Nearly 40% of marketers say artificial intelligence, machine learning, or deep learning will be the most transformative technology for marketers in the coming year. In fact, 350 of the top marketing influencers thought it was so promising, they said this:
“Unlike humans whose brain naturally deteriorates with age, bots and AI in general is only getting smarter and more personal as it ages.” — Hillel Fuld, Co-founder of Zcast
“There is little doubt that Big Data married with AI will be the marketing technology story of 2018. That powerful combination will continue to make huge strides in optimizing ad targeting, creative design, and marketing offers where results are measured with hard metrics like clicks and purchases.” — Eric Koefoot, CEO of PublicRelay
“Machine learning and artificial intelligence will make the biggest impact on marketing in 2018 — specifically in the retail sector, whose marketing complexities have grown far beyond human capabilities. Humans alone can no longer manage thousands of SKUs, promos, dynamic pricing stockouts, and more, simultaneously.” — Kerry Liu, CEO of Rubikloud
But what does this mean for you as a marketer? And more importantly, are you ready? In this blog post, we uncover four ways artificial intelligence is transforming omnichannel marketing.
#1: AI Is Making Marketing More Performance-based
It’s one thing to know your target audience based on focus groups, lead scoring, and marketing platforms. It’s another to have artificial intelligence on your side.
Artificial intelligence paired with machine learning can assess not just your customers, but also industries as a whole. AI can scan entire populations and generations of texts, phrases, questions, and shoppers to reveal hidden patterns, solutions, and opportunities in the data. To reap the benefits, create a culture relentlessly focused on performance and measurement, and then use AI to take you even further.
“What’s key to note is that the technology alone won’t lead to success. The brands that leverage AI the best will be those with exceptional digital marketing talent who understand customer needs and who are driven by a performance-focused culture. They will be maniacally focused on metrics to inform where they can optimize customer experiences in real-time,” Chief Digital Marketing Officer of SAP Mika Yamamoto said.
Wilson Raj, the global director of customer intelligence at SAS, echoed similar sentiments: “Through AI, CMOs will have to adapt and evolve their strategies through exposure to new data over time, and play a critical role in business’s ability to intelligently transform existing processes without being limited by the speed of humans.”
The bottom line: It starts with culture. Create one centered around measurement today, and AI will be your competitive advantage in the future.
#2: AI Is Increasing Emphasis on the Entire Customer Journey
A massive 80% of consumers stop using an app within three days. This stat underscores for marketers that it’s not just about knowing who leads are before they become customers. It’s vital to know how to engage your customers so they stay your customers.
Artificial intelligence can help create a fuller picture of your customers by connecting the dots across their devices and revealing how their needs change with each. AI can also quickly identify patterns among customers to provide insight into the best way to approach them at each stage of the customer journey.
“Marketing leaders are realizing that to meet consumer expectations around personalization and real-time, relevant, contextual content, they’ll need to turn to AI for help,” said Salesforce Director of Product Marketing Meghann York. “High performing marketers are already leveraging AI to better understand consumer behavior and make predictions about how customers are likely to interact with their brands, so they can meet each individual customer where they are in their journey.”
To ensure you’re up to speed, make sure you have technology that can measure across all devices and stages of the customer journey. Ensure you’re leveraging AI to deliver the most customized in-app messaging, automated responses, and recommendations. Acquisition is a start, but engagement and retention are what really matter to the bottom line.
#3: AI Is Elevating the Customer Experience
We’ve all experienced bad marketing: spammy emails, annoying TV commercials, irrelevant banner ads. AI can help with that.
By making marketing more personalized, artificial intelligence is transforming marketing into something that people truly enjoy. Because AI can sift through massive amounts of customer data and identify patterns with impressive speed and accuracy, it can learn from customers constantly to create more tailored experiences.
“AI and machine learning will have the most profound impact on marketing in 2018 because it will fundamentally make marketing more human,” Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter, noted. “Which is ironic in and of itself.”
This is where a marketer really shines with AI: Use AI to better understand your customers, and then put your creativity to work creating the most compelling marketing possible. For example: In an app, this might mean knowing exactly when a customer loves to hear from you, or which kinds of messages they convert on best. Use that insight to tailor similar messaging for similar customers, and then test those messages with a broader audience, using AI to improve analysis and increase efficiency.
#4: AI Is Powering Customer Decisions
The remarkable accuracy AI offers will eventually allow customers to bypass recommendations; they will cut to the chase and trust AI with decisions instead of suggestions. Take travel, for example: A customer could sift through hundreds of hotel recommendations based on filters; or, a customer could trust the recommendation that’s best for them based on their past experiences and data from people who like what they like and shop how they shop.
As a marketer, consider how you could use AI to make better recommendations for your customers every time they open your app. Given the insight you have into their shopping preferences (both for physical products and variables like time of day, location, and frequency), what processes could you put in place to always surface the right recommendation at the right time? That’s where AI not only makes you a better marketer, but also helps surprise and delight your customers.
While the full impact and potential of AI are yet to been seen, the sense that it’s going to be a dominant force in marketing technology in 2018 is certain. To read more about trends to watch in 2018, including AI, check out our recent article: Marketing Technology 2018: 350 Marketers, CEOs, and Influencers Predict the Future.
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Becky is a content marketer at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. You can find her waxing poetic about the South and exploring her new home from her headquarters in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood.