3 ways AI can make your marketing efforts more intelligent

Imagine walking into a furniture warehouse to browse for a new sofa and immediately being greeted by an overly enthusiastic brand representative. They hand you a brochure when you walk in the door and then follow you around, popping up seemingly out of nowhere to provide details about any item you pause to evaluate. Ironically, reps like this are so in-your-face it turns many people off from making a purchase. Instead of finding the person helpful, you focus on getting out of the store as quickly as possible to avoid their overbearing meddling. 

Later, you’re scrolling a social media feed and encounter a promoted post about the best places to purchase living room furniture. The photo in front of you is the type of sofa you’ve been researching, made of the same material and color swatch you’re interested in. It’s easy for you to make a purchasing decision from the comfort of your own bed, behind a keyboard, without ever interacting with an annoying representative. This content is curated to your feed based on your search history and online behaviors and as consumers, we’re often pleased to see personalized offers provided to us directly with no active searching required on our part.

The ability to identify interested consumers and provide them with information they need to encourage a purchase is a prime example of the benefit of artificial intelligence (AI) in marketing.

Businesses are starting to take notice. If you attended Inbound 2016 in November or read any news from the conference, you’re well aware that AI was a central focus of the future of marketing.

Broadens marketers’ experiences 

AI is defined by HubSpot as “an area of computer science that makes machines do things that would require intelligence if done by a human.” These behaviors include learning, reacting, talking, reasoning, or problem solving. Although the practice itself is just now starting to gain popularity in the marketing world, it’s actually been around since the 1950s, when computer scientist Alan Turing developed the Turing Test to compare a machine’s ability to learn to that of a human child. 

These comparisons helped establish a foundation for the tech revolutionists we’re familiar with now. Leaders in science and business like Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking are all doing their part to bring AI to fruition. As the technology begins to mimic simple tasks, we must ask ourselves: how can we leverage this progress and utilize AI technology as it reaches human intelligence levels? 

If this build up has sparked fear about the future of human skillsets and job availability, consider how it impacts your business now: What if AI could actually make your marketing efforts less artificial and more intelligent?

Early indications are that AI can do just that, as evidenced by the simple example of promoted Facebook content described above. Beyond ad targeting and content curation, marketers are reaping the benefits of AI in areas including:

  • language and speech recognition
  • website design
  • dynamic price optimization 
  • automated recommendations
  • customer segmentation
  • predictive customer service

Basic content generation is even incorporating AI on platforms like Wordsmith, which automatically generates articles from data sets like financial reports.

Improves the discussion

The crux of inbound marketing is developing a relationship with audience members to provide them with information and resources at every stage of the buyer’s journey. AI can make developing this relationship more efficient, removing many of the rote tasks of the marketing funnel and enabling brands to leverage data to focus on creating personalized content to meet consumers in their specific buying stages. Automating basic tasks allows marketers to focus on studying the human motivations behind behaviors and patterns, and altering their content based on the results.

The opportunity to use AI when developing buyer personas is at the forefront of the marketing discussion, mostly due to IBM’s famous AI platform, Watson. The company explains Watson as cognitive technology that analyzes and interprets data–including unstructured text, images, audio and video–to think and act like a human.

Watson takes on human elements, sensing and processing a user’s personality, tone and emotion to draw conclusions and suggest personalized recommendations, and it offers brands the opportunity utilize chatbots to engage with users in dialogue.

Helps personalize content

An example of the power of content personalized by AI is the Under Armour app, Record. This app tracks and analyzes a user’s fitness activity through a combination of data collected in real time and third-party data on fitness and nutrition, allowing it to deliver relevant training and lifestyle advice personalized to each individual.

Explaining how Under Armour’s app utilizes Watson’s AI capabilities, IBM gives the following example: “A 32-year-old woman who is training for a 5km race could use the app to create a personalized training and meal plan based on her size, goals, lifestyle. The app could map routes near her home/office, taking into account the weather and time of day. It can watch what she eats and offer suggestions on how to improve her diet to improve performance.” 

Obviously, this personalized, custom approach — much like what a personal trainer would do — offers a level of value and customer satisfaction that generic diet and exercise information simply can’t match. 

Where is marketing AI heading?

AI in marketing is still very much in its infancy, but its evolution is poised to accelerate dramatically in upcoming months and years, offering new opportunities so quickly, we’ll all struggle to keep pace and maximize their potential.

To help us navigate the path, the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute (MAII) has been developed by Paul Roetzer, CEO of PR 20/20 and author of The Marketing Performance Blueprint. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re interested in staying at the cusp of marketing AI and all it has to offer.