Consumers move fast and act fast. If your marketing can’t keep up, your business performance will suffer. Today, more than ever before, the pace of marketers needs to match the cadence of the customer. Marketers no longer have time to launch performance-oriented campaigns and wait weeks to see results and then optimize. They need to take action in real time to target the right customers, personalize the customer experience and optimize on the fly. AI marketing supports the real-time analysis, decisioning, communications, and actions required for this.
Right now, artificial intelligence (AI) already makes your life better as a consumer by improving convenience and personalization, reducing friction and predicting your needs. Think about your favorite app and online experiences. AI underlies everything from personalized recommendations to autofill as you type. These simplified, seamless experiences are increasingly becoming table stakes. More and more, consumers expect them.
Similarly, AI can improve your marketing by helping you to make better decisions faster and to personalize the customer experience at scale. And as more and more companies adopt AI marketing, it, too, will become table stakes. Marketers who lack the “conveniences” that AI brings to their marketing strategies and tactics will be at a significant disadvantage.
Plus, consumers today prefer the type of personalization that AI marketing can help deliver. In fact, a Redpoint Global survey of 3,000 U.S., UK, and Canadian consumers conducted by The Harris Poll found that nearly two thirds (63 percent) expect it as a standard element of service and believe that brands have recognized them as an individual when they receive a special offer. Not surprisingly, 91 percent of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that remember and recognize them and that provide relevant offers and recommendations, according to Accenture Interactive’s “Making It Personal” report.
Defining AI Marketing
Most marketers have been talking about and many have been using AI for years, but there’s still a lack of clarity about what AI marketing is today and how brands can benefit from adopting it.
Simply put, AI marketing uses artificial intelligence technologies to automate marketing decisions and actions based on data collection and analysis. This includes predicting customer action or inaction, segmenting and targeting audiences, personalizing content selection and delivery, and optimizing channel selection. AI marketing allows marketers to enhance their analysis of, and automate decisions based on, data they’ve collected. As a result, marketers can improve the customer experience, marketing performance and business outcomes.
AI marketing enables marketers to convert vast amounts of data from disparate sources into insight—in real time. This not only increases marketers’ efficiency and enables them to spend more time on strategy, but it also increases such important outcomes as time to ROI.
Marketers typically use AI marketing where speed is essential; for example, to personalize communications and offers in real time. AI marketing enables marketers to get more from their data, faster. Aspects of AI such as machine learning and natural language processing allow marketers to predict their customer’s next preference and then take the next-best action, simplifying the customer journey.
When considering how they’ll use AI marketing, marketers should keep in mind the nuances between AI and its subsets—especially machine learning, where most AI marketing happens.
As Redpoint Global’s senior engineering analyst Bill Porto explains, AI replaces or augments “intelligent” human tasks with a machine, whereas machine learning uses historical data to create descriptive, predictive, or prescriptive models that users can run against current data. Think of AI as self-driving car software, which requires hardware for sense-and-control, software to recognize details of a situation (pedestrian, light, car movements, route changes, etc.), and the “executive function” that acts on the input and drives the car. In that example, machine learning is in the “recognize” and “decide” components.
Machine learning’s ability to predict future outcomes based on historical data is where AI marketing can shine. Marketers can use customers’ previous behaviors to predict what they’re most likely to do, or not do. The most valuable aspect of machine learning for marketers is its ability to support real-time decisions and actions. As machine learning tools ingest more and newer data, it can make better and faster predictions in response. Marketers who spend hours each day trying to predict what customers will do based on their actions, communications, and offers, as well as what channel they use and when, can speed up and improve those decisions using machine learning.
Visualizing the Benefits
Using AI marketing can transform a marketing organization. It can help marketers achieve and show real impact on profitability and sales. Best of all, it can help a company to improve the customer experience and deliver greater value to customers and prospects alike.
Here are some key areas where AI marketing delivers outsized results:
- Enhance accuracy: Adding AI to propensity modeling significantly improves your ability to predict a customer’s likelihood to buy or churn, as well as to predict their wallet share. And adding AI to segmentation modeling will improve your ability to build customer groups based on behavior- and product-based attributes.
- Personalize in real time: Give customers the personalized experiences, content, and offers they expect using AI marketing. Use real-time segmentation and personalization to engage customers when it’s most valuable to them—simplifying their customer journey and perhaps even reengaging at-risk customers when they would otherwise have churned.
- Increase campaign ROI: Using AI marketing to extract insights and optimize campaigns in real time also helps marketers to get better results faster. Additionally, using AI marketing enables marketers to better allocate their budget across channels, selected the optimal messaging, and quickly analyze the effectiveness of a campaign and optimize it on the fly. As a result, they’ll get more value from each campaign.
- Improve reporting: AI marketing dashboards are designed to make it simple for marketers to visualize and report on campaign outcomes. Using the insights from prior and in-progress campaigns, marketers can adjust and optimize upcoming and current campaigns on the fly.
- Ensure agility: Marketers have a need for speed, and AI marketing delivers. While AI rapidly conducts data analyses on previous marketing tactics, machine learning quickly predicts next-best actions. All this heavy lifting gives marketers more time to strategize. And, as important, AI marketing enables real-time action and decisioning.
- Eliminate speculation: Marketers spend their days making educated guesses on what aspects of the customer journey to improve, what product or services to promote, which messaging to use, how often to post content, what keywords will work best, and so much more. AI marketing not only eliminates the guesswork, but it also speeds the decision-making process to the point where marketers can react in real time.
- Dial-up digital: With more and more emphasis on digital marketing, and more and more competition in those channels, marketers need any advantage they can get. AI marketing can help improve everything from bidding and ad placement to ad layout optimization and segmentation and targeting.
Gearing Up for AI Marketing
As a marketer, you need the speed that AI marketing can give you. But you also need to ramp up the right way. There are several areas to consider as you implement AI marketing, including training time, data quality and privacy.
AI tools may seem smart, but they’re only as smart as you make them. They need training on information such as customers’ behaviors and needs, marketing and business goals, and campaign rules and outcomes. This takes time. It also requires high-quality data.
The adage “garbage in, garbage out” is especially true with AI marketing. Data quality is of the utmost importance. The last thing you want is bad decisions faster. What you need is smarter insight in real time. You’ll only get that with accurate, timely and representative data. This means you also need technology that will bridge data silos and provide you with a holistic real-time view of your customer data. That platform should be able to ingest and then display data from across first-, second-, and third-party data in real time from all internal and external customer data sources. This includes everything from CRM and call centers to POS and email systems to preference center and website behavior data—and even unstructured data sources such as call center notes and social media posts.
With access to all that data being central to your AI marketing, data privacy becomes an equally important consideration. As you launch or update your AI marketing initiatives, it’s essential to consider privacy laws and regulations and how you’ll ensure compliance with them—including programming specific guidelines into your AI marketing tools. Ultimately, this will help you to ensure that your marketing is personal and personalized in a way that customers find relevant and engaging.
At a time when speed and personalization matter more than ever before, AI marketing is the high-octane fuel that marketers need to rev up their customer experiences and communications in real time. The resulting customer engagement and activity will lead to super-charged marketing outcomes, as well.