You’ve probably heard of AI, short for artificial intelligence. You’ve probably already used it today: maybe it was the word-fill on your smartphone when you were texting, or when you told Alexa to add “carrots” to your grocery list, or when you clicked on that new show Netflix keeps bringing to your home screen. All of those examples, believe it or not, are artificial intelligence bots gathering information about how you live your life so the companies you interact with can market to you better.
AI isn’t just the future; it’s the present. Semrush states that 93% of all companies are using some form of AI, and the remaining 7% are considering it. Here are some myths and truths about AI in marketing and how to find the best way to use it.
Fact: AI is necessary for marketing today.
Unlike traditional software, AI can process huge datasets at scale and provide context about it. Traditional software certainly has access to large amounts of data and can clarify it for you, but it won’t tell you what you should do with the data or interpret it. It can’t tell you which leads are likely to buy in, who you should reach out to next, or whatever your needs may be. AI programs can do this extra step, however. They can give you valuable insights into your marketing strategy that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. Or at least not with the same speed and convenience AI offers. Think of traditional software as “dumb” and AI as “smart.”
One example is AI in GPS systems. Twenty years ago, you couldn’t find your way somewhere without a physical map. Now we barely think about going someplace new because we can just plug it into our phones. Ride-hailing apps, like Uber and Lyft, use AI to understand and identify routes, finding the best way to avoid roadblocks and traffic to get you where you need to go, and how long it will take you. All in a matter of seconds.
Fiction: AI is so smart, you just plug in the algorithm and it immediately starts working for you.
Maybe someday. For now, AI can only analyze data like contacts in CRM systems thanks to programs using machine learning and big data. Just like humans learn skills through training, humans must “train” AI programs to analyze new information. According to Marketing Evolution, if the AI tools are not trained with high-quality data that is accurate, timely, and representative, the analytics won’t reflect consumer desires.
New data is only meaningful in the context of relevant past data to make informed decisions based on what marketing strategies have or haven’t worked. And just because a system uses AI doesn’t mean it’s necessarily accurate. AI only works if the data it analyzes can produce meaningful results.
Machine-learning is a very code-heavy part of AI, but some of the best programs for this task are TensorFlow, Azure, and H20.
Fact: AI is instrumental in creating personalized customer experiences through marketing.
You’ve probably heard that personalized marketing is the leading strategy nowadays. In fact, In this report by Accenture, they found that consumers are more likely to interact with personalized content. Similarly, data from Experian shows emails are 26% more likely to be opened if they have personalized subject lines. However, taking the time to analyze each one of your customers’ likes and dislikes is too much for one person to do. Fortunately, AI is a champion at this.
AI takes much of the guesswork out of creating personalized material through its extensive data analysis. How does it do this? By analyzing your engagement patterns on a company’s website. It records everything you purchase, own, and click on. Then, it uses its training, along with some algorithms, to guess who you are and what experience will best suit you.
For example, after watching a cooking show on Netflix, you’ll probably see the Great British Bake-Off recommended for you afterward. Semrush reports that Netflix’s recommendations engine, powered by AI, helps them make $1 billion a year. If you were looking at a certain product on Walmart’s website and then got an email about similar items, that was an AI program (like PathFactory) curating that for you.
Fiction: AI algorithms are perfect and always get things right.
Nothing is perfect, and not every AI program is created equal. Algorithms are usually pretty good if they get plenty of relevant, accurate data to run on. But if they aren’t, you may not be able to tell until it’s too late. Imagine running an email marketing campaign and getting amazing click-through rates, only to discover that your bot was only directing a few dozen people to sign up for emails and thus stacking the data.
Why isn’t AI 100% foolproof? Because humans are not completely predictable. Humans are unique and have many traits that cannot be dumbed down to just a formula. According to Business Twitter, the very thing that makes us human is the fact that “we are constantly changing and growing, and there are always outliers.” AI personalization works because you use it to guide prospects to solve their pain points, not just to boost your numbers.
Fact: Conversational AI chatbots are one of AI’s most effective uses in marketing.
80% of marketers in 2020 already had chatbots or live chats as part of their customer experience strategy, eliminating the need for a human (Semrush). AI chatbots have revolutionized the customer service industry, and they definitely won’t be going away anytime soon.
Not all chatbots are AI, however. Regular chatbots are like the “dumb” programming mentioned before, meaning they can only answer questions they’re programmed to respond to. If a question comes up that it doesn’t know how to answer, it will be stuck.
However, AI chatbots can learn from customers’ responses and data to develop a new answer to a new question much faster than any human could. 71% of consumers believe that quick responses drastically improve their customer experience. Drift is a prime example of one of these smart AI bot tools. Digital assistants like Siri and Alexa are also intelligent AI chatbots using speech recognition, programmed to respond to voice commands.
Why are chatbots so useful in marketing? Because they’re perfect for helping customers move along in the buyer’s journey. Since they’re linked with all your other systems, they can create a truly seamless experience for your leads.
Fiction: AI bots can write entire content and will replace all human workers.
Not exactly. While AI can both curate and generate content, its power for automating content generation is not greater than that of humans. Take the Heliograf bot helping reporters at the Washington Post write articles. AI has helped them check their facts quicker, caught copy errors, and takes care of administrative work like reporting so the employees can focus on more creative work.
However, whatever AI may be able to do, there’s one thing robots can never do: be creative and empathetic. At the heart of marketing is creativity, making something new from nothing, along with empathy, the ability to resonate with other people. It takes a person to know another person truly, and it’s unlikely that AI will ever be able to achieve this. Plus, there’s a whole new market opening for people who can install and maintain AI programs.
AI is a must-have in this day and age. But while it can do some things better than people, it’s only a tool. Marketing will always need a genuine human connection to truly succeed.
AI is certainly a key element that should be a part of your marketing strategies, but it can be confusing to figure out which programs are best for your company and its goals. If you want some help figuring it out, contact us at 829 Studios, and we’ll help you launch your marketing into the future.