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Artificial Intelligence in marketing: Why you cannot ignore it anymore

 

Are you still on the fence about adding Artificial Intelligence to your marketing mix?

About time you jump over and start experimenting because if you don’t, you’ll be one of ‘those’ people who are still living under the rock in the next five years.

Too dramatic?

It is because we need to grab your attention right now and tell you that AI is the biggest thing happening to marketing as we write this. It promises to change many facets of marketing that is in practice today. It’ll need you to improve your skill set in behavioral targeting, work with data and in the end, deliver a seamless experience to your customer – all of it without treading on their privacy. AI is no longer a part of sci-fi movies. It is moving into retail stores, e-commerce platforms, and your customer’s mobile phones.

Here’s a quick fact

 

Source: Hubspot

That, in a way, is the beauty and wonder of AI. It is making human lives easy by intelligently and independently completing tasks for them without making them realize that there was a machine behind their action.

Artificial Intelligence covers a huge ground including machine learning, image recognition, speech recognition, search, advertising, security, content and more. But how do marketers really use this on their own journey?

Here is how AI is already being used by the best minds in the industry.

 

1) Website design

How about a website that designs and builds itself? Does that sound threatening to the graphic designer and developer in your office?

It isn’t yet, but it gives you a quick view of where the future is heading.

Meet The Grid whose AI web designer ‘Molly’ who has apparently designed thousands of web pages including their own website.

“She’s quirky, but will never ghost you, never charge more, never miss a deadline, never cower to your demands for a bigger logo”.

Do those words sound like a summary of the problems you’ve been having with your ‘human’ designer?

 

 

You may just want to give Gird a try to see if an AI designer can do better.

Sacha is another AI web designer by  Firedrop with similar functionality. The designs look functional and may be getting more intuitive with time too.

Now, one of the biggest names in the design world – Adobe – is using Sensei, their AI and machine learning program to automate several of a designer’s task like cropping photos and designing web pages. The sheer reach of Adobe and its popularity can usher a new era in designing if all goes well.

 

2) Content creation

There goes another job that could be upended by AI?

Almost… but not fully. AI is set to weed out content writers who write template content filled with keywords. While unfortunately, such meandering content may not disappear, it will now be written by AI bots quickly and easily. It won’t be Pulitzer Prize-winning content but it’ll be unique, it’ll make sense and it’ll do the job at almost no cost.

NarrativeSicence is a Chicago based company that trains computers to write news stories. Quill is a rabbit they’ve pulled out of their magician’s hat. Powered by Advanced Natural Language Generation (Advanced NLG), Quill is an intent-driven system that automatically transforms data into Intelligent Narratives at scale, in conversational language anyone can understand.

 

 

In fact, NarrativeScience’s cofounder Kristian Hammond predicts that over 90% stories that you’ll read in the next 15 years will be written by computers with artificial intelligence! Another prediction from Hammond is that it won’t take 20 years for a computer to win the Pulitzer – probably just 5!

Does that mean you are about to lose your job?

Not yet….

Take an example of NarrativeScience when it started tracking the women’s softball beat to give a detailed account. The software first focused only on the winners which made it write a downgrading account about the loser. When the software engineers were asked to tweak this, they found a way. They also found a way to skip the kids’ errors in the little league game as parents did not want to read about them.

The thing with AI and machine learning is that they’ll learn on the go and won’t make the same mistake twice.

Today several popular websites, even Forbes, use tools like Wordsmith and Quill to create more content in a timely manner. The future jobs for content writers will be less, and will definitely require more skills to
Another disturbing factor came to light when a few scientists used AI and deep learning to churn out fake reviews which were not only good but perceived as written by humans. This created a huge uproar on how AI can falsely alter a brand’s perception in our minds. We wonder where things are headed next.

 

3) Content Curation

 

Content curation has been using AI for a while now. That’s how you’ve been getting recommendations on YouTube once you finish watching a video. That’s also why you are able to binge watch videos on Amazon and Netflix. The software works to understand your video genre preferences and shows similar videos without any human having to make suggestions. If you eventually choose a different genre, the software learns that you now like both these genres and shows you options from both.

Outbrain – a content discovery platform has been doing a great job for advertisers to create content that can generate traffic to your website. Even simple ‘Related articles’ plugin in WordPress is an example of presenting curated content to your readers as per their what they are currently reading.

There are other interesting applications for AI in content curation. Take the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art with uses an AI bot called ‘atbot’ that answers requests from people to see specific types of art. Curation with AI has automated the content discovery process to a good extent these days. It is only set to get better.

 

4) Search

Have you seen how search and SEO have changed in the last few years? The ease of voice search and the intuitiveness of the search engine to understand your ‘intent’ behind the search is changing the way SEO is done completely on its head.

Just five years back it would be just fine if you optimized your hotel website for ‘London hotel’ or ‘hotel in London’. Your customer today is directly voicing searching on Google saying ‘Where should I stay in London’.

Google’s machine learning algorithm called ‘RankBrain’ was created to ‘understand’ your search queries and show them in order of relevance. Several times the expanded answer is available right within the search result to ensure you don’t even leave the search interface.

Instead of the old keyword search strategy, SEO has now moved on to Topic cluster optimization to help a website rank well.

Have a look

 

 

5) Marketing automation

Marketing automation has been in practice for a while. It has been the one tool that a marketer uses to personalize the content based on the user behavior. Once a user is added to your email list, your further communication with the user will depend on the action they take (or don’t take). Users who make a purchase from your site can receive different emails from those who don’t. You can upsell and cross-sell based automatically.

To a good extent, customers are now used to receiving customized content. So much so that they may be completely put off if you send them an irrelevant general mailer that doesn’t match their behavior or lifecycle stage. Automation software offer to the segment you list based on age, gender, location, life cycle stage, purchase stage and more making your customers feel that you understand them better.  These emails, once created, can go out on their own at a pre-set time, eliminating human effort.

 

6) Social Media

 

Social media has connected the world like never before. Every day, you wake up to discover new people and products, share stories and pictures, and customize to create your world within the virtual world. Beyond friends and family, social goes a long way in allowing you to discover people, places, activities, and things that match your interest levels. The type of feed you see is optimized to help you pick out the best information.

These social platforms constantly record your likes and dislikes, choices and comments. Their artificial intelligence platform learns, stores and remembers this data so that every time you visit the platform, you have a personalized experience. At the same time, their AI is also being trained to identify ‘low quality’ websites and content and eventually weed it out of their feed to avoid bad user experience.
Facebook now knows when you celebrate a festival, have a life event, check into a vacation hotel or attend a friend’s wedding. And all this data is fully identifiable! Imagine the powerhouse they have become today is because of the power of data.

 

7) Images 
Have you seen how much image search has changed on Google?
Instead of throwing up a set of images that may or may not match your query, image search is now able to not only show highly relevant images but also classify them into different categories.
Try an image search for the word ‘friendship’. You’ll now be presented with categories like funny, lost, cute, photography, animated, meme, fake, unconditional and more to help you narrow down the kind of image you are looking for.
This marvelous capacity to ‘read’ images can now be in your hands too. Google’s Cloud Vision API not only ‘reads’ an image but classifies it into hundreds of individual categories. Try the upload feature on the link. If you upload your own picture, it will try to even tell you the ‘emotional’ state of the person like sad or happy using sentiment analysis. The machine learning api is already constantly learning about celebrities and logos and with each image, it continues to learn as people continue to use it. The API is free for up to 1000 units a month so go ahead and give it a try.
Images are an extremely powerful medium of communication and AI is currently busy cracking the code behind why some images work so much better than the others. Once we know, it’ll only be a matter of time before you are surrounded by the visuals that you like.
8) Advertising
The use of AI in advertising was first widely introduced by Google. From automatic bidding to retargeting, AI is used in multiple layers so that advertisers get the best value and users get to see only the ads that make sense to them. A good part of this advertising like the campaign set up and execution is done manually. But this may change soon.
Let’s introduce you to ‘Adgorithms’ run by a robot called Albert. Enter your KPIs, location, devices, channels and creative and Albert will then take over running and optimizing your campaign to help you achieve your goals. So, now you don’t have to rely on automation for individual media buys but simply use Albert to execute your campaign. Albert integrates with Google Display Network, Outbrain, Mailchimp and Snapchat to get you the best results. Programmatic has been there for a while in digital but it is promising to get better with time.
Harley-Davidson of NYC started using Albert for both for direct response and brand awareness campaigns, and it now credits 40 percent of its motorcycle sales to the platform in the first three months. Daily visits to the site had increased by 566% and the leads more than tripled in the second month.
So is AI taking over the digital advertisers job. Not yet. Some combinations of AI and advertising have gone horribly wrong. Advertisers staged a mass boycott of YouTube when their content started appearing beside extremist content. There have been instances when an SUV’s ad appeared next to the story of a crash making the advertiser look heartless.
There needs to be a bunch of tweaks and of course constant monitoring to ensure AI manages to take up the chunk of work that can be automated. But in the end you do need an intelligent human to manage the game.

Chatbots

 

It’s common knowledge that people don’t like to speak to bots. That is when bots speak like bots. These days, bots have been optimized to make them sound more human. They use the capabilities of existing messaging platforms like Whatsapp or Facebook or their own platform. In some cases, users now are fully aware of speaking to a bot but do so willingly as the conversation makes sense.
One industry where Chatbots are revolutionizing the way things are done is the Survey industry. Take the Streetbees survey app for example. Once you install the app, it asks you a series of questions in order to collect information and show you the right survey.

Each survey is then conducted by a bot asking questions like “Have you seen this in your supermarket?” or “What was the last biscuit you ate?”.  You can share images, audio and video with the app whose intelligent solutions will analyse and present results. What used to take ages (and a whole lot of money and effort) now gets done in a jiffy.

Let’s say you are launching a new brand of baby oil and want insights about how mothers in different countries currently use baby oil. You survey app can reach out to your exact target audience via their smartphone, incentivize them appropriately to participate in the survey and even get you videos on how mothers are massaging their baby with baby oil! If that’s not a great use of AI then what is!

Online and offline – connecting the dots
AI is connecting the dots online and offline. It is helping assimilate information about your customer from multiple sources, analyse it and then reach out to the right communication. If you just had a meal at a restaurant and give it a not so good review online, many reach out to you with an immediate apologetic communication and sometimes offer to soothe your nerves too.

AI is helping shoppers find clothes according to their personal style. It even goes on to ‘suggest’ the best options for entertainment nearby, spot trends and aid in social selling.

Dynamic pricing
Remember how the $49 – $99 changed our price perception about products and we bought it more readily than if the products were priced $50 or $100? What if you could find the real best price for your product based on data analytics and AI? A case presented by Mohammad Islam about machine learning and price optimization, suggests that price testing be isolated by geography and distribution channels to eventually find the most profitable price for a product.

Instead of pricing based on your competitor or even market trend reports, you could use AI to determine the price of your products.

Speech recognition

 

Most of us have run into either Siri, Cortana or Google Assistance who’ve tried to locate files on our laptop or answer complex questions. The AI behind speech recognition is allowing marketers to break new ground. Where marketing campaigns have been riddled with blunders because of an incorrect translation, the bots and AI of the future may end up doing a better job when it came to personalized reach. Check this out to see how

Baidu – China’s top search engine is using speech recognition as a game changer.

AI is set to replace a lot of jobs in the near future. Even in as much as three years, there could be a log of changes in how we work as digital marketers. And that’s just AI. We haven’t even begun on IoT, Blockchain and other future technologies that are set to change the world. Brace yourself, folks, ‘that’ winter is coming.

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