Just a couple of years ago, most people saw artificial intelligence as something whose application in everyday life was decades away. But as always, revolutionary technology has a tendency of becoming a mass market product much faster than was initially anticipated. The same seems to be happening to artificial intelligence (AI) technology. AI already plays a role in things we see and use such as Google Home, Alexa and Siri as well as things that occur hidden from the average person’s view such as preventing credit card and identity theft.
We are still some way off from a time when AI will encompass nearly every facet of life but we are rapidly getting there. One area that is quickly changing thanks to AI is digital marketing. And if you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Digital marketing thrives on targeting a specific audience in the context of more than 3 billion Internet users. There’s a depth of precision in digital marketing that can only be reached by autonomous or semi-autonomous systems. Here’s a look at some of the important ways AI is changing digital marketing.
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In the world of online marketing, content is king. So integral is content generation that it has spawned a massive army of web article writers spread around the world. It’s difficult to imagine writing being done by robots and software but that revolution has already started to happen. Gmail has a predictive typing feature that can complete a sentence or phrase for you based on the first few words you type.
At a higher level, leading news publishers like the Washington Post, the Associated Press and USA Today are already banking on robots to do some of their news pieces. As impressive as this is, the possibilities are enormous. Eventually, AI tools could identify the most viable topics to write on or develop preliminary drafts based on a set of pre-defined or evolving parameters.
At a more strategic level, AI can help marketers craft a comprehensive step-by-step content marketing strategy that includes detailed real-time reports showing impact.
Digital advertising was perhaps the first area of digital marketing that was touched by AI. That’s thanks to the sheer vastness of not just the audience but also the potential platforms one could advertise on. Today’s AI-powered online advertising systems are more sophisticated than ever before. They can operate autonomously and place the right ads before the right audience by leveraging elaborate algorithms and vast data sets.
The heavy dependence on technology for decision-making has seen this form of advertising referred to as programmatic advertising. A few decades ago, advertising was viewed as a primarily creative process. While creativity remains at the core of digital advertising, the ads won’t have the desired effect if they aren’t delivered and targeted to the right audience at the right time with the right message.
The average consumer is bombarded by at least dozens of ads each day both online and offline. In this contest for eyeballs and attention, it’s the ads that are most relevant that will draw the consumer’s attention. AI allows businesses to optimize their ad dollars by ensuring the ad is automatically placed before the right viewer.
The Internet is not limited by distance or national borders—a company can have customers spread across the world. This is good for business but the manpower needed to service such a potentially massive customer base is enormous and unaffordable. Chatbots allow businesses to forego employing armies of customer service and sales representatives but while giving each customer prompt attention.
Chatbots have proven to be a game-changer as far as customer engagement goes. Numerous websites now have chatbots that respond to frequently asked questions. Social media platforms like Twitter also allow businesses to install chatbots that users can interact with.
Chatbots have been quite successful but we are still not at a place where chatbots can take over the end-to-end role of customer service and sales staff. Ergo, most chatbots will defer to a human if the customer is not satisfied with the responses they get. As AI technology grows in sophistication, we can expect to see smart chatbots that can engage in near human-level conversation with users regarding customer service and sales enquiries.
Predictive Analytics and Behavior Analysis
A growing number of businesses are hiring programmers, data scientists and other technology professionals in their marketing departments. That’s from a realization that marketing and information technology are increasingly intertwined. Companies that fail to ‘digitize’ their marketing processes run the risk of falling behind their competition. The growing place of the Internet in everyday business has only emphasized the importance of marketing technology and specifically AI.
The Internet is like a ginormous laboratory with trillions of distinct events occurring each day. It’s impossible for any human or team of humans to analyze such vast information and extract useful insights. That’s something only AI can do. Using big data analysis and machine learning, AI can provide detailed insights on a target audience, customer activity, competitor moves and burgeoning market trends. With this information, companies can hyper-personalize sales and marketing interactions while predicting customer behavior.
As Outreachmama explains, link building is crucial for SEO. AI can dramatically improve the process of link building by augmenting and automating the process (e.g. Outreachmama). First, AI can help prospect for new sites that resonate with your target audience. The AI tool would use keywords to shortlist sites that would be a good fit. It would also examine certain characteristics such as publishing frequency, when the most recent post was published and the quality of the user interface.
Second, AI can help identify influencers and blogs that speak to you target market. An influencer’s suitability won’t always be evident from their posts but AI can examine the nature and pattern of responses to see if they contain the terms, phrases and questions you’d be interested in. Third, AI can calculate the impact of the websites and influencer pages you shortlisted to help you develop a final set of those ranked as most effective.
Businesses engage with customers through multiple channels online and offline. These interactions each contain useful insights on customer behavior, market trends and product problems. But the diversity of the interfaces through which they are collected has always made it difficult for businesses to define these insights quickly, accurately and comprehensively.
This challenge is becoming a thing of the past thanks to the capabilities of AI. It makes it easier to aggregate and organize data captured via website forms, chatbots, mobile apps, CRM systems, social media platforms, email and phone calls. The insights gathered can thereafter be applied to smarter sales campaigns, more targeted advertising and customized digital journeys.
AI is transforming the practice of sales and marketing in the above-listed ways and more. Of course AI isn’t a silver bullet. If there are structural problems with the sales and marketing strategy, AI will not magically fix that. AI is simply a tool for streamlining execution.