AI to Fuel Your Marketing

There are both skeptics and optimists when it comes to the subject of artificial intelligence (AI) and the effects the technology will have on society. Experts tell us that it holds the potential to deliver huge advances, with a bigger global impact than some of the most pervasive innovations in history.   

As you probably know, AI is an umbrella term for technology that mimics humans by utilizing large amounts of data and learning from an experience, adjusting “behavior,” and accomplishing human-like tasks. AI has use cases and applications in most every industry and it is sure to impact current business models and create new ones.

Google CEO, Sundar Pichai said in early 2018 at the World economic forum that “AI is more profound than electricity or fire.”

Then there is this quote from famous physicist Stephen Hawking (rest in peace) who said in 2017 that AI could be the “worst event in the history of our civilization.” He urged AI developers to use best practices and effective management. To use technology responsibly, for the greater good, it is imperative to learn how to harness the benefits while understanding how to reduce the downsides.

From a retail perspective, I see AI benefits creating better shopping experiences for all. In fact, one of our clients is using AI to drive up ROI in the consumer retail industry.

AI and consumers today

Companies like Amazon, IBM, Google, Apple and Microsoft are leading the way when it comes to investing in the development of AI, diligently bringing it closer and closer to consumers. AI arms us with a powerful tool for seamless e-commerce experiences, tracking our news, or finding relevant events to attend.

It works on a daily basis behind the scenes of popular search engines, helping internet surfers find whatever they want. For example, when you search Google images for “people running,” that’s exactly what pops up. The image choices seem unlimited and include videos. AI is responsible for pulling all of that content together.

A Deloitte and Salesforce study completed last year in retail industry concluded that a third of big brands use AI to improve their business and that we are in the midst of a retail renaissance.

Sexier applications like virtual reality get all the hype, but a better return on investment can be realized from retailers who use AI applications (like Google does) that work hard behind the scenes. What’s more, not-so-flashy AI use cases actually have the biggest impact when it comes to delighting customers.

If you haven’t yet, now is the time to explore the real value of AI. Clearly, customers need to be able to find what they want on your site or sales will be lost ­– making search incredibly important.  Usually search engines like Google can point shoppers in the right direction, but many retailers’ website search mechanisms do not measure up. Implementing search ranking algorithms can help keep conversion rates high and customers happy. Use machine learning to pluck information from purchase patterns to understand where your products should rank.

Marketers need to leverage analytics whenever possible

It’s crucial to have a handle on current technology tools to stand out from the competition and reach your marketing goals. I know first-hand that tracking and managing data ­– like customer habits, or large product catalogs – can be very involved and complicated, but this is where tech can be a huge asset.

Leading brands are using AI and machine learning to improve their core business functions and to remove the guesswork of yesterday. Experts predict that AI and machine learning adoption will be crucial for both public and private organizations to remain competitive as tech evolves. Here are some ways in which you can implement it:

  • AI algorithms can learn from huge data sets and predict and recommend where company resources should go
  • Consider forecasting algorithms that comb through social media platforms and browsing patterns in order to identify what content provides the best engagement
  • Help accurately predict your top selling products over numerous categories
  • Use AI and advanced analytics together to craft a 360-degree view of your customers that will improve the overall experience and in turn, create loyalty
  • Consider both new and existing AI tools that will help boost marketing messages and gather sentiment using tools like Atomic Reachor Watson for inspiration. AI is also being used by marketers looking to boost engagement without adding more staff members.

The AI future

All signs point to a digital transformation as the next AI trend.  Whether your business is B2C or B2B the digital transformation is sure to affect you. Cross-functional tech and business teams that are mutually reliant on each other during this transformation will have the greatest success.

Be on the look-out for the digital transformation to trickle into everything from airlines, to hotel booking systems to healthcare systems. I’ll save this topic for a future post. In the meantime, I am here to help my clients leverage data, because there is nothing I love more than a great targeted marketing campaign.