Artificial intelligence (AI) has already impacted many facets of our lives and its power is hard to resist. Now is the time to either embrace it or leave behind. Marketing with AI is no longer exceptional, and it will soon make the difference between a company that lasts and one that goes under.
We are living in the age when AI is on the rise. As consumers, we observe its influence in many services that are offered to us. We see it in investment strategies, digital assistants on phones and computers, and smart speakers like the Amazon Echo or Google Nest. All of these are targeted at consumers and are seen as things that will improve lives by making certain tasks easier.
But what if there were something for you, the marketing professional, which could make your (work) life easier by taking advantage of AI? Enter “Artificial Intelligence Marketing”, which isn’t AI digital marketing to consumers but rather harnessing the power of AI algorithms. These algorithms are capable of performing such tasks as generating content to drive users to your site or converting billions or trillions of data points into actionable items for you and your team to reach more potential customers and even make better-targeted advertising.
What is AI?
Artificial Intelligence is without a doubt being touted as the Holy Grail by many large businesses: the solution to driving up sales and revenue. When one big company starts to show success in implementing AI in their products, others start to ponder how they can dash a little AI spice into their business formula, no matter if it actually suits them or not. AI isn’t a silver bullet as some make it out to be. It’s just another tool we can utilize to improve the way we do things.
AI at its core is a general term to describe a class of computer algorithms that operates in what resembles the intelligence we observe in sentient beings such as us, humans. These algorithms take in inputs from their environment (e.g. a stream of consumer transactions) and make decisions about how to reach the maximum outcome of a goal (e.g. what those customers buy the most and where so that we can put up billboards in better-targeted cities). The real potency of AI comes from decision making. Your AI software can look at more data than you can in a lifetime. It also decides what to do, probably before you finish your cup of coffee.
Digital marketing at a glance
Now we return to the example mentioned above, but we suggest making it more of a scenario. Let’s say that you’re working for the marketing team of an automotive company. Bord Automotive is going to sell a new hybrid vehicle and the CMO wants your team to find the best places to spend money on advertising. Management is old-fashioned so they don’t believe too much in the hybrid. Therefore, they’ve given you a smaller budget compared to the other marketing teams. Feeling like underdogs, your team is determined to prove you have the marketing chops to outsell all others. With the odds against you, your team turns to AI to help crunch the numbers.
A little help from some savvy analysts – and your team has a model to process hybrid vehicle sales data in order to find out what to spend your budget on. The model takes in sales data from all of your company’s competitors, and evaluates where cars were sold, whether people looked online before buying, how long they keep their cars, the average age of buyers, and many more data points we are all too busy to worry about.
With some AI software and a dataset of information on hybrid vehicle transactions spanning decades, your team was able to locate unexpected hot spots for vehicle sales such as small New England towns that most others would have passed over. The AI was also able to help identify a growing number of Millennial hybrid car buyers that would be entering the market very soon. This led your team to focus on advertising and sponsorship platforms like YouTube.
This might be a bit of a silly situation, but the point is that we have lots of data at our disposal (far more data than we can look at), so we almost can’t afford to not use that information. Thus we turn to the most convenient solution: we use an algorithm that can look at all of the data given and come back to you with actionable items to move forward with.
Benefits of AI for marketers
Let’s keep running with the above scenario and break down what benefits both the marketing team and Bord Automotive were able to reap from using AI.
For starters, other than meeting with the analysts and discussing what exactly they were looking for, creating their marketing model was pretty hands-off. And now they have software that will allow them to analyze sales data for any type of car, not just hybrids. This not only increases their return on investment (ROI) but also frees up the team to spend more valuable time on creating actual marketing content.
As mentioned previously, this model will work on any type of vehicle (as long as you can find the data for it). This means that the company now has a better grasp of their customers’ patterns of behavior so that marketing can act on those accordingly and with more accuracy.
This also goes back to ROI: if marketing doesn’t have to cast such a wide net it could decide to use these AI beings to free up capital and send it to other company divisions such as engineering, allowing them to increase reliability.
These are just the first few possible benefits produced in this small, made-up scenario. The results may vary from business to business, but it doesn’t take much imagination to see how AI can serve an entire company just through marketing.
