The past decade alone marks an enormous evolution in marketing. That evolution is due, in large part, to technological developments. A significant development that continues to mature is artificial intelligence (AI).
AI has a crucial and profound role to play in marketing. It pays to learn how AI is changing marketing and what steps you can take to incorporate this technology into your marketing stack.
What Is AI?
“AI” means that computers simulate human intelligence. They can think, reason, and self-correct. Consider this example to illustrate. Suppose you show a computer a set of 50 pictures of dogs. The next time the computer comes across a photo of a canine, it will "recognize" that the image is a dog.
AI has a variety of uses for individuals and businesses across a broad spectrum of industries and experiences. Here's a quick look at how AI empowers transformation from Microsoft.
Machine Learning: A Branch of AI
Machine learning is a branch of AI. It describes how machines are able to mimic human intelligence.
This term applies to machines that learn without being explicitly programmed. Going back to the previous example of the computer that’s shown a set of dog pictures, the machine comes to its own conclusions, without a human telling it how it should reach those answers.
The State of Marketing and AI Today
What does all of this have to do with marketing? Technology has affected the relationship between customers and companies profoundly.
In the age of the Industrial Revolution, selling and marketing involved forging a deep personal connection to your customer. As the years went by, various technological developments changed the way firms sold their goods and services. Electricity meant that you could call your customers, while television and newspapers allowed you to carry out massive advertising campaigns.
If you follow the trend, you’d think that the more technology develops, the less personal relationships between customers and businesses become. However, the exact opposite phenomenon is taking place; thanks to AI, marketers can actually forge closer relationships with customers, yet scale their marketing.
AI in Marketing: What Role Does It Play?
There are four different roles for AI in marketing:
- Personalising communication
- Personalising customer experiences
- Predicting what customers will do next
- Improving BI tools
Rather than making marketing less personal over time, technology has had the opposite effect. Technological advances have empowered customers. They demand more from marketers. Customers don’t want to settle for a message that isn’t targeted to their unique needs anymore.
What's a marketer to do? Technology comes to the rescue. Microsoft Cognitive Services allow you to personalise digital marketing communications. This solution analyses customer information (such as previous purchases and what they’ve done on your website) so you can craft tailored offers to your customers. When customers see that you’re sending them offers that are relevant, they’ll want to buy from you because they believe you understand them.
Personalising Customer Experiences
Personalising communication (including emails and offers) is only one role that AI plays in marketing. Tailoring the customer experience is also vital. AI gives you the power to shape the interactions between you and your customers so they feel you know what they need and want.
AI makes use of previously available information, such as the actions a user has taken on a website, and customises the content available to that person. It could be a chatbot conversation in which the chatbot already knows the user’s name because he or she has already provided it, or it could be suggestions for which blog post or white paper to read next based on what the user has already read or downloaded. The overall user experience matters because it shows the customer how much the company values his or her business.
Another exciting use case for AI in marketing is predictive analytics. Predictive analytics help you determine what steps you should take next based on information you already have. For example, if a customer just purchased accounting software, the next service you should offer is some kind of extended customer service package so that the customer can access help if necessary.
The idea of predictive analytics isn’t new; this type of analysis has been around for years. AI innovates predictive analytics by allowing them to scale up and handle enormous amounts of information, faster. There’s now AI for predictive analytics that can handle as much as a petabyte of information!
Improving BI Tools
Where do BI tools fit into a conversation about modernising digital marketing, let alone AI in marketing? AI is empowering BI tools to work better than ever before so marketers can make smarter decisions about what to do next.
With AI-enabled BI tools, you can do things such as analyse customer sentiment on social media at scale. AI can extract key phrases from comments on social media (such as, “Love your product!”). This technology can even examine images and detect objects, so if a customer posts a picture on Instagram with your product in it, you’ll know about it and be able to follow up if necessary.
Additionally, AI-enabled BI tools allow you to drill down further than ever before to better understand a given metric. Let’s say you want to know why customers aren’t responding well to a particular campaign. Drilling down further tells you that the root of the problem is the subject line of the emails you’re sending; they’re not catching people’s attention.
Enlighten Designs: Helping You Make the Most of AI in Marketing
For over two decades, Enlighten Designs has specialised in delivering personalized customer experiences. We’re a proud Microsoft partner, having been named a finalist in two areas in 2017. To learn more about AI in digital marketing, download the AI in Digital Marketing ebook now.