In a survey conducted by Enterprise Mobility Exchange in Q2 2017, 47 percent of IT executives said their enterprise is using or pursuing some form of artificial intelligence. But the promise and potential of AI is overshadowed by a misplaced belief that it represents a threat to marketers.
The reality is just the opposite as it quite possibly represents the greatest boon to marketers and marketing strategy. Optimizing the performance of marketing campaigns in the digital age relies on being able to analyze and interpret large quantities of data. AI is the ideal tool in the battle against the unending growth of available marketing data that isn’t easily mined with other platforms and measurement capabilities.
Chiefly, AI presents an opportunity to hand over the job of gathering, cleaning, processing and interpreting vast quantities of data from multiple sources. Machine learning algorithms can analyze, understand and identify nuanced patterns in big data that would be impossible for humans to discern let alone to sift through.
These algorithms automate the process taking it from weeks and months to hours and minutes while providing unbiased insights for campaign optimization. They can also perform unlimited split tests in real-time to continue learning and adapting throughout the course of a campaign.
Ultimately, AI will enable marketers to:
- Better determine resource allocation
- Understanding how to better split budgets, adjust bids and choose creative messages across multiple platforms and audience segments
- Fine-tune SEO strategies putting consumers’ searches into context.
- Target people who express intent, rather than broad unfiltered audiences
- Create highly personalized content
- Enhance the website experience for end user by analyzing hundreds of data points about a single user and display the best fitting offers
Dispelling Myths of AI with Facts of Support to Marketers
According to eMarketer, Google controls 40.7% of the U.S. digital ad market, followed by Facebook with 19.7%. AI-powered systems can help advertisers test out more ad platforms and optimize layout, copywriting, targeting and bids such as in PPC advertising. AI platforms like Albert and Frank facilitate autonomous media buying and optimize paid ad campaigns respectively.
AI and machine learning enable automation that eliminates endless human hours for the same repetitive tasks, which simplifies marketing processes and eliminates human error. Planning is completely revised by facilitating the prediction of consumer behaviors, defining strategies, prioritizing activities, and determining allocation of resources. One example of AI-supported planning is HubSpot’s topic clusters, which gives content teams a way to discover topics that are far more targeted.
Solutions like the updated Sitecore 9 with the introduction of xConnect and Cortex are built on machine learning processes, which is a subset of AI. The xConnect data platform pulls data from a wide array of sources — a retailer’s beacon, a CRM app or even exercise fitness bands — into XTB, the Experience Database.
Sitecore Cortex includes a tool called Path Analysis, which analyzes and predicts a customer’s journey. It also scores content by running multi-variant testing on each message to create buyer categories which can be targeted through automated personalization. Many marketers are combining Sitecore and Dynamics 365 as a means to increase sales.
AI: An Unwritten Future but an Established Path
While it’s still too early to predict the impact of AI on marketing, clearly, some jobs will disappear and others will emerge. While the fear is rampant as brands like Coca-Cola experiment with AI bots in place of human creatives. Another “example” is lingerie retailer Cosabella that replaced its digital agency with an AI platform named Albert with results showing tripled ROI and 30 percent customer base growth.
What marketers fail to see on the surface is that AI is being used in support of human marketers rather than replacing them. This can be seen in a recent Stores issue, the magazine of the national federation of retailers, that explained the aim was to support the largely female in-house marketing team by providing the support to “crunch data into actionable pieces without significantly expanding the team or incurring a lot of overtime.” In the bigger picture, AI technology assists digital transformations in numerous ways for marketers.
Machine learning and AI are not a threat to marketers, but rather a means of supporting the elevation and effectiveness marketing campaigns and creative output. The future of marketing lies in more timely, relevant, one-to-one human connections with consumers. AI is still a future that is coming into focus, but the path to its possibilities are clear. Only Marketers that fail to embrace and use it effectively will fall by the wayside.