As a matter of fact, it turns out that Toyota, back in 2017, made use of IBM’s Watson AI Ads platform to advertise the Toyota Prius Prime. Not only were the ads better targeted with AI, but the ads also got smarter with every interaction, and even helped with knowing where to send the cars in the supply chain. As a result, Toyota saw a 20% increase in purchase consideration in males 35 to 49 and a 37% higher audience engagement rate, thanks to location targeting.
Top 15 ways to boost your digital marketing efforts with AI
As a marketer, you’re interested in improving your business and fattening its profit. And when it comes to getting more done, why work harder when we could be working smarter by considering some (or all) of the following 15 ways AI can help with marketing?
1. Predicting customer behavior
This can be a potent solution for a lot of businesses because without customers any business is unlikely to exist. And how can a business keep its customers if it doesn’t know what they want? Knowing how they use your product is part of it, but it is better if you can get ahead of the curve and know where things are going, based on small trends that we as humans might not be able to see from the ground.
With the help of artificial intelligence in marketing, we can get that bird’s eye view that will show us how our customers really behave. Amazon is a shining example of this. They have always been pushing the boundaries of online retail possibilities, and this has all been achieved with AI.
2. Reducing load times of AMPs
You’ve probably been in a situation at least once in your life where you didn’t buy something from someone because you couldn’t load their web page quickly enough, or couldn’t open it at all. Thanks to AI, you can reduce these load times, which means that you drive the user to what they want faster. This leads to your closing a sale. So priority loading of content combined with an understanding of customer behavior results in a significant load time reduction.
Google, for example, achieves the instant load. It implements AI-based algorithms, which determine how likely someone is to click on the page.
3. Delivering a personalized user experience
All of us have interacted with chatbots at some time. They come across as ‘handy comrades’ but some of them are just annoying and pretty useless. This may happen because they’re not real AI. Instead, they represent a tree of options that the user follows until the bot runs out of options. Ultimately, you have to address your issue to a real human as the bot hasn’t managed to resolve your problem. With real AI and Natural Language Processing, you could deliver a more accurate experience to the user.
Beauty store Sephora uses chatbots not only to help with scheduling appointments at the nearby shop but also to provide a positive personal experience. These bots learn about product preferences to make suggestions, perform makeup color matching, and even give makeup tips derived from what they’ve learned.
4. Content creation
Companies are starting to take advantage of AI to help with content creation for their brands. Primarily, artificial intelligence is used to generate reports on a company’s performance or marketing data. It could even be used to create blog posts to drive traffic to your site, including optimal SEO to boot.
Deloitte, a professional services company, makes use of Quill by Narrative Science to generate content that goes to customers for reporting. This allows them to take advantage of the immense amounts of data at their disposal, and turn it into something valuable for them and their customers.
5. Improving sourcing accuracy
Generating leads is a task, but validating their legitimacy is a task in itself. AI can look at the lead from various perspectives, and with the right set of data, and heuristics of what a successful lead looks like, it can determine how successful a lead will be when generated. In terms of business value, this proves to be an efficient tool, which can enable a more thorough lead search in the first place.
LeadCrunch is just one of the companies that carry out this procedure. It uses algorithms, which assist businesses in finding more accurate leads, and even lets you know when is the right time to do it.
6. Customer churn prediction
As has been previously mentioned, if you’re able to look at your customer’s behavior patterns and have an AI marketing system in place, the business will be able to predict the signs of customers leaving. Prediction is the first step to prevention, and with the proper heads-up, the company will be able to begin investigating causes of churn and hopefully find a solution before it’s too late. Peak.ai, for instance, helps companies such as retailer Marshalls tap into their data to really understand churn.
7. Profitable dynamic pricing models
Imagine having 10,000 store locations, a handful of which are experiencing poor performance. Everyone is too busy to notice this drop in the ‘business ocean’, but not your artificial intelligence for marketing. Why have a sale in all 10,000 stores when 9,900 are performing outstandingly? AI could notify you about the right time to change the pricing at some stores so that you can pump some life into those locations. At the same time, you’ll be able to maintain an increased profit at the other sales points. This is the power of dynamic pricing.
Vacation rental company Airbnb has a “Smart Pricing” feature. It allows renters to let the platform dynamically change the rental price based on demand. This could be a big boon for renters who don’t want to micromanage their property and prefer to trust in “the system.” It allows them to better market their property and make higher profits.
8. Sentiment analysis
SA is really booming in today’s world, where everyone puts a review of a product or location online. Social media abounds with such data these days. With sentiment analysis, a marketer is able to learn how the company, its products, and services are perceived.
