AI – yesterday’s fiction, today’s reality. Artificial intelligence has for years been an integral part of science fiction from TV, to books, to the big screens. Today, it has become an integral part of reality, and is at the center of marketing discussions in various organizations. We use AI dozens, if not hundreds, of times in our day-to-day life. Right from asking questions of Amazon Alexa and Siri, to choosing recommended TV shows on Netflix, ordering recommended products on Amazon, unlocking iPhone with facial recognition, and navigating trips in Maps. Our life is already machine assisted, and AI based solutions have penetrated the professional marketing world in a big way. There is a concern that robots and AI can take over human jobs. Somewhere down the line maybe, but not today. AI based systems do not have the power to beat human ingenuity. So, is AI really a threat to marketing professional? The answer is definitely a big NO. The artificial intelligence solutions that we are seeing in the market are marketers greatest ally.

“Welcome to a heroic, fearless, AI-driven marketing future.”

According to a research report by Capgemini –

These stats clearly reveal that AI is Marketing’s friend for years to come. AI is the face of efficiency, profitability and productivity for marketing strategies. AI might not be the magic wand to every marketing challenge a marketer encounters but it definitely can help make informed decisions and save time. Marketers who make the best out of AI-powered solutions will be able to smartly automate data-driven and time-intensive activities, and execute complex customized campaigns to drive meaningful results.

AI is penetrating almost all areas of marketing. Here are the 4 of the most common uses and some of the companies providing these services.

Customer /Audience Segmentation

The world is becoming homogeneous. Increased internet connectivity and travel are leading to culture convergence. The world is becoming homogeneous. Days of broad segmentation are over. Micro segmentation is the game of the day. However, doing the right micro segmentation and reaching those customers with the right message is very hard. Without micro segmentation, your message is likely to be drowned out by a hurricane of other competitor messages making it trickier to track down most promising customers. AI is the game changer in such circumstances helping organizations find and reach right customers in an effective manner than ever before.

Big data and predictive analytics led micro segmentation for customer acquisition have been a big boon for marketers. Companies like IBM Lucy, AgilOne , Audience, Tealium, Kahuna and many more are helping brands effectively identify their audiences, their personas and help craft what content resonates best with each customer in just one-click.

Let’s look at how AgilOne’s AI solution helps segment audiences. AgilOne uses machine learning by plugging in first and third-party data in a clustering algorithm to predict what users are going to do. AgilOne’s AI offering can tell you what leads are likely to buy, how they will engage with your company so that you can offer long term value. The solution also helps segment your contact lists with leads and customers that share similar habits, behavior , needs and characteristics. Customer Segmentation allows marketers to attract groups within contact lists for a more appealing marketing strategy. The segmented customer list can be used to send VIP deals, local alerts and other personalized offers. Marketers can also optimize their email and website communications, by learning from user behavior. Is all of the above unique to AgilOne? Certainly not. Most of the above solutions offer a combination of these solutions.

Bottom line: AI powered segmentation unlocks unique niche segments that need their own products and communications for conversion as customers.

Customization or Recommendations

Research reveals that most of the B2C and B2B buyers expect all their interactions to be personalized and not driven by human interaction. 59% of the buyers do not want to interact with a sales representative, giving marketers no choice but to move to digital and customized experiences to satisfy the expectations of their customers. Personalized experiences have become the norm for all web and mobile app experiences. Organizations like Amazon, Google , and Netflix are already leveraging AI and Machine Learning to provide web experiences in real-time based on user behavior. According to Gartner, B2B companies that provide effective recommendations are likely to outsell their competitors by 30%. Companies like Dynamic Yield, Evergage, RichRelevance, Emarsys, Target2Sell, Prudsys, Lifigniter and many others offer AI solutions for omnichannel personalization i.e. single personalization system for every user touchpoint from on-site, to app, to e-mail and more.

Just imagine if you can use your existing marketing platform to send customized emails to your customers, Liftignitier’s artificial intelligence drive API provides recommendations and changes which content should be shown from one open to next. This way every prospect receives a completely customized message that is ideal for them at a given point in time. Emarsys uses real-time business data to drive personalization.  Liftigniter’s has made a strong case for its solutions and major brands like Daily Motion, Vevo, Tastemade use it for for effective AI driven real-time personalization. Liftignitier guarantees its customers 20% to 100% improvement in click through rates and an average increase of 3% to 10% in conversions. This is serious performance improvements.

Bottom line: Socialization of customers has gone beyond social media. Customers expect one-on-one engagement and that means highly personalized content and content delivery at the right moments that can only be done by AI powered solutions.  

Customer Support Automation

CX or customer experience has always been the final frontier for any customer centric company. 24 x 7 call centers, Relationship Managers, Special Direct Access numbers – you name it and companies try to provide it. The challenge with all these channels is consistency of service. Try calling a call center in the middle of the night or on a national holiday. The results can be unpredictable. In today’s world, brand image is highly dependent upon the quality of customer service provided. Inconsistent customer service can lead to unsatisfied customers who are very much unlikely to use your product/service again.

Customer Support Automation using chat bots has given marketers another tool to improve customer experience. If you have ever ordered your favorite coffee on the Starbucks app, you will notice that a chat bot takes your order. You can text it or talk to it. It also tells you the time when your order will be ready, and the cost along with any ongoing deals on offer. Sephora, for instance ,is a brand that uses a chat bot which provides beauty advice to its users by suggesting them best cosmetic products in accordance to their needs. It also allows its prospects to “test” products like eye shadows, highlighting pallets , and lipsticks by identifying facial features and using augmented reality to apply the cosmetic on the prospects photograph. 

Chat bots have become a great boon for improving customer experience in the digital sphere. Companies like Inbenta, Eptica, Digital Genius, Next IT, Intercom, Nuance, offer AI solutions that provide conversational automated self-service 24/7 through Chatbots to render customized and contextual responses.

Bottom line: AI powered chat bots are bringing consistency to customer support. The technologies are not perfect. However, they are becoming better by the day. Google’s recent demonstration of a chat bot engaging human to book an appointment for hair saloon is a strong proof-point of things to come.

Content Creation

This year launched a software that could write 20,000 lines of ad copies a second. Automated content writers are here. AI solutions might not yet be capable of writing own political opinions for newspaper columns or websites but there are areas where artificial intelligence can be helpful to grab the attention of visitors to a website, saving you time and effort. For instance, AI solutions like Phrasee have helped companies like Dominos and Virgin Holidays to write effective email subject lines with the use of AI. Phrasee uses AI and machine learning to generate and optimized email subject lines so that prospects open, click, and convert more. Phrasee’s AI solution offering for email subject lines has the capability to beat humans 98% of the times in writing catchy and optimized email subject lines. Phrasee is not alone in delivering such services. Companies like Atomic Reach, Persado are all automating content creation. Companies like Narrative Sciences, Automated-Insights/Wordsmith are taking this further by integrating business data into the automated content creation processes.

Bottom line: AI is taking content creation to another level. Content creation is driven by Natural Language Processing technology which is currently focussed on English language. Hence, automated content creation for companies communicating in other languages like Chinese, Japanese, Arabic Hindi etc. are some time away.

These are only some use cases that I have discussed  here where AI solutions are being implemented to drive marketing. There are many more areas of marketing that are feeling the impact of AI. I would be covering few of those in my next blog.