Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not an alien term; it’s been around for years! There have also been many predictions of AI’s capabilities and future scope, but only recently has it seen a massive boom. The year 2016 is said to have been the biggest for AI. At the center of this claim is Google’s program which defeated 18-time World Champion Lee Sedol in a five-game match of the strategy board game GO . This breakthrough allowed AI to make its foray to the forefront of technology and innovation.
AI has innumerable applications across most industry verticals. In this article, we are going to talk about its applications in marketing, and why we can confidently say that AI is the future of, and for, marketing. But first, let’s look at what AI entails.
What is AI?
Artificial Intelligence is technology that is meant to imitate human psychology and intelligence.
Although it has a very wide definition, it basically refers to software that performs tasks which require human intelligence and intuition. Until now, this technology has performed functions such as speech recognition, image recognition, behavior pattern mapping, and machine learning to name a few.
Some AI marketing applications have gone so far as to provide instant automated answers to customer queries. It is also being used to generate new leads, retain existing customers with interesting content, and increasing customer engagement.
AI has displayed some impressive development in marketing over the years. Let’s check out the various uses of AI in marketing so far.
Applications of AI in Marketing
AI has grown in scope in terms of its use in marketing. With the advent of digital marketing and the internet revolution, mass media advertising took a backseat and things like consumer behavior, preferences, search history tracking, SEO, content marketing, speech recognition, came to the front of the line. Let’s look at some of the marketing applications of AI.
Content Generation and Curation
This pertains to content that is direct, non-opinionated and has clear facts and data. An AI writing program can draft content on an upcoming event, financial report, or some market trend. It cannot, however, write a post or opinion article about the current political scenario or how to handle heartbreak. Some examples of content generating AI programs are Wordsmith, Contentop, Articolo, and WordAi.
Content curation means showing customers relevant content to engage them better. For example, displaying blogs related to recently-read articles, suggestions based on recently-purchased items, and the movie recommendations by Netflix.
Voice and Text Recognition
AI lets users talk into the device and get the relevant information. Voice recognition technology is an AI innovation that is widely-used and very popular; more programs and software are being developed to increase its functionality.
Text recognition means typing text into a text box and getting results or being able to communicate with other people, popularly known as a chatbot.
Some famous examples of speech and text recognition are Amazon Echo, Facebook Messenger, and Google Hangouts Messenger.
Brands are moving over curated suggestions to connect with their customers on a deeper level. Simply showing ads based on predictive analysis isn’t enough anymore. Understanding where a user is coming from emotionally, based on their conversation with the brand, helps formulate a better response. It also helps for future recommendations and suggestions to be more personalized and targeted.
Understanding User Behavior
Users leave traces of their internet usage in the form of cookies and cyber footprints. AI helps websites track user preferences and even search history to understand their behavior. This enables websites to understand what a particular user likes, wants, and will look for – in order to provide more targeted suggestions.
An understanding of user behavior is important to optimize sales and make the entire process efficient. Sales executives perform tasks right from research to targeting potential customers, understanding user behavior and then pitching the right way to obtain conversions. All this can be made easier using AI, where algorithms filter leads to saving time and efforts that are best utilized elsewhere.
According to Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of HubSpot, AI-based sales and marketing automation is set to accelerate in the future. This will optimize activities such as predictive lead acquisition, understanding customer behavior, and personalized recommendations.
Some other applications of AI in marketing are:
- Remarketing and re-engagement
- Running strong personalized email campaigns
- Marketing automation
- Personalized web pages and apps
- Finalizing leads
- Optimizing Ad targeting
- Predictive analysis
What Can We Expect in the Future?
The future of marketing vis-à-vis Artificial Intelligence is set to become more innovative and automated. International software development organization Pega highlighted some ways in which AI will bolster marketing in the future.
Artificial Intelligence will help companies, and moreover, CMOs build a corporate culture with utmost customer focus, and help optimize marketing goals such as personalization, understanding customer behavior to customize the engagement and pitching process, making more accurate predictive analyses, and saving time on finding and converting leads.
In a nutshell, it will help companies save costs, optimize budgets, make tasks more streamlined for employees, reduce time by automating sales processes, and personalize the customer experience across the entire buying cycle.
Pega also stated some more future applications of AI:
- The Virtual Assistant (Siri, Alexa, Watson, for example) will become more intelligent and enhance the function of chatbots.
- Customized user recommendations will become possible in real time with a Customer Decision hub and enrich user experiences.
- Paid digital marketing campaigns can be better managed and automated to save time and expenses while increasing ROI using AI.
- Natural Language Processing (NLP) will become more ‘intuitive’ in gauging a customer’s mood and intent depending on their written conversation with the company.
- AI can even go as far as offering suggestions to sales reps in brick-and-mortar establishments on how to cater to a customer for the best results.
- They say that 2017 will see a lot of advancement in the use of bots. Halligan says that people will gradually move to communicating with bot software instead of navigating via websites and apps. However, he says, bots won’t replace websites but power them.
- Along the same lines, Shah says that the conversations between customers and organizations via chat and text messaging will soon be replaced by verbal conversations between user and machine. He says that voice input, owing to its numerous benefits, will soon be in greater demand than text input.
- Algorithms will be developed on a regular basis, and many organizations can use the existing ones to build on.
- Google’s Link Graph, Amazon’s Product Graph and Facebook’s Social Graph will be taken over by the Engagement Graph. This will mean quality content to gain more engagement.
Halligan and Shah say that the most important factor at the center of it all will be content and data.
Quick Stats on AI in Marketing
Source: Bank Of America
Source: IDC FutureScapes 2017
There is a new brand of consumers out there today –fast-paced and knowledge-based. They expect to get value out of a commodity before buying it. They need to know that the brand cares about them and their needs.
Consumers expect the brand to know what they want before they decide to take the plunge. They need suggestions, tips, answers, and assistance now.
And that isn’t going to change; it’s only going to increase. Artificial Intelligence is the only way for companies to keep up with the ever growing customer demand and expectations.
It’s safe to say that AI is the future of marketing. There’s no limit to how far it will bring human experiences closer to technology and its many advances.