This even goes down to particular ad campaigns and allows for a more adaptive approach to marketing so that if something doesn’t sit well, it can be changed almost immediately. It could also be used to determine what products to focus on and how to improve them. This is just scraping the surface of analyzing what your customers think about your business and products.
NICE is an AI company that offers businesses that capability. This helps improve everything from the product itself to the company’s customer service.
9. Improve website experiments
Want to know where you can get the best response from trying out a new feature on your site or application before releasing it to the entire populace? Artificial intelligence is here to help. AI will determine locales that are more receptive to new features or give better feedback or even ones that are more patient (depending on the ambition of the change).
For example, Monito, a currency comparison site, used artificial intelligence to test 12 different designs in one day. This proved to be powerful both for marketers and designers: they were able to get results much more quickly compared to the traditional A/B testing.
10. Prioritizing ad targeting and personalization
Having the right data enables you to determine faster and more accurately what to do with ads. To a certain extent, this could be done by looking at Google AdSense and other dashboards, but that takes a while and a trained eye. AI excels at finding patterns that we may not be able to see. Thus the computer can perform this task faster and find better insight than you alone. This frees you up for more creative tasks that AI isn’t cut out for yet.
Hotel company Best Western also makes use of IBM’s Watson ad platform. They utilized it to target people likely to go on a business or leisure trip, and many other things like generating “personal” conversations about planning trips.
11. Relevant recommendation system
Imagine that your business has many products, and you want to keep driving customer retention. Suggesting a product to be considered by the customer can make a difference. The problem is that you have too many goods to handpick for all your customers. As stated above, AI is great at finding patterns. It will easily make connections between products and how people buy things, and what common threads run between them.
A good example of this is the clothing recommendation company Stitch Fix. Their entire marketing is entrenched in the concept of using AI algorithms to bring people closer to the clothes they’re bound to like. Recommending is Stitch Fix’s lifeblood, and it’s been working well for them.
12. Intelligent email content curation
Gone are the days of boring, irrelevant mass emails from a company. Want to retain customers? AI gives you an opportunity to learn what to send them and email them about things they care about pertaining to your business. Artificial intelligence in email marketing can study all the details about customers and generate emails, while you focus on more important things.
JPMorgan Chase is ahead of the game when it comes to using AI to message its customers. They’ve been working with another company, Persado, which has specialized in this type of AI software since 2016, to develop better messages and reach their customers with a little more humanity (ironically enough).
13. Interpreting custom loyalty card data
Throughout this article, we’ve mentioned that having the right data in hand is the key to success. But where does that data come from? Well, a great way to track how customers use your business is with rewards or loyalty systems. These provide a thread to track a customer and how they interact with your business. In return, you can offer savings and rewards to sweeten the deal. This is an extremely effective way to know who your customers are and make all of these AI dreams a reality.
You probably have at least one such card, so it goes without saying that nowadays almost every business follows this practice.
14. Computer Vision for image and object recognition
As of today, more and more marketers are starting to utilize AI to eliminate time-consuming manual processes, like sorting through thousands of pictures and videos in social networks. This routine task is delegated to the elaborate Computer Vision (CV) algorithms.
CV perfectly accomplishes the tasks connected with image and object recognition including visual brand listing, logo recognition, and ad-targeting. It also allows for more accurate and specified product recommendations based on object detection in videos. Furthermore, by knowing which images have been viewed by website visitors, you’ll be able to create more targeted ads.
Miller Lite, for example, has implemented such technology in order to scan through user-generated content on social media.
15. AI-enhanced PPC advertising
Given that artificial intelligence in marketing can help you discover new advertising channels, you’re likely to want to test it out yourself. One of the main advantages of AI-powered systems is that they assist advertisers in optimizing targeting, which is a crucial marketing element.
What’s more, when AI is responsible for picking keywords, your PPC campaigns will always be updating and improving. Google, for instance, utilizes Machine Learning (ML) to provide automation in Google Ads.
How top brands use AI for marketing
So, we’ve outlined the 15 methods by which AI can contribute to more sophisticated and efficient digital marketing. In case you’re still in doubt, take a quick look at how world-renowned companies utilize this ingenious tech to enhance their performance.
Chase Bank has applied Artificial Intelligence services to make their content more human-like (sounds strange, though). They’ve discovered that machines outperform humans in creating unique and live content. Chase states that machine learning has greatly contributed to improving their marketing and bringing them closer to their customers, which has consequently brought more profit and positive feedback to the company.
