feeling touch to educate consumers.
If you are thinking about using chatbots in your business, ask yourself: What kind of experience can we improve for the customer? Where would a bot truly add value? And most importantly: How will a chatbot work within our existing inbound strategy?
The Rise of Programmatic Advertising
Programmatic advertising lets you use automation software and analytics to purchase and sell ad space online. Rather than working with a human sales rep, you are able to manage multiple ads across one platform and run them based on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that you set. Basically, programmatic advertising helps you reach the right audience, at the right time, in the right place, with the right message, and you are only paying for ads that you know will be most effective. Even more important, your message can be delivered based on real time data. Programmatic advertising is efficient and budget-friendly. If you aren’t already dedicating a portion of your ad buy budget to programmatic methods, it’s definitely worth looking into.
AI and Content Creation
As a content producer, the idea of using artificial intelligence to generate content makes me grimace. Blog topic generators are one thing, but marketing content authored by bots? Whisper has developed a tool that automates article creation based on user-generated content. It’s not all doom and gloom though. Artificially intelligent content creators need to think creatively and independently, and at least for now, we aren’t there yet. Quality, engaging content has nuance and personality that artificial intelligence has not been able to replicate. However, we are there with AI in musical composition, so anything is possible, and as marketers, we need to be thinking ahead of this curve.
How AI Improves the Customer Experience
Well-executed, artificial intelligence can greatly improve the customer experience. How so? For example, it can help create a more personalized website experience by only displaying content relative to a visitor’s location, on-site activity, and time spent on the site. (This is already happening on ecommerce site by displaying previous purchases, items waiting in a shopping cart, and product recommendations based on purchase history.)
As we mentioned above, chatbots and targeted ads can help create an experience that feels more personal and less intrusive for consumers. Email marketing that is part of an automated workflow targets customers based on where they are in the buyer’s journey. The point of all of these artificially intelligent tools is to help marketers better understand their audience and help consumers feel more understood by the brands they engage with.
What Does AI Mean for the Future of Marketing?
The emergence of artificial intelligence in marketing means as an industry, we must continue to predict and proactively respond to consumer behavior before they have even exhibited it. AI solidifies the expectation of consumers for hyper-personal experiences with brands, and we have to continue to provide that. AI technology that is built and deployed with a solid foundation of understanding of authentic human interactions is going to be the most successful. AI that works well is able to precisely respond to (and even predict) consumer behavior, which is what we all want as customers anyway - to feel understood.
How are you using AI in your marketing? Do you have other predictions for the future of AI in marketing? Talk to us in the comments!