If you’re anything like I used to be, you find AI both entrancing and a little bit scary. While we’re becoming increasingly familiar with its presence in our day-to-day lives (virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri being just one example), many digital marketers are still unsure about how AI can benefit their campaigns.
Used effectively however, AI can help us better understand our customers, amplify our brand voice and ensure the people who buy our products are kept happy and engaged, while saving time and money. Here are just some of the ways you can make AI work for your marketing strategy:
Gain Deeper Understanding of Your Customers
We’re all hearing that AI is an efficient and low-cost way to ensure that our customers are getting great guidance, support and brand engagement, all through the apps they know and already use on a daily basis. But if a huge part of customer interaction is taken care of by machines, how does that help me get to know the people who are buying my products? It may sound like a bit of a paradox, but AI is actually the key to ensuring we’re on the ball when it comes to what our customers are actually looking for.
Buyer personas have been around since the dawn of marketing, but they are traditionally based on guesswork and don’t take into account a user’s online behavior. By using an AI solution that analyses a variety of different data sources, we can go from a vague “35-year-old man who works in accounting” profile to a far more specific “35-year-old man with an annual salary of $60,000 who has a wife and twin daughters, goes on holiday twice a year and spends a bit too much time watching e-sport when he should be crunching figures”, making it far easier to create meaningful marketing campaigns and reach out to consumers with personalized online experiences.
Predict Consumer Behavior Before It Happens
Us marketers have traditionally looked backwards in order to analyze customer behavior, but powerful advances in data analysis now enable us to look towards the future in order to find out how customers are going to behave, before they even know it themselves. AI solutions allow us to deduce what a customer will react to and how, based on their previous behavior.
A great example of a company that makes this work is that well-known high street staple, Starbucks. With millions of customers worldwide, the coffee chain has introduced a new feature to its mobile app that uses AI to process orders through a messaging interface. The company also uses data gathered through its Rewards program to identify the user and streamline the point-of-sale ordering process, even in a store the customer has never visited before. It also suggests new products they could be interested in trying, taking into account multiple factors such as the weather, the day of the week and the user’s current location.
Send the Right Message to the Right Person
AI-based marketing is also making endless spammy marketing emails a thing of the past. In the era of hyper-personalization, consumers are far more likely to pay attention to messages that speak to them directly rather than mass emails that feel impersonal and are obviously machine-generated.
We now have the technology to make that possible, with AI marketing solutions able to pull together data from different sources and use it to create personalized product recommendations combined with incentives that truly convert. While back in the day a birthday discount code was about as up close and personal as brands could get, nowadays the intel used to make personalized recommendations also enables companies to send highly specific offers and discounts and re-engage in a timely fashion with customers they haven’t seen in a while.
The same goes for digital advertising. AI solutions can use the information contained within keyword searches, social media profiles and other online data to effectively target potential customers.
Engage With Customers through a Format They Love
And why stick to email? You know as well as I do that people love to text. You just have to take a sneaky look at the person sitting next to you on the bus, deeply engrossed in their smartphone: chances are, they’re using a messaging app. But take it from me: messaging is so much more than a convenient way to organize a day out or share funny memes. It’s the marketing channel of the future.
AI-based chatbots can understand complex requests, personalize responses and improve the relevance of their answers over time, greatly contributing to a positive customer experience. But advantages from a digital marketing perspective can go even further. Chatbots can be customized to fit the “voice” of your brand, conduct research for you (Sephora’s Beauty Bot asks customers targeted questions about their tastes), integrate with existing messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat or Viber (Tommy Hilfiger reported an 87% rate of returning customers thanks to their Facebook Messenger bot), guide customers towards the products that are right for them, process payments and even follow up post-sale.
So How Can I Make This Work For My Campaigns?
Though the whole prospect may seem daunting, implementing AI in your digital marketing strategy isn’t actually that complicated. Wondering how to get started with an AI solution? Here are some important steps:
Research, research, research: ask yourself what you hope to achieve by bringing AI into your marketing campaigns and remember to keep it customer-centric. Their experience is what counts.
Get the tech people involved: now’s a great time to get your IT team on board and find out how your plans will work with your existing technology before looking for solutions to fit your needs.
Implement and get the ball rolling: once you’ve selected your AI solution and gotten everything set up, be patient. In order to see amazing results, quality first-party data is essential - and collecting it will take time.
Scale: once your AI platform is up and running, it’s time to integrate the tech into every aspect of the marketing journey, which means your website, mobile site, app, email and where possible, social media channels. This will provide users with a seamless experience across all devices and bring true value to the data you collect.
AI isn’t just a great way to boost sales. As we’ve seen, it improves the customer journey across the board, whether we’re talking brand engagement, product recommendations, support or just making interaction with your company a more pleasant and entertaining experience.