To serve personalized recommendations, Starbucks has decided to harness the power of AI and implemented Predictive Analytics in its operational processes. Thanks to that, they can now specify their customers’ needs and preferences by utilizing predictive analytics. They’ve also introduced loyalty cards and mobile apps, which help them gather and analyze information about customers.
Lured by the opportunities that AI offers, Alibaba has also decided to give it a try. The company has opened the FashionAI store in Hong Kong, which intends to use AI to boost customer experience. This store has many unique features like intelligent garment tags and smart mirrors. All of them provide information about clothes and even offer coordinating items. Alibaba doesn’t plan to stop there and intends to offer a virtual wardrobe app in the future.
Don’t like the sneakers that are sold in stores? Don’t worry, you can come up with your own design. Nike has developed a special augmented reality system that allows customers to choose the colors and graphics that they like and try them on blank Nike Presto X sneakers. It only takes about 90 minutes to print the design onto the sneakers, which are then delivered to the customer.
It’s no surprise that BMW isn’t lagging behind. The company has created an AI-enhanced sports car with a personal assistant. The car’s technology gathers information about its driver and adapts the systems to the driver’s preferences.
What’s more, there’s also the so-called smart personal assistant, capable of communicating with drivers and helping them compose travel routes and integrating with many other applications.
It’s pretty evident that Amazon was one of the AI pioneers, daring to start implementing artificial intelligence in many different ways. AI has shaped Amazon’s business tremendously. The company considers AI to be a good and highly efficient assistant and makes the most of it wherever possible.
The Alexa suite of voice-activated devices and the Amazon Go stores are just two examples where AI has been utilized by Amazon. The company is keen on this tech and is planning to broaden its usage in the future.
To provide their buyers with more information about the Prius Prime model, Toyota, together with Watson Advertising, has come up with an elaborate idea involving cognitive ads.
The ad system provides answers to FAQs about the Toyota Prius Prime, enables one-to-one dialog with users, and engages in real-time conversations. Plus, Toyota’s customers can communicate with the Prius Prime model via dynamic ads across the Weather Channel apps and website.
Thanks to AI-powered computer vision and targeting technologies, Vodafone has managed to increase its share of voice regarding the launch of the iPhone by almost 70%.
The technology made it possible for Vodafone to supply iPhone X content with its messaging. Using special algorithms, they examined both text and visual content across premium site networks. As a result, they were able to discover articles relating to the launch of the iPhone X. Then Vodafone’s media agency, Wavemaker, utilized AI to get in-image ads (which included neither words nor images of the iPhone X) as overlays on all iPhone images on the relevant pages. This elaborate strategy ensured that its service would be relevant for consumers who were thinking about buying the new model of the phone.
IKEA was searching for a way to promote its new line of bedding products. It decided to try an AI-powered voice-enabled ad campaign and in the long run, it came up trumps. The campaign used creative audio advertising that enabled listeners to engage in a conversation with the brand and have a look at new products. With the aid of natural language understanding (NLU), the voice AI core gives listeners a chance to interface with audio advertisements through natural and conversational dialogues.
Is there a link between ice-cream and breakfast? You might have thought ‘What?’ but Unilever has been searching for a connection in order to create a line of cereal flavored ice-cream. In their work, they’ve used artificial intelligence centers all over the world and collected data from social listening and CRM as well as marketing research. Thanks to this curious tech, a link between ice-cream and breakfast has now been established.
As you might have noticed, artificial intelligence is an extremely powerful tool, which can help achieve significant results and reduce mundane and time-consuming work to a minimum. So it comes as no surprise that companies worldwide including many renowned industry giants appreciate the true value of AI and have successfully implemented this ingenious tech in their processes.
In this article, however, we’ve considered AI’s capabilities in marketing only, but even in this sphere alone the range of AI’s services is nothing short of astonishing.
As a marketer, you’re likely to make friends with AI on the condition that you provide it with the right data. Be sure that this ‘friend’ will always be able to do the lion’s share of your work, and it’ll do it impeccably. But as you know, good friends are hard to find, and to ensure that your AI-buddy will be a trustworthy partner in crime, do your best to find a reliable and experienced AI development company that will consider your needs and preferences and come up with the best solution possible.
Don’t waste your time – get out there and start looking (and be amazed) at how AI can transform your marketing workflow today.