The age of AI is here, writes Christopher Baldwin, Head of Marketing, Northern Europe at Selligent
Say artificial intelligence (AI) and your first thought may be of futuristic robots, but the future may actually be closer than you think. Whether it’s voice activated home assistants or internet connected cars – and machine learning is getting better, and more accessible every day.
For the past decade companies and marketers have been moving towards marketing automation and nowhere is that potential greater than with AI technology. Powerful new possibilities are emerging, allowing marketers to deliver more personal and relevant messaging at a greater scale, made possible by AI.
Seven out of 10 marketing decision-makers are already implementing AI-powered technologies, or at least have concrete plans to do so (KRC Research). Artificial intelligence has the potential to help deliver the level of deep, intuitive personalisation that today’s entitled consumers demand.
In marketing terms, this transformation will help to feed the need for consumer-first marketing – and hyper-personalisation that puts the individual consumer at the centre of every transaction across each channel and touchpoint.
What’s more, 55 per cent of marketers are certain that artificial intelligence will have a more radical transformative effect on the marketing industry than social media. Let’s just break that down – more than half of marketers think that AI will bring a bigger change to the industry than social media, which itself has completely transformed the sector.
With that in mind, the changes are set to be pretty spectacular. Here are five ways AI is set to revolutionise marketing in 2018 and beyond:
Personal shopping for all
Online shopping creates rich data footprints detailing the individual preferences, spending habits and preferred channels of individual consumers. Feeding these digital breadcrumbs into an AI-engine helps bring curated shopping journeys to mass audiences. It’s like transporting a personal shopper into your own home – or device.
This technology is already being used to great effect. Amazon, for instance, creates more than 35 per cent of its total revenue with personalised shopping recommendations (McKinsey), taking advanced consumer profiling to the next level. This kind of AI also predicts the types of purchases that consumers are going to make (see point 4) before they even know it.
If there is one area of business that continues to miss the expectations of entitled consumers – it’s the customer service department. Worryingly, in a recent survey we identified that only 35 per cent of companies can identify their customers at the moment they call into a customer service centre. Is your contact centre infrastructure set-up for these new realities?
It may sound ironic, but automated bots can create lifelike, seamless customer service experiences, addressing the consumer on their purchase history and known preferences. Chatbots are not only cheaper, but allow you to free up your phone lines and human resources for more complex issues – but there’s a catch: bots can only deliver proper personalised service if they have access to universal consumer profiles populated in real-time. Marketers – meet our new best friends in customer services.
A notable example of chatbots is Facebook’s “M” technology. Embedded in its Messenger app, it delivers personalised product, travel and restaurant recommendations, while troubleshooting technical problems.
More relevant programmatic advertising
Artificial intelligence has the potential to deliver an extra dash of relevancy to programmatic advertising (the use of software to buy ads) – and that applies to both sides of the equation. On the consumer side, AI helps to create individualised display ads that website visitors want to see. And at the back end, the bots handle invoicing and payment for these ad transactions, giving marketers more time to focus on important stuff.
The ability to read customers’ minds
Reaching for another example from science fiction, wouldn’t it be amazing if you knew when, where how and why customers might want help in the future? It may sound like something from the film, Minority Report, but this technology is already in beta testing, with some technologies showing 88 per cent certainty on why, which channel, and for which product individual customers will seek help next. “We’ve been expecting your call,” never rang truer.
Marketers can tap into rich opportunities to make content relevant to an individual user’s current situation with contextual personalisation. But overloading customers with too many messages remains one of the biggest problems – and customer turn-offs – in automated marketing. As an industry we must continue to use restraint when adding touchpoints into our customer journeys.
In the future, AI will analyse a consumer’s purchase history and email habits to choose the best time to hit their inbox with content that’s bound to boost open rates and conversions.
Selligent’s relationship marketing platform, Engagement Sphere, empowers B2C marketers to engage with consumers using relevant insights. The company’s technology is designed to put consumer needs at the core of all brand actions. With Selligent, B2C brands can bridge the gap between big data and real-time omnichannel campaign execution, creating interactions that become more relevant over time. Selligent’s clients include the likes of Samsung, ASDA, Odeon, ESPN and IHG hotels.