Marketing is one of the most important functions of a company that is ripe for an AI transformation. Every company can benefit from a lift in their marketing results and streamlining their marketing processes. Consumers of all types are accessible via digital channels and marketers can get access to incredible amounts of data.
Marketing is good at hyping up their results; even five years ago we heard claims of groundbreaking discoveries in AI-driven advertising technologies that were going to revolutionize the field of marketing. So how do business managers see past the hype and get ready to implement an AI strategy that would benefit their organization?
Smaller, more traditional businesses may consider AI a technology that is tailored to big companies or remains in the realm of science fiction. AI may seem too new and complex. In fact, less than 5% of companies polled in a recent study believe AI is highly mature.
To understand where AI can add value, we have to look at the three big parts of the marketing funnel: communications and awareness, lead generation, and prospecting and sales.
Communications And Awareness
The funnel begins with awareness when the potential customer notices the brand’s existence. At this point, the goal of communications is to get them interested in the offerings.
Video and TV advertising has been the strongest channel for brand awareness with the highest reach and recall. The use of AI is mature in ad tech platforms to make sense of the massive amounts of viewership and response data and place the right ads in front of the right customers.
The most effective channel that is often overlooked by brands is original content creation. This is especially true for startups and innovative products that can dominate a niche and drive organic traffic. AI content creation platforms can help brands create articles and videos that portray the brand’s story, and tools such as Grammarly and Textio utilize AI to make life easier for writers and content creators.
The next stage is lead generation, where the customer knows what they want and are researching different options. AI is effective at personalizing the offerings and presenting the right products before the right customers.
A success story here is Netflix, which generated $15.8 billion in revenues in 2018, with consistent 35% year-over-year growth. A large part of that success is due to their brilliant marketing tactics. Netflix has an AI recommendation engine that matches a piece of content to a prospective viewer based on their online behaviors, even if they don’t have a Netflix profile.
Businesses that have a large number of unique products, such as fashion and e-commerce, can similarly utilize AI recommendation engines to generate quality leads by matching with the right prospective customers. For example, Target has utilized AI in visual search by partnering with Pinterest Lens. A customer takes a photo and a recommended product is offered from Target’s lineup.
Prospecting And Sales
After the lead is qualified, next comes prospecting to scope the likelihood of purchase at a given price and, finally, making the sale.
Airbnb has utilized dynamic pricing to give price recommendations to sellers to improve their prospects with a renter. AI-based pricing mechanisms can help in two-sided markets by taking multiple factors into account in pricing and helping suppliers maximize their yield.
Sephora is another success story in utilizing AI to personalize each customer’s makeup and skin and hair care concerns with augmented reality. They then highlight the specific brands and ingredients to address the needs and goals based on customers’ input.
The final part of the funnel is customer retention. FedEx and Sprint use predictive analytics to determine flight risk and intervene with good customer service and special offers.
Start With Data
The true promise of AI is to unleash actionable insights that would otherwise be trapped in massive amounts of data. Solutions utilizing publicly accessible data can still improve your processes and workflow. To truly see the effectiveness and get a leg up over the competition, you need data that is unique to your business and customers. Collect data from all parts of your funnel to gain insights, such as what type of content is driving users to your site and how the leads are originating and being retargeted. Looking at the data will help you understand the key levers where AI can have an impact on your marketing.
A key issue to keep in mind in this endeavor is cybersecurity and data privacy. Numerous businesses have suffered from data leaks that caused lawsuits and fines, plus a tremendous loss of customer confidence. Even medium-sized businesses need a chief security officer who determines access controls with regular security audits.
Artificial intelligence has already reached early adopters in marketing. As more organizations share the gains they have seen from AI, the technology will diffuse across the industry and, in the near future, “AI-