AI – What is it and how should you utilise it in your marketing strategy?

What is Artificial intelligence (AI)?

Technology that Appears To Think Like You Do

The ability of a digital computer or a computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent human beings. The goals of Artificial Intelligence or AI include learning, reasoning and perception. Although AI is still only in its beginning phases it is expected to change the face of web development tremendously. Major tech giants Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, Boston Dynamics, Adobe or local accounting firm Xero all invest heavily into AI research and development.

How does Artificial intelligence (AI) work?

AI systems learn and adapt. Put simply this is done by taking in information or data, processing it and storing it for future reference. Similar to when a young child burns themselves on a hot stove, their brain registers the pain and makes a note to not do it again. AI software can include motion and manipulation, perception, social intelligence, creativity, general intelligence, problem-solving, reasoning, knowledge representation and language translation. Yes really, it’s a little scary how much it can actually do.

Benefits of artificial intelligence (AI)

AI can reduce the amount of time business owners spend on doing basic administrative tasks thereby giving them more time to focus on what is really important; strategy, product design and customer relationships.  A recent survey conducted by Sage found that the average small business spends 120 days a year, almost one-third of a year on admin.

Adopting AI can be cost-effective and complementary to customer engagement. AI as the first line of customer interaction before speaking to a person over the phone can cut down customer wait times significantly. This translates directly into less time spent on routine administrative tasks and happier customers.

Accounting or Finance professionals can use AI to automate time-consuming, redundant and repeatable data-entry tasks giving them more time to focus on strategic thinking.

Automated Virtual Assistants can help business owners to stay organised and make sure that nothing slips through the cracks by assisting with tasks such as scheduling, billing, invoicing and travel arrangements.

Examples of Artificial intelligence (AI)

Some common examples of AI include computers that play chess, self-driving cars, predictive search on Google, asking Siri about the weather, requesting that Alexa play you your “getting ready” playlist or using a ‘conversation agent’ such as Chatbot.

Artificial intelligence (AI) in Marketing

So the big question is, how should you be using this in your business?

1) Mastering Personalization

Personalisation is the name of the game.

It’s the reason marketers are being bogged down with so much data and segmentation. But personalisation has become the (maybe unsaid) expectation from customers, so you have to get on board. Brands are now on the hook for building a relationship with their customers, earning their trust. What better way to earn that trust than by showing your customers just how much you understand them?

2) Intelligent anticipation with product recommendations

What if a brand knew you so well that every time you visited their website or received an email, you saw products that were curated specifically for you – not the same three products everyone else sees, but products that speak to you?

As a business, you have to create experiences proving you know your audience’s style, shopping preferences, and individual tendencies down to the smallest detail. You can infuse website (product) recommendations into your strategy to build trust with customers. And with AI-enabled technology, product recommendations can be populated automatically with a simple email or website widget informed, of course, by your customer data.

3) Individualized incentives for 1:1 messaging

In most marketers’ worlds, incentives have become a guessing game. Why? Because it’s nearly impossible for humans to A/B test multiple levels of incentives in a campaign with tens of thousands of customers.

When we try, we find ourselves using incentives to react to emails that were unopened and offers that went unused. But that doesn’t take into account the segment of people who would take action on the email or offer if they had received another type of communication. Instead, we too often send out blanket incentives (which cheapen the value of our products and ultimately cost revenue).

But, with the capability of machine learning and AI-driven marketing, you can send each customer an individualised incentive, just for them, based on all of the data in your system. This not only gives customers an incentive when they need it but also only offers the right incentive to drive a purchase. For some customers, that might be 30% or 10%, for others, it could be free shipping.

Individualised incentives add a layer of personalisation. They show customers you understand their unique shopping habits and that you’re willing to offer them a special incentive to stick with your brand.

4) Delighting with Send Time Optimization

The age-old question still begs: When is the best time to send an email?

Even after reading every study about email times and A/B testing send times, you’ll never find the perfect time to send an email.

Why? Because there’s no way to identify a group of 1,000 contacts who prefer to read their email at 2:00 p.m. on a Wednesday. It’s not humanly possible.

But, with machine learning, you can teach your automation platform to learn the best time to send an email to each individual customer. When set in place, the machine will use past customer interactions to identify the best times to reach each customer.

Using technology like that which powers Send Time Optimisation will allow you to redirect the focus of your marketing efforts from how and when to send emails back to real, pure relationship-building.

5) Moving to a complete omnichannel approach

Consumers expect consistent, unified interactions with brands from channel to channel (email, SMS message, in-app notifications or otherwise), and from each touch point to the next. When the above-mentioned tactics start to work together – not just as separate functions within your e-commerce strategy – but as a cohesive, well-oiled apparatus, you’ll start inching closer to that so-called omnichannel customer experience.

Artificial intelligence (AI) in the future

While some find the idea of AI frightening the reality is that it is already part of our everyday lives.  As technology develops we will see the displacement of certain jobs and the creation of entirely new ones.
This will undoubtedly present challenges going forward but businesses have the ability to adapt and benefit from them.