Everyone online has seen it. Whenever people search for something on Google, they end up interacting with similar ads on Facebook and Instagram. Coincidence? No, that’s the power of artificial intelligence in marketing.
Smita Poojary’s human brain has been hard at work mastering the AI field. She is a digital marketing specialist adept at business-to-business engagements. During an Africa Tweet Chat she discussed what’s smart—or not—about artificial intelligence for marketing.
“AI is the fastest growing marketing technology with year-to-year growth of 53 percent,” Poojary said. “It is already here in the form of facial identification recognition. Social media uses AI to display content on your feed. Gmail’s AI filters your email.”
In addition, Grammarly uses artificial intelligence for content grammar and spell check. Digital voice assistants such as Siri and Alexa reply to human voices using neuro-linguistic programming. Websites use chatbots.
“AI helps customers find answers quickly, resolve problems and provide personalized content,” Poojary said. “However, only a real human will be able to provide an actual personal touch to the interaction. It can start with AI, but there needs to be a human in the buying process.
“You can also provide flexible pricing,” she said. “Predict return on investment better and measure campaign effectiveness.”
Assortment of uses
Poojary noted the varied ways marketers can use AI in marketing:
- Content and product recommendation
- Content curation
- Data analysis to get insights
- Advertisement management and automatic targeting
- Image recognition
- Social listening
- Brand sentiment analysis
- Lead generation and assignment
“We also see AI being extensively used in educational and medical fields,” Poojary said. “Companies that pioneer the use of AI for marketing are Netflix, Spotify, Coca Cola, Google and Facebook. AI companies to watch out for are H2O.ai, Narrative Science, AlphaSense, Clarifai and Persado.”
Marketers can use artificial intelligence without necessarily making consumers feel like they’re being watched.
“Be clear, open and transparent with your customers and web visitors,” Poojary said. “Tell them if you have used any AI tech on your website and how it helps them. Make use of the data already present within your company. Use data analytics from social media and websites.”
Know when to pull out the artificial intelligence technology versus when to be human. Be available when customers need an actual conversation.
“It is all about finding the balance and understanding what problem you are looking to solve,” Poojary said. “It will also be useful to consider where we want to introduce AI within the customer journey.”
A better experience
Along the way, AI can enhance customer experience.
“Chatbots on your website provide great user experience,” Poojary said. “Use AI on your retail website to assist users with questions on sizing and product specification. AI in email marketing can test personalized subject lines and content. In addition, AI on your website can show content.
“Using AI helps a brand to answer questions quickly,” she said. “That helps convert visitors to customers. Provide tailored content that the user wants to read and on the platform they prefer. That saves customers time to find the right product.”
That might be the most important factor in the process.
“Response time is key because people want everything quicker,” Poojary said. “Brands able to address this issue win. It also shows customers we are here for you 24/7. This works really well for retail and business-to-consumer companies.”
Additionally, virtual customer assistants powered by artificial intelligence can be used to improve the customer experience by reducing response time. Poojary cited tools such as ChipBot and Roof AI as good examples.
Artificial intelligence can be an entrepreneur’s friend or foe. Poojary listed the advantages:
- Save time, money and manual efforts
- Analyze large sets of data
- Reduce human errors and assumptions
- Digital revolution for your company
- Better targeting of audiences
She also gave drawbacks:
- Not having a specific problem you are looking to solve
- Unrealistic expectation of instant results
- Negative feeling within teams toward AI
- Lack of technical expertise resulting in poor implementation
“Data privacy is the key concern along with how much data customers are prepared to give,” Poojary said. “Again, it all comes down to transparency and being clear.”
People retain control
Although they might be intimidated, people should not feel threatened.
“AI will not be able to replace humans,” Poojary said. “The tech replicates human actions based on the data available. It will perform repetitive tasks, which take time. Creativity will always need to be real, authentic, emotional and evolving.
“We have seen a few departments like customer service where humans can be replaced,” she said. “It depends on the nature of task, probability of repetition and future needs of the company.”
Successful businesses will not be complacent.
“As they say, ‘Survival of the fittest,'” Poojary said. “We need to change, adapt and evolve quicker before AI does.
“AI needs to be tested well,” she said. “Companies can use AI tools recommended by bodies like Capterra, Gartner, G2 Crowd Reviews and Forrester to make sure you are using a tried and tested AI tool.”
Poojary compared the development of artificial intelligence to previous technology advances.
“This is a technological innovation and tool that will develop over time,” she said. “Just like computers, phones and software, technology is invented and upgraded by humans.”
As in other areas, artificial intelligence will affect influencer marketing.
“AI will help identify the right influencers for brands,” Poojary said. “It will raise a red flag for influencers with fake followers. Voice recognition software will help brands discover trending topics. Neuro-linguistic programming and image searching will help verify influencer content.”
Those who hesitate …
Rather than wait for AI to advance, marketers should start now to master the technology. Poojary advises that they master these traits:
- Identifing objectives and problems for using AI
- Good communicator
- Curious to learn new tech
- Be open to accept AI-based recommendations
- Data privacy awareness
- Team worker to involve all relevant stakeholders
- Understanding sector
- Analyzing consumer problems
- Advocate of digital transformation
- Knowledge of using both online and offline channels of communication
“Dashboards are visual representations of data and stats of your business performance indicators,” Poojary said. “They can be built on Excel spreadsheets. Companies these days use Google Data Studio or other online tools to build them.
“The fear of not understanding AI fully makes us forget its real advantages,” she said. “Saving time will be instant, but return on investment will be a long-term plan and will need proper execution.”