Marketers today have an incredible amount of data available to them to understand the customer journey — from what content formats and channels perform the best to where, when and how to deliver that content. And yet, there is an over-reliance on backward-facing data to shape campaigns.
The reality is the customer journey is constantly changing. Broad segmentation no longer works. The average customer is being hit with literally millions of messages, making relevance and necessary differentiation more important than ever for brands across every touch point.
Customers expect brands to know who and where they are, while also anticipating their unique needs to fulfill them in real time.
This is perhaps where AI will have the greatest impact on marketing — understanding customers behaviors and needs at a level so granular that every consumer has a completely personalized experience.
To meet this shifting consumer demand and stay ahead of a customer journey that is constantly changing, marketers need both art and science to be successful, and the future lies with AI.
Here are 5 ways AI is changing the future of marketing:
Learn to let go of control.
One of the biggest barriers to deeper integration of AI in business is letting go. Giving up control and allowing AI to take the reins is scary for business owners and CMOs. What many don’t realize is that handing some of the decision making over to AI enables them to operate on a much larger scale. Machines make creative decisions with incredible, near instantaneous speed that facilitates a seamless and personalized experience for the customer.
“Most marketing teams have enough content to succeed,” said Olly Downs, Founder and Chief Scientist at AI Marketing company, Amplero, a partner company of Fjuri. “However, they’re overwhelmed by the challenge of how to test and optimize for millions of possible customer interactions. The right timing, wording, channel, incentive level, behavioral trigger, social cue, can each separately more than double the performance of a particular piece of content for a particular customer at a particular time.”
Protect your brand.
The most wildly successful companies are those that obsess over the customer experience. In this way, how your company interacts with customers defines your brand, and tapping into AI can give you more power to shape and control those interactions. In fact, AI is becoming more important than SEO and SEM. The key is to use it to create a hyper-personalized experience that adds real value to the customer’s life in the moment. If your AI doesn’t add value, it’ll do more harm to your brand than good.
AI is only as good as the data that goes into it.
One of the biggest challenges brands and marketers face today is the overabundance of data. According to the International Data Corporation, marketers are so overwhelmed, 99 percent of the data collected is ignored and unanalyzed because people simply don’t know what to do with it. But brands can’t afford to just gather data and only use a tiny percentage of it. Effective use of AI requires minding your data hygiene and ensuring that data is as complete and as accurate as possible.
Make sure your entire team is aligned.
In the near future, data analysis and related decision-making will be the domain of artificial intelligence. However, this kind of AI deployment will only work if the whole team is aligned with an understanding of the marketing goals and strategies. In other words, CMOs and other marketing leaders need to make impactful, strategic connections throughout the organization to get the data they need. Leaders also need the right people in place with the training and bandwidth to facilitate making sharing a priority. While some companies have already made data and sharing an organizational priority, for others, successful AI implementation will mean a complete cultural shift.
AI is only going to get more powerful, so start embracing it now.
To date, many of the experiments with AI such as chatbots haven’t been very successful. But with every experiment there are improvements and according to Tech Emergence, 85 percent of customer interactions will involve AI by 2020. There are several trends driving the adoption of AI technologies, including improved natural language processing and generation, decentralized machine learning, and improved image recognition. The smart marketers see these trends and are embracing AI now.
Why This All Matters
While the future of AI is still uncertain, its influence in marketing and everyday life will continue to expand. From improving your understanding of the customer to enhancing and personalizing the customer experiences with your brand, the possibilities with AI are endless. Whatever happens with AI, one thing is certain: companies and marketers that don’t embrace it now could miss out on an important strategic advantage and risk losing their competitive market edge for the future.