Have you taken the time to think about how artificial intelligence (AI) will impact your marketing? Are you looking for AI tools you can use right now? Are you wondering why you should even bother paying attention to AI?
Why Marketers Must Pay Attention to AI
AI Affects Daily Life
Experts predict AI will have trillions of dollars in annual impact on businesses. There are dozens of consumer applications for everyday from Netflix recommending shows to watch, Google Maps predicting traffic in your area, Gmail finishing your sentences, and Amazon predicting what you’ll buy next. However, most people don’t have any idea about what it is or how it works because they don’t realize machine learning is handling these tasks.
AI makes your life better by making things more personalized and convenient. We see the same thing happening in marketing and sales. The software marketing and sales professionals use just gets smarter over time. As it does, marketers will have the ability to personalize and do things at scale in a way that’s currently limited by human-powered marketing.
AI Will Change Marketing Careers
Using AI can help your business make better decisions and lead customers to your brand. New technologies will transform the marketing profession just as it has transformed everything else in our lives. New career paths will open up and the jobs will be more enjoyable.
Many marketers will be amazed by the results in 3 years, but only a certain segment will understand the potential of intelligence software and seek to use these tools today. By taking this initiative, they’re giving themselves a head start on their peers who are still afraid of exploring AI and what it has to offer. Maybe the topic is too overwhelming to try to understand or to abstract. Regardless of the reason, brands that don’t find smarter ways to use AI in their marketing will be left behind the competition that chooses to do so.
Consumers Are Expecting AI Benefits
Over the last 10 years, consumers have been conditioned to give up privacy and data in exchange for personalization and ease-of-use. People have come to expect personalized marketing on some level, even in the B2B space. Anything less than a seamless omnichannel buying experience from companies is frustrating so people clearly want the conveniences that AI can bring.
What is AI?
From a marketing standpoint, it’s important to understand the fundamentals about deep learning and machine learning and how they actually work. The software powering machines is inherently stupid. Of course machines cannot see, understand, speak, or hear. AI is nothing more than an umbrella term for making machines more intelligent to give them human-like capabilities.
Voice assistants such as Siri and Alexa don’t understand anything out of the box. The tools have been trained to hear the human language, then understand what it’s saying and process it before it generates the best response to your question.
Predictions of Future Outcomes
The main subset of AI is known as machine learning. In the simplest terms, it’s about making predictions regarding future outcomes based on historical data. We’ve been seeing this for decades with data science. The difference between data science and machine learning is that machine learning improves as more and newer data is made available. Then it makes predictions in response to this information.
For instance, Google Maps is not powered by human beings – it’s typing directions to reroute people as they make exits, run into accidents, or do other things on the road. It uses a collection of data points from multiple sources to help predict a better path as you drive.
As you move through your daily tasks of your career, you will find that your making a series of predictions every moment of every day. Marketers make predictions every day about what to write, where they should publish it and when it should be published, how much to spend on their ads, designs, colors, and much more based on past human behavior. At that point they just hope for the best. Each one of these predictions is an instance where machine learning could be applied.
Exploring AI for Your Needs
Many companies claim they leverage AI when they don’t. This has become a problem and one that experts have been tackling for the last few years. Many companies say they use machine learning, neural nets, or deep learning and it’s up to marketers to ask potential customers to determine whether it’s true.
When trying to find AI tools you can use for your business, you should ask pointed questions about exactly how the technology is used in the process and how it makes your company smarter and more efficient. Don’t be afraid to challenge the sales people who are selling the technology to ensure they really understand it. Tell them how long it takes or how much it cost to run a skill or process and then ask how the machine can make it faster or eliminate it completely.
Once you have answers to those questions, ask them to do walkthroughs or demos. If you have trouble understanding the underlying technology, find someone outside of the company who can explain it to you.
Ways You Can Use AI Right Now
Right now, you can find AI applications being built for nearly anything. If you are working for a large company with access to limitless data and a budget for tools, then you have a wide variety of options. If you’re working for a small business, you may have to dig a Little Deeper to find the tools they need and can afford but the reality is that almost every business could be using AI.
Here are a number of practical applications and benefits for AI when it comes to social media marketing for companies of any size.
Many people misunderstand what a chatbot actually is. They believe that because the word bot is present in the name, it is AI. The truth is the majority of chatbots that are currently available, whether you’re using them for auto responses, sales, or customer service are still heavily reliant on human-powered branching. Along with the series of if-then statements to function.
Setting up a chat bot can be an overwhelming experience because it’s like setting up an email workflow for a hundred thousand people and an automation tool. In some instances, a human being still has to set up all of the rules for the chatbot and then continue to maintain and update the rules moving forward.
On the other hand chatbot technology with AI powered capabilities can eliminate the need for humans to set up and update the rules. To find out if a chatbot technology supports these capabilities, ask questions about how the company is using natural language processing in machine learning to improve efficiency.
Natural language processing room means that the technology process has the meaning behind a statement as it is naturally typed or spoken and then generates a correct recommendation or response. Machine learning is when the technology can determine whether the recommendations are actually helpful and automatically get rid of anything that is not. Then the chat thought adapts all future recommendations based on that information. The chatbot technology is processing learning and adapting entirely without a human needing to track all the interactions and manually adjust rules.
Automatic ad placement on social media platforms is another place where AI can be helpful. If you’ve managed a Facebook page before you’ve likely seen prompts that ask “Do you want to run this ad?” with an image and text from one of your posts. All you have to do is continue to build the Facebook ad based on Facebook’s recommendations about what it thinks it will do well. This functionality is completely AI powered.
Reviews and Monitoring
Monitoring social media and reviews is another process that using AI technology can simplify and manage. This is especially true for small businesses where reviews play a major role in search. Historically, both tasks have been incredibly time-consuming especially if you take the time to go into sentiment analysis and prioritize which one you should respond to.
Content strategy comes down to making predictions about what you should write about, how often to publish, the keywords to use and so on. Traditional content strategy is evolving and there’s a lot of money going toward developing tools and platforms that use machine learning to eliminate speculation.
HubSpot was one of the first to implement machine learning in their content strategy tool to do content clustering. If you put in a word, the tool recommends other topics related to it from within the site and then surfaces direct links for you.
You can also use AI to do things like look at multiple datasets on when people search for certain things and then signal when your company should be posting about their products. It can help you determine which keywords to use or maybe even write content for you at some point in the future.
Though this technology has the potential to replace a lot of marketing consultants down the road, it will also create a lot of opportunity for consulting with companies on how to use AI to create a content strategy.
AI Marketing Tools
Persado is an AI powered marketing tool that creates the text for social ads. It has partnerships with major brands, and is at a price point that excludes most small businesses.
If you’re currently using an email platform like MailChimp, they could be using AI to provide list segmentation, predict fatigue, learn the best times to send to individual recipients and more. There are ways to rig the features and functions currently offered with MailChimp but the workarounds are not perfect.
Rasa.io, on the other hand is an email platform that creates automated personalized content in newsletters. In theory, each newsletter is sent at a time prioritized for each recipient. It learns which links the user clicks and eventually starts adapting the link that includes and future newsletters based on this information so each newsletter it sends could be different from all the others.
Yext is an AI-powered tool that is effective at tracking social media monitoring and reviews. The tool can process vast amounts of information and understand what’s being said within it. Then it uses different models to prioritize whom you should respond to.
Yext also enables business data for Amazon Alexa. If you question an Alexa-enabled device about the business hours of a local business, yes is the technology that powers this business listing and provides key pieces of information to voice searchers.
Embracing AI now will set your business up for success in the future.