Artificial Intelligence – the rise of the machines. Don’t freak out, I’m not talking about the Terminator… or am I?!? Seriously, I’m not. All jokes aside, you’ve been researching if it’s time to have AI for your business because that’s what brought you to this post. So let’s dive into what AI actually is.
Artificial intelligence represents a tremendous leap forward for businesses around the world. But AI can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. When I first heard about AI and its rising popularity, I thought about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s iconic movie character chasing after John Connor. As I did more research, I quickly realized that AI for your business is nothing of the sort.
AI can have many uses – including the predictive algorithms that Google uses to better serve your ads, to telemarketing robocalls, to website chatbots that help guide users through the customer purchase journey. If you really look into it, AI is already everywhere we are. When Amazon uses content curation to better serve you products that might be relevant to your lifestyle, that’s AI. Netflix using content curation to recommend movies and shows that you may like based on your streaming history is also AI.
These are just a few great examples of how you can use AI to better serve your business and your customers. But is AI right for your business NOW? Before we can determine that, we need to dive into the different types of AI that we run into every day – as marketers and as regular internet users.
Types of AI in Marketing
Ad targeting is used by platforms like Google, Facebook, and many others to optimize and serve your ads to achieve the most favorable outcome possible. This machine learning process reveals which ads/placements are performing the best so we can better make decisions throughout the duration of our campaigns. Additionally, when you add a consumer’s internet history into the mix, it makes the AI work that much harder to more accurately deliver your ad to the right people at the right time.
Chances are that you encountered a chatbot on a website you were visiting. Now, some of these chatbots have real people behind them, but others are just an advanced AI program that is made to look and feel like you are chatting with a real person. Depending on the question or keywords that you type into the AI-based chatbot, it will pull up the answers to frequently asked questions or continue to assist you down the pipeline, leading you toward a purchase and or a sales representative.
Are you still watching? Because Netflix and other platforms are eagerly waiting for you to make your next choice. Based on your search history, this goes way deeper than streaming platforms like Netflix and Spotify. Businesses like Google and Amazon use your recent history to better serve your content or products that are relevant to you based on your recent internet history on and off the platform.
Content is already being generated by AI, but were you able to spot it out in a crowd? Even though AI is doing this on a basic level (generating and posting articles), it could eventually expand into creating intricate and compelling content. On top of that, this AI will also find the right audience and placement to best serve your AI-generated content. This content will still always need humans to create and guide the brand’s strategy and voice, but that’s a subject for a different post. Or posts. (We can talk for hours and hours about brand differentiation…)
Flashback to the days where we had to manually track users on our website and then send them emails regarding their visit. Man those days sucked. Luckily for us, there are a lot of marketing automation platforms out there that help us (the marketers) seamlessly reach customers as they come onto our website. With a user’s unique IP address, we can observe that individual’s unique consumer behaviors on our website and create automated emails or onsite pop-ups that are specific to that user.
Here’s an example of marketing automation that lots of websites use with their e-commerce. If you visit a site and add one or more products to your cart, you may leave before finalizing the purchase. Maybe it’s because you changed your mind. Or maybe you wanted to finish the transaction, but life got in the way. Either way, this action (or lack thereof) will trigger the marketing automation to look for the email address associated with your IP address (this is only available if you were a previous customer or opted in for emails, newsletter, offers, etc.). That allows the brand to automatically send you an email about your abandoned cart. And if they don’t have your email address? Well, the next time you visit their site, that can trigger a 20% off pop up as soon as the AI reads your IP address. Pretty neat, right?
This one’s pretty simple and is specific to the consumer’s interactions with your website. Whether it is from the marketing automation software, or from a 3rd party remarketing software, the AI is retargeting consumers that bounce from your website. They can serve up ads, emails, and popups, based off of their purchase history or the content they consumed on your website. Since 98% of consumers don’t convert right away, retargeting is a smart use of AI for your business to capture beyond the 2%.
The AI that does all of the heavy lifting and asks for nothing in return. Not bad, right? Propensity modeling is a statistical approach to figuring out the likely behavior of your target market. Essentially, a marketer will feed a propensity model massive amounts of data on customers, or organizations, and it will be able to tell you which product this prospect is likely to purchase.
This is exactly what it sounds like. Using market data, machine learning, and specific algorithms, Predictive Analysis is able to provide deep insights into market trends, customer behaviors, and potential business results.
Of course, there are many more types of AI for your business: including big ones like dynamic pricing and predictive customer service. But I think you get the gist. After reading through some of these examples, you might have realized that you either already use, or have interacted with, different types of AI in the digital space. So what’s next? How do we know if AI is right for your business? Well, let’s go into a good old Pros and Cons list.
Pros and Cons of AI
Personalized and Relevant Messages and Products
Predictive analysis and propensity modeling are being used by companies today to better curate the consumer’s journey and offer content and products that are relevant to them. Netflix uses this to offer you new shows and movies to watch based on your streaming history, while brands like Amazon use this to offer you products that are relevant to you based on your purchase history.
According to Business insider, 2020 is the year where 85% of customer interactions will occur with AI instead of a human.
Your Job Just Got Easier
We have all this data, but what do we do with it? Well, with the help of AI you can now easily distinguish what actions to take within your own business. In the case of Marketing Automation, AI will already be doing this for you.
Improving Customer Experience
While AI is used to help us (the marketers), it is also helping the customers. Between serving ads that are relevant to them personally to creating chatbots that provide assistance when they want it, AI can make the customer experience seamless and a lot better.
Robots Lack Emotion
Chatbots are great when I have a simple, frequently asked question. But what about when my question isn’t so common? As more and more AI makes its way into customer service, there is still a lack of emotion, empathy, and an overall understanding of complex problems. How many times must I repeat myself or rewrite my issue for this bot to understand what’s going on? This leads to a negative customer experience and can end up hurting your brand in the long run.
Computers Require Humans
I mean, technically this is a pro because we all want to be needed (and we need to have jobs)! But when we look at it in the sense of AI taking the bulk of the work, they can only do what they are programmed to do…by humans. This can be a con because computers will do only what they are programmed to do – and that might not be the best course of action. AI can’t change its mind in case of an emergency; it lacks creativity and imagination. Because of this, AI will always need marketers to help discern in times of crisis and bring that emotion and creativity into the world. So just make sure you build in time for the human factor
AI Can Be Wrong
I’m just going to say it. Yes, AI can be wrong. I know it’s difficult to think that a computer can be wrong, but it’s more complicated than that. In the eyes of AI, it is right statistically, but humans are much more than just statistics and algorithms. We change all the time. What we like. What we don’t like. We are constantly evolving. What happens when someone else uses your device to do some research on a service or product? In the world of AI, this is still you. So now you might start to get served ads that are not relevant to you, but relevant to your friend. If the two of you walked into a store, the salesperson would have no problem separating you in their mind. Not so here.
So, Is AI Right For Your Business?
Reviewing the information above (and using my own personal experience with AI), the answer is probably yes. At least to some degree. How much depends both on your needs and on budget. In an ideal world, it’s great to try everything and see what you like best. Unfortunately, it’s not like getting little wooden spoonfuls of gelato – we can’t really try before we buy. And even if we could, there are time investments involved to really see if the benefits are there for your company. So research is definitely the first step (and you’re taking that right now)!
I can tell you that I personally work with the majority of these programs, and they have made my life as a marketer much, much, much easier. If you’re overwhelmed or unsure, start with trying one subscription that offers an easy out. That way you can cancel if you are unhappy – but go into it with the right attitude and time to give it the best chance for success. And if you still need help, please feel free to reach out to me. Happy AI hunting